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Abstract -- Although over 400 languages are spoken in Indonesia, by 1986 60%
of the population had some competence in the Indonesian national language, a
substantial increase over 1971. Bahasa Indonesia was declared the state language
in the 1945 constitution, and reformed spelling was agreed in 1972. It is the sole
medium of instruction, except in the first three grades of elementary school in nine
regions, where vernaculars may be used transitionally. Thereafter vernaculars are
taught as school subjects. Bilingualism, and even multilingualism in Indonesian
and one or more vernaculars and/or foreign languages is increasing, and despite
the use of Indonesian for official documentary purposes at all levels it does not
appear that vernaculars are dying out, although their spheres of use are restricted.
Bahasa Indonesia fulfils the four functions: cognitive, instrumental, integrative and
cultural, while vernaculars are only integrative and cultural. The curriculum of
Indonesian, established centrally, is pragmatic or communicative. It is expressed in
a standard syllabus for course books. This approach equally applies to foreign
languages, which are introduced at secondary level, although here receptive
reading is given more weight than productive skills. A full description of the
syllabus organization of the various languages is given. Nonformal language
learning also takes place, in the national basic education and literacy programme,
which teaches Bahasa Indonesia, and in vocational courses in foreign languages
for commerce.

Zusammenfassung -- Obwohl in Indonesien fiber 400 Sprachen gesprochen

werden, beherrschten 1980 60% der Bev61kerung die indonesische National-
sprache, wesentlich mehr als 1971. In der Verfassung yon 1945 wurde Bahasa
Indonesia zur Staatssprache erkl~irt, und 1972 einigte man sich auf eine reformierte
Schreibweise. Es ist die einzige Unterrichtssprache mit Ausnahme der ersten drei
Grundschuljahrg~inge in neun Regionen, wo die Muttersprache iibergangsweise
benutzt werden darf. Danach werden Muttersprachen als Schulfach unterrichtet.
Zweisprachigkeit oder sogar Mehrsprachigkeit sind in Indonesien auf dem
Vormarsch, ebenso das Beherrschen einer oder mehrerer einheimischer Sprachen
und/oder einer Fremdsprache, und obwohl Indonesisch auf allen Ebenen ffir
offizielle dokumentarische Zwecke benutzt wird, scheinen die einheimischen
Sprachen trotz ihres begrenzten Anwendungsgebietes nicht auszusterben. Bahasa
Indonesia erfiillt die vier Funktionen: kognitiv, instrumental, integrativ und
kulturell, w~ihrend die Dialekte nut integrativ und kulturell sind. Das indonesische
Curriculum, zentral festgelegt, ist pragmatisch oder kommunikativ. Es wird in
Form eines Standardlehrplans als Grundlage fiir Lehrbiicher genommen. Ahnlich
zentral wird der ab Sekundarstufe gelehrte Fremdsprachenunterricht gelenkt,
wobei mehr Weft auf rezeptives Lesen als auf produktive F~ihigkeiten gelegt wird.
Die Organisation der Lehrpl~ine fiir die verschiedenen Sprachen wird beschrieben.

International Review of Education -- lnternationale Zeitschrifi ffir Erziehungswissenschafi --

Revue Internationale de P~dagogie 37(1): 115--131, 1991. © 1991 Unesco Institute for
Education and Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

Auch das nicht formale Erlernen einer Sprache wird praktiziert, und zwar auf
nationaler Grundschulebene und in Literaturprogrammen, die Bahasa Indonesia
lehren, sowie in Handelsfremdsprachenkursen.

