Why our ToEFL Scores never Exceed 600?
By Said Muniruddin
This a a reflection by the end of Pre-Academic Training of Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program. Though we have spent a plenty of time at PPB-UI to master English, beginning from September 2004 until March 2005, we still make a slow progress in TOEFL. According to the excessive time we have consumed, started from 8.00 am to 3.00 pm, from Monday to Friday, within the last 5 months, it should have sharply improved our ability in the subject. We all should have gained score of 600 in ToEFL now.
So, what have made our progress running slow? I believe that factors like indiscipline, lack of nutrition, psychological aspects, nothing to be sacrificed, and less control from the head of PPB-UI have contributed to our failure in scoring 600 on ToEFL.
Firstly, “indiscipline” has become a major factor of our failure. We came to class anytime we desired. Besides frequently absent from class for no reasons or without any single information, we also attended the class not on time. We arrived at class half an hour late or even more than that. To illustrate, Said Muniruddin, an EAP II student living in Kalibata, argued that living far from Salemba and waiting for train in the morning as an excuse for being late. While some other students living close to PPB-UI also not only came to class late but even with no logic reasons why they are late. Another strange habit of the students was skipping from class for certain businesses. In fact, it was only a strategy to escape from a monotonous class. Lack of discipline has absolutely caused us not to involve all-out in studying. Therefore, our TOEFL score is fairly stagnant.
Secondly, we weren’t able to absorb the lessons intensely due to “the lack of nutrition”, too. That was the reason why many Cohort-3 spent their time sleeping during the class. Observing this phenomenon, I sometimes rethink whether we were now in the bedroom or in the classroom. However, I fully understood that it was difficult to stay awake in studying while our brain was lack of vitamins, proteins, calcium, carbohydrates and other important elements. As far as I know, most cohorts come from marginalized areas whose parents are poor (or at least they claimed their parents as being poor). If so, they were not fed well by their family, which results in brain capacity being below the average. It seems we have to consume a lot of nutritious food during PAT to get score of over 600 in ITP- test.
The next cause that let us fail to get higher ToEFL score is “psychological aspects.” In particular, far away from wife/ husband/ children/ family has knocked down our enthusiasm in studying. We hesitated to participate in the class since our brain was hard to focus. We were in the class but our mind was somewhere else. Furthermore, when homesick comes, we hardly spoke and we were not interested in the discussions. Only give the students a chance to visit their family once in a while can it cure their psychological illness. Unfortunately, many students are from very distance provinces where it is impossible to go home regularly. As a consequence, its psychological disorder forces them not to learn ToEFL consistently.
Furthermore, that IFP fellows-elect “pay nothing” for their need during the Pre-Academic Training (PAT) is a fact. Amazingly, we get everything for free: ticket fares, English course tuition fees, also monthly living allowances. Life is somehow getting easy now. We don’t need to work to earn money. What we have to do now is only checking our bank account at the beginning of the month, in which Rp 1.500.000 is already transferred. Our life becomes easier. Everything is provided by IIEF (Indonesian International Education Foundation). It has an effect to change our character to be indolent. Nothing to be sacrificed; thus, we take it easy. For instance, computer lab is provided to boost our ToEFL score. Instead, we use it for mailing for hours rather than doing exercises. As a result, we forgot our main objective that is studying. Our teachers urge that we study hard to meet the university requirements. In the mean time, Ford Foundation commands that fellows-elect be a future leader. I am afraid that good facilities we have received are so exciting that we ignore the ending goal stated by the sponsor.
Lastly, “the shortage of sudden inspection” by the head of PPB-UI, who has a great authority to control student’s performance, contributes to a negative impact to student’s diligence. An insufficient observing to student attendance will allow students neglecting their self-discipline. Here, I request that Mrs. Sisil govern a face to face talk with obstinate students more often. It is true that students are mature enough and it is their own responsibility for any accomplishment. However, we cannot deny that students are indeed ordinary human beings who tend to make regular mistakes. If the Chairwoman of PPB-UI seldom encourages student’s, it will reduce student’s spirit in gaining favorable outcome in the ToEFL room.
As we have seen, there are 5 major determinants that contribute to a result of not getting 600 or more in ToEFL score. They are indiscipline, lack of nutrition, psychological aspects, nothing to be sacrificed, and less control from the head of PPB-UI. Therefore, we can probably attain a better English competency if only we do aware and serious to overcome those deficiencies. Otherwise our English course is merely time-consuming. *****
(This is a writing assignment during the Pre-Academic Training [PAT] of Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program [FF-IFP] at PPB-UI Salemba, Jakarta: September 2004 – March 2005).