Friday, August 14, 2009

Collaborative language learning in speaking class, why not?

As a new approach to learning process in a language class, to me is relatively new. It is a method of teaching that involves students to be more dominant during the session rather than the teacher as the centered point. Read More..

Thursday, July 2, 2009

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teaching and Learning English

In the era of globalization the need of acquiring a foreign language is urgently required. One of the foreign languages is English. English has been used as an international language since many years ago and it is spoken in many countries as the first or the second language as well as the foreign language. That is why English becomes a very important language to be learned and mastered in spoken and in written. Nowadays, English has been introduced in the elementary schools even but not significantly in preschools in Indonesia where English is as the foreign language. By learning English students are expected to be able to broaden their knowledge in every aspects of life. However the time in learning English in schools is limited and is not enough to master English generally. Even worse, the teaching and learning activities of English in schools are spent in learning mostly about grammar. Learning English means learning its four basic skills. The four basic language skills should be taught much more than grammatical rules. The four basic language skills including: speaking, writing, reading and listening. Speaking and writing involve language production and refer to productive skills. Listening and reading involve receiving message and refer to receptive skills. However, language users often use the combination of skills at the same time. Speaking is one of the productive skills. By speaking people can communicate and share their opinions orally, that is why the way of speaking of someone is very important because it reflects the speaker’s personality, education and social status. Speaking has much to do with pronouncing words that have meaning. By mastering vocabulary in one particular language such English, speakers can gain fluency in speaking. Words are really important in creating sentences. Word mastery is like fuel in vehicles. In lexical approach, Wilkins, 1972, who first explicitly mentioned suggested that: “Without grammar very little can be conveyed, but without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed”.1 Students of English find it difficult to start talking. Several reasons embodied this condition. First, they have very limited collection of words. Second they have a problem of building the words they have into phrases or sentences. Mostly, beginner learners lack of vocabulary especially for young ages such as children and teenagers. Vocabulary Vocabulary has been called the building blocks of language learning. There are even some teaching approaches such as the natural approach in which the proponents suggest that the most important thing in acquiring a language is vocabulary. Whether you agree or not with the point of view, there is no one who will say that vocabulary is unimportant. According to Betty Lou Leaver, Madeline Ehrman and Boris Shekhtman they state that “The more vocabulary you know, the more things you will be able to talk about, read about, write about and listen to well. The more vocabulary you know, the more option you have in selecting the kinds of grammar to use in speaking and writing”.’ 1. Definition of Vocabulary According to L G Alexander “vocabulary is one of the ability to deduce the meaning of words and phrases from a context and to explain them by means of other words and phrases”. It means if someone wants to understand the meaning of a sentence, need .to combine and arrange each word or phrases in a context to be a good grammatically sentence. And also based on Martin H Manser He states that “Vocabulary is total of number of words in a language,” It means that all words that the people use to develop their language. Based on Jack C Richard and Willy A.Renandya “vocabulary is a core component of language proficiency and provides much of the basis for how well learners speak, listen, read and write.” If someone wants to have a good ability in English like listening, speaking reading and writing. Vocabulary still has the important function to build. In order words, vocabulary is one of the important part and also core of the component of language that give much basis for how well people listen, speak, read and write. 2. Components of Vocabulary In order to know some words, students need to know the component involve them. According to Penny Ur., there are five components in vocabulary. They are: a. Form (pronunciation and spelling) The learner should know what a word sounds like (pronunciation) and what it looks like (spelling) b. Grammar An item may have an unpredictable change of form in certain grammatical contexts or may have some idiosyncratic way of connecting with other words in sentences c. Collocation The collocations typical of particular items are another factor that makes a particular combination sound ‘right’ or wrong’ in given context. d. Aspect of Meaning How the meaning of one item relates to the meaning of others. There are various ways such as relationship. They are synonym, antonym, hyponym, co-hyponym, super ordinates and translation. e. Word Formation Vocabulary items, whether one-word or multi-word, can often be broken down into their component ‘bits’ and also vocabulary items are built is by combining two words (two nouns or gerund and a noun or a noun and a verb) to make one item a single compound word, or two separate sometimes hyphenated words Harmer said that there are several things that the students should know in order to know word: (1) word meaning. (2) word use (3) word combination (collocation) and (4) word grammar. In brief, the writer assume that vocabulary components in form (pronunciation and spelling), grammar collocation and aspects of meaning which have a function in a sentence and word formation. 3. Ways in Explaining Vocabulary The way to make students get easier in acquiring many vocabularies, there are varieties ways in presenting vocabulary to students. Penny Ur states: a. Ways of presenting the meaning of new items 1.concise definition (as in a dictionary; often a super ordinate with 2.qualifications: for example, a cat is an animal which...) 3.detailed description (of appearance, qualities...) 4.examples (Hyponyms) 5.illustration (picture and object) 6.demonstration (acting and mime) 7.context (story or sentence in which the item occurs) 8.synonyms 9.opposite (antonyms) 10.translation 11.associated ideas, collocation b. Remembering Vocabulary c. Memorizing Word. 4. English Vocabulary Test Based on Madsen, Language components in communicating include vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. That is called sub skills. To test the language sub skills such as vocabulary, do not show exactly how well a person uses English, but they can help teachers diagnose students’ strength and weaknesses in oral or written communication. And also Madsen states “the purpose of vocabulary tests is to measure the comprehension and productive of words used in speaking and writing” There are four general kinds of vocabulary tests are presented. Which are: a. Limited Response In this test often use directed physical responses and visual. For this test, students do not have to know how to read or write. Usually this test used for beginners. b.Multiple-Choice Completion A good vocabulary test type for students who can read in the foreign language is multiple-choice completion. It makes the students depend on context clues and sentence meaning. This kind of item is constructed by deleting a word from a sentence and prepare a two-line mini dialog. Example: Sari feels so... she gets free ticket to go to Bali for 3 days. a. sad c. good b.happy d. well c. Multiple-Choice Paraphrase This test offer much of the same advantage that multiple —choice completion tests do, and the context are much easier to prepare. Such as find the synonm, antonym, and explaining the meaning. Example: The word twig is synonym of a. branch c. root b. trunk d.stalk d. Simple Completion (words) Word-formation items require students to fill in missing parts of words that appear in sentences. This missing part usually prefixes and suffixes. Example: (beauty). She has a beautiful new dress! 5. English Vocabulary Scoring System Generally, Vocabulary test is using objective test that can be scored with objective scoring, It means that every tester will give the same score. Hughes said that “If no judgment is required on the part of the scorer, the scoring is objective. If the judgment is called for, the scoring is said to be subjective”.” In word, the writer scores the vocabulary test with the objective scoring because it is commonly used in scoring vocabulary test. B. Speaking 1. Definition of speaking Speech is an integral part of the whole personality. That is why, the way of speaking of someone is very important because it reflects the speaker’s personality, education and the social contacts. Speaking is also one of productive skills. By speaking, people can communicate and share their opinions orally. Read More..

