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Societal Bilingualism

Societal Bilingualism

1. A Description of a Micro- and Macro-Context

Indonesia is the fourth largest world on population which is estimated to be 250 million. The country has several ethnic groups speaking approximately six hundred languages (Paauw, 2009). The Republic of Indonesia has Indonesian as its official language and encourages its usage across the Indonesian archipelago. The language is captured in Chapter XV of the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia that entails the national anthem, coat of arms, official language, and flag of Indonesia (Paauw, 2009). Furthermore, Chapter 3, from Section 25 to Section 45, there is government regulation number 24 of 2009 that recognizes Indonesian Language and gives its status. The Indonesian language is a symbol of national pride and identity in Indonesia. It is also the unifying language of the diverse ethnic groups in the country (Lauder, 2008).

The Indonesian provinces and several regional cultures also use the language as a means of communication. The Indonesian language is also the official language at the national level. It is also used in the education sector, trade and transaction documentation, national culture development, technology, mass media, and science in Indonesia. The Indonesian law acknowledges the Indonesian Language as the unifying factor. The language was conceptualized in 1928 and became officially recognized in 1945 by the constitution (Nababan, 1991). The language has been open thus influenced by other ethnic languages such as Javanese, which is the local dialect for the majority of the people. The influence has made it referred to as artificial language since it was designed by academicians as opposed to natural evolution that other languages have gone through (Weinstein, 1990). It has, therefore, absorbed several vocabularies including those of foreign languages.

The Indonesians national education object as indicated in Chapter 3 of the National Education System Law No. 20/2003 is to develop the potential of students to have good character, develop faith in God, have a healthy life, and be democratic, responsible, self-reliant, creative, and knowledgeable citizens. The most common language used in the Indonesian schools is Indonesia (Hawanti, 2014). However, many of the elementary schools in Indonesia use English as opposed to the ethnic languages to offer subject content. Most of the elementary schools have adopted the teaching of English due to its universality (Rachmajanti, 2008). On the contrary, Indonesian is not much common outside Indonesia. The use of English language has been due to loosely defined policies on school curriculum (Lestari, 2003). However, efforts have been put in place to ensure that English and other foreign languages do not gain popularity in the country (Alwasilah, 2013). The school policies have been promoting Indonesian even in the interior part of the country. Ethnic languages have not been accepted as a way of learning in the Indonesian schools. Even though students have shown linguistic deficiencies that can be solved through local languages even at the junior secondary levels in the remote areas such as islands and Java, teachers have not been given the chance to do so.

2. A Description and Justification of a Bilingual Program

The bilingual program will have the following characteristics; first, the instructions will be offered in the student’s first language. Second, the teaching of the subject matter will be sheltered. Third, it will have English as a second language instruction. The Indonesian students will first receive the main instructions in their primary language along with the English as second language instructions. In explanation, the students living the urban centres will receive their instructions through the Indonesian as the primary language (Kranshen, 1981). On the other hand, students in the interior part of the country that might not be able to understand Indonesian will have their local dialect as the primary language. As the students develop more proficiency in English, they will be introduced in a more contextualised language as they learn other subjects such as science and mathematics in a protected class that will have English as the language of teaching. Eventually, English will be used in the mainstream classes. In explanation, the sheltered classes will act as a bridge between the instruction in the mainstream and that in the first language classes. As the students move to the advanced levels, most of the subjects will be conducted in English. However, subjects that demand the abstract use of languages such as language arts and social studies will be done using the first language. Upon the completion of the mainstreaming process, advanced development in the first language will be offered as an option in the curriculum. As a result, the program has a gradual exit plan that aims at preventing the problems that might arise from a too early exit of children thus making them have an incomprehensive encounter of English. It will also ensure that instructions are provided in the first language whenever necessary. As a result, the plan will ensure that the children have advanced developments in their first language.

The bilingual program has some goals. First, the program will enable the Indonesians to learn a new language. The language in this context is English. English is the official language used in most of the countries hence learning it will expose the Indonesians more to the external world. Furthermore, it is the most common business language thus making it a necessity if one wants to enter the global workforce (Kranshen, 1981). Most of the best music, books, and films are produced and published in English thus making it appropriate for technological and career development. Lastly, most of the internet content is produced in English thus making it the only language that allows one to access the most of the online information. Second, the program aims to preserve the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Indonesians. As a result, the program aims to promote diversity and counter racism and tribalism. It allows the Indonesians and other people to be able to explore their unique culture. Diversity allows for the expression of the unique perspectives and transmits them through generations. Third, the program aims at helping the student enhance their academic achievement. In explanation, through English, the students can read several materials online thus gaining more knowledge.

