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A REFLECTIVE TEACHING IN THE USE OF CONTEXT IN READING TEXTS
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A REFLECTIVE TEACHING IN THE USE OF CONTEXT IN READING TEXTS

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A REFLECTIVE TEACHING IN THE USE OF CONTEXT IN READING TEXTS A REFLECTIVE TEACHING IN THE USE OF CONTEXT IN READING TEXTS Document Transcript

  • A REFLECTIVE TEACHING IN THE USE OF CONTEXT IN READING TEXTS Oleh Widiatmoko E.: moko.geong@gmail.com W.: http://widiatmoko.blog.com People are social beings. They exist in harmony to each other. They share their information to each other. Information exists because they gain it through listening to or reading something. Reading is however a part of their daily activities. It has a notable role. By having a good tradition in reading, people will be able to share their information simply to each other. To some extent, reading goes through a comprehensive process. Commonly, it involves other people to help motivate for doing so. Other people can be then as parents informally at homes or even teachers formally at schools. At schools, as is known a course; reading is given in early childhood in the kindergarten. It will somehow be a very good start for children to engage in reading. It is as a basic knowledge since it does with any other intentions. It additionally deals with other courses directly. The other courses are however dependant upon the mastery in reading. Reading as one of courses given at schools is not as easy as it is assumed; even it deals with foreign language, primarily English. So far, learning reading in English for children is not only to recognize the new vocabulary, but also to understand the information of the texts. It consists of not only how to read but also how to understand the meaning through recognizing letters, words, and sentences. It so happens since when they read, they have to know how the sound is related to its symbol. Principally, reading can be discrete and integrative. The integrative reading should go with other linguistic aspects, i.e., sound, meaning, and so forth. Writing, listening, and speaking are the language skills that go with
  • reading for that reason. The four language skills should be mutually supporting to each other. Therefore, learning reading should incorporate how to speak, to write, and to listen. These are the purposes of reading ultimately. Somehow, the purposes of reading are in line with teaching and learning. In this case, a language teacher is allowed to think over the best method of language teaching to his or her students. The leading point is how to make reading as appealing as possible, so the students feel engaged. By using a context, the students are expected to get better their comprehension. The way is how a context is employed to motivate the students to have better understanding in reading. According to Karlin (1980), a context is associated with meaning and visual elements that aid the readers in recognizing words. Materials intended for beginning readers usually contain not only the text but also the pictures, which can be used along with contextual clues to help identify words. Therefore, the main problem of this research is how a context is used to enhance reading comprehension. In brief, the research problems will be as follows. 1. How is a context used to motivate students to have better reading comprehension in English? 2. Does a short story help students have better reading comprehension in English? Research Objectives The main objective of the research is to explore the effectiveness of using a context for students to have better reading comprehension in English. Whereas, the sub-objective is to find out whether a short story helps the students improve their reading comprehension in English. Research Methodology Method This is a classroom research, which relates to the enhancement on weaknesses and the inducement on the strengths of each cycle. The cycle employs observation, test, and questionnaire. They do with using context in teaching and learning process as a means of reflection. The observation was undertaken with the purposes of observing the activities, students, and physical aspects of a situation and of engaging in activities that are appropriate to a given situation that provide useful information (Spradley in Mills, 2000). In addition, it is designed through three cycles of learning process. Each cycle initiates two topics. The focus is on the use of context. The results of using the context are based on the test undertaking. The test takes on the decision whether or not the cycles continue. If the scores of the students are mostly low, the weaknesses still exist in which the next cycle will follow then. The questionnaire is used to
  • ascertain the students’ responses to the reading lesson. The drawbacks of each cycle were taken into consideration for improvement in the next cycle. According to McKay (2002), it is called as reflection that includes identifying classroom problems, hypothesizing causes, collecting data, and analyzing data. Consideration for improvement is done through data analysis. In other words, after the data were collected, the next step will be to establish action plans for the area of improvement in teaching (Hadley, 2003). For the most things, the repeated cycles are regularly undertaken. Data Source The data comprise three types, i.e. qualitative data from observation and questionnaire and quantitative data from the test. It employs six meetings for observation in two months and a half. Three kinds of cycles relating to the use of context are prepared. In each cycle, the test was employed to know the students’ progress. The questionnaire was distributed to the students to explore the students’ responses to the lesson as well as the teaching aids of pictures. After data were taken from two cycles, the third cycle undertook short story. After that, data were gained. The data from the test were analyzed then. In fact, the result was significantly increasing. It means that the weaknesses in second cycle can be solved for the sake of improvement in the third cycle. Nature of Reading It is known that reading is a multifaceted process that requires someone to use a number of different language skills. Orr (1999) defines reading as a language process in which an individual constructs meaning through a transaction with written text that has been created by symbols that represent language. Therefore, reading is a process of acquiring information from written texts in which meanings are taken into account. As a complex process, reading is developed in step-by-step system through the recognition of letters, words, and sentences. In going through the process, there are some mechanical skills of reading, which should be taken into consideration. McKeown (1975) named three integrated mechanical skills of reading as the triple association, i.e., the ability to recognize and identify words, the ability to speak them accurately or think them accurately, and the ability to draw meaning from words spoken or thought. These mechanical skills aim to assist the students to achieve their goal in reading such as; the students are able to recognize and identify word by using their vision, the students are able to speak and to think accurately, and the students are able to draw a complete meaning from what they thought. To
