Inspiring Websites for the Application of
Sites for Reading Comprehension
Aesop4s Fables: gopher://spinaltap.micro.umn.edu/11/Ebooks/By%Title/aesop
BookWeb : http://www.ambook.org/
Childrens Web Literature Guide: http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/index.html#books
Educational Tours: http://www.lacns.ac.uk/staff/kitao/et.htm
Fluency Through Fables: http://www.comenius.com/fable/index.html
Scottish Folktales: gopher://leapfrog.almac.co.uk/11/scotland/dalriadamyths/scottish
Tales of Wonder: http://www.ece.ucdavis.edu/~darsie/tales.html
Sites for Listening Comprehension
ABC Radio News Broadcast: http://www.realaudio.com/contentp/abc.htm
ESL Listening Training on the Web: http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/EdPsy-387/Rongchang-li/eslproject/eslbeg.html
Interactive Listening Comprehension Practice with RealAudio: http://deil.lang.uiuc.edu/LCRA/
Internet Talk Radio: http://www.cmf.nrl.navy.mil/radio/radio.html
Talk Radio: http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/radio/radio.html
Voice of America: http://gopher://gopher.VOA.GOV:70/11/audio
World Radio Network: http://www.wrn.org/audio.html
Weekly Idioms: http://www.comenius.com/idiom/index.html
Sites for Speaking (conversations)
Conversations for ESL Students: http://www.lang.uiuc.edu/r-li5/book/
Sites for Writing
Cultural Topics-Advanced Reading and Writing: http://darkwing.woregon.edu/~leslieob/RW5projects.culture.html
Online Writing Centers: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/writecenter/web/net-writing.html
Purdue University Online Writing Lab: http://owl.trc.purdue.edu/
Writing OWLs: http://www.umass.edu/english/resource.html/OWLS
Tests on the Web
ALTE(The Association of Language Testers in Europe): http://www.edunet.com/alte/
ILTA (International Language Testing Association:
University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate:
Sites for Grammar Teaching and Learning
Cutting Edge Grammar: http://www.chorus.cycor.ca/Duber/m004d.html
Daves ESL Quiz Page: http://www.pacific.net~sperling/quiz#grammar
On-line English Grammar: http://www.edunet.com/english/grammar/toc.html
SECC- Simplified English Grammar: http://www.ccl.kukeuven.ac.be/cgi-bin/seccdemo.cgi
Sites for Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias
Acronym Dictionary: http://curia.ucc.ie/info/net/acron/acro.html
Dictionary of Technical and Natural English: http://crnvmc.cer/FIND/DICTIONARY
The Oxford English Dictionary Online: http://www.oed.com/
Encyclopaedia Britannica: http://www.-pf.eb.com:189/
Sites for Newspapers
Financial Times, The: http://www.ft.com/
New York Times, The: http://www.nytimes.com/
Times, The(U.K.): http://www.the-times.co.uk/
Weekend Independent, The (Brisbane, Australia): http://www.uq.oz.au/ern/twi/twi.html
I C T
Post Graduate Program
The Final Test
Computer Assisted Language Learning:
A Crucial need for the Improvement of English Teaching
As the development of the world technology is now getting more advanced everyday, there must be part in which the educational sector plays its important role to introduce, utilize or at least help students cope with one of the most relevant devices that is the computer. It is said so since the computer figuratively represents a wide open door to see the world from many different angles and horizons. Especially in Indonesia as a developing country, the teachers, the students and any educational related elements have to acknowledge and enrich themselves with the latest knowledge and sciences to improve the quality of the teaching and learning process. This can be carried out by utilizing the computer, a convenient and sophisticated gadget in the new information era. Utilizing the computer can also be very useful and beneficial for teaching of English in Indonesia. Moreover, since the application KTSP curriculum is officially implemented, teachers are given space and authority to make adjustments by modifying any exercises, practices, materials and approaches used to accommodate the needs of the learning environment based on the internal interests of the school, the social and cultural condition or even the local government policy. So there are enormous opportunities for those educational institutions that are able and intend to step forward to make great progress in delivering the English teaching and learning process. By taking advantage of all the compatible features of the computer, they can apply the new approach of the Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). But before this new approach can be satisfactorily implemented, there are some factors that should be carefully comprehended, considered and prepared.
