Learn English for a fraction of the price - in Indonesian village

Learn English for a fraction of the price - in Indonesian village
Students learning English in a classroom at one of the language centres in Pare, East Java. Courses run from two weeks to six months and cost between $10 and $25 a month. This is about a third the cost of similar courses in Jakarta.

INDONESIA - Every now and then, American or Australian tourists visiting the ninth-century Borobudur temple on the outskirts of Yogyakarta are approached by Indonesians wearing badges that say "in practice exam".

All the Indonesians want to do is chat - in English.

They are students who have travelled about 300km by bus from a village known as Kampung Inggris (English Village) for their final practical test in a six-month English language course.

Just a few metres away, their English instructor is grading them as they strike up a conversation with English-speaking tourists.

This method of assessment is the brainchild of Mr Kalend Osen, 68, who came up with a basic English course in 1977 in Pare, East Java, and helped turn the once sleepy farming town into the biggest and cheapest centre for English language classes in Indonesia.

Pare, also known as Kampung Inggris, is about three hours by road from Surabaya and boasts about 150 English language centres. The students stay in boarding houses and ramshackle dormitories in the midst of corn fields.

Business is booming.

Courses run from two weeks to six months and cost between 100,000 rupiah (S$10) and 250,000 rupiah (S$25) a month. This is about a third the cost of similar courses in Jakarta and about half the cost in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Kalend tells The Sunday Times why there is a high demand for English language classes: "If you apply for a job - say in a hotel, on a cruise ship - the first thing you'll have to be able to do is speak English."

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