English + Technology = Teaching?

Lately, in Indonesia, more and more school has been using English to teach their students. For almost every subject, every teacher is encouraged to use English most of the time: to explain things, to ask question, to answer students’ answer, to give assignments, and also to instruct the students.

More and more parents demand English as the main language used in their children’s school, so every school tried their best to train their teacher and sent them to study English. As long as he/she can say, “Good morning, children,” or, “Any question?” or, “Understand?” the I-dunno-who-the-superior-one in the school will assume that the teacher has mastered English already. So, with all those good-morning-thingy, those teachers go back to their school and teach the students with whatever English they have learned in I-dunno-where.

Another thing that has been added alongside English is technology. The sophistication level, of course, depends on how much money the school could have. The bigger school with bigger funds (usually in big cities) got more facilities, and I’m not only talking about the quality, but also the quantity. As for smaller schools, with smaller funds… they got… well, whatever they could get. Serious.

The must-have one recently is of course laptop and LCD. No LCD? No probs, use whiteboard. No laptop? No probs, the school will provide, at least one. No electricity? Oops. Now that’s a problem.

Here’s two things to point out:

  1. English doesn’t rule everything.
    Yes, I know, with English, more doors are opened for you–(I have to cross that out considering some people that I know with bad English, yet they are the ones who got the scholarship ticket to the States)
    More and more people are seeking English, yes, I know. And I gotta admit, English has the prestige, especially for Indonesian. You can get a better job with English, and if you can speak English properly, people consider you as… educated. Serious.
    But I simply don’t see the point of trying to use English for teaching if you don’t even understand English. You hardly understand what you’re saying, and I’m not sure the students understand you either. Students with good English are confused with the messed-up English, and students who think they are bad in English don’t bother to listen to the English explanation. They already have the I-dun-understand-English-at-all-mindset.
    What’s the point of trying to compete with other school by using English, if your students don’t understand any of your explanations, and even worse, they get more and more confused?
  2. Technology is cool, but it’s not an angel sent from heaven.
    Every student teacher who is doing their micro-teaching now have to own a laptop. Or if you can’t own it, borrow it.
    Indeed, technology brings better education. Technology makes better AVAs. Technology helps. A LOT.
    But I’ve seen many friends (including teachers, sorry) who got used of technology, and they end up becoming more and more dependent on technology.
    Technology makes us look more sophisticated and… professional. I agree. But once a blackout happen, you’re doomed. Not so much sophisticated and professional anymore, aye?
    As more people rely everything on technology (so do I, actually), technology rules everything.
    Well, actually, electricity does.
    They end up feeling so left out in front of the class, looking puzzled, dunno what or how to explain the materials since everything is in flashdisk, or laptop, or computer.
    The bad news: if you’re a student teacher, you cannot runaway from that situation..
    The good news: if you’re a teacher already, you can always say, “I’m really-really sorry, but I would probably have to cancel the class today since everything that I have prepared is inside the computer/laptop, and due to technical problem, I can’t turn it on, so I have nothing for you right now.”
    That’s for the blackout case.
    The other thing I’ve noticed is that some teachers try to use technology while they actually know nothing about technology (a.k.a. “gaptek” in bahasa Indonesia). They don’t understand technology, they don’t know how to operate the gadgets, and they end up confused and puzzled in front of the class, struggling with the laptop. The file is 2007 Word Document (.docx), while the computer/laptop doesn’t have Microsoft Word 2007 in it. They thought it’s a virus. Or they simply stated, “I’m sorry, I can’t open the document.”
    Well, that’s just one example. One of the worst. Some are not that bad.
    I probably sounded like mocking those teachers, and I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to.
    What I’m trying to say here is that teachers shouldn’t have rely everything on technology. We still have human resources. We can do many things without technology. Always prepare a backup plan in case the technology won’t cooperate with you. No electricity? So what? No computer/notebook? Doesn’t matter. Still got a pair of hands and feet, a mouth, two ears, two eyes, and complete body parts.

One more additional: if people insist on using English and technology more (well, they do, indeed), at least think of a real intensive training in both English and technology. Don’t get satisfied too fast with “Are you understand?” or the simple click on a desktop shortcut yet you can’t anywhere further from the desktop. If you wanna use English, at least learn some grammar! If you wanna use the technology, master the gadget first! For your own sakes, anyway. And it helps you gain more confidence and appreciation.