That Tuesday afternoon, at state junior high school SMPN 6 in Kediri, East Java, 30 students began their selection of English performances on an uneven wood stage. Carefully stepping on the crooked planks, the seventh-graders, with their self-effacing and bright faces, exhibited what they had learned over two months in their afternoon and evening English classes.
In the hot constricting air, with hundreds of people in a small school hall, English became a trouble-free language, which looked so easy to understand and acquire.
To the Javanese villagers, whose daily language is Javanese and many of whom do not speak Indonesian, their children’s speaking English on stage — with their plays and songs, poems and jokes — seemed to be a divine revelation.
Some of the girls, wearing veils symbolizing their adherence to Islam, were attired with British flag T-shirts or ...