CALL is the acronym for Computer Assisted Language Learning and it is related to the use of computers for language teaching and learning. It is an approach in which the computer-based resources such as multimedia computing, the internet and World Wide Web are used to present, reinforce and assess material to be learned. The most important aspect of this approach is its interactive element for which it provides the self-study feature meant to supplement the face-to-face language instruction. Thanks to the developing technologies, CALL is finally achieving the recognition it deserves as a substantial part in the application of the teaching and learning process. It has been made possible since the supporting devices such as desktop computers that are now able to play natural human speech together with full-screen interactive video. Users can now communicate and interact with one another in real-time. Such virtual chats provide solid opportunities for authentic language use among native and non-native speakers on an unprecedented scale in terms of the numbers of users and the geographical distances involved. Another thing is the proliferation of commercial CD-ROMs that help boost the widespread application of CALL. A lot of programs have been produced to assist the practices of all the language skills, including the grammar and vocabulary.
General Advantages and Disadvantages of CALL
Actually, CALL has much to offer to English language teachers and will have more to offer in the future. That is why teachers cannot just ignore its existence and never care to the seductive and powerful technology that it represents since any life aspects nowadays, including education, are not separable far from the advancement of technology. So, it is vital for teachers and any educational elements to keep up to date with the latest issues developed worldwide and maintain critical or responsive attitude towards the changes. One way is by introducing CALL program into the classroom and implementing it as one of the teaching and learning methodologies to enhance the improvement of the English teaching and learning process. Among others, some general advantages of CALL can be defined as follow:
The greatest advantage of utilizing the computer (Philip: 1986) is that it offers a powerful self-access facility that helps to generate autonomous learners who will experience freedom of choice. The tools that learners find in computers allow them to assume mastery of their own learning experience. They can explore the exercises and the practices based on their capability and interests to measure how much they have learned. They can call up the programs held by computers whenever they want to adjust their learning pace. Besides, computers are sensitive to the learners’ level of proficiency. Some CALL programs are created meticulously to anticipate any responses given by the students properly and of course with encouraging feedback. This is to stimulate the students not to give up easily and also to help them recognize the mistakes. This means that students do not have to take risks of loosing their face among their peers whenever they make mistakes. Some programs are enriched with colorful and interesting illustrations or visualizations. This can be very helpful and attractive for students whose learning styles are various. For those who are visual learners, they will be overwhelmed with things that can be seen on the screen while they are studying. While for auditory learners, they can satisfy their needs of hearing something such as read out sentences, instructions, or just background music. On the other way around, for kinesthetic learners who prefer the hands-on practices, they fulfill their curiosity by typing their answers, dragging the mouse to the appointed objects, and making or building up something based on read out instructions.
2. A New Role to Teaching Materials
As mention before, CALL programs can function either as a complementary tool to classroom sessions or to their greater extent as a major tool to present teaching materials. Out of the context of CALL, teaching materials are passive. There are no two-way interactions. Nothing the student said or did could influence in any deep sense the linear progression of the content (Philips: 1986). In CALL, materials adapt themselves to the requirement of the individual student. That is how they are created to become interactive. Anticipations of any given responses or answers have been prepared. Consequently, there will always be mutual interactions between the programs and the students before they finally find the correct answers or give proper responses and before the students decide to quit the section then move to another. These programs are also typically demanding since the students’ individual active participations are ultimately required for the programs to be run and operated. Unlike material given as a classroom activity, there may be only several students who are willing to be actively involved while the others may stay behind and still the class session goes on, no matter how much participation has been attracted.
Changes in the Teaching Methodologies of English
Using CALL programs is highly expected to be effective since there are cases in which they are just used to give old materials a new aspect. This is the case of teachers who put students in front of the computer just to make fill-in-the-gap exercises. Therefore, there is an important fact in the application of CALL that should be constantly analyzed whether the uses of CALL are just to reinforce current practices or to promote curriculum renewal. In order to fully benefit from the potentials of the computer for language learning, language teaching specialists have to promote a complementary relationship with computers. The technology that computers offer has to be integrated with pedagogic programs that guarantee a real evolution of the teaching methodologies and procedures. This is the opportunity given by the KTSP curriculum for creative teachers to make necessary adjustments to modify the way or methodology used in conducting the class and delivering the materials using CALL programs. According to Chris Harrison, teachers should ask themselves about what, why and how they are teaching their students before they enter the class. They should bear in mind that students learn English in order to build up their communicative abilities. That is why teachers should place more emphasis on fluency than accuracy activities, even though accuracy is also crucial in the EFL context. They also should stress more on interactions between students rather than on one-way teacher-students traffic. They need to allow students to take risks without being threatened by penalties, to cooperate rather than compete, to introduce the unexpected and to take the initiative. Those are the needs that should be provided in the student-centred setting in which the teacher abandons his informative role and delegate it to the computer as the new source of information. This would result in an innovative teaching methodology in which the dichotomy between teacher as transmissor and student as receiver is broken. Now, teachers are going to promote communication and interaction mainly among students. The teacher’s role is only as the analyst and planner that make him possible to analyze potential drawbacks or errors in the development of the teaching-learning process. In order to attain this objective, teachers should encourage students to take risks, leaving aside penalties for producing incorrect bits of language. Finally, the introduction of the unexpected will be determinant to give students enough motivation to take an active part in their learning process. With the practice of this kind of activities, curriculum renewal is guaranteed, so that there is no doubt that a real and evident progress in teaching methodologies is taking place.
