Sat, 08 Oct 1994

Improving English at speakers club

By Lenah Susianty

JAKARTA (JP): "This is a less expensive and effective way to learn or enrich your English vocabulary. You do not have to go to a private English course which will charge you between Rp 40,000 (US$18.34) and Rp 80,000 ($36.69) per hour. Just buy (the name of a local English daily)... for only Rp 700 (32 U.S. cents) you can learn English," states Kumiko Ota.

She spreads out a copy of the paper in front of her and shows it to the people crowding the room.

"This is how to learn: you do not have to read the whole newspaper, but only articles that interest you, and memorize five words a day," Mrs. Ota continues while displaying a piece of white paper with the figure five written on it.

"That becomes 30 words a week, 1,560 a year!" she continues, at the same time displaying two other pieces of white paper marked with 30 and 1,560.

"One more thing, with the publication of its Sunday edition, I now have interesting things to read on Sundays," adds the smiling woman dressed simply in a white T-shirt and yellow blazer.

If you are thinking that this is an advertisement for the newspaper you are reading right now, you will be disappointed to learn that it is actually about the Jakarta Speakers Club.

Mrs. Ota, from Japan, was presenting her graduation speech at the Jakarta Speaker Club last Wednesday. Her speech, along with four other women who graduated on the same day, was her baptism as a full member of the Club.

Founded in February last year, the women-only speakers club has several objectives including the promotion and improvement of the use of English as a second language, the development of self confidence by guided conversation and oral presentation, and to promote friendship and foster mutual understanding between women of different nationalities. In a larger sphere it could help bring peace on earth and to give women opportunity to extend their skills in oral presentation while socializing and doing good deeds in the community.

"Based on our experience in Malaysia, we saw that such a group is very useful and women can develop themselves in their spare time," said Insiyah Effendy, one of the four founders. She and two other founders, Umi R. Lengkong and Moelyani Syahriar, once resided in Malaysia.


However, Mrs. Effendy, who is also vice president of the club, said that English is the second language of Malaysian women so there is no big problem in using it. For Indonesians it is more difficult.

"You need to have self-confidence first. Therefore, our club helps and encourages everyone to develop that attitude," Mrs. Effendy told the Post.

The club, which is open to all women who are interested in making friends, socializing and speaking in English, provides a three-month course where participants are trained with basic techniques of expressing themselves publicly.

"However, we require an adequate command of English. At least an intermediate or upper intermediate level. If they are only at an elementary level, it may be too difficult for them to formulate sentences," said the club's instructor Latifa Sudiro.

"But, if someone really wants to join us, we suggest that they first take an English course at our affiliated school," Mrs. Effendy added.

After taking a preliminary three month speech course a participant is required to present a speech on graduation day. From that day on, she becomes a full fledged member with access to bimonthly meetings. During the meetings she can continue to practice her English through games, discussions and also field trips.

The year old club has 30 full members from various countries, including Japan and Korea.

"I do not want to mingle only with Japanese women, I want to make friends with local people and other expatriates residing in this country. Therefore I need to speak English well," Mrs. Ota said, "My English was poor, but now I am confident I can speak English."