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Students’ comments as a tool for teaching reflection

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Students’ comments as a tool for teaching reflection

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Students’ comments as a tool for teaching reflection

  1. 1. Ahmad Faiz 130221810453 STUDENTS’ COMMENTS AS A TOOL FOR TEACHING REFLECTION Ahmad Faiz Universitas Negeri Malang (State University of Malang) Indonesia vaiz_daviqi@live.com English in Indonesia Language is an important aspect for human being as a tool of communication. By using a language, someone can express his or her thoughts, ideas, wishes, desires and emotions and communicate with other people. In language learning, language is a key to succeed in learning other knowledge. Nowadays, English has been considered to be an international language because it is widely spoken over the world. As an international language, English has important role for non-native English countries such as Indonesia to establish relationship with other people from different countries. Harmer (2001:1) states that although English is not the language with the largest number of native or ‘first’ language speakers, it has been considered to be a lingua franca, namely a language broadly used for communication between two speakers whose native languages are different The importance of mastering English is not without a reason. English speaking countries influence the growth of country’s economy. It means mastering English is an advantage for some countries to improve their economy. Realizing the importance of English, the government of Indonesia places English as crucial subject at Indonesian educational system. English is taught as one of the compulsory subjects for junior high school and senior high school. English in Indonesian Education English is a subject that is taught in Indonesia. It is taught from, perhaps, pre-school level, elementary level or Sekolah Dasar, up to university level. Furthermore, it is a compulsory subject for junior and senior high school level. Thus, every student must learn this language. Students in junior high school level
  2. 2. or Sekolah Menengah Pertama learn English for at least three years and students in senior high school level or Sekolah Menengah Atas also learn this language for at least three years of their studies. In addition, this also happens not only to schools under the authority of the Ministry of National Education, i.e. Sekolah Dasar, Sekolah Menengah Pertama and Sekolah Menengah Atas but also this happens to schools under the authority of the Ministry of Religion or Kementrian Agama i.e. Madrasah Ibtidaiyah, Madrasah Tsanawiyah, and Madrasah Aliyah. They also learn this language along with Arabic in their madrasah or schools. In sum, English has a critical position in Indonesian education. For students, English has a particular position among other subjects. For instance, for students in junior high school level, English is a “special” subject besides Mathematics and Bahasa Indonesia. Those three subjects are subjects that determine the graduation of the students. National examination or Ujian Nasional requires students to pass English along with Mathematics and Bahasa Indonesia. As we all know and perhaps feel, national examination is a supreme examination that determines students whether they graduate from certain level of education or not. Therefore, they have to be well-prepared in those subjects. Particularly for English, students have to learn it whether they like it or not. It is obviously clear, if a student likes English, he or she will have an intrinsic motivation that enables him or her to gain success in that subject (Brown, 2007:68). However, a problem will happen if a student does not like English. He or she will not have any intrinsic motivation in learning English. Hence, his or her chance of gaining success in English is low. Schools have to deal with this kind of problem in order to equip their students with, at least, adequate English skill to face the national examination. Some schools have been conducting several English programs. The mushrooming programs, commonly, in the form of English study clubs. The English study club tends to be a part of extra lessons or kegiatan ekstra kulikuler which supports the English subject that is taught regularly. The intention is to improve the students’ capabilities in using English. One of the schools that conduct the English study club is Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP) Negeri 4
  3. 3. Jember. This chapter reviews my own teaching practices in the first semester of the 2011/2012 academic year in that school. English Communication Activities in SMPN 4 Jember SMP Negeri 4 Jember have been conducting English study club for three years. It is first started in the 2010/2011 academic year. Then, this English study clubs renamed ECA SMPN 4 Jember which stands for English Communication Activity in the 2011/2012 academic year. ECA invites university students whom has taken practice teaching or micro teaching course to teach the students. Perhaps, the intent was to bring teachers that is “fresh from the oven” with latest methods and techniques to teach English for students. I applied for the position for “part-time” teachers in ECA. I think that this is a good chance for me to apply what I have got from micro teaching course and practice teaching that I have taken in the previous