So far the priceless benefits of CALL are not comparable to the slight disadvantages that actually can be overcome whenever the preparations are well-managed. First, CALL programs are in fact very demanding in terms of time. A good CD-ROM can take hours to explore. And to add value to the program by creating supplementary materials or study-paths is an extremely time-consuming process. Similarly, the riches of the Internet, especially since the advent of the Worldwide Web, can lead tempt students into hours of “surfing” with very little concrete to show at the end of it. These problems relates to the school policy about the cost of the internet connection and about how good that the teacher’s lesson plan can facilitate the process of achieving the lesson’s objective and which parts of the programs that should be accessed. Another challenging aspect in classroom management is about the number of computers provided should ideally match with the number of the students in a class at the maximum. It is like that since the computer is aimed more at individual student rather than groups. Though, if it is only due to the insufficient number of computers, CALL program still can be conducted in groups of three at the most for the teaching experience to be effective.
Since CALL is related closely to the utilization of the computer, surely this technical issue is the most important and expensive device to be taken into account. It is obvious that availability of a computer room on a regular basis is the main facility that teachers need for CALL to be successful. For this, probably only certain private schools that can allocate the budget or state schools that have been subsidized by the local government in Indonesia that can adapt this new teaching approach of using CALL programs. Besides that the computers must be those with compatible standard specifications for the software installations. Teachers should also have, at their disposal, software especially designed for English language learning. But if appropriate software of a specific material or for certain level of students is not available, teachers can try to browse the internet to look for free software that can be found in the web. And on the other hand, to do the navigation on the web implies other specific requirement such as:
a. Access to a reliable network environment.
This is recommended in order to be efficient in budget spending for the internet connection cost. The school can choose either to have dial-up or wireless connection. If the internet connection is not needed on regular basis or just used for only a couple of hours per week, the dial-up connection may be considered the best alternative since the cost is charged hourly or how many kilobytes have been used. But of course the access to the internet will be very limited, especially when it is related to downloading or uploading data. Another option is by using the wireless internet service such as the unlimited broadband access. The monthly internet expense will be fixed. This will be beneficial whenever the use of the internet connection can be optimized for the teaching and learning process considering that subscribing for this kind of connection is not really cheap either.
Use of modern equipment and browser software.
The use of outdated equipment may result in unacceptable download times and thus failure of the experience. The fastest modems should be used (at least 28,800 bps) and, if possible, the best computers to work on the web and that would be the kind of personal computer with large amounts of memory required to operate the new generation of plug-in multimedia applications. Besides, teachers should note that many newer sites are designed to be used only with the latest versions of browser software, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. In short, the computer must fulfil the standard hardware specifications to be able to connect with the internet.
Otherwise, whenever there is not enough number of computers but the school insists to introduce CALL program to the students, using a single computer and then projecting the screen with an LCD can be an optional solution for a classroom activity. Although the result will not be very satisfying but it can be a prospective step forward.
There are three different kinds of CALL programs that can be applied in the classroom:
a. Programs especially designed for English language learning
Most programs in this group offer two different versions. The first is called tutorial and the other is known as authoring. Tutorial programs (Davies: 1986) consist of some short introductory notes, followed by a series of questions, to which the student responds at the keyboard. Discrete comments can be built in, and error, review routines are automatically given by the computer. If required, a set of help notes can also be called up during the question-answer sequence. In order to be informed about the student who has not fully understood the point of the exercise, the results of students’ attempts at each section are stored on the computer. On the other hand, the later or the so-called the authoring programs allow teachers to create their own exercises. They can program part or all of the content to be learned. Some examples of these programs include Cloze master, Choice master and Multitester. With these, the format is pre-programmed and the instructor puts in the material. General authoring programs like Macromedia Director can be used to make an entire course. However, unfortunately most teachers do not have the time or the technical ability to make use of such programs.
b. Ludicrous Programs
Programs that are not designed specifically for language learning can be adapted for this purpose. Generally, these are called task-based activities where the stated goal is not originally for teaching English. However, using the target language is essential and highly motivating for getting the task done. The programs include Facemaker with which students create different faces by using words in the language to command the computer. Another is My English Partner, a kind of role playing games in which the students create and control the character in a fantasy realm. The program is based on pictures that enable students to work with lexical items and texts. For this, students are asked to look for objects that correspond to a certain word or the other way round, complete dialogues, maintain conversations with characters belonging to the program, or do comprehension texts, crosswords and hieroglyphs, among other things.