  • accommodate the achievement, the teacher should introduce the letters, words, and sentences by direct translation or by guessing strategy through pictures or gestures. Therefore, the students are able to recognize, identify, speak, and draw the meaning quickly. If possible, the teacher brings realia or provides colorful pictures, which are similar to real things. When the students find them interesting, they are usually eager to know further. With their interest, the students will pay attention to the pictures and the words shown. Then, the teacher can easily drill the students to read it correctly. By asking the students to read the words again and again and showing the pictures, they will have a good understanding in their thought. The above process of the teaching expects the students to be able to understand and produce simple sentences. When the students are able to read and write, it means that the first stage of teaching reading is accomplished. Increasingly, by improving teacher’s effort in developing the recognition of English vocabulary and the participation of parents support in reading the books at their leisure time, they are self-assured to have a reading habit. As a habit, it is known that reading gives two advantages for the students. First, in the short term, they will enjoy to learn English at school by familiarizing new words used in their real life. Second, in the long term, they can read the authentic English written texts without any difficulties. However, to avoid the dull teaching process, a teacher has to understand about the principles of teaching reading, such as the clear purpose of using the language, the background information, the interconnectedness with other skills, and the varieties of strategies in delivering the materials. If the teacher does not care about these principles, so students will easily get bored with reading lesson. It implies that the students will only read the textbook and not be interested to read other books. However, when students show their enthusiasm and spontaneity to interact with their teacher, it is a signal that the teaching learning of reading is responded positively. In short, reading can be defined as a multifaceted process, which should be delivered by the teacher without neglecting any factors that relate to the reading skills, the three integrated mechanical skills and the principles of teaching reading. Reading Comprehension Strategy The students who are limited in English vocabulary will have difficulties in reading English. In improving their qualifications, teachers should be aware of the reading comprehension strategies. According to Brown, reading comprehension strategies mainly focus on how someone is developing appropriate, efficient and comprehensive strategies. These strategies are related to bottom-up procedures, and some others enhance the top-down process. He
  • suggests that the ten strategies can be practically implemented in the classroom techniques (Brown, 2001), that is identifying the purpose in reading in which reading can be for understanding (broadening, knowledge), pleasure, exercise the pronunciation etc.; using graphemic rules and patterns to aid in bottom–up decoding (especially for beginning level learners); using efficient silent reading techniques for relatively rapid comprehension (for intermediate to advance levels); skimming the text for main idea; scanning the text for specific information; using semantic mapping or clustering; guessing when readers are not certain; analyzing vocabulary; distinguishing between literal and implied meaning; and capitalizing on discourse markers to process relationships. Out of these ten strategies, it is deemed that four reading strategies can be implemented to teach the students. The four strategies incorporate identifying the purpose in reading, using the graphemic rules and patterns to teach them the correct sound and symbols, using semantic mapping or clustering to broaden their vocabulary, and using the guessing strategy to encourage them to use their imagination to avoid the boredom of reading. As it is known that there are goals of reading purposes. English as a foreign language which is taught to the students mostly covers the purpose for long and short terms. The short-term goal is to let the students be able to pronounce correctly, to answer teacher’s question, and to work on the exercise to understand the context clearly. These affect the long-term goal, such as the students do not have to open the dictionary when they read a handbook as they have remembered the word automatically. As a result, they can enjoy reading a book, which is called as reading for pleasure. In identifying the reading purpose, the teacher prepares a lesson plan to be able to focus on the topic discussion. The lesson plan consists of four steps to be followed, the pre-reading, presentation, post reading/production, and the follow up activities. In using the graphemic rules and patterns, the students face a lot of problems because they rarely hear the word in their daily life. It is mostly a teacher’s responsibility to explain in details. Graphemic, this is originally from the word grapheme, means smallest unit in writing system of language. A grapheme usually has a relationship to the sound system of that language. In delivering the process of teaching in using the graphemic rules and patterns, it is recommended that the teacher asks the students to repeat the words with the correct pronunciation. The use of proper intonation, pictures and charts are initiated by Brown to implement the use of graphemic rules and patterns (Brown, 2001). By showing the picture and speaking correctly, the students will keep in mind what the teacher explains. The picture clearly explains the topic discussed, so the students can distinguish the differences.
