A. Background of Study
Government has paid attention to the education for a long time. It can be seen from the government's seriousness in constructing the constitution including education problem. Its seriousness is stated in the opening part of the constitution that is :
"Tujuan pembentukan Pemerintah Negara Indonesia adalah melindungi segenap bangsa dan seluruh tumpah darah Indonesia dan untuk memajukan kesejahteraan umum, mencerdaskan kehidupan bangsa, dan ikut melaksanakan ketertiban dunia yang berdasarkan kehidupan bangsa, dan ikut melaksanakan ketertiban dunia yang berdasarkan kemerdekaan, perdamaian abadi dan keadilan sosial" (Constitution Opening)
To reach one of the aims as stated above, that is to develop nation's mind, can be done through education. In accordance to the aim of the state, education is also regulated in the body of the constitution.
"(1) Setiap warga Negara berhak mendapat pendidikan; (2) Setiapwarga Negara wajib mengikuti pendidikan dasar dan pemerintah wajib membiayainya; serta (3) Pemerintah mengusahakan dan menyelenggarakan satu sistem pendidikan nasional yang meningkatkan keimanan dan ketaqwaan serta akhlak mulia da lam rangka mencerdaskan kehidupan bangsa." (1945 Constitution section 31)
Government realizes how important qualified education in Indonesia is, therefore, government has to make serious efforts to improve the quality of national education. People's need for getting more and more towards qualified education shows that education has become one of powerful and authoritative social life institutions, and also has important and strategic role in developing the country. Education has given significant contribution in developing the country from one period to another period, either before or after the independence of Indonesia. Various studies and experiences show that education gives broad benefits to nation's existence. Education can create educated people who become the main pillar to develop prosperous society. Education has improved people's awareness in order to make harmony and tolerance in diversity, and also to strengthen social cohesion and place nationality insight to create democratic people. In the other side, education also gives real contribution toward economic growth through educated workers mastering technology and having abilities.
Education has an important role to develop the country. To make it better, government has many innovations to improve the quality and create qualified students in order to continue to higher and better education. One of the innovations made by the government is to provide schools which refer to international standard. It is called Designated International Standard School. It is the implementation of national education regulation system year 2003, arising as the command for each region to have the International Standard School which refers to national and international curriculum.
This kind of school has firstly been available since 2006 and the rule underlining it is the legislation number 20 year 2003 section 50 sentence 3 stating that "Pemerintah dan/atau Pemerintah Daerah menye-lenggarakan sekurang-kurangnya satu sekolah pada semua jenjang pendidikan untuk dikembangkan menjadi sekolah yang bertaraf Internasional" (www.depdiknas.com).
There are some new inputs in the Designated International Standard School which makes it different from other national schools; that is, the use of English as the instructional language, air conditioner-classroom, multimedia facilities, letter-U seats, and limited students. Since English is used as the instructional language, automatically one of the selection tests to join in this school is English proficiency test like TOEFL. The reason of developing the Internationally Standard School is to increase the education level both primary and secondary education in order to be equal with other developed countries.
There are some languages used in this school, including Indonesian and English in which the use has been ruled in the regulation. Language has broad functions such as to communicate, to exchange, to convey meaning, etc. Language is a system of communication by sound, operating through the organs of speech and hearing among members of a given community and using vocal symbols possessing arbitrary conventional meanings. (Pei, 1966 : 141 as stated in Brown, 1994 : 4).
The Designated International Standard School uses English as the instructional language for certain subjects such as Mathematics and Science. Since Indonesian language is the mother tongue, and English is the foreign language, the school will face a difficulty to use English as the instructional language in teaching and learning activities.
Teaching means guiding and facilitating learning, enabling the learner to learn, and setting the conditions for learning (Brown, 1994 : 7), it means in teaching there is communication between teacher and students. Communication means the exchange and negotiation of information between at least two individuals through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, oral and written models, and production and comprehension processes (Richards and Schmidt, 1983 : 4). To make communication among them is not an easy thing. The language used should be effective in order that the materials can be transferred and understanding can be reached.
Since this school is a new program in our country, how it is run and implemented is still in question. The language used in which English should be used in teaching Mathematics and Science is also questioned. The main questions are how English is used in the Designated International Standard School and how it can make a good communication. This communication can be seen by the interaction between the teacher and students, and among the students. Good communication means that the materials can be transferred well; no misunderstanding between the teacher and student; no misunderstanding dealing with the materials; and also enabling learners to learn.
Based on the consideration above, the researcher is interested in carrying out A Study on Teaching-Learning Activities at Designated International Standard School (A Descriptive Qualitative Study at Designated International Standard School, SMPN X).
B. Problem Statements
Based on the background of the study above the problems are formulated, as follows :
1. How is the use of English in teaching-learning activities at the Designated International Standard School?
2. What are the strengths and the weaknesses in using English as instructional language in teaching-learning activities at the Designated International Standard School?
C. The Objectives of the study
The objectives that will be obtained in this research are :
1. To describe the use of English in teaching-learning activities at the Designated International Standard School.
2. To describe whether the use of English in teaching-learning activities at the Designated International Standard School can make the teachers and students communicate well.
3. To describe the strengths and the weaknesses of the use of English in teaching-learning activities at the Designated International Standard School.
D. Benefits of the Study
The research result is expected to be able to give some benefits, such as the following :
1. The study will give a clear description about the use of English in teaching learning activity at the Designated International Standard School.
2. The study will give clear description how far the teachers and students communicate during the lesson in which they use English as an instructional language.
3. The study will generally provide contribution for the improvement in using English as instructional language in teaching learning activities.