How to make tongue tied students speak.

Making tongue tied students speak It's true that every one has different style and ability in the way he or she learns something, also in English class room. Students have variety of style the way they learn the language. To my experience as an English teacher, some learners tend to show their domination in every session of the class. They are very active and talk active. Some are shy and reluctant to speak although have been given stimulus to the learning process. I've applied all techniqes of teaching that I got from quite many trainings for teachers but it seems all of these techniques still can't make some of the students speak. Once I got frustrated facing the fact. But I know at least I've tried something. Here I'd like to share some important key factors and hints for the readers who might have the same profession as I do. 1. Know your students well. This means that you recognize what your sudents' needs in learning English. Students have different intention and motivation in acquiring English. By knowing their needs and motivation we can decide what kind of activities that support the learning process. 2. Set the goals. Read More..

Teaching pronunciation

Here I'd like to share on how to teach pronunciation to non native English students. I once attended a one day workshop held by British council in Jakarta. The workshop was about teaching pronunciation. It was interesting that the keynote speaker was an american lady that I think she was very credible and capable in presenting the materials of the workshop. The funny thing is that she is an american giving lectures about pronunciation in British based council. Any how here some excerpts that I got from the training that I like to share. The background Since the CLT(communicative language teaching) was implemented, language teaching has been focused on fluency rather than accuracy. The teaching of pronunciation has been absent in many language programs. The focuse of the teaching is to make students speak. However it is true that prununciation still needs to be taught. Read More..