Terrific Teachers – Keith Fletcher

Terrific teachers title pic

My journey with Indonesian language education over the last twenty-plus years has been touched by some amazing people whose passion for Indonesian language, culture and travel have really inspired me. Some are current practising teachers, some are not, their life paths are all different but they all have one thing in common and that is; a special love for Indonesia. I’m very grateful that they are willing to share their stories and connections to Indonesia right here on the blog.

Selamat berkenal dengan Pak Keith Fletcher.

I believe some things are meant to be and some people’s paths are meant to cross. I think that’s how it was with Pak Keith and I. Pak Keith and I met whilst both working for the DEECD {Department of Education and Early Childhood Development – Victoria}, a happy coincidence as we both have a great passion for not only learning bahasa Indonesia but also travel throughout Indonesia’s more remote islands and photography too. We worked on numerous Indonesian educational projects together and although we have both left the DEECD now, we have remained good friends and continue to catch-up when we can, either in Indonesia or in Melbourne.

Pak Keith

Tell us a bit about yourself.

After a classroom teaching career of more years than I care to remember, and a couple of years as a regional LOTE consultant, I decided that my future lay in retirement! And I am very much looking forward to it. I even decided to take a look into a fixed term annuity, but I have yet to decide if that is the right thing for me.We purchased a house on the north Bali coast, and amongst other things do some volunteer teaching work while trying to learn as much as I can about Balinese culture, especially music and dance. And continuing to improve my bahasa Indonesia! I urge you to take these steps for a peaceful retirement also when your time eventually comes!

Why Indonesian? When and what got you started to learn bahasa Indonesia?

I first visited Indonesia (Bali and Java) with a couple of mates way back in 1975, and picked up a few words. A 2 month solo trip in 1978 included then-remote parts of Sulawesi and Sumatra, and it became necessary to learn enough to fend for myself. Further trips to Indonesia followed occasionally over the years, and when the opportunity came to retrain as an Indonesian teacher I jumped at the chance. (I was in desperate need of a change from being a science teacher!)

Photo credit: Keith Fletcher

Why do you think Indonesian is so important for Australian students to learn?

It’s the national language of our near neighbor. Tens of thousands of Australians visit Indonesia (alright, Bali) each year. Misunderstandings between our two nations continue to occur, and a better mutual grasp of language and culture is vital to regional harmony.

If we sat in your Indonesian Language classroom, what are 3 things we would see or do?

You would almost certainly sing a song! You would be engaged in some sort of conversation in Indonesian you’ve already learnt. And you would be learning some new vocabulary or sentence structure through a game or activity.

What has been your toughest obstacle in Languages education? How did you get past it?

Probably student and parental indifference to any language learning, and in the period following the Bali bombings, outright antagonism. I guess I just pressed on trying to make Indonesian fun and interesting, and as often as possible in a small country town, tried to provide opportunities for students to meet “real” Indonesians.

Photo credit: Keith Fletcher

What is your biggest achievement in life so far?

Modesty forbids.

What’s your favourite place in Indonesia? Why?

I love Bali, I’ve lived here for 5 years and never tire of its endless variety. But my favourite place to visit in Indonesia is the island of Flores; it has scenic attractions beyond belief, traditional tribal areas as yet not ruined by tourism, lovely people and of course Komodo dragons.

What’s your favourite Indonesian dish? And restaurant? {in Indonesia or in Australia}

Oh, so many favourites! Currently I’m a big fan of ‘serapah cumi’ (octopus in a delicious coconut sauce). My favourite restaurant is my local cheapie in Lovina, JBs Warung. The night market in Seririt has some great stalls too.

If you were an Indonesian animal, what would you be? Why?

The temple monkeys in Bali look like they have a pretty laid-back attitude to life, and I do like bananas …

I’m not smart enough to be a kancil!

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Photo credit: Keith Fletcher

If you could wag school {or work} for a day, what would be on your list to do?

I’m sorry, I no longer have to work or go to school – but every day high on my list is to go out and experience the wonders of Indonesia and hopefully to get some nice photos as well!

{Check out Keith’s photography website; Jepun Segara Photography here and for a website set up for a local music and dance group; Sanggar Pentas Marak Lestari, here.}

Thanks so much for sharing Pak Keith.


    • indospired says

      Thanks so much Pak Keith! That’s very kind of you! And thanks again for allowing me to interview you and to share a little about yourself on the blog! 😉

  1. Peregrinationgourmande says

    How beautiful the pictures are from the dancers. Bravo Keith. I love them. Indonesia is definitely on my list. I have a lot of French friends who went there they just loved it! Nice interview Julie! Very clever! In France depending the region you live in you have to learn for many years your neighbor language ! Plus English. Xx Cathy

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