OUT-OF-CLASS LANGUAGE LEARNING: CASE STUDY OF INDONESIAN SENIOR HIGH STUDENTS IN BANDUNG. Ihsan Ibadurrahman G1025429Literature Review Out-of-class language learning (OCLL) is defined as any language learning activities thatare performed outside the class, be it for the sake of learning the language itself or for purepleasure. Studies on OCLL, however, show that there has been inconsistency in wording theterm; different authors use slightly different word, for example Hydra (2004) and Chausanachoti(2009) use „out-of-class language activity‟, Al-Otaibi (2004) prefers to use „out-of-class languagepractice‟, and Anderson (2004) chooses „out-of-class language use‟. Pickard (1996), inparticular, uses „out-of-class Language Learning Strategy” for the same definition. A closer lookat the meaning of “Learning Strategy” suggests that it is a method employed in performingspecific learning tasks such as the use of synthesis of learning materials in problem solvingactivities (cognitive), and self-regulation in language learning (meta-cognitive), all of whichcapture the essence of conscious behaviors (Ellis, 1997; Brown, 2007). MacIntyre succinctlyexplains that learning strategy is a conscious behavior that learners use as a plan or tactic towardssuccess in language learning (as cited in Al-Otaibi, 2004). As such, this study will not try toattempt learning strategies employed outside the class, rather it describes and quantify out-of-class language activities (e.g. reading novels, watching movies, and so on) whether doneconsciously or unconsciously.
Out-of-class language learning is a scope of research that has received much attentionand interest over the years. In this exhaustive research, there has been a great consistency ofreceptive skills (listening and writing) being the most widely used out-of-class language learningactivities (Pickard, 1996; Pearson, 2003; Hyland, 2004; Al-Otaibi, 2004; Chausanachoti, 2009).Specifically, Pickard (1996) sought out to identify out-of-class language learning employed by20 advanced German learners of English. Survey from the distributed questionnaires reveals thatreceptive skills such as listening to the radio, and reading newspapers are among the mostpopular activities. Productive skills, such as speaking or writing, are not considered since theopportunities to use them outside the class are severely limited. However, given the smallnumber of sampling, such conclusion should be made cautiously. In EFL contexts, a similar array of activities has also been reported. In Hong Kong,Hyland (2004) notes that passive skills such as reading books, and surfing the net are among themost frequently used out-of-class activities by 228 university English-education students. Sheargues that a hindrance in speaking English outside the class stems from students‟ fear ofnegative judgments primarily caused by social or political factors there. 106 Chinese studentsstudying English in New Zealand are also reported of employing passive skills as the top fivemost frequently used OCLLs (Pearson, 2003). These activities are listening to news on the radio,independent study in the library, reading books, watching television programs and listening tothe music. According to a study conducted in Thailand, it is reported that browsing the net,reading posters, and watching movies are the top three OCLL (Chausanachoti, 2009). In SaudiArabia, passive out-of-class activities such as watching movies, listening to songs, and readingfor pleasure are the most widely used by 237 English language learners. The frequency differs
somewhat between females (n = 97) and males participants (n = 140), with female showing ahigher frequency than the male counterparts (Al-Ottaibi, 2004). Studies of how OCLL is used in Indonesia seem particularly rare. However, there is oneinvaluable study conducted by Martin Lamb (2001) who investigated Indonesia‟s poor learningconditions in a provincial area. Building on his previous quantitative research on learningstrategies, this exploratory research aims to look deeper into what enables students to learnEnglish under difficult circumstances. 16 undergraduate students from different facultiesparticipated in the interview. From the analysis, it is revealed that opportunities to use English inmeaningful communication outside the class are exceedingly rare. This might be due to thenegative images constructed by society to those who speak English in public – the same problemfaced by students in Hong Kong (Hyland, 2004). Other possible means for these students to gainaccess to English are through media such as film, newspaper, magazines. Yet, he states that withtheir poor level of English, they could not make sense of this authentic text, denying thecomprehensible input needed for their L2 acquisition. The findings need to be consideredcautiously, however, since it pictures only a small scale of population in a remote area ofIndonesia and cannot truly generalize OCLL used in Indonesia as a whole. So far we have briefly identified some activities students do out-of-class, the questionnow turns to „what influences the choice of out-of-class language learning?‟ Some studiesindicate that learners choose activities that are intrinsically interesting to them, activitiessuggested by the teacher which have little relevance or interest to them are not highly considered(Pickard, 1996; Lai and Gu, 2011). Conversely, Al-Ottaibi (2004) argues that the teacher maybear certain influence to students‟ use of OCLL, especially in Saudi‟s learning environmentwhere the teacher plays a dominant role in deciding what students do with their learning. As