Word processors can be used to create an endless number of exercises in English -filling in the gaps, rearranging disordered paragraphs in a text, replacing incorrect words by the corresponding correct ones. In a way, doing exercises in a word processor implies giving traditional exercises a new format. In fact, this way of working in the English language classroom results in enjoyment that students experience of having all the practical convenient aspects in manipulating the computer. We also have to take into account that every single student has also the possibility of working simultaneously with his/her own digital dictionary without having the need to carry it from home. This is the advantage that CD-ROM dictionaries offer. Besides, computers allow teachers to give exercises a more attractive aspect by means of colors, different letter styles, pictures or even animation. Some people could argue that there are currently many textbooks that have a very attractive visual aspect. Nevertheless, we should also consider that always working with the same text turns out to be quite boring for students in a short term. On the other hand, presenting students these texts in photocopies would be excessively expensive and surely less interesting compared to loosing the technological flavor that computers give them.
The Readiness of The Human Resources
In order to implement CALL programs in a well-merged national standard curriculum or KTSP, another factor that should be carefully prepared is about the readiness of the human resources directly involved. And they are the teachers and of course the students themselves. First of all, it is important to evaluate the computer skills of learners. Learners with little or no knowledge of computers will first require a thorough introduction in basic computer skills including word processing, e-mail usage and the operation of browser software. The second factor is related to the learners’ language level and navigation on the web. If teachers want their students to work with ESL or EFL web sites, they will have to take into account that only intermediate or advanced level learners will ensure an effective navigation on the web, since most of the sites require high knowledge of the English language. Then absolutely is about the teachers. They should be familiar with basic computer and internet technology in order to anticipate potential problems during the teaching and learning process. That is why it is much better if they prepare everything before they conduct the program, including the right web sites and appropriate CD-ROM or on-line materials for the students to work with. Well, in fact it is not only the responsibility of individual teacher but any elements related must also be cooperative and supportive to realize the improvement of the English teaching through the implementation of the new teaching methodologies using CALL programs. The school management or the department of education must be willing to allocate some budget and provide trainings or seminars to boost teachers’ knowledge and skills around the applications of CALL.
The Application of CALL for the teaching of English in All Aspects
1. Computers and Grammar Teaching
According to Higgins (1986: 35), there are three different models of grammar teaching: Instructional, Revelatory and Conjectural. In Instructional grammar which is commonly undertaken in an English language classroom, explicit statements and formal exercises are consciously learnt and presented in a systematically organised way. So it is easy enough to be computerized. These functions would be presenting the students statements in the form of rules and ask them to memorise those rules; using some examples to explain students the theoretical points and assigning mechanical tasks Besides, attention to error correction is also considered to be quite relevant. The task of judging the different reasons why students commit different kinds of errors is better fulfilled by teachers than by computers since they know every one of their students as individual beings. This enables them to distinguish between errors due to carelessness, those due to round misunderstanding of a grammar principle, and those which consist on some kind of students’ experimenting with the target language. In sum, the teachers’ knowledge about their students cannot be systematised and turned into a language that computers can understand.
In Revelatory grammar, the exchange of meaningful language is promoted. Grammatical correctness is not the goal and sometimes it is not even demanded from students. No systematic progression of contents is followed and no memorisation is required. The main objective is to enhance language acquisition through motivating activities. Any language item is used to potentiate the target language. Then any text shown by the computer is considered to be meaningful language. And this obviously includes the instructions given by the computer to install a program that are written in English. If the programs that have to be installed are the latest version of a game or simply one that they really like, the interest that they are going to put in order to quickly understand the instructions for the installation is amazing. If the teacher wants to potentiate group work, then he just will have to arrange groups of students working with the same computer. Soon, the teacher will witness how enthusiastically students collaborate in order to achieve the desired goal. Some of the tasks that student prefer are branching stories, adventures, puzzles, or logic problems in which the computer has the role of providing an attractive context for the use of language. Many teachers may think that, although highly motivating, these tasks do not really help students to improve their grammar knowledge.
Conjectural grammar implies working with the target language in an inductive way. Thus, students work out rules from data, form hypotheses and test them. By this kind of grammar, it is also understood when students arrange their partial knowledge of a language into a system that they can share it with someone else.