R~sum~ -- Bien que 400 langues soient parl6es en Indon6sie, 60% de la

population maitrisaient la langue nationale indon6sienne en 1980, ce qui
repr6sente une augmentation substantielle par rapport /~ 1971. Le bahasa
indonesia a 6t6 d6clar6 langue de l'etat par la constitution de 1945, et une r6forme
de I'orthographe a 6t6 adoptde en 1972. C'est le seul m6dium d'instruction,
except6 dans les trois premibres classes de l'6cole 616mentaire de neuf r6gions, o/1
les langues vernaculaires peuvent 6tre utilisdes pour marquer la transition. Apr~s
cela celles-ci deviennent des matibres d'&ude. Le bilinguisme, voire m6me le
multilinguisme en indon6sien avec une ou plusieurs langues vernaculaires et/ou
&rang~res, prend de plus en plus d'importance, et, malgr6 l'emploi de l'indon6sien
tousles niveaux dans les documents officiels, il ne semble pas que les langues
vernaculaires soient en voie de disparition, bien que leurs spheres d'utilisation
soient restreintes. Le bahasa indonesia remplit les fonctions cognitive, instru-
mentale, assimilatrice et culturelle, tandis que les langues vernaculaires ne
rempiissent que ces deux derni~res. Le curriculum d'enseignement de l'indon6sien
est conqu centralement, il est pragmatique ou communicatif. Ses lignes directrices
sont sp~cifi6es dans un programme et dans un guide. On proc6de de la m6me
mani~re pour les langues 6trang~res, qui sont introduites dans le secondaire, bien
qu'on accorde ici plus d'importance h la lecture r~ceptive qu'aux compdtences
pratiques. L'organisation du programme d'enseignement des diff6rentes langues
est present6e en d6tail. Un enseignement non formel des langues est 6galement
propos6 dans l'6ducation de base nationale et par le programme d'alphab6tisation,
qui enseigne le bahasa indonesia, ainsi que dans les cours de langues 6trang~res
dispens6s dans le cadre de l'enseignement professionnel commercial.

T h e L a n g u a g e s of I n d o n e s i a

Indonesia is an archipelago which consists of about 13,000 islands, only a

few of which are uninhabited. This geography accounts for the fact that
the country and the nation are made up of a plurality of ethnic groups,
cultures, and languages, resulting in a wide variety of arts, crafts and
The people of Indonesia, at present more than 170 million, speak a
large number of languages. However one may define "language" (as
against "dialect"), it seems safe to say that there are over 400 languages in
Indonesia. The National Language Institute, the institutional predecessor
of the present National Center for Language Development in Jakarta,
issued the latest linguistic map of Indonesia in 1972, in which the number
of languages was given as 418. The greatest difference with other esti-
mates is in the province of Irian Jaya, which linguistically is still a largely
unmapped area. For example, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (Barr

and Barr 1978) listed 569 languages in Irian Jaya alone; the figure given
by the National Language Institute in 1972 for this area is 128.
The great diversity in languages (and cultures) is reflected in the
nation's motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika O.e., Unity in Diversity). However,
in spite of this multilingualism, there is also a degree of homogeneity in
that more than ninety per cent of the languages belong to the Indonesian
branch of the Austronesian language family. These languages are not all
the same in size. The number of speakers of a language ranges from a few
hundred people (in Irian Jaya) to about 80 million (Javanese), nor are they
the same in sociocultural importance. However, they are all used for the
same common communicative and personal functions of a language, and
they are equal in the eyes of the law, with the exception of Indonesian,
which is the national language and the only official language in the
The languages spoken in Indonesia fall into three classes: (1) Indonesian
or Bahasa Indonesia; (2) local or regional languages, here called "vernacu-
lars"; and (3) foreign languages. The proportion of the number of speakers
can be seen from the breakdown of the speakers in the 1971 census,
namely 40.8%, 59%, and 0.2% speakers of Indonesian, Vernacular, and
Foreign Languages respectively. The figure for the vernaculars shows the
percentage of those who speak a vernacular but do not speak Indonesian;
they may or may not speak a foreign language. The figure for foreign
languages represents the number of speakers who speak a foreign lan-
guage but not Indonesian or a vernacular.

The Indonesian Language

In the 1980 census, there is mention only of "people using Indonesian at

home" and of "those who do not use Indonesian at home". However, out
of those not using Indonesian as a home language, over 72 million out of
the 146 million population can speak Indonesian, so that the number of
people who are able to speak Indonesian is a little over 90 million, which
amounts to 61 per cent of the population. Although no information is
available on the level of competence in Indonesian of those speakers, the
1980 figure gives an increase of more than 20 per cent from the 40.8 in
the 1971 census. In the next few months, Indonesia will be conducting the
1990 population census. It will be interesting to find any changes in the
linguistic situation of the country.
At the time of the Youth Pledge on 28 October 1928, the number of
"native speakers" of Indonesian (then called Malay) in Indonesia was very
small; a generous estimate would not put it at more than 500,000 in the
coastal areas of East and Central Sumatra, in urban centers, and in major

