Learning L3 English Early: A Danger to L1 Indonesian Language Acquisition?

Septhia Irnanda, Sarair Sarair


Since the future of the world is English, many countries now include English in their primary education curriculum, so language proficiency can be achieved more quickly and effectively. As two or more languages knowledge are competing linguistically in the brain, the early introduction to English means putting the other languages known by the Indonesian English language learners in a competition. On the other hand, despite its controversy, bilingualism and multilingualism, when achieved fully and proportionally, is cognitively and socially beneficial. This article reviews the potential effects of including English early in the Indonesian curriculum and the recommendation for the Indonesian’s future multilingual education and research. The discussion resulted in some important conclusions. Firstly, considering the Indonesian-English far typological distance, learning English requires some time and cognitive effort. For Indonesian bilinguals/multilingual, this means early introduction to English means higher confidence in producing the language verbally later on. During this early learning of English, the Indonesian language (and any other ethnic language that forms the speaker’s identity should also be used simultaneously to create the same purpose; a sense of belonging towards and confidence in using the language(s). In short, multilingualism that includes foreign language instruction; national and minority language use and maintainance,  should be enhanced and normalised from childhood.


EFL, Bilingualism; English; Indonesian; Age of Acquisition

Full Text:



Afifah, R. (2012). Bahasa Inggris akan dihapus dari Kurikulum SD. Kompas. com. https://edukasi.kompas.com/read/2012/10/11/11404612/Bahasa.Inggris.Akan.Dihapus.dari.Kurikulum.SD

Ainsworth, S., Welbourne, S., & Hesketh, A. (2016). Lexical restructuring in preliterate children: Evidence from novel measures of phonological representation. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37(4), 997–1023. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716415000338

Arizmendi, G. D., Alt, M., Gray, S., Hogan, T. P., Green, S., & Cowan, N. (2018). Do Bilingual Children Have an Executive Function Advantage? Results From Inhibition, Shifting, and Updating Tasks. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49(3), 356–378. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0107

Baedhowi, B. (2016). Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (KTSP): Kebijakan Dan Harapan. Jurnal Pendidikan Dan Kebudayaan, 13(65), 171. https://doi.org/10.24832/jpnk.v13i65.323

Barac, R., & Bialystok, E. (2011). Cognitive development of bilingual children. Language Teaching, 44(1), 36–54. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444810000339

Bassetti, B. (2007). Bilingualism , Biliteracy and Metalinguistic Awareness : Word Awareness in English and Japanese Users of Chinese as a Second Language. Bisal, 2, 1–21.

Bialystok, E. (2007). Language acquisition and bilingualism: Consequences for a multilingual society. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28(3), 393–397. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716407070208

Bialystok, E., Peets, K. F., & Moreno, S. (2014). Producing bilinguals through immersion education: Development of metalinguistic awareness. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(1), 177–191. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716412000288

Bongaerts, T. (1999). Ultimate Attainment in L2 Pronunciation: The case of very advanced late L2 learners. In D. Birdsong (Ed.), Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis (pp. 133–160). Mahwah: Lawrence Elbaum Associates, Inc.

Dixon, L. Q., Chuang, H. K., & Quiroz, B. (2012). English phonological awareness in bilinguals: A cross-linguistic study of Tamil, Malay and Chinese English-language learners. Journal of Research in Reading, 35(4), 372–392. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9817.2010.01471.x

Goswami, U. (2008). The development of reading across languages. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1145, 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1416.018

Irnanda, S. (2018). Phonologial Awareness and Word Reading Development in Acehnese-Indonesian Bilinguals Learning English as a Third Language. University of the West of England.

Irnanda, S. (2019). Phonological Awareness and Word Reading Skills of Indonesian-Acehnese Bilinguals Learning L3 English. Asian EFL Journal, 23(3.4), 382–414.

Irnanda, S. (2021). Preparing and motivating seventh graders of Indonesian junior high school to learn English through a Pre-Vocabulary Instruction Program. Jurnal Dedikasi Pendidikan, 5(1), 25-36.

Jones, G. M. (2001). Bilingual Education and Syllabus Design: Towards a Workable Blueprint. In D. R. Hall & A. Hewing (Eds.), Innovation in English Language Teaching (pp. 99–107). New York: Routledge.