  • By mapping or clustering the words into a model of chart, the students easily remember the vocabulary, which assists them to understand a group of word. The form of mapping can be made in a different way. It can be in a dot point form, simple chart, or organization chart. The implementation of semantic mapping and guessing the meaning are introduced in the pre-reading or post reading. In the post-reading, the teacher asks the students to group or cluster the words, which relate to the topic. If they do not know the English words, they can reveal them in Indonesian. All of these four basic reading strategies have finally support to the reading comprehension, which stimulates the students to guess what have been read. Sometimes they do not know the meaning of each word, but they can answer the questions correctly. In short, reading comprehension strategies which are mostly based on bottom up procedures cover the four strategies, such as identifying the reading purpose, using graphemic rules, using semantic mapping, and guessing meaning which are introduced to the students on step by step basis guided by the teacher using the lesson plan prepared. Context, Picture, and Story Book in Teaching Reading. In support to the reading strategies, Burns, Roe, and Ross (1984: 148) explained that the objective of teaching reading for students is comprehension of what they read. Teachers try to use context to make students’ understanding better. It is used by translating the meaning, translating with the help of pictures, and then translating the meaning, with the help of pictures and reinstating translation. The background information of each student is very important to note. A student who has read more English books is able to absorb the meaning quickly than those who only are limited in accessing to read English books. Those who rarely read English books easily forget what is explained. Therefore, the picture or realia are used to help the students absorb the meaning quickly. In addition, a picture also motivates the students’ idea to be able to describe the meaning in the source language. If the teacher has difficulties to provide real things, he/she can provide a sketch drawing on the whiteboard. In line with the strategies of reading comprehension, the use of graphemic rules and patterns to teach students the correct sound and symbol, the teacher tries to use a picture and inform the students the precise pronunciation. By showing the picture and spelling correctly, the students can differentiate the meaning. Wright (1989) confirms that pictures, which have been used for centuries to help students understand various aspects of foreign language, are very useful
  • for them to comprehend the subject clearer. Pictures can also provide and illustrate the general idea of an object or action, which is particular to a culture. In the strategies of using semantic mapping, the teacher tries to group the word in presenting the materials. These strategies seem to be interesting for them as they can remember easily. By compiling the words into one group, they can easily remember. According to Ur (1996) the diagram or flow chart indicating relationship between items, characters or event is included as one of ideas for reading activities. Guessing strategies, as the points are limited for guessing words’ meaning, grammatical relation, and content of the message. Brown (2001) stated that the point in reading is after all a guessing game of sort and the sooner the students understand the game, the better off they are. In addition, a selected storybook containing some pictures and meanings of new words are used to assist students to improve their vocabulary. By acquiring a lot of vocabularies, the students are able to easily understand the meaning of the text. The storybook as one of the materials is to support the students to enrich their vocabulary. It is only used to obtain a feed back from them without any guidance from the teacher to fully understand the content. They are requested to look at the series of the pictures, and then the teacher verbally checks their understanding. It is noted that although the students have difficulties in comprehending the whole story, they are able to get the idea. Based on the research of Orr (1999), it is expected that through storybook reading, young students are able to understand a story structure and the specific language used in the book. As a conclusion, the use of context in teaching reading through translation into the source language and visual aids of pictures from the storybook will give a lot of advantages to both students and the teacher. The series of the picture give sufficient knowledge for the students to understand the general idea of the content. Therefore, it makes the teacher easier to pass the message into English directly. The students may grasp the meaning differently from the texts in the book. One of the books is the storybook. The storybook stimulates the students to guess meanings easily which attract them to continue reading. Reasons for Using Context in Teaching Reading According to Wright (1989) that introducing meaning is only the first step from the long process in which the students become familiar with some aspects of language and what they represent. While the advantages of using suitable pictures are as to motivate the students’ interest, to provide the subject they are dialing with clearer, to illustrate general idea, and to form objects or actions, which are particular to culture. As a foreign language, English words are rarely