ports throughout Indonesia. Since Independence, the number has been

increasing rapidly, and there are now more than 17 million who can
legitimately be called "native speakers" of Bahasa Indonesia. The number
will keep increasing, especially in urban centers and towns as mentioned
above, through school education, through the increased geographical
mobility caused by the centralized civil and military service, and through
the increasing number of interethnic/interlingual marriages.
Indonesian (i.e., Bahasa Indonesia) was declared the "state language"
by the 1945 Constitution, Chapter XV, Article 36. As the state language,
it serves as the national language and the only official language in
Indonesia. It has a standard variety which can be defined as the variety
that is generally used in the public school system. The National Center for
Language Development of the Ministry of Education and Culture prefers
a negatively formulated definition, which is "the variety that is free from
strong regionalisms and localisms". The spelling standardization was
achieved by the official adoption of the Reformed Spelling on August 16,
1972. Efforts to further standardize the language, especially its scientific
terminology, have been vigorously pursued by the National Center for
Language Development and are now nearing completion.
There are of course regional and local varieties of Indonesian, but they
are usually mutually intelligible, the major difference being in pronuncia-
tion. The public school system, the civil service, a centralized military
organization, the mass media (newspapers, radio and TV), together with
the increasing level of geographical mobility of the population, have
worked towards minimizing differences between the regional varieties,
which factors, as mentioned above, have also worked towards raising the
number of native speakers of the language.

The VernacularLanguages

As mentioned above, the regional languages (Bahasa Daerah) are here

called vernaculars. The majority of the population (more than 88 per cent)
speak one of the vernaculars as a first ( - home) language, learning
Indonesian later on, formally in primary school or informally from the
community. In addition to this, there are a small number of immigrant
languages in the country. A sizable but decreasing number of Indonesians
of Chinese ancestry speak one of the Chinese languages (or what they
call "dialects"), in particular Hokkien, Hakka, and Cantonese. In North
Sumatra, a small number of people, brought there from India by the
Dutch around the beginning of the 20th century to work in the planta-
tions, speak Tamil.
The vernaculars are used for intra-group purposes, while Indonesian is

generally used for inter-group communication. Although the only official

language is Indonesian, on the village level a great deal of official business,
administrative and judicial, has still to be transacted in the local vernacular,
because of the inability of many villagers to understand or speak Indonesian.
However, the official report is always written in Indonesian. It is envisaged
that a gradual increase in the use of Indonesian on this level will take
place when the younger people who have gone through the national
educational system start replacing their elders on the village councils.
The 1976 Seminar on Vernacular Languages in Yogyakarta made the
observation that both the major and minor vernaculars had shown a
marked tendency towards diminishing prestige, and that some of the
minor vernaculars were running the danger of dying out. However, from
experience to date, it does not seem likely that the vernaculars, except
perhaps those with only a handful of speakers, will ever die out; even in
the case of these small vernaculars, only when the speakers abandon their
traditional habitat and disperse. In fact, the Constitution (Explication of
Chapter XV, Article 36) guarantees the preservation of "those vernaculars
that are properly maintained by their speakers". In addition, there has
also been no public effort to discourage people from using any of the

Foreign languages are used in Indonesia for international communication:
in diplomacy, business contacts, and cultural exchanges. In addition to
this, the function of foreign languages is as a "library language", because
most of the books and scientific materials, including reference materials, in
the libraries are still in these languages, especially in English. It has been
estimated that about 80 per cent of the books in a university library are in
English. It is therefore no surprise that foreign languages are taught in the
secondary schools, not only to provide a different cultural experience to
the students, but also for the practical purpose of preparing them for
possible use of these languages in universities and other tertiary education
as well as at job-oriented colleges or courses.
Before Independence in 1945, Indonesia was already familiar with the
colonial/Dutch tradition of teaching foreign languages in secondary
schools. In the Netherlands before World War II, it was customary to
teach the three neighboring foreign languages: German, French and
English. This system was applied to the Dutch-medium secondary schools
in Indonesia. At Independence in 1945, the Government decided to
include only English as a compulsory subject in junior and senior
secondary schools. Four other foreign languages were offered in the senior

secondary schools, one of which the students were required to take, while
in certain streams, two or three could be opted for. This created the
situation in which English came to be called "the first foreign language",
and was treated as a separate category in the curriculum.