2. Computer, Reading and Writing
Not many people object to the fact that the comfort of reading for pleasure in paper format such as novels, comics, magazine or any other entertaining reading text can ever be replaced by texts displayed on the computer screen. The phenomena happens since this kind of extensive reading bring unsaid joy or typical amusement to those who do it while they are being couch-potato in front of the TV, lying on the beach, or just sitting under a tree. And while they can really feel the arousal of their anxiety or excitement when they turn the pages backward or forward to find previously read ideas. And these are the things that can not be attained from a computer screen. But the situation changes when it comes to intensive reading, although there is no investigation that can prove whether students prefer doing intensive reading in books rather than in computers. But what is true is that intensive reading is more effective in computers than in books. Thus, for example, computer activities which involve rebuilding or rearranging texts have realized their value, not to mention the act of reading the instructions that are included in a CD game so that players know what to do in order to be able to play effectively. In the case of writing on the computer, there is only one disadvantage and that is the majority of students are not used to using a keyboard. Consequently, the process of writing may become a painfully slow one but this insignificant drawback can overcome by short term practice. Writing an essay on paper has not the same attractiveness for them than writing it with a word processor. To this, we have to add the advantages that word processors attach to writing tasks. First of all, mistakes can be corrected much more easily. On the other hand, students do not have to give much importance to the order in which they write their ideas, since they can easily change text order, and thus rearrange ideas as many times as they want. Besides, the grammar and spelling correction devices that word processors incorporate can be activated whenever teachers consider necessary. This way, students are made conscious of the mistakes or errors they have made and have the possibility of either checking or trying to guess the correct option.
3. Computer in Listening and Speaking
A large amount of specific software that has been created for learning English includes the teaching of listening and speaking skills. The problem is that rather, being truly interactive, the activities designed to improve those two skills are mainly based on drills. Thus, students have the possibility of enacting dialogs, generally of the question-answer type with the characters in the program. But these are closed dialogs so students can not ask whatever they want since they have to limit themselves to predetermined texts. Nevertheless, despite the lack of true or real interaction, this experience has been proved to be highly motivating and eventually turn out to be quite realistic if students concentrate on the activity. They may feel, to a certain extent, just as if they were really speaking to a receptionist in a hotel, a waitress in a restaurant or to a cashier in a supermarket. Besides, there are many other programs that also offer the possibility of listening to English with an American or British accent such as encyclopaedias and games.
4. CALL and the Internet
The web as the endless source of English language learning materials can be very powerful in building students’ knowledge and skills whenever it is utilized properly. It offers various and rich web sites related to TESL or TEFL in direct or indirect way. One of the most important aspects of the internet is the computer conferencing (CC), using a computer network for real-time synchronous discussion, that has successfully increase students’ motivation in practicing all of their language skills. Skinner and Austin’s survey showed that CC has caused three reasons how it increases the students’ motivation:
1. CC provides an opportunity for real communication and community.
They can have real audience and fully meaningful communication when writing since the purpose is not only for learning how to write but mainly in order to communicate with other people. They also feel that they are being members of a real community of their own age or of the same EFL learners. With these feeling in mind, they were progressively creating a shared knowledge for each of the tasks they develop during the conference. And what is more important is that they realised of having an important part to play in those tasks.
2. CC improves personal confidence.
Many people may think that the same activities that students undertook in computer conferencing could be developed in a normal classroom environment. It means that CC does not really bring anything new into the EFL classroom. Nevertheless, those people will probably change their mind if they discover that communicating with the aid of a computer enhance the students’ personal confidence. Austin and Skinner state that students mentioned that once they were used to the computer conferencing technology they felt less stressed and more confident than in other language learning situations.
3. CC encourages students to overcome writing apprehension.
Finally, enhancing personal confidence is directly linked to the third motivating factor: overcoming writing apprehension. Students felt that they could use the language without too much anxiety about surface errors, and instead they can focus their attention more on higher levels of text structure, such as creating and developing ideas.
Above all of the advantageous things mentioned before, still no total reliance should be given to CALL, including CC. Thus, for example, we may fear that if students become dependent on computers when using English, they will never have the courage of using English in real conversations in English. We cannot forget that oral interaction involves various aspects that are not potentiated in CC, such as body language, and the most important of all, the use of the articulatory organs. On the other hand, many teachers may find the inconvenience that the institutions where they teach do not allow them to be on the web for a long time. Nevertheless, nearly the same benefits can be found using another devise that CALL offers: the e-mail. It is true that e-mailing does not allow real time synchronous discussion, but the students also feel the same way of being involved on real communication or meaningful use of the language.
