English is a foreign language: even though, it is learnt by a lot of people around the world including Indonesians. The concerning persons learning the language are aware of the importance of the language whether as an oral or a written communication; it is an international language. Comparatively, among the languages in the world such as French, German, Mandarin, Russia, Arabic and the others, English is the most widely used both in a regional of an international conference, formal meetings among scholars from different countries who have different languages, commerce, trade. Politics, economy, education, etc. It is spoken by more than two-third inhabitants scattered in heterogeneous social layers.
In Indonesian educational circumstances, English is one of compulsory subjects which must be taught as the first foreign language from junior up till senior high schools. In university, it is learnt for about eight semesters, particularly in English department and at least for about two semesters in non-English departments. Even, since 1990, it is taught as an elective or a local content in several elementary schools, especially in big towns or cities in Indonesia.
The primary goals of teaching learning English in Indonesia are in order that the students master the four English skills namely listening, speaking, reading and writing in accordance with their levels of educations.
Speaking in one hand, and writing on the other hand, is the most sophisticated skill compared with listening, and reading. It is implied the language skill forcing the learners to be creative and active in producing and expressing new utterances for communication in particular situations. The learners, in this case, should be alert to pose their ideas naturally. This activity, therefore, is dependent on situational horizons, in which those utterances cannot be prepared before in longstanding times. Drills occasionally just function restrictedly, as a facility, and cannot be a determinant of handling contextual situations. The question which appears is, why speaking comprises the most difficult skill beside writing.
Speaking belongs to the most sophisticated skill because the English speaking people must communicate directly with their opponents and do not have long opportunities to construct ideas beforehand. The speakers and their mates will interact and talk interchangeably, so they, themselves, also apply as the assessors among them. Of course, the capability of English speaking people can be assessed through the interaction. For the reason capability or unacceptability of the person is visible and can be measured immediately.
English lecturers, as responsible persons of learners’ speaking ability, formally, have made a great deal of efforts to anticipate as well as to solve the weaknesses of learners’ speaking skill through applying up to date methods, approaches, and techniques. However, up to the present time, it is realized by all of them, lecturers, that the learners’ competences as well as their skills are still poor. This can be traced from the English particular score or generally, the students’ passing grade such as found at English department of universities which is still a pie in the sky. The celerity of mastering the skill among educators, administrators, curriculum planers is also still debatable. They have not come in the same agreements of invaluable solution yet.
General complaints, however, can be limited time allotment, the difficult environment, the big classes, the minimum time meetings, and so forth (Sadtono, 1996). And last but not the least, why the English speaking mastery in Indonesia is still low is because, it is not applied as a second official language as in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Hong Kong. Ramelan (1991) says our government is fear to establish English as an official language for she worries about that the language will supersede Indonesia by which English will be an official means of communication and replace Indonesia later on, such as Dutch in the Dutch Colonial time. But it is not a reasonable argument since Indonesians have had strong bulwark against the colonialism. The fear is sometimes, predicted as a source of coming troubles, although it is not a fair assessment.
Indeed, if lecturers conduct a regular or an actual observation, basically the learners’ obstacles in studying English can be divided into two aspects namely linguistic and non-linguistic factors. Those factors then, can be divided and subdivided into many kinds. One of the non-linguistic factors that the writer apprehends coming from the learners is anxiety.
by: Mr. Ruwandi, MA