Language Policy and Education

The first deliberate act of language policy was successfully carried out
in 1928, 17 years before Independence, when the youth organizations
in a political congress declared that the Malay language was renamed
Indonesian and that they would use this Indonesian language as the
"language of unity" in their fight for an independent country, named
Indonesia, and an independent nation, named the Indonesian nation. As
mentioned above, it was made the "state language" in the 1945 Constitu-
tion, and has since been used as the medium of instruction at all levels of
education in the country.
The act of language choice accomplished in 1928 was followed by
other language planning events, the most important of which are:
-- The First Congress of Indonesian in Solo, Central Java, in 1937.
- - The establishment of Balai Pustaka, the first national publishing house
in Jakarta in 1938 to promote the use of Indonesian through publica-
tion of books and magazines.
-- The institution of Indonesian to replace Dutch as the medium of
instruction by the invasion of the Japanese army in 1942. A termi-
nology commision was appointed in 1943, but it had not completed its
work by the end of the war in 1945.
- - The institution of Indonesian as the state language in the Constitution
in 1945.
-- The Suwandi Spelling Reform in 1947 (at the direction of Minister of
Education Suwandi).
-- The promulgation of the Improved Spelling Reform in 1972, which is
in effect up to the present.
-- The establishment of the terminology committee in the Ministry of
Education's National Center for Language Development in 1975,
which in collaboration with the Malaysian Language Council has now
almost completed the standardization of the terminologies of all the
disciplines in education, science and technology.
The determination of the status of the various languages in the educa-
tional system is also an act of language planning. However, the most
important function of the educational system in language planning is that it

serves as the disseminator of the language planning decisions through

teaching, testing, and through publications. The schools also provide
feedback and practical evaluation of the effectiveness of the Reformed
Spelling and the advocated terminology.

The Teaching and Learning of Languages

The two major categories of language in education are: (1) medium of

instruction and (2) language taught as a subject. The two categories are
related to and define the functions and objectives of language in educa-
tion. These categories also distinguish the functions and objectives of the
three kinds of language in the Indonesian educational system.

The Educational Functions

The most important function of language in education is of course as

medium of instruction. In that function, it is the means by which knowl-
edge is acquired by the learners and the language of educational inter-
action, which will mainly be responsible for the development of the
students' intellectuality and their more public social and cultural person-
ality. It will also be the means to acquire and practice vocational skills. In
Indonesia, the sole medium of instruction is Indonesian, except in the first
three grades of elementary school in areas where the pupils do not know
enough Indonesian for classroom interaction. In the latter situation, the
local vernacular can be used as a transitional medium of instruction to
ease the pupils into the use of Indonesian as a medium of instruction and
classroom interaction.
When we consider the above functions of language, we can classify
them into four separate categories: (1) cognitive, (2) instrumental, (3)
integrative, and (4) cultural. The cognitive function has to do with the
learners' intellectual development, their capacity to think rationally, and
the medium of storing and retrieving knowledge. The instrumental func-
tion expresses the fact that the language is used for material gains, i.e., to
get a job, to engage oneself in business, to obtain scientific information
and technological skills, and the like. The integrative function means that
the language is necessary to make oneself accepted as a member of the
group using the language as a symbol of identity. The cultural function
means that the language makes it possible for one to gain a deep
understanding and appreciation of the culture to which the language

When we apply this system to the three categories of language in

Indonesian education, we find the following diagram:

' ~ Language
Indonesian Vernacular Foreign
Education~eg°ry Language Language Language
Cognitive +

Integrative + +

Instrumental + +

Cultural + + (+)

The Indonesian language has all four educational functions. It fulfills the
cognitive function by being the medium of instruction at all levels of edu-
cation. It fulfills the integrative function, because knowledge of Indonesian
makes the learner a full member of Indonesian society. This socialization,
or rather Indonesianization, function is mainly accomplished in the
elementary school; that is why no foreign language is taught at that level.
Indonesian also has the instrumental function, as it is the language that
opens job opportunities to the students, the language by which the
students acquire knowledge and technological skills. The Indonesian
language is naturally also a requirement for a civil service position, from
the lowliest district clerk to the highest government post. It also has a
cultural function, as it is the language that can lead a person to an
adequate understanding of the developing national culture, i.e., the
Indonesian culture, which consists of certain features from the various
vernacular cultures and those traits developed by shared experiences since
The vernacular languages have two educational functions, namely the
integrative and the cultural. They fulfill the integrative function, as profi-
ciency in the vernacular is the surest symbol of ethnic identity. Many
pupils already know the vernacular before they enter the primary school,
but there is an increasing number of children in the larger towns who
become proficient in the vernacular only through learning it in the
elementary school. However, the more important function of the vernacular
is the cultural because the pupils learn the less immediate values and
features of the vernacular culture through the vernacular lessons in the
elementary and secondary schools.
The foreign languages in the educational system which are taught