It is not deniable that the important of mastering English language must be among the major priorities in the educational sector in Indonesia since English, as an international language, has been penetrated into all aspects of everyday life. Most books now are written in English. Private or government appointed international-standard schools use English as the instruction language. To be able to access the broad source of information from the internet, students’ mastery of intermediate level of English is needed. Those are the reasons why it is urgent to keep up with the latest development of the world issues and the most recent technological advancement through English as the main tool. To realize this, CALL brings about a new dimension and a new way of thinking towards the implementation of KTSP curriculum in which teachers are required to be creative in adjusting and modifying the methodologies used to improve the English teaching in Indonesia. Not only that, any kinds of support are also needed from all educational elements related such as the school managements and the local government for CALL to be successfully conducted. The aids are either about financial support, facilities, or periodic trainings or seminars in empowering teachers’ computer skill and knowledge. But one final aspect that we should analyse in relation to the implementation of computers in English language teaching is ultimately an ethical question about the kind of classroom environment that is going to be created. The CALL classroom should not be conceived as a room in which every student is studying in isolation in front of his or her computer. The creation of autonomous learners should not be associated to the concept of human alienation. Teachers must think of activities that enable group work or human interaction and computers to be compatible. To conclude, great English teaching methodological advances can be made with the help of CALL. The specialised software together with the resources available in the internet makes more effective learning and improvement of the four language skills possible as does the new roles of students as active participants and teachers as the programs analyst and planner that the computer allow them to take. In this sense, the motivating power that computers have for students guarantees that they are going to face English with a positive attitude and this increases the possibility of the learning acquisition process to be a successful one.
DAVIES, G. (1986) Authoring CALL courseware: A Practical Approach, in LEECH, G. and CANDLIN, N.L. Computers in English Language Teaching and Research. London: Longman, 12-29
HIGGINS, J. (1986) The Computer and Grammar Teaching, in LEECH, G. and CANDLIN, N.L. Computers in English Language Teaching and Research. London: Longman, 31-45.
THE REPORT OF CALL PROGRAM ANALYSES
EASY TO SING
The Advantages :
It is in the form of digital compact disc (DVD) so it is quite convenient to be played either by using a DVD player with a TV set or a media player of a computer. Unlike using a cassette and a radio tape, with a digital compact disc it will be easy and time-saving for teachers to find the track of a song. It contains about fifteen children songs. It is interesting and motivating to be used as an authentic material or teaching aid for young learners of an English class since children are always attracted to songs and its rhyme. If it is not for the whole lesson, a teacher can use different songs for different topics, depend on the theme of the song, as a lead-in strategy. Whenever the teacher wants to apply the suggestopedia method, these songs can be very helpful to soothe the restless energetic children to make them feel calm and relaxed before they are ready to start the lesson.
Because it is not produced and sung by the native speakers of English so it is not a very good model for proper pronunciation. Another disadvantage is about the visualization. The video clips are not contextual or coherent with the lyric of the songs. Consequently, teacher can not used the clips for further use like introducing or teaching vocabulary. Besides, some of the songs are a little bit different from the known original rhyme and this will trigger complains from critical young learners.
The content is divided under some headings for students to choose of their interests non-sequentially. It presents a lot of pictures so students can also learn a lot of vocabulary under different topics. There is always a presenter to give the model of pronunciation and intonation. The sample of intonation is necessary since this program seems to focus more on expressions to be used for certain situation. Student can learn how to stress on certain words or syllables in wh- questions, yes or no questions and exclamations. This program provides buttons of playback, pause, stop, backward and forward in order to facilitate students to adjust their learning pace. Students can simply repeat the expressions whenever they want to learn more, skip any parts that they think easy or have been mastered, or stop the section at any time and choose another interesting topic from the main menu. Students are also given parts to practice their pronunciation and intonation by repeating after the speakers and recording their own voice.
The categories of the content is only based on topics not levels of students’ ability so the expressions given seems mixed-up from the easiest or the simplest to the most complicated in one section. And actually it is often found that there are more than one unrelated topics under a heading. Then since all parts of the program only require students to do the repetition, it does not invite much of the students’ involvement or it is not interactive enough for them to explore more of the exercises. Because of this unchallenging program, it will possibly lead to immediate boredom. Moreover, the expressions are not properly put in contexts so it is very difficult for students to recognize exactly when, where or how to use them. It is better if they are packed and highlighted in dialogs with clear situation so they will not be too loose and mechanical. The only clue given for the use of the expressions is only the background still pictures that sometimes illustrated irrelevantly. It will look nicer and more interesting if the expressions are accompanied with motion pictures in order to make everything, including the speakers, look and sound more natural.
