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2014 September • English Classes with students at Raudlatul Falah, an Islamic high school in Java

Dear Friends,

We have been back in Indonesia for a month now. We are again staying at Peace Place in Pati with Nanik, Petrus and Tito who are Mmenonites (a peace church).

What have we been doing? This is a story of our Friday mornings. Read on …



Judith, Vidya and Nanik visiting Raudlatul Falah, an Islamic high school in Java on 5 Sep 2014. Qoqom, an English teacher can be seen in a blue top and the Principle, Astadi, is holding his small son.

We have visited the school, Raudlatul Falah, an Islamic high school in Java on three Friday mornings so far. As most Indonesians do, we get up early to be ready for the motorbike trip at 6:30 am. We arrive at school as prayers are finishing and classes starting at 7 am.

Our first visit was met with amazed looks from the Year 7 to 12 students who do not see many foreigners. (They also have only one non-Muslim teacher.) The students were friendly, crowding around to see us. 

Naturally talkative and excited, the Year 10, 11, and 12 students were suddenly formally polite and too shy to speak in our English conversation classes. We began by talking about Australia and Nepal, writing new words on the board. We then divided into two groups and used sharing circles and games from our peace activities (AVP). We often adapt the energetic “Vegetable Cart” game to learn pronunciation and vocabulary.

Vidya has an easy time with 15 girls in Year 12 and their teacher Qoqom. We sit in a circle and share on simple topics such as “an activity I like” and “my idea of a good friend”. On the third visit we went outside under the shady jati trees and talked about what we could see. We lighten up with a game each session.

Judith works harder with 35 girls and boys in Year 10 and 11. For two hours she uses persistent friendly encouragement to elicit conversation and practice pronunciation, and exhausts them with games such as Vegetable Cart and Houses and Tenants.

Judith working with students by playing games such as Vegetable Cart and Houses and Tenants.


We are learning about the Indonesian language indirectly by what our students find difficult. Our students struggle to remember to match s/he to the gender of the person consistently, to match is/are to the singular or plural noun, and to use a/an/the with nouns. We learn about Indonesian pronunciation rules by how they try to say English words. Then they laugh with us when we try and pronounce Indonesian words.

The school is in the village of Gembong about 15 km from the centre of Pati, a regional town in Central Java with dense urban villages squeezed in among fields of maize and cassava.

The principal, Astadi, and teachers at Raudlatul Falah Senior Secondary High School value pluralism and relationships with people of different religions. They are also glad that their students can be brave and converse with native English speakers.  

We enjoy our conversation classes and hope to visit again,

Vidya and Judith