semester. After taking certain tests, I was qualified to participate in that program. ECA is conducted every Saturday on third up to fourth period i.e. it was from 7.40 a.m. to 8.20 a.m. One teacher was responsible for one classroom. One classroom approximately consisted of 30-35 students. So, a teacher had to handle at least 30 students. Before we came to the class, the principal always gathered the ECA’s teachers and gave certain instructions. She said that students needed to be motivated so they could learn English easily. She emphasized to teach students in a fun way. So, the students would have meaningful learning. This is in line with Brown (2007:104). After that, the teacher came to the class. In the class, the teachers delivered the same topic. After dismissing the class, all the ECA’s teachers would have a meeting to discuss the problems or difficulties they had found during teaching. The problems would be an issue for teachers’ discussion to make the next meeting better later on. Usually, before Saturday, the ECA’s teachers assemble to hold a meeting to decide and discuss what topic which will be delivered to students. The topic is chosen based on the curriculum. The topic should be relevant with the curriculum since ECA itself is intended to support the English subject that is learned by the students. Then, the teachers discuss the techniques or strategies that will be used
  4. 4. in delivering the topic. Techniques and strategies are vital in teaching (Orlich et al., 2010:4-5). I preferred to use games in teaching the students. My considerations were the students in junior high school level loved games. Lewis (in Mei and Jung, 2010) says that through games the students are attracted to learn English, because it is fun and makes them want to have experiment, discover, and interact with their environment. Moreover, they would be more motivated if they taught by using games. As Wright et al. (1996:1) say that games not only can encourage and help students to sustain their interest and work but also they can help the teacher to create context in which language can be meaningful and useful. I was assigned to teach students in class VII D. Class VII D had 32 students. According to the homeroom teacher, the students were varied in level of English proficiency. The students, as I felt that time, were very talkative. During my teaching in ECA, I experienced, or if I can say, I underwent many things. I felt that teaching young learners needed a special strategies. We need special approach to conquer them. I realized that teaching junior high school level was different from teaching senior high school level which I had in the preceding semester of my PPL or practice teaching. Teaching children, particularly for grade seven, I had to win their attention, so I could teach them easily. Thus, as I presumed earlier, involving games in learning was a good thing to do. By involving games in teaching, students felt more motivated. Wright et al. (2006:2) says that games help encourage students sustain their work. Furthermore, I, the teacher, could have their attention. Therefore, I could deliver the materials in a fun way. Before the first semester of 2011/2012 was over, I asked my students in VII D to give me feedback to my teaching. I asked them to write anything dealing with my teaching for one semester in that class. It could be in the forms of critics, suggestions, or hopes. I told them that I welcomed to any opinions about the way I taught them. However, students’ comments would be different in terms of reliability and validity from lecturers’ comments. I could not really rely on those comments from students because the students are not the experts who can give accurate and reliable as well as valid comments but I could not ignore them as well. Furthermore, their values were worth to consider. In fact, students constitute
  5. 5. one element in the wholesale teaching-learning processes in the class with and from whom teachers also concurrently learn (Basthomi, 2012:141). To my teaching practices at SMPN 4 Jember two years ago, I received 32 comments from my 32 students. I grouped the comments into three categories. They are positive comments, negative comments, and no comments. I used the term positive comments for the comments saying that my way of teaching was fine and the way I presented materials was good. In short, the positive comments showed the affirmative ones. While, vice versa, the term negative comments saying that my may of teaching was poor and the way I presented the materials was inferior. The no comments were comments that had nothing to do with the way I taught students or the way I presented the materials. I created the third categories because I found some, if I can say, irrelevant comments. For instance, one comment asked me whether I got married or not. More than half of the comments were positive ones. Here are the instances of the positive comments received from the students of VII D SMPN 4 Jember; (1) Pak, permainannya seru. Saya lebih senang belajar Inggris sambil bermain. …. [Sir, the games were interesting. I prefer learning English through playing games. ….] (2) Sir, dramanya lucu. Kami jarang bermain drama seperti ini. …. [Sir, the drama (material) was humorous. We hardly had the drama like this. ….] (3) …. Ternyata bahasa Inggris tuh gag njelimet ya Pak. […. In fact, English was not complicated Sir.] Those comments indicated that students were satisfied with my way of teaching and/or the way I presented the materials. The first and second comments above imply that the students liked learning English through playing games. In line with this, Celce-Murcia and Macintosh (in Alemi, 2010) state that game is a fun activity and everyone will agree if teaching learning process can be fun, the students will learn more. Therefore, by applying games that provide fun and enjoyment, students can be more interested in learning and they can feel relax and learn a lot during teaching learning process without realizing that they are studying at the same time while they are playing. Thus, the third comment emerges saying that English was not completed anymore. It is due to the students