ISSUES IN ENGLISH
This program offers some topics to be explored further based on levels of difficulty. Each level of a topic is introduced with a narration delivered by a speaker. This narration functions as a lead in strategy to give the main theme of the whole practices. What seems to be the most interesting is that this program has wonderfully integrated all skill practices from speaking, listening, reading and writing. Although certain exercises focus on a certain skill under a subheading, each of them has been carefully designed to accommodate the implementation of integrated skill practices. Considering not less important than other skill practices, this program also stress much on the grammar which is presented thematically and suited to the level of difficulty. For each aspect of grammar exercised, there is always the hint box for further explanation that can be opened anytime the students need it. Not only grammar aspect discussed in detail, but each level is also enriched with broad vocabulary. For teachers, teaching points are provided to guide them to choose the correct materials either to be used as main sources or just as supplementary exercises. About the technical support, the disc is easily and quickly installed. It does not require high hardware specification. The most important is the navigation system of this program which is created clear and easy to operate. Lastly, the feedback upon students’ responses is quite encouraging.
At the first sight, the topics introduced in the main menu are not really common like euthanasia, discrimination, gambling and smoking. Discussing these topics may arouse controversies among the students especially in divergence classes whose students come from different social and cultural background. Another thing is about the grammar exercises which are not really suitable for elementary level of students since sometimes they are mixed-up with other aspects of different part of speech. And the last, any exercise requires correct answer. Consequently, whenever students can not give the right answers they can not depend on the answer key since it will never provide one. The students are the ones who have to try by themselves. But while they are searching and learning more for the answer, they can skip the difficult parts and go back later at anytime they are ready.
Building Positive Attitude Toward
Reading for ESL Young Learners by: Santi Silvana
Once I entered the room, they appeared very nice and quite. Although they were surprised of my presence as a substitute teacher, they welcomed me warmly with cheerful smiles on their lovely faces. But this peaceful situation did not last long until some were crying after quarrelling with their friends, some were jumping on the desks, some were playing hide and seek while I was paying more attention to those who sat still and read attentively. In other words, it was a chaos. If only I knew that things were going to be different in a short time, as an inexperienced teacher, I would have thought twice to teach this amazing, incredible, enthusiastic, unpredictable group of learners. Especially, that day’s topic was reading a short story telling a little boy’s sixth birthday party. For me, it was the hardest teaching experience I’ve ever had, being lost in an unmanageable situation contrasted with the most difficult but the most important skill to be taught and learnt, according to Paulston and Bruder (1976). There are some ways that can be applied to build ESL young learners’ positive attitude in reading.
One way to be able to build students’ positive attitude in reading is to equip teachers with the knowledge of early literacy, a term widely used in current educational literature, which describes how young children gradually become aware of the uses of written language in their environment (Ashworth and Wakefield 2005). This early literacy explains when children are ready to begin any reading programs. Some programs that follow the audio-lingual approach delay reading or any exposures to the printed words until the students are fluent, somewhat within a limited repertoire, in phonological system of the target language. This Kind of program may be true only for first grade children who are simultaneously learning to decode graphic symbols (Paulston and Bruder 1976). Other programs state that reading could only be taught when children were developmentally and physically ready to gain the so-called readiness skills (letter recognition, recognition of the sound-symbol, correspondences, etc). This readiness occurred as a result of maturation after children began formal schooling and were ready to be taught the specific skills that would enable them to read.
Another way requires teachers to be familiar with children’s unique characteristic so that they can choose suitable reading selections. Klein (2005) explained that teaching young learners is different from teaching adult. Young children tend to change their mood every other minute, and they find it extremely difficult to sit still. It is also very difficult for them to maintain their motivation for a longer period of time. According to Cameron (2003), students may have different forms of motivation but not all are so motivated that they can continue their study of English without losing whatever motives they had in the beginning. On the other hand, they show a greater motivation than adults to do things that appeal to them. For those reasons, teachers should really consider and carefully choose the selections of the reading text. Texts with many unknown and difficult words are somewhat frustrating, if not discouraging. Others may be at the level of grammatical and organizational difficulty. It is just like Day and Bamford’s quotation, “reading gain without reading pain.” So it is very important that the selections should have high interest value to the students and the simplest way of establishing this is by asking the students to choose books that they can read quickly and easily. The content should not contrast with the students’ own cultural values (Anderson 1972). It seems that it is easier to read what is interesting and ideologically compatible, at least at the earlier stages. This will increase their confidence and motivate them to be more comfortable with the process of reading.