starting from the senior secondary school, and English which is taught at
the junior secondary school, have only one major educational function,
which is the instrumental function. A foreign language, as mentioned
above, is used only for diplomatic purposes and for obtaining material,
scientific and technological gains. Foreign languages are not needed to
study foreign cultures, except for social anthropologists who want to
obtain a deeper and scientific understanding of the foreign culture.
Nevertheless, studying a foreign language gives the Indonesian learners an
experience of an important component of a foreign culture, which is
expected to broaden their views of the cosmopolitan nature of the modern
world and to make them less insular and more broadminded and tolerant.
This function is of secondary importance, which is the reason for putting
the + sign in parentheses in the diagram.

Educational Objectives

These four educational functions of language have implications for cur-

riculum design, especially in the formulation of objectives. Therefore, we
can distinguish also four major objectives of teaching a language in the
sense of focus of attention. The cognitive objective concerns the subjects
that fall within the cognitive domain of curriculum theory, which requires
understanding and memorization of the sound system, the structure and
the vocabulary of the language; the focus is on information and facts about
the language. The integrative objective is the expectation that the learners
adopt and/or change their attitudes towards the language and its culture;
in curriculum theory, this is called the affective domain. The instrumental
objective is aimed at making the learners acquire proficiency in the
language that will enable them to obtain jobs, material, scientific and
technological gains and expertise. This belongs to the curricular psycho-
motor area. The cultural objective relates to the use of the language to
obtain a deeper understanding of the culture of the people speaking the
language, mainly for cognitive purposes.
These objectives were taken into consideration in the specification of
the contents of the syllabus of the language curriculum. They were
particularly relevant in the selection of the reading passages, composition
topics and the topics and situations of dialogs. As an example, the
integrative and cultural objectives of the vernacular language make it
preferable to deal with reading passages on the legends and epic history of
the ethnic group, which implicitly teach the values and morals of the
vernacular culture and people. The knowledge and understanding of the
culture through the use of the language are expected to create or strengthen
the learners' sense of belonging and pride in their basic or ethnic identity.

The four kinds of objective of the teaching of Indonesian influence the

selection and presentation of the materials. The cognitive objective puts
the focus on the knowledge of the nature and forms of the language. The
integrative objective leads to the selection of materials that will create and
strengthen the learners' sense of identification with the Indonesian nation
and country on top of their vernacular identity. The instrumental objective
requires the selection of materials that will lead to the learners' proficiency
and competence in the Indonesian language that will open job oppor-
tunities to them and enable them to use the language in legitimate
endeavors for gains and benefits. The cultural objective requires the
selection and presentation of materials that will lead to an understanding
and appreciation of the Indonesian national culture.
The instrumental objective of teaching a foreign language leads to the
selection and presentation of materials that will produce competence in
the language for academic and special purposes. An approach to curriculum
construction like this has come to be called "language for specific pur-
poses". A good example of this curricular approach can be seen in the
1984 English language curriculum for the secondary schools, which is
aimed at cultivating the English language competences needed to use
English make Indonesia known to foreigners and to engage in beneficial
pursuits such as commerce, further study and technological training.

Language TeachingCurricula

In Indonesia, the school curricula are constructed by the central educa-

tional authority, i.e., the Ministry of Education, in this case the Curriculum
Center of the Ministry's Office of Research and Development. The tertiary
educational institutions enjoy a certain level of autonomy. The Ministry of
Education, through its Directorate General of Higher Education, only sets
minimum curricula for the various types of tertiary institution, which can
be further developed and expanded by the institutions themselves.
The latest language curricula for the schools were established in 1984.
The curricula for the various languages were developed by different teams,
albeit under the guidance and coordination of the Curriculum Center. The
work of these different teams, combined with the different educational
functions and objectives of the languages concerned, resulted in different
kinds of curricula. All the language curricula use the same format, but they
may be different in approach, contents and method. The format consists
of the specification of curricular objectives, instructional objectives, teach-
ing materials, method of presentation, learning resources, and method of
evaluation. But what seems to be more important is that the instructional
approaches are generally different.

