Indonesian skills put to the test
The foundation of the nation was built on Oct. 28, 1928. Young people heroically declared that Indonesia was their motherland and Indonesian as their language. And the youth today? Do they still have a similar sense of patriotism and idealism?
While patriotism is difficult to test, it is easier to gauge a person’s ability to speak Indonesian. People can match themselves against the UKBI Indonesian language test, as did several students at the Indonesian University of Education (UPI) in Bandung in late October.
Sitting in an auditorium of the Language and Arts Education faculty (FPBS), 200 enthusiastic students from various academic backgrounds took the test. It was offered for free by Balai Bahasa Bandung and Hima Satrasia UPI, a student language and literature group.
The UKBI typically comprises listening, grammar, reading, writing and speaking section, although only the first three were offered at UPI in October.
The questions were all multiple choice: 40 questions in 25 minutes for listening, 25 questions in 20 minutes for grammar and 40 questions in 45 minutes for reading.
According to Asep Rahmat Hidayat from Balai Bahasa Bandung, language skill was influenced by many factors, including age and education.
Some participants questioned before the test began were confident that they would ace it, especially those studying Indonesian literature.
Yet after all the pencils were put down, the students were more reflective. Some said the test was not as easy as they thought it would be. Others said their patience and attention to detail was put through the wringer in the reading section.
Many, however, were excited that they would receive a certificate for completing the test – which would help when looking for work.
“By taking the UKBI, everyone will be able to get accurate information on his or her language skills. In addition, the test also will be helpful for foreigners who would like to work in Indonesia,” Asep said.
Sanny Rohendi as head of the committee said that it was the first time Hima Satrasia UPI had offered the test.
The UKBI was made a standard instrument to gauge progress in Indonesian by ministerial decree in 2003.
UKBI as an issue came up among linguists during the Congress of Bahasa Indonesia IV in 1983, and further discussion was held in Congress of Bahasa Indonesia V in 1988.
In 1990, the Indonesian Language Center succeeded in making an evaluation instrument for the Indonesian language and it was named UKBI.