Kessler, B., & Treiman, R. (2003). Is English spelling chaotic? Misconceptions concerning its irregularity. Reading Psychology, 24(3–4), 267–289. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702710390227228

Lamb, M. (2007a). Motivation : An Indonesian Case Study. 41(4), 757–780.

Lamb, M., & Coleman, H. (2008). Literacy in English and the transformation of self and society in Post-Soeharto Indonesia. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(2), 189–205. https://doi.org/10.2167/beb493.0

Lamb, M. V. (2007b). The motivation of junior high school pupils to learn English in provincial Indonesia (University of Leeds). Retrieved from http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/261/1/uk_bl_ethos_485969.pdf

Metsala, J. L., & Walley, A. C. (1998). Spoken Vocabulary Growth and the Segmental Restructuring of Lexical Representations: Precursors to Phonemic Awareness and Early Reading Ability. In J. L. Metsala & L. C. Ehri (Eds.), Word Recognition in Beginning Literacy (pp. 89–120). New Jersey: Erlbaum.

Nababan, P. W. . (1985). Bilingualism in Indonesia: Ethnic Language Maintenance and the Spread of the National Language. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 13(1), 1–18.

Nichols, E. S., Wild, C. J., Stojanoski, B., Battista, M. E., & Owen, A. M. (2020). Bilingualism Affords No General Cognitive Advantages: A Population Study of Executive Function in 11,000 People. Psychological Science, 31(5), 548–567. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620903113

Scovel, T. (1988). A Time to Speak: A Psycholinguistic Inquiry into the Critical Period for Human Speech.

Setiawan, S. (2013). Children ’ s Language in a Bilingual Community in East Java taken from IN A BILINGUAL COMMUNITY IN EAST JAVA. (October).

Singleton, D., & Ryan, L. (2004). Language Acquisition: The Age Factor (2nd ed.; D. Singleton, Ed.). Toronto: Miltilingual Matters Ltd.

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business Research, 104(August), 333–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.07.039

Solari, E. (2014). Longitudinal prediction of 1st and 2nd grade English oral reading fluency in ELL. Journal of Adolescence, 74(4), 274–283. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits

Sumarni, B. (2016). THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MORPHOLOGICAL AWARENESS AND ENGLISH VOCABULARY KNOWLEDGE OF SIXTH SEMESTER STUDENTS IN IKIP MATARAM. Journal of English Language Teaching, 3(2). Retrieved from https://e-journal.undikma.ac.id/index.php/joelt/article/view/2430

Ter Kuile, H., Veldhuis, M., Van Veen, S. C., & Wicherts, J. M. (2011). Bilingual education, metalinguistic awareness, and the understanding of an unknown language. Bilingualism, 14(2), 233–242. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728910000258

Treiman, R., & Kessler, B. (1995). In Defense of an onset-rime syllable structure for English. Language and Speech, 38(2), 127–142.

UNESCO. (2021). Language Education. Retrieved from Global Citizenship Education website: https://en.unesco.org/themes/gced/languages

Ventura, P., Kolinsky, R., Fernandes, S., Querido, L., & Morais, J. (2007). Lexical restructuring in the absence of literacy. Cognition, 105(2), 334–361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2006.10.002

Wang, M., Ko, I. Y., & Choi, J. (2009). The importance of morphological awareness in Korean-English biliteracy acquisition. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34(2), 132–142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2008.12.002


Zhang, D. (2016). Morphology in Malay–English biliteracy acquisition: an intervention study. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 19(5), 546–562. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2015.1026873

Zhang, D., Koda, K., & Sun, X. (2014). Morphological awareness in biliteracy acquisition: A study of young Chinese EFL readers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18(6), 570–585. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006912450953

Ziegler, J. C., & Goswami, U. (2005). Reading acquisition, developmental dyslexia, and skilled reading across languages: A psycholinguistic grain size theory. Psychological Bulletin, 131(1), 3–29. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.131.1.3

Zipke, M., Ehri, L. C., & Cairns, H. S. (2009). Metalinguistic Awareness and Reading Comprehension : An Experimental Study. 44(1984), 300–321.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30601/dedikasi.v6i2.3072


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Creative Commons License
Jurnal Dedikasi Pendidikan oleh LPPM Universitas Abulyatama disebarluaskan di bawah Lisensi Creative Commons Atribusi 4.0 Internasional.

Berdasarkan ciptaan pada http://jurnal.abulyatama.ac.id/index.php/dedikasi.