The curriculum of Indonesian follows what is called a pragmatic

approach, which is focused on the common practical uses of the language
in society, in contrast to the structural approach, with the focus on the
forms of the language, followed in the previous curricula. The term "prag-
matic" was inspired by the theory of "pragmatics" that had become known
to language teachers and applied linguists since the 1970s. This term was
preferred to the term "communication" or "competence", because those
two terms were used in the 1975 curriculum specification of objectives,
but were hardly implemented at all, and thus the curriculum remained
almost completely cognitive in orientation with a structural approach. It
was determined now that the orientation of the curriculum should be
pragmatic or communicative, aimed at teaching the real uses of the
language for the purpose of communication in various situations.
The curricula of the vernaculars are mainly cultural in approach, and
aim at presenting the patterns and values of the pertinent cultures to the
students. The forms of the language are also given sufficient attention with
an eye to the children in the larger towns, more and more of whom are no
longer so proficient in their vernacular.
The curricula of the foreign languages follow a communicative approach,
which is defined as an approach that is based on "meaningfulness as
defined by the sociolinguistic situation of the use of language forms in
communication". The curriculum of individual foreign languages has
adopted various versions of this communicative approach. The English
language curriculum, being the originator of the approach in Indonesia,
has the more clearly defined and implemented version of this approach. It
views communication as having two aspects: productive and receptive, and
having two forms: written and spoken, resulting in a two-by-two matrix.
Of the four cells in this matrix (productive-written, receptive-written,
productive-spoken, receptive-spoken), the receptive written component,
i.e., reading, is given more weight.

Teaching Materials

A curriculum also specifies the teaching materials needed to accomplish

the curricular and instructional objectives. This specification of teaching
materials will be called a syllabus here. Up to 1975, the language
syllabuses were just a listing of the structures of the language to be taught
and the order in which they were to be taught. Some syllabuses also con-
tained a partial listing of vocabulary items organized by topics or themes.
They sometimes also contained a listing of the sounds of the language and
their relationships to, i.e., equivalence and discrepancies with, the spelling

For the 1984 language syllabuses, the Curriculum Center's syllabus

teams made two innovations in syllabus construction, viz.: (1) the structure
of the syllabus specification of the teaching materials, and (2) the change
of focus, from a mono-focus on form to a bi-focus on form and use. This
was done by the specification of the teaching items under two categories:
forms (sound system/spelling, structure, vocabulary) and language use/
activity (reading, speaking and listening, writing/composition, and literary
appreciation). The specification was organized in the form of an under-
lying syllabus of a textbook, i.e., the materials are divided into a certain
number of units to be covered in each semester, or trimester in the
elementary school, resulting in the following structure: six units in each
trimester of the elementary school, and from seven to 20 units (depending
on the language) in each semester of the junior and senior secondary
schools, with fewer units in the last (i.e., sixth semester) of each cycle to
allow time for review to prepare the students for the final examinations.
The organization and the number of units of the materials for the
various languages in the schools are as follows. The syllabus of the
Indonesian language: for Grades 1 and 2 of the elementary school, six
units each trimester, comprising Beginning Reading, Vocabulary, Begin-
ning Writing, Pragmatics/Language Functions, Appreciation of Language
and Literature, in that order; for Grades 3 to 6, six units each trimester,
comprising Reading (Comprehension), Vocabulary, Structure, Writing
(Composition), Pragmatics (Language Functions/Use), Appreciation of
Language and Literature. For junior secondary school, the syllabus con-
sists of seven to nine units per semester, comprising in order: Reading,
Vocabulary, Structure, Writing (Letters/Composition), Pragmatics (Lan-
guage Use, oral and written), Literary Appreciation. The senior secondary
syllabus follows the same pattern.
The syllabus of English is the most elaborate among the foreign
languages. The syllabus of the junior secondary school is organized into
15 units for each semester, comprising in order: Structure, Reading,
Vocabulary, Dialogs, Writing, Pronunciation and Spelling (in Semesters 1,
2 and 3), Motivational Activities (Songs, Games, Puzzles, etc.). The
syllabus for the senior secondary school follows the same pattern. There
are fewer units in the last semester of each cycle in order to allow time for
review work to prepare for the final examinations.
As mentioned above, English is the only foreign language taught in
junior secondary school. The other foreign languages are taught in senior
secondary schools, in which students can opt for one or two of those
languages. The syllabus of German consists of ten units for each semester,
comprising in order: Reading, Vocabulary, Structure, Dialogs, Writing.
The syllabus of French is also divided into ten units, but ordered in a

