Nowadays, being
able to communicate in English is necessary since it
becomes the most spoken language throughout the world. People have to set themselves into
multi-language individual in order to face the new globalization era. However,
is it necessary for Indonesian children under the age of ten learn to communicate in
English?

English as a language
contains both verbal and non-verbal aspects that children seem to acquire
quickly. We need to lead young learners/ children
closer to English as an international language. Many research findings have
shown that the earlier a child begins the better a child can learn foreign language. Children
learn sounds and vocabulary of their new language through imitation. The best
way for children in having the ability to communicate in English as foreign
language is reinforcing it at the earlier age. Therefore, the process will go
faster than the adults do.

“Children who acquire a second
language after the age of five may have a physical advantage in  that 
phonemic  control  of 
a  second  language 
is  physically  possible yet that mysterious plasticity is
still present. It is no wonder that children acquire authentic pronunciation
while adults generally do not, since pronunciation involves the control of so
many muscles.” (Brown, 2007).

According to Brown’s argument,
children under the age of ten can sound similar to their new language speaker
very quick and if young enough can become native-like
speaker of the new language although they never be the native speaker of
English.

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There is also authentic evidence
from video (www.youtube.com) showing a
research in language development. Dr. Deb Roy (Massachusetts Institute of
Technology) conducted the research by turning his house into language
laboratory observing the language development of his child. The finding shows
that in language acquisition, children pass beginning process stages between
the ages of 0 to 3 years old; they are the
pre-linguistic, one-word utterances, two-word utterances, and telegraphic
speech stages. After passing those stages children are ready to receive information and produce grammatical utterances by
imitating words and utterances from their caretaker. Thus,
the development of language can be observed and it is very interesting to know
how children produce their first grammatical utterances.

LAD (Language
Acquisition Device) plays the important role to gain that ability. Chomsky
(1959) argued that language was far too complex to be learned so competently in
such a short space of time, by cognitively immature toddlers, merely by
reinforcement (Chomsky, 1959). He argued that
people are equipped with a LAD. This contains a set of rules common to all
languages and allows children to learn any language, which they are exposed to. It can be seen that
children in the age of three comes to the
golden age of acquiring languages since LAD starts to work properly with
its universal grammatical rules in all languages that causing the process of
learning new language becomes quick and effective. In the golden age period, the brain is
optimally capable of acquiring a specific ability.

Children have specific ability
which can not be found after ten years old. Children are used to meet errors in
learning the new language, and they are not as likely to be embarrassed. They
also have more time for achieving proficiency than adults. Overall, those who
begin learning a language early have higher levels.

From those evidences and
findings above people consider to set their children in multi-language
circumstance in order to grow the ability of learning new language, especially
English. They believe that the earlier age in process of acquiring new language
will deliver the best cognitive abilities.

There are many advantages for children who communicate in English which is
mentioned in the following discussion.

First,
they are more creative and have better cognitive abilities than students who do not using English as
foreign language. It is found in
many children in Indonesian elementary school that students who master more
than one language are having better understanding in receiving materials from
the sources (books, teachers, internet, etc) because of the better ability in
processing informations they get from the sources into their brain as Stewart
(2005) argued “more creative and better problem solvers than students who do
not study a second language” (Stewart, 2005).

Second, being able to communicate in English as foreign language gives children
better opportunities to the higher education level. It has known from the above
findings that communicating in English at the later time is also gives good
quality in mastering, but the earlier is better. Therefore, parents or family with good education and economy background
are willing to prepare their children to be ready to have high education level
at the earlier time by reinforcing and supporting them in communication using
English. The main purpose in this perspective is study abroad and
scholarships. Many universities require good understanding and ability of
foreign language (mostly English) in order to be accepted. All scholarship
programs require extensive language preparation.

Furthermore, there are still
many benefits for Indonesian children to communicate using English as an
international language.

In the other hand,
communicate in English for Indonesian children under ten also gives
disadvantages in some particular reasons. But, it is better to discuss in
linguistics perspective only.

The aim of
communication is delivering message from the speaker to the listener. It needs
good comprehension in delivering and receiving meaning of the message.
Effective comprehension of language assumes that listeners have message to
deliver and in what order that message comes. Understanding what other people
say is more complicated because it involves a variety of skills, processes, and
knowledge.

Yule (1996)
stated, “pragmatics is appealing because it’s about how people make sense of
each other linguistically, but it can be a frustating area of study because it
requires us to make sense of people and what they have in mind” (Yule, 1996).
It has relationship with how children under ten learn their foreign language.
Although children under ten are in the golden age of acquiring language, it
does not mean that they have good comprehension in understanding meaning
because it needs ability that children under ten does not.

Deriving meaning
from others involves more than knowing the meaning of utterances and
understanding what is intended in it. Piaget (1955) proposed that children in
the preoperational stage show an inability to see any point of view other than
their own (Piaget, 1995). This means that
children can only take their own perspective and ignore to consider others
perspective. It will cause communication disorder if Indonesian children under
the age of ten communicate in English.

From those two
arguments it can be seen that children under ten are not ready to have
communication in foreign language (English) linguistically. They need to have
communication awareness in the next period of ages to reap intended meaning and
avoid misinterpret from others.

It
can be concluded by considering the advantages and disadvantages for children
under ten learn to communicate in English as an international language from two
different sides above. The pros provide advantages in future education and
cognitive ability of Indonesian children. In contrast, the cons show
disadvantage linguistically, Indonesian children may cause communication
disorder because they can only take their own perspective and ignore to
consider others perspective in communication. Therefore, it will lead them in
misinterpreting the message.

The
conclusion is Indonesian kids under the age of ten should learn to communicate
in English because those advantages will lead Indonesian children grow with
good education environment. However, the caretaker or parents should help them
in interpreting the message that may appear in conversation in order to avoid
communication disorder. 

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