previously mentioned, students might be limited to choose their OCLL due to the lack ofopportunities to use them. Pearson (2004) considers students‟ type of accommodation as acontributing factor towards these opportunities. He comments that students who live inUniversity hostels and houses have little opportunity to interact with people in English, they tendto mix with their friends and chat in L1. On the other hand, accommodation in home-staysprovides students that rare opportunity to interact in English with their English-native-speakinghosts. Other influencing factors include, but not exclusive to, students‟ preferred learning styleand social context (Lamb, 2002; Pearson, 2004; Hyland, 2004). The extent to how much these OCLL is used is largely determined by learners‟ autonomyand motivation (Mori, 2002; Lamb, 2002; Saville and Trioke, 2009). Pearson (2004), inparticular, notes that intrinsically motivated students (the desire to learn the language comingfrom one-self, as opposed to external rewards) seem to exert more effort in using the languageoutside. However, according to him, we cannot make such easy generalization because the natureof out-of-class language learning is idiosyncratic in a sense that learners spend their time andeffort outside the class differently. At the heart of the study, he suggests that teachers shouldfoster learner autonomy in the classroom to develop learners‟ awareness of such out-of-classstrategies. In the same vein, Brown (2007) and Gao (2009) confirm the need for teachers todevelop learners‟ autonomy by helping learners to look beyond the classroom. In other words,learning English in the classroom is only the beginning of the journey towards the reality thatlearners will face outside. In fact, in EFL contexts where opportunity to use English outside islimited, learner autonomy is “a necessary pre-condition for success in language learning”(Lamb, 2001).
In relation to L2 development, it is generally accepted that exposure to the language isessential to language acquisition (Harmer, 2007). The rich exposure that OCLL brings to learnersmight as well contribute to their L2 achievement. Studies have shown a positive correlationbetween the two. For example, reading for pleasure is reported to have a high correlation withoverall language proficiency (Green and Oxford as cited in Brown, 2001). Language gains fromextensive reading have also been reported in detail by Renandya (2007) who observes thatstudents exposed to free reading have more significant growth not only in their readingcomprehension but also in word recognition and oral sentence repetition compared to those whoare not. Similarly, extensive listening is also reported to be highly beneficial to students‟ L2improvement (Ucán, 2010). Chausanachoti (2009) provides a comprehensive account of theperceived benefits of OCLL towards students‟ L2 proficiency. For example, she notes thatlistening to songs help improve students‟ accuracy of pronunciation. As regards to how OCLL is compared across three different proficiency levels (high,mid, and low-achieving students), it is suggested that the high-achieving group tend to employout-of-class language learning more than those in mid or low achieving group (Lamb, 2001;Marefat and Barbari, 2009). It is also noted that activities that do not require students tounderstand English such as using dictionaries, are chosen mostly by low-achieving group. Onthe other hand, the use of authentic materials such as magazines, novels, newspaper seem to befavored more by high-achieving group. This seems to indicate that because of their English,high-achieving students might just have the ability to comprehend authentic materials that wouldotherwise be too difficult for mid or low-achieving group. In other words, as students‟ level ofproficiency increase so do their complexity of OCLL (Pearson, 2004).
In the discussion of OCLL and its link to L2 proficiency, there is always the notorioustheory of chicken-and-egg as identified by Gass and Selinker (1994), and Ellis (1997). Thisproblem of directionality poses a question: which causes which. Is it OCLL that in the first placecauses the growth of students‟ L2 development? Or do learners have to readily achieve a certaindegree of English proficiency in order for them to be able to use OCLL?
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