  • heard in their daily life, so direct translation has enabled them to understand the meaning and various aspects of the language. When they know the meaning, they can start talking some nonsense thing by practicing the words. Although the sentences are not grammatically right, according to Karlin (1980), the speakers from non-speaking English regions should consider the patterns of the words of the language. When the teacher practices the use of context by giving additional pictures besides using the direct translation, it is found that the students are able to remember the meaning of the words longer. It is agreed that the pictures contribute to interest and motivation. According to Wright (1989) there are five basic criteria in selecting pictures as visual aids in teaching process. One of them is closed to the disadvantages of using pictures. Somehow, it is not easy to prepare. To provide the pictures as interestingly as possible for the teaching, the teacher has to spend to find colorful pictures that attract the students. Therefore, it is concluded that the use of context in teaching process through translation and using pictures gives some advantages. The students know the meaning directly. The pictures can however motivate the students’ interest, provide clear understanding, and illustrate general idea. Analysis and Discussion The data of the observation are analyzed in qualitative description. The observation is undertaken from the three cycles of teaching, which are of using context. In relation to the theoretical review, the stimulation of using context in teaching is based on the four reading strategies, which cover the purpose in reading, the graphemic rules, grouping the words and the guessing strategies. The strategies are then employed as the teaching methods. In monitoring the implementation of the context model and choosing the significant cycle for the students, there are three cycles that are explored. Simple storybook is provided for them. Each cycle employs two topics, and at the end, the students are tested. The three cycles have consequently given three results of tests. The result of each test is compiled to find out the strengths and the weaknesses of each cycle. After that, the questionnaires are distributed to them to know the advantages of reading short story. The result of the observation, the tests, and the questionnaire are analyzed for the sake of the improvement of the learning in the next cycles. The observations are undertaken in three cycles for three months. The focus is on the use of context and the additional visual aids of pictures to attract students’ motivation in improving their understanding. The first cycle focuses on the translation method and audio-lingual method. The translation is considered
  • as the best practice in relation with context in learning English. The second cycle focuses on the use of mixed translation and audio-lingual with the pictures as visual aids. The third cycle focuses on the use of translation and audio-lingual method by stressing on the pictures. The first cycle In the first cycle, the teacher employs the translation method in teaching. At the end of the cycle, the test is given to the students. The test comprises the comprehension questions and translation of English-Indonesian words. However, the test reflects the materials given in the class. In this case, the teacher tries not to give any clues to the students in the test. They are encouraged to work by their own ways and to use a strategy in answering the questions. From the result of 17 students doing the test, the highest score is 6.8 and the lowest one is 3.5. The average is 5.5. The second cycle In the second cycle, the teacher employs the translation method with the aids of pictures consisting of five parts, i.e. the part of answering the questions; the part of translating English words into Indonesian words; the part of changing sentences containing plural forms; the part of making true false statements; and the part of writing vocabulary based on the pictures. Out of the five parts, the students find that the part of writing vocabulary based on the pictures is considered difficult. In answering the questions, they are able to mention the questions in English but they take several times to use the English words. However, they are able to name the English words. Based on the result, there is little improvement. It is proved that the highest score is 6.8 and the lowest one is 4.8. The average is 5.64. The third cycle In the third cycle, the teacher employs the translation method with more pictures and reinstating the sentences concerning with the pictures. The teacher gets involvement. He tries to let the students do the tasks themselves. The test is provided in the form of reading texts with the questions to answer; with the translation. The students are told to pay attention on how to build a sentence, guess the picture, and try to express the idea in English. From the result of 16 students doing the test, one student achieves the highest score of 10, and two students obtain the lowest scores of 4.7. Although in this cycle the lowest score is below the lowest score in the cycle 2, but the overall scores show the improvement. The average is 6.83.