The program, therefore, calls for availability of books in both second and first languages throughout the life of students. It also calls for encouragement of students to engage in voluntary reading so as to help them develop their literacy and knowledge through the first language (Kranshen, 1981). As a result, it will also enhance the development of the first language. The books should be in both the school and student’s home.

There are three main theorists in the field of acquisition of additional language and bilingualism. First is Jim Cummins with his “iceberg” theory of language interdependence. The theory argues that there are shared mental processes that underlie the learning of both the first and second language. He also argues that students need to acquire two types of languages: “basic interpersonal communicative skills” and “cognitive academic language proficiency” which are abbreviated as BICS and CALP respectively (George Washington University, 2016). BICS calls for fluency in the language and can take approximately two years to achieve. On the other hand, CALP is about the ability of the student to express and understand idea and concepts about schools both in writing and oral modes. It is approximated that it can take 5-10 years to achieve. According to Kranshen (1981), learning and acquisition are two distinct processes needed for learning an additional language. The two processes are critical for students to develop fluency in the new language. Language acquisition is the process in which the students’ acquire the second language informally through the class work settings. It is enhanced by the useful interaction between the teachers and peers in a risk-free situation that promotes confidence in the spoken language. On the other hand, language learning is the formal learning process of how a language works. In other words, it entails the languages’ conscious knowledge such as grammar. Lastly, Robert Garner developed several studies concerning the importance of motivation in second language learning (Gardner, 2010). He argues that there are key concepts that determine success in learning of the second language. These concepts are language anxiety, motivation, attitude, desire, and other personal differences. The other theories include the threshold theory that links bilingualism levels to cognition. It argues that students are more capable of gaining a cognitive advantage when they are closer and interacting. Lastly is the linguistic interdependence linguistic that argues that competence in the learning of the second language depends on the competence in the first language. The bilingual program should be initiated among the children at the early ages, as soon as they have knowledge of the primary language.

3. A Description and Justification of the Bilingual Assessment

Indonesia is a country with several ethnic groups which equate to more than 600 languages (Paauw, 2009). The first assessment should, therefore, help in determining the student’s level of understanding of the second or the first language. The suitable way would be conducting a caregiver or family interview so as to minimise the linguistic or cultural bias. The interview will help determine the deficits and expectations of the family and student. The test can only be made effective with the help of an interpreter in case the teacher does not understand comprehensively the language of the potential student. The interpreter will assist in the ironing out of the terminologies and processes. However, it is appropriate to use someone not related to the child so as to limit bias (Cruz, 2005). Through interpreters, critical information can be realised such as «I couldn’t understand him,» or «His use of preposition is incorrect.” Such information can help negate or support a given disorder among the learners. Pragmatic tests can also be used in the assessment of second language learning. However, the pragmatic testing is only suitable when there is no standardized or formal testing of the student’s primary language. The tests will help understand the student’s ability in the conventional language which is the foundation for the development of a more complex language (Arias, 2014). The same principle applies among the monolinguals since the first language learnt is through socialising. The second language complexity and usage can, therefore, be built only through the development of the social language. The standard testing not made for the particular language cannot be used to report the scores (Dollaghan & Horner, 2011). However, qualitative data can be used to support the findings. For instance, a teacher can develop the use of Oral and Written Language Scales since it is easy and takes less time to administer. In addition, dynamic assessment can be employed. The assessment entails the skill pre-test, an intervention addressing the skill and a post-test that will help determine the progress of the students. The dynamic assessment method is appropriate in evaluating the multilingual students. Furthermore, it is important to integrate a communication sample in each of the communication evaluation. It entails how the student uses language and whether it is much made of story retell or a conversation.

Bilingual language development should be characterised by some of the basic issues. First, there is the silent period which occurs during the child’s first exposure to the new language. The period usually takes six months or can go up to a year (De Lamo White & Jin, 2011). Some misidentification that might arise during the phase includes Autism Spectrum Disorder, language delay, and selective mutism. The silent period can also be triggered by the family situation of the students and change in school. As a result, interviewing the caregiver and the family of the child is very important in diagnosing the language disorder that the child is suffering. It is also important to understand that development of bilingual language can occur in two stages. The first stage is the Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills which is also known as the ‘conversational language.’ It takes approximately two to three years to develop. The second stage is the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency which is also called the ‘academic language’ and its development takes approximately five to seven years. The most common misidentification in the two phases are Specific Learning Disability and Language Disorder. In the context, a year entails a period of twelve months with consistent and constant exposure. As a result, it might take more academic years due to the breaks found within the periods.

