Nah…I’m Not Biased

By Will

One of the biggest challenges facing English learners in Indonesia is their learning materials. The books that our students use are woefully bad and riddled with mistakes. They are created by local organizations of teachers, and are used throughout the individual regencies (similar to a county back home). This isn’t exclusive to my school, its a problem that plagues the entire country. Fortunately, a number of volunteers (including Amy and I) have been asked by these organizations to play a big role within our school districts in creating and editing the materials for next year to avoid these problems.

This is a great opportunity for sustainable impact, as many of the texts that make up the books and materials are recycled year after year. Being able to stem the problem at its root and leaving a product in which the teachers can work from in the future is where the Peace Corps in Indonesia can most successfully impact the future of English learning here.

Last week, my counterpart and I began giving our first quizzes to our students. They’ve been studying texts that tell stories in the past, so they have been learning about using past-tense verbs and the structure of these texts. Given the dearth of texts available that are grammatically correct (or logically make sense), I volunteered to create the text for our test. It is below. Amy accused me of trying to brainwash my students about the best parts of America. I don’t know what she is talking about:

Last year, I had an amazing experience. I went to America with my friends! We visited many places there.

First, we started our trip in New York City. In New York City, we saw the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Then we went to a New York Yankees baseball game. After that we went to Times Square and took many pictures. Later, we ate at a Chinese restaurant and went back to our hotel.

Next, we took a bus to Washington DC. Washington DC is the capitol of the United States. In Washington DC, we watched a baseball game and visited the White House where President Obama lives. Later, we ate at a restaurant named Ben’s Chili Bowl. The food there was very good! The next day we went to some museums and learned about American history. After that, we got on an airplane and flew to Kentucky.

Kentucky was my favorite place in America. In Kentucky, we saw many horses. We also watched a basketball game and Kentucky won! Before leaving Kentucky, we ate at the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The next day, we returned to Indonesia by airplane.

Our trip to America was very fun. I’m happy that I went there and I hope that I will get to visit again someday.

For the record—KFC and the Yankees are name-checked because my students already knew about them.

And, for your enjoyment, here is a passage from one of the student books (and this is one of the better ones):

One day the wolf was slaking his thirst at a stream when he chanced to see a lamb, so drinking, at some distances own the stream

Outraged, he growled, “you are muddying my drinking water. How I shall eat you.”

The lamb protested, “but sir, how can I be muddying your water? I am further downstream than you are. The water is flowing from your part of the stream to where I am.”

Upstream or downstream, your drinking is muddying my water and I shall eat you.” So saying, the wolf leaped upon the lamb and devoured him.

Uplifting, huh? Another example:

Did you ever have a problem that can’t be solve by own? What did you do then? Did you ask an advice from your friends or your mother? Expression of giving advice is a common expression when we tried to help our friends with their problem. An advice can be a prohibition or warning to someone for not doing something. In this chapter you will learn how to give advice includes prohibition and warning expression.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. 


3 thoughts on “Nah…I’m Not Biased

  1. Oooo
    It sounds all too familiar. I have 13 essays to grade this weekend. What about having textbooks mailed to you? Is it too expensive? My colleagues and I could prbly come up with several boxes.

    • Thanks Anne, I appreciate your offer of help.

      We are currently in the midst of working on the book for next year (as they are mostly produced locally for each ‘county’), so hopefully this will really change that aspect of learning next year. However, we’ll keep your offer in mind, should things go off track (highly likely!).

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