Why TESOL? Why not other languages? Why English? To answer this question, I would explain it based on my personal knowledge by explaining the current position of English in the world in general and in Indonesia in particular.
In general, English is one of the six international languages used by the United Nations (UN) besides Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. In this sense, English is acknowledged as a means for communication among countries under the UN (193 countries). It is also the language predominantly used for delivering speeches by the General Secretaries of the UN ever since the UN was founded in 1945. This implies that English is assumed to be the first and most international language used by the world leaders. In other words, “English is the language that has been the primary language for international communication for several decades” (Basu, 2006). Another reason is that, although the number of English speakers in the world may be less than that of other language speakers like Chinese and Spanish, the number of English speakers is increasing rapidly not only the native speakers but also the non-native speakers of English are literally everywhere in the world. Graddol (in Basu, 2006) remarks that there are currently (1) 450 million English native speakers around the world in about 70 countries and (2) every year China is now producing 20 million English speakers (Chinese who can speak English) as well as (3) India with the total number of people as many as 1.065 billions have been using English for their national language (with regard to the fact that some Hindi people speak English as their second language while the others still consider English as a foreign language) since the country’s independence in 1947. Next, another reason why English is important is the fact that English is the primary language used in international business. Cross-border trading among nations is mostly conducted in English making it inextricable for people to expand their business through importing and exporting goods from other countries. The next reason why English is considered to be important is that it is the language mostly used in the internet. Around 50% of the sites in the internet use English. Here, we can imagine that English is the means to access and explore the infinitive cyber-world necessary for science and technology.
The reasons why English is important mentioned above are some of the many possible reasons enough to realise how English still holds the power of communication between nations. In other words, the globalised world now requires the world citizens to be able to communicate in English one another. Then, how about Indonesians? Let us take a closer look why Indonesia is likely in need of TESOL within a very long-term period.
Why does Indonesia need TESOL? With the population of around 240 million people, Indonesia is ranked fourth after China (1st), India (2nd) and the USA (3rd). This number represents the fact that Indonesia is considered to be a big nation. This big nation is complied with abundant natural resources. If we refer to these two factors, Indonesia should be a great independent nation which can make its citizens to be prosper; even possibly can excel other nations around the world in the rate of citizen prosperity.
However, it seems very hard for Indonesia to stand on their own feet at present due to the previous ‘mistakes’ made by the Indonesian previous leaders. To mention a few, there were 2 serious issues in which the government took a decision falsely.
One most prominent figure of Indonesia’s founding father is, with no doubt, Soekarno. This man had successfully been the man to put the cornerstone marking a whole new era for Indonesia. Although there are still unrevealed mysteries of Soekarno’s role in founding the country in relation to international matters, I think Soekarno made one crucial mistake which I point out as the mark showing that Indonesia tend to act upon Western authority, especially British. Here is why I could say such thing: In October 1945, when Indonesians were fighting against British army in Surabaya, Soekarno was asked by the British army to end the conflict himself as he is the president of the country. Soekarno went around the city proclaiming the Indonesians to stop the fight and hand in their weapons to the opponent although at that point Indonesians were in the winning position. Indonesians were surely surprised with the order as they were asked to surrender to the army although they were about to win the war in which one of the British generals named Mallaby was killed during the aggression. It was obscure why such thing could ever happen. It is still hard to understand why Britons had such power to give order to the incumbent president even to order his people to surrender even though they were about to win. It seemed that there was a sort of untold history hidden somewhere that has not been revealed. However, since that very day, Western countries especially Great Britain has been influencing Indonesian economics and politics; moreover, until now, it is true that Great Britain is the country that invests their capital in Indonesia more than any other countries.
Next, the subsequent president of Indonesia after Soekarno was not any better. Soeharto was convicted for loads of charges including corruption, collusion and nepotism. Even, the cases have been so massive that makes the next generations of Indonesia suffer debt unpaid until now. The thing is that he seems to own a great deal of debt to the USA and other developed countries as well as to the World Bank. Back to the question that starts this section: Why does Indonesia need TESOL? The answer is then, obviously enough, that the country has been strongly bound to Western countries especially those that took part in the Indonesian national history such as Great Britain and the USA and others. In other words, by having TESOL, it is expected that Indonesia can continue to maintain good relationships with English speaking countries especially those who still have economic and political matters with Indonesia for long.
Andrias Tri Susanto, S.Pd., M.A