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A REFLECTIVE TEACHING IN THE USE OF CONTEXT
IN READING TEXTS
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,
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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Burns, Paul C., et al. 1984. Teaching Reading in Today’s Elementary Schools. Boston:
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McKeon, Pamela. 1975. Reading a Basic Guide for Parents and Teachers. Britain:
Mills, Geoffrey E. 2000. Action Research: A Guide for the Teacher Researcher. New
Orr, Janet K. 1999. Growing up with English. New York: Addison-Wesley
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