  6. 6. could feel relax during teaching and learning activities. If the student were under pressure, they would feel everything is hard and complex. As a result, they will learn nothing. The instances of negative comments are shown below. There are eight negative comments, but I only present three of them. (1) Pak, tolong lebih perhatiin murid yang bandel. Mereka suka mengganggu konsentrasi kami yang mendengarkan Bapak. [Sir, please give attention more to the mischievous students. They like to disturb us in listening your explanation.] (2) Mister, kalo memberi penjelasan, dalam bahasa Indonesia dong, jangan bahasa daerah. …. [Sir, if you want to explain something, please do it in Bahasa Indonesia. Don’t do it in the local language (Javanese or Madurese). ….] (3) Sir, kalo mau nunjuk siswa, jangan yg kenal-kenal aja. Semua mesti ditunjuk. …. [Sir, if you want to appoint someone (for a task or game) please don’t do it to the students you are familiar with. Every student has to be involved. ….] The comments above indicate that the students, at least eight of thirty two students felt that I my teaching was not satisfied for them. The first comment shows that I have to deal with mischievous students. Perhaps, the student of the first comment felt that I ignored the “bad” students. Actually, I gave more focus to active students which were dominant in the class. The second comment shows that I occasionally used Javanese and Madurese in explaining something. Maybe, this is my problem. I prefer to explain something in a language that I perfectly mastered. Unfortunately, the language is not Bahasa Indonesia. The third comment also points one of my weaknesses. As a teacher, I feel more comfortable with the students I familiar with. I feel uneasy if I have to ask the students that I do not know very well. I think it is not necessary to list the neutral comments. Even though the neutral comments are eight comments just as same as the negative ones. The neutral comments contain comments that have nothing to do with the way I teach or the way I present the material. The comments were, for instances, asking
  7. 7. whether I got married or not. I just simply categorized the neutral comments as neutral students. I assumed that they are in “grey area”, the area between positive and negative. As a teacher, we have to do reflection to our teaching. One of the methods that can be used is asking the students to give feedback of the way we teach them. Teachers should not be trapped in feeling the uneasiness or become too big headed upon reading students’ negative or positive comments respectively. But, what we need to do as teachers is to critically see and how the comments come (Basthomi, 2012:141). Students’ comments can be a way to do reflection to our teaching for thorough evaluation of the overall success or failure of the administration of the class. Conclusion Nowadays, English has been considered to be an international language because it is widely spoken over the earth. As an international language, English has important role for non-native English countries such as Indonesia. Realizing the importance of English, the government of Indonesia places English as crucial subject at Indonesian educational system. English is taught as one of the compulsory subjects for junior high school and senior high school. Furthermore, English is one of the subjects that has to be taken in national examination. As teachers of this language, we have to be professional. We have to bring the students to success, if I can say, success to conquer English. As the consumers of our teaching practices, students are vital aspects. They are the object of our teaching. We have to know what they feel, what they experience, what they want, and what they need. Asking students to give feedback to our teaching practices is a good way to know what they feel, what they experience, what they want, and what they need.
  8. 8. REFERENCES: Alemi, M. 1998. Language through Games. Journal of Nelta Vol. 4, no. 1-2, pp. 54-59. Basthomi, Y. 2012. Penelitian Naratif dalam Linguistik Terapan: Resonansi untuk Transformasi. Malang: Bintang Sejahtera Brown, H. D. 2007. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. White Plains, NY: Pearson Longman Harmer, J. 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching. London: Longman Mei, Y. Y. and Jung Y. J. 2003. Using Games in EFL Classes for Children. Available at http://english.daejin.ac.kr/~rtyson/fall2000/elt/games.html [October, 23rd 2013]. Olrich, D.C., Harder, R. J., Callaham, R.C., Trevisan, M, S., and Brown, A. H. 2010. Teaching Strategies: A Guide to Effective Instruction (9th Ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth

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