Here I am in Malang, Indonesia. Last Thursday night when I was on the first stage of my journey heading for Kuala Lumpur, a volcanic eruption about one hundred kilometres away from Malang shut down many of the airports in Java and extended my journey from Canberra by about three days. However, last Tuesday I arrived on the train after being rescued by my sponsor, Ibu Yuni, who is also the Dean of the Faculty and the Director of International Operations when she isn’t trying to take care of me.
I knew I would be valued as a native speaker of English but I when I heard the students using the word guru to describe me at the markets I thought they were taking things a bit far. I have since checked and it seems guru is a just word for teacher here so I can relax.
This is of course a non-immersion English learning environment so every chance the students can get to communicate is precious. My appalling lack of Indonesian is embarrassing but this is a student town and all students learn English, so the brave ones like a bit of a chat with me in English if they get a chance down at the supermarket or in the park.
I am being treated very well. I see the students heading for the classrooms at 6.30 in the morning but my classes commence at 9.10. I have two classes of General English students, one class of English Majors (twice a week), a class of Non-English teachers (with a few deans thrown in) and finally, a class of English teachers.
Last week was straightforward as I followed an interactive lesson plan which was based on introductions. As a keen movie goer, I included a couple of questions about films and it seems that, while the teachers aren’t big on films, the students are crazy about the Twilight series. I will watch one tonight.
The students all know everything there is to know about the Harry Potter books and films too, so he is now on the list for inclusions in some future lessons.
This week I will start to get serious about pronunciation and will also try out some Tiny Texts. See my earlier post about these or, hopefully, follow the link. However listening to Tina Williamson’s lovely Australian voice reading the texts makes me homesick! Everyone seems happy with learning about what how everyday Australian conversations are like so I am glad to have copied my regulation maximum 10% of a few of the Living in Australia texts.
So what’s Indonesia like?
There is so much that is new and different about Indonesia. For a start, there are the calls to prayer coming from loudspeakers placed on mosques around the university. They occur for at least twenty minutes five times a day and today, Sunday, I was woken at about 4am and then at about 6am. The volume is very high and the sound is not coordinated resulting in a loud cacophony.
It is the wet season and I am starting to feel soggy. My clothes, which I handwash, take days to dry. Another thing for me to get used to is internet access. I spend a lot of time in the student WiFi hotspot so I can use my phone and MacBook. Only senior staff have computers with internet connections, but I am allowed to go to the office if I want to and can access the web on the desktop computer and use the printer.
That is enough words for now. I am heading off to the office to do some fairly slow printing and then to the WiFi hotspot with my anti-bacterial wipes (the students are pretty grotty) to finish downloading a Twilight (Eclipse) film. So it’s going to be a big night in tonight. Maybe I should to back to the supermarket for popcorn….
ps. Twilight was awful.