  • Discussion It is noted that the third cycle has more significant result compared to the previous two cycles. In this cycle, the teaching-learning process is considered successful in applying the teaching method along with the teaching aids. In this teaching, it employs more pictures and the repeated drilling in reading and the repeated process of translation from English into Indonesian. As it is known that the third cycle is the cycle that employs a lot of pictures. In the third cycle, the teacher always tries to remind the students of what has been explained in the first and second cycle. This is done especially in the warming up and presentation. The students are encouraged to look at the previous lesson, however. The interpretation of the test can be descriptively described. The means score of the first cycle is 5.5 meaning that the students have fair understanding in reading. In the second cycle, the means score is 5.64 meaning that the students’ understanding does not change significantly. In the third cycle, they have achieved the significant result in which the means score is 6.83 meaning that they have good understanding in reading. Therefore, the third cycle is considered as the cycle that results in the significant effects from the teaching method of reading. Concerning with the questionnaire, in general, the students have difficulties to read the whole stories. They can retell the story in Indonesian by guessing through the pictures. The story does not discuss in details but the new words of the story are available to helps them increase their understanding. The questionnaire is distributed the all of the students. The result says that reading a storybook helps the students improve their vocabularies and understanding in reading the text. It means that the questionnaire does well with the results of observation and the test. Conclusion Based on the data analysis, it is concluded that the most significant result of employing context model is the combination of translation-picture-translation. The use of translation in the first cycle and translation-picture in the second cycle do not help much comprehension for the students. The means score of the first cycle is 5.51. The means score of the second cycle is 5.64 and the means score of the third cycle is 6.83. It means that the teaching learning process employs the suitable method influencing on the good result. During the observation and supported by the responses of the questionnaire, it is concluded that mostly the students prefer the teachers to have clear pictures in explaining every topic. Pictures are able to stimulate the students’ idea for guessing the meaning and motivate them to express in the
  • source language. The use of context using picture is very effective to fulfill the three integrated issues in reading: such as the ability to catch the vision from the picture, the ability to speak accurately, and the ability to guess the meaning properly. The storybook given to the students however helps them improve vocabulary and build reading habit. Besides the above advantages, in teaching reading through context, it is noted that the use of the model may demand the teacher to provide more times in finding attractive pictures to explain in the class. Therefore, it is concluded that the attractive pictures stimulate the students to comprehend the text easily. Recommendation As a model of language teaching, the use of context is recommended to use. It may attach to various methods of language teaching. However, this model should consider the characteristics of the students and the level of the classes. As it is proved that there is no best method in language teaching. Therefore, it is recommended to do with further research concerning with different types of model, particularly in teaching reading for adults. Implication In teaching language, particularly English as a foreign language, a teacher should think over several methods and techniques of teaching. The method of language teaching is not the only one influencing on the success of students’ learning. There are other factors, which contribute to the learning success. What the teacher deals with certain groups of the students are not similar to other groups. The cycle considered significant in the success of students’ learning in one finding is subject to changing in other cycles. Therefore, providing a various teaching model implicates on various factors in teaching language, i.e., the success of students’ learning, the attainment of learning objectives, the proof of language learning theory, the possibility of using teaching aids in the different language classes, and so forth. References Brown, Douglas. 2001. Teaching by Principles. San Francisco: Longman. Burns, Paul C., et al. 1984. Teaching Reading in Today’s Elementary Schools. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Karlin, Robert. 1980. Teaching Elementary Reading. New York: Harcout Brace Jovanich.
  • McKay, Sandra Lee. 2002. The Reflective Teacher: A Guide to Classroom Research. Singapore: SEAMEO Regional Language Centre. McKeon, Pamela. 1975. Reading a Basic Guide for Parents and Teachers. Britain: Richard Clay. Mills, Geoffrey E. 2000. Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Orr, Janet K. 1999. Growing up with English. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman. Ribeiro, Sabrina Almeida. 2003. The reflective cycle. In Gregory Hadley (Ed.). Action Research in Action. Singapore: SEAMEO Regional Language Centre. Ur, Penny. 1996. A Course in Language Teaching. Britain: Cambridge University. Wright, Andrew. 1989. Pictures for Language Learning. Glasgow: Cambridge University Press.