different way: Reading, Structure, Vocabulary, Dialogs, Writing. The

syllabus of Japanese is organized into 26 units, comprising in order:
Vocabulary, Structure, Reading, Dialogs, Writing. The syllabus of Arabic
consists of 20 units for each semester, comprising in order: Reading,
Vocabulary, Structure, Dialogs, Writing.
The teaching of classical languages can be found in special schools.
Classical Arabic is taught in Islamic religious schools and in the State
Institutes of Islamic Religion. Latin, New Testament Greek and Hebrew
are taught in theological seminaries and colleges. Sanskrit and Old Javanese
(Kawi) are taught in many Departments of Indonesian in certain univer-
sities. These two latter languages may also be taught in some Departments
of Social Anthropology and of Indonesian Cultural History.
In certain Faculties of Letters, other languages than the ones mentioned
are also taught, especially Putonghua (Mandarin) and Dutch. In most
Faculties of Law, Dutch is regularly taught as a reading language, because
many important law books are in Dutch, even though many of them have
already been translated into Indonesian, and of course most of the laws
have been changed. Nevertheless, reading Dutch is still a sine qua non for
studying Indonesian legal history and Adat (i.e., traditional or ethnic) law.
English as the first foreign language in Indonesia is taught for one to six
semesters in various departments in tertiary institutions, depending on the
needs of the particular fields of study. The official or overt curricular
orientation is English for Specific Purposes (ESP), but in many depart-
ments, there is still more emphasis on Structure.
In concluding this section, it should be borne in mind that the two
terms "pragmatic" and "communicative" are used in an identical sense in
these curricula. The term used in the syllabus of Indonesian (and the
vernaculars) is pragmatics, whereas the term used in the syllabus of
English and the other foreign languages is communicative ability. In
conformity with the educational functions of the particular languages, the
emphasis of the materials is put on different aspects of the syllabus. In the
teaching of Indonesian, which covers all the functions, the weighting of the
materials is more or less balanced, with perhaps a slightly heavier weight-
ing on the written aspects, because they are more directly related to the
cognitive objectives of language learning, whereas in the teaching of the
vernaculars, the emphasis is on the materials that have cultural content.
The emphasis of the foreign language syllabuses is clearly on the written
components, especially the reading component.
Secondly, the motivation for constructing the syllabus in the form of the
underlying syllabus of a textbook was the realization that most of the
teachers in Indonesia are not in the habit of, or have not been trained in,
writing teaching materials or textbooks. Therefore, a syllabus that is

similar in form to a fairly detailed table of contents of a book should be

more likely to enable teachers to write materials and/or evaluate the
textboooks in the market to find the most appropriate ones for his
students. This kind of syllabus is considered to be more useful to the
school principal and inspectors in evaluating the teachers' work. Last but
not least, such a syllabus will enable the assessment division of the
Ministry of Education to develop more equitable and balanced national

Nonformai Language Education

There are two kinds of nonformal language teaching worth mentioning

here. The first, and perhaps the more significant, is the literacy program of
the Directorate of Nonformal Education. This Directorate has developed
a two-level program of basic education for adults who are already working
for a living. This program is called by the acronym KEJAR, a blend of two
words: beKERja and belaJAR, meaning "to work" and "to learn", i.e., a
learning program for working people. The first level is a program for
"functional literacy", that enables a person to minimally function in a
literate society. The program consists of 20 booklets to teach reading,
writing and basic Indonesian. The second level consists of 80 booklets to
take the learners to the knowledge and academic skills of elementary
school graduates, all the learning done through self-study and at after-
work tutorial sessions.
The second kind of nonformal language teaching is conducted through
special courses that teach foreign languages for specific purposes, for
example Japanese for tour guides, English for hotel personnel, German
for working in a steel mill, French for business, etc. There are hundreds of
these courses in the larger cities, the most numerous of which teach
English for all sorts of specific purposes, but mostly for occupations that
have to do with the tourist business and commerce.