The bilingual assessment will be conducted in several sections so as to be holistic. The first section will entail the parent interview and case history. The section will help in gathering the full history of the child including attainment, educational experience, medical information, and development history (Pert & Stow, 2006). Second is the assessment of the general comments. It has been observed that the bilingual children have a higher non-response rate when participating in language assessments and formal speech. Third, the process will entail the formal and informal direct assessments. Such assessment will include not be limited to the use of pictures and toys in the initial stages of learning (Hammer, Detwiler, Detwiler, Blood, & Qualls, 2004). The other assessment will be conducted based on verbal comprehension. The assessment will aim in the development of expressive language skills of the students. Assessments will also take consideration of the students’ expressions. It will entail assessing using people, objects, and activities that the children can recognise from their daily lives.

The strengths and weaknesses of the children will be evaluated and identified using the criterion-referenced assessment tools instead of the norm-referenced testing. Norm reference testing is a criterion in which an individual is assessed compared to a particular group which can be the classmates or age-mates (Kritikos, 2003). Standardized test scores will be used since the children will be all reflected in the assessment sample. The assessment criterion will provide a comprehensive description of the student’s limitation and abilities in the particular language tested (Roseberry-McKibbin, Brice, & O’Hanlon, 2005). The languages to be tested will be English and Indonesian or other local languages. For instance, a test given in English will determine the capability if the children to internalise and speak in English while the one in Indonesian will determine the ability in Indonesia (Caesar & Kohler, 2007). The test also will integrate the linguistically and culturally adapted in both of the languages being taught so as to compare the potential deficits. The test will, therefore, entail some elements of culture. Furthermore, the use of formal testing will be on the assumption that the children are exposed to the culture and educational context of testing that includes both the verbal and nonverbal components.


Alwasilah, A.C. (2013). Unlocking Indonesian language policy. Retrieved from policy.html

Arias, G. (2014). Bilingual Language Assessment: Contemporary Practice Versus Recommended Practice. Retrieved from

Caesar, L. G., & Kohler, P. D. (2007). The state of school-based bilingual assessment: Actual practice versus recommended guidelines. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools38(3), 190-200.

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Appendix A: The Proposed Program

Developmental Bilingual Education

Program Description

The Bilingual Education Program will help develop the Indonesian students’ literacy and fluency in their native language including Indonesian and English. It will also ensure that the students excel in their academics. The program encourages the development of a comprehensive bilingualism. The classes will focus therefore on promotion of grade, and enhancing students to be biliterate and bilingual.

Instructional Goals: To become biliterate and bilingual and meet the academic standards of achievement for promoting of the grades.

Program Components: You son/daughter will receive instruction in the areas checked:

_____ Reading and writing in English _____ Indonesian history in English

_____ Reading and writing in native language _____ Indonesian history in native language

_____ Specialized instruction in English (ESL) _____ Consumer education in English

_____ Mathematics in English _____Consumer education in native language

_____ Mathematics in native language _____ Health in English

_____ Science in English _____ Health in native language

_____ Social Studies in English _____ Driver’s Education in English

_____ Social Studies in native language _____ Driver’s Education in native language

_____ History and culture of your country and the Indonesian

Exit Procedures (Information in this section varies from district to district.)

The school offers the Developmental Bilingual Education program to students in grades _____. Because the program develops literacy in both English and the native language, students remain in the program even though they have achieved fluency in English. Our districts’ expected rate of transition into the mainstream is _____ % annually.

The expected rate of graduation for high school in this program is _____ .

Special Education Services

For disabled students requiring specialized services, language instruction meets the objectives of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Other Programs Offered at the School

  • Regular instruction for students who are fluent in English. Instruction is in English at all times. Native language is not used. No English as a Second language instruction is offered. The instructional goal is to meet grade appropriate academic achievement standards for grade promotion and graduation.

  • Information about any other program offered may be attached.

Appendix B: The Proposed Bilingual Assessment

The assessment is done with the student to:

  • gather basic information about them, their family and their experiences

  • assess their confidence in first language listening and speaking

  • assess levels of comprehension and production of written and spoken English text, and social and emotional state, including attitudes to self, school and circumstances.

The student is assessed using their first language for:

  • sound/letter knowledge

  • spoken vocabulary

  • retention of spoken language and structural strengths and gaps (ROL)

  • reading proficiency/competency – sound/word knowledge, basic word recognition, fluency, comprehension, recall, reread, writing proficiency/competency, written vocabulary, dictation, free writing, editing.

The student is also assessed in English to identify language strengths and gaps.