INTERNET, ENGLISH AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF LITERACY AMONGST GENERATION Z

By: Dahniar Sarahdevanty Aulia Anggika

(10 MIPA-2)

As most of us know, we are currently in the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0 that mainly focuses on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real time data. The shifts into the latest digital revolution have led to a borderless world connected with the internet, that marks the advancement of information, communication and technology (ICT).  In line with this, society has also been revolutionizing into Society 5.0, a human centered society that integrates cyber space and physical space. The integration of cyber space and physical space as well as the digital revolution has embraced various sectors of human life, including education. With unlimited resources available on the internet, knowledge, science and skill that is at the heart of education goals as well as achievements, people can access information extensively through their fingertips.

The significant use of the internet for education has been even more important in today’s situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. In such a situation, School from Home has been the best solution to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus. In this, the school system has relied on the internet to maintain connectivity and the transfer of knowledge between teachers and their students. The internet has supplied us with online video conferences to continue with our education in the New Normal Life. Yet, with all of the advancement of the internet, ICT, the abundant and unlimited resources available online, will mean nothing if people do not access, do not read, and even worse, if people do not write. If people do not write, there will be no more updated written resources online. If people do not read, the abundant resources will just sit there in vain without anyone putting it to benefit. What a pity. These two (reading and writing) are at the heart of literacy. Thus, it can be said that the advancement of internet has also increased the use of literacy.

What is literacy? According to Cambridge Dictionary, literacy is the ability to read and write. As we know, reading is the window to the world. This clearly reveals the fact that reading is important.  Besides reading, writing is also one of the most important skills we need to be capable of. An Indonesian writer, Pramodya Ananto Toer, once said, “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah. Menulis adalah bekerja untuk keabadian.”. Which, translated to English, means; “People can have sky high intelligence, but as long as they do not write, they will be lost in society and from history. Writing is work to eternity.”

Sources of literacy varies from books, journals, letters, to digital literacy, such as e-Books and digital documents. Literature varies in so many different genres, it would be impossible to get bored nor to be unable to find written works that interest us. There are plenty of books suitable for every age group as well as any interest. Whether fiction or non-fiction, literacy in general is highly important. Watch the YouTube video on the importance of reading by clicking this URL link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbCJqdrzwcE

Now that we understand more about ‘Why Reading is Important’, we can come to the conclusion that reading has many benefits and is a crucial skill we need to master in order to acquire our education. Pleased to know about this important piece of information according to this data in the charts bellow from https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Indonesia/Literacy_rate/, our beloved country, Indonesia, has been maintaining and increasing its high Adult (15+) literacy rate, with a number of roughly 95 percent since 2014.

Chart 1: Recent values of Indonesia’s Literacy Rates

Chart 2: Longer historical series of Indonesia’s Literacy Rates

Sources: https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Indonesia/Literacy_rate/

Unfortunately, a few other sources report that Indonesia has poor childhood literacy rates, especially in many small villages. Interest in reading is the main and significant reason behind those numbers in literacy rates. But, other than that, the internet and the high number of English speakers has also made a big impact, especially towards our generation, Generation Z’s literacy rate.

To reiterate, internet, a large source of social connectivity amongst people all around the world, has been allowing us to access written information excessively. With many search engines, websites, and reports, the internet almost never fails to deliver us the right information. With the internet, we can stay updated to news even outside our range. The internet is also a source of digital literacy, that thoroughly supports Generation Z’s interest in reading. Digital literacy apps include:

  • Twitter, that allows us to share our thoughts through short messaged words and media, called tweets, with big audiences. It is full of information and updates on topics we choose to catch up with. Gen Z enjoys tweeting and reading tweets from their favorite celebrities and influencers.
  • Wattpad, that connects writers and readers around the globe through story. The most popular stories on Wattpad seem to be topics that interest young adult range (15-24) such as romance, drama, romantic comedy and Some of the stories published on Wattpad have been so successful that producers were captivated enough to turn the stories into movie franchises.
  • Webtoon, another digital literacy app that focuses on literature in the form of comics, anime and manga. It provides many stories from different genres for us to read, as well as tools for us to get creative and make our own stories.

These apps on the internet are an effective way to raise and sustain interest in reading. It allows us not only to read, but also to write our own stories to be published and read by any user of the internet. The never ending list of authors never fail to come up with fascinating stories that grabs our attention. By us, Gen Z, reading what interests us through these digital literacy apps, we slowly exit our comfort zone and go outside the box to other advanced literatures. This is the meaning behind the internet’s effectiveness in raising and sustaining interest in reading, therefore also giving a boost to our literacy rate.

Along the above, a great website we can take advantage of on the internet to support our literacy activities is GoodReads, https://www.goodreads.com/, where we can review books, recommend and get recommendations of books to read from friends or mutual, have a target of how many books we annually read, and so much more. With the internet, we can also become a writer and publish our own blogs online using the digital literacy apps mentioned earlier, as well as BlogSpot, to share with the world. Our writings could be exceptionally beneficial to those who seek for information and help raise literacy rates with our engaging words.

It is important also to note that English, being a globally spoken language used to communicate understandably with people around the world, has been chosen as the language for most written works. Both of these factors help majorly in raising interest in reading. Read and understand this poster on why we should learn English

https://drive.google.com/file/d/15-eYEFBJkfMoArI4emN1dukY1ET_L5FO/view

But, according to their website, https://www.ef.com/wwen/epi/regions/asia/indonesia/, Indonesia’s EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) is disappointingly low. With a number of 453, ranking 15 out of 24 in Asia, and 74 out of 100 countries/regions worldwide. It is extremely important for us, Gen Z’s, to learn the basics of English because it is widely spoken on the internet.

But, below all these benefits, there are also negative effects of the internet along as the spread of English. These negative effects consist of three points: Firstly, with the help of error correction our gadgets and the internet provide for the English language, people became unaware with their grammatical and punctual mistakes; Secondly, the decrease of creativity and originality due to editing, mainly the modern feature of copy and paste; Lastly, short form of messaging/texting without the completing the sentences as well as incorrect grammar that will lower writing abilities.

All in all, internet and the use of English language has a lot of positive impacts in literacy, but on the other hand, it also has a few negative impacts. So, we, as Gen Z, should be able to make use of the internet positively to increase our literacy rate together for a better future.

#Saya generasi muda yang peduli literasi! Artikel ini ditulis sebagai bentuk serta EF Literacy Day Competition 2021: https://www.ef.co.id/writing-competition