Bilingualism in Indonesia

In this paper as in other publications, bilingualism is used to mean the

knowledge and use of two or more languages; thus bilingualism is used
here for both bilingualism and multilingualism in the strict sense. In 1980,
the National Center of Language Development undertook a survey of
bilingualism in Indonesia. The results of this survey (Nababan et al. 1984)
indicated that there had been a significant increase in the use of Indonesian

as a first (-- home) language in the provincial capitals and/or small towns
in seven out of the sample of 13 provinces covered in the survey.
The survey was based on the assumption that, through the status and
function of Indonesian as the official language, an increasing number of
Indonesians in everyday life need to use Indonesian and a vernacular; in
other words, they need to be bilingual. Generally speaking, people use
Indonesian in the more modern and public activities and the vernacular in
the more traditional and regional aspects of life. It was also assumed that
the vernacular was considered the main symbol of ethnic identity. An
increasing number of educated people use three or more languages in both
their social life and their work.
In all the provinces in the survey, except DKI Jaya (= the capital), Riau
and West Irian, the local vernaculars are dominant as first languages. In
the large urban centers, the percentage of the acquisition of the local
vernacular as first language ranges from 62 per cent in North Sumatra to
98 per cent in the Lesser Sunda Islands (Nusa Tenggara Timur). In the
small towns, as perhaps is to be expected, the percentages are higher,
ranging from a high 89 per cent in South Kalimantan to 100 per cent in
West Java and Central Java.
Another important aspect of the shift in language behavior concerns
the domain of language use. Traditionally, the vernacular has been used in
the more private domains of the home, i.e., among members of the house-
hold, relatives and close friends (of the same vernacular background) in
informal situations. Indonesian, on the other hand, has tended to be used
in more public domains, both the immediate (the neighborhood, social
and occupational organizations, etc.) and the distant (public offices, the
hospital, business meetings, the station, etc.).

Trend toward Indonesian as First Language

Very closely related to the above-mentioned bilingual patterns is the

pattern of acquisition of the first language. In Riau, where there are a large
number of officials, employees and transmigrants (i.e., merchants and
entrepreneurs) from the other provinces, there is a large proportion of
non-local vernaculars as first language, namely 49 per cent of local
vernaculars versus 51 per cent of non-local vernaculars. Even in the small
towns surveyed, the percentage of respondents with a non-local vernacular
as first language is fairly high; the figures are 59 per cent of local
vernaculars versus 37 per cent of non-local vernaculars.
Another special case is the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Here, the
percentage of users of the local vernacular, i.e., the Jakarta Malay dialect,
as first language is only five per cent, whereas the percentage of non-local

vernaculars as first language is 70 per cent. This reflects the fact that the
majority of Jakarta residents, whose number has increased from about one
million at Independence to about eight million at present, come from the
other vernacular areas. The percentage of adult speakers of Indonesian as
first language is also highest (i.e., 24 per cent) in Jakarta. These figures are
found to reflect the heterogeneity of the population, Which seems to be
one of the main reasons for children and families to acquire and use
Indonesian as a first language.

Bilingualism and Education

The bilingual situation in society can be expected to be reflected in the

educational system, and it is true in the case of the Indonesian educational
system. As mentioned above, in nine regions, there is the possibility of
using the vernacular language as a transitional medium of instruction from
Grade 1 to Grade 2 or 3, and the vernaculars are taught as a subject from
Grade 4 of elementary school to the end of senior secondary school,
depending on the availability of materials and teachers, because not all
vernacular speakers feel confident enough to teach the language, especially
in the secondary schools.
In addition to the bilinguality (= ability to use two languages) and
bilingualism (--- actual use of two languages) in the vernacular and
Indonesian, the fact that foreign languages are taught in secondary schools
and universities creates other types of bilingual person. The Indonesian
educational system clearly produces bilingual persons, and the school
curricula include more than one language. This situation qualifies the
system as bilingual education, with different combinations in individual
programs and producing bilingual persons in different language combina-
tions. The multilingual situation of the country and the bilingual nature of
the educational system have produced a situation in which people become
very tolerant of different languages, with the result that people are also
fairly tolerant of different cultures.
The pattern of bilinguality and bilingualism as found by the survey
mentioned above is mainly the result of the educational system in the
country, especially the tendency to acquire Indonesian as a first language.
The results of the survey, however, do not give any indication that any of
the vernaculars are dying out. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the role
and function of Indonesian will become more and more important in the
sociolinguistic situation of Indonesia.


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