Setting goals of reading lessons will also help young learners focus more on what they read. Meyer and Sugg (1980) explained that every lesson requires a clear goal setting. Students should always, at all stages, know what they are doing and why they are doing it. This is necessary not only so they will feel a certain satisfaction about their achievement at the end of the lesson, but also for good motivation throughout the lesson. Research has also shown that students are more attentive to do their work if the teacher explains the goals of the lesson. To reach this goal, the teacher should guide and transform the tools for the students to be able to read by themselves and to get some information from the reading passage as determined in the objective of the lesson.
Next, reading activities should be arranged and modified, if necessary, to meet the students’ level of ability so they are able to draw some knowledge while they are enjoying their reading. One kind of reading activities that can be offered is extensive reading for which they can read large quantities of easy material in English. In this case, they read for information and enjoyment, with the primary goal of achieving a general, overall understanding of the reading material (Ono, Day, Harsch 2004). Students are allowed to select their own reading material and are encouraged to stop reading if the material is not interesting or is too hard. By giving such freedom, they will gradually learn to expand their reading comfort zone, the range of materials they can read easily and with confidence. The resource of the materials may include children’s books, comics, or online texts. Students can also be introduced to language learner literature, reading material specifically written for language learners. They are simplified books, fiction and non-fiction, in which the content is controlled to match the learners’ language ability. Besides reading for pleasure, students may also increase their fluency and their vocabulary knowledge. That is why it is important for teachers to pay attention to what the students are reading and to make sure that they are not struggling with texts that are too difficult. It makes sense to help build students’ confidence and fluency with easier books, bearing in mind that books that were at one time too difficult will later become easier to read. Furthermore, reading should be taught in meaningful and real-life related contexts so it will be easier for children to understand the content of the material. Paulston and Bruder (1976) said students need the vocabulary of what is relevant to their world. It is easier to learn to read when the cultural background is familiar and the students can draw on cultural information in the decoding process. This is what teachers should realize that procedures and techniques of teaching reading are used to decode meaning –lexical, structural and cultural- from graphic symbols (Bumpass 1963). According to Goodman, readers may draw three kinds of information. The first is graphophonic information, the sound-symbol relationship, which is assumed that the students already know but taught to encode the pronunciation. The second is syntactic, the information implicit in the grammatical structure of the language. Native speakers already know the grammar of their language and draw on this knowledge in their reading. The foreign student needs to be taught how to do this. Third, there is the semantic information. Readers draw on their experiential conceptual background to supply a semantic component of the message. To do this, the reader needs access to both lexical and cultural meaning. On the very elementary level, especially young learners, however, reading serves primarily (1) to introduce basic grammar pattern and vocabulary items in context and (2) to reinforce this basic knowledge. Those are why Smith (1972) stated that reading is learned rather than taught, and that one learns reading by reading, in the mother tongue as well as in a foreign language. In short, the reading process should be relevant to the children’s everyday life while it also helps develop real language knowledge.Then, creating a concrete and visible means of monitoring the reading progress can be very motivating. This can be done by keeping reading logs which help both teachers and students check the reading progress. Some teachers, (Ono, Day, Harsch 2004), have found it useful to monitor the progress based on the weeks of a school semester (see Appendix 1). Others require students to provide a very brief summary of each book entered into the log in order to monitor general comprehension (see Appendix 2). According to Latha (2005), students may be required to submit brief, structured book reports which are written under specified headings. These may include a listing of main ideas and supporting details, the discussion of favorite characters, the readers’ personal opinion, and a short section on vocabulary extension. By doing this, reading activities will become more focused and enable children to become more coherent and concise in their responses. Finally, when young learners are in the process of learning reading, they should be engaged in supportive atmosphere and environment for them to create good reading habit. The teacher should be a role model as a reader. Day and Bamford (2002) claimed that “effective extensive reading teachers are themselves readers, teaching by giving example of the attitudes and behaviors of a reader.” If the teacher is an English native speaker, he should consider reading extensively in the students’ first language If English is a foreign language to the teacher, then read English with the students. As Nutall (1996) observed “reading is caught, not taught.” So the more students read, the better reader they become. Shirley Brice –Heath (1983) believe the successful teaching and learning depend on eliminating the boundaries between classroom and communities. The teacher can not begin to promote a reading program without prior knowledge of the community’s attitude toward reading. Meeting and discussing with parents at the outset of the reading program promotes parental involvement in their children’s reading outside school.
Therefore, by applying the ways mentioned previously, it is hoped that teachers can build ESL young learners’ positive attitude toward reading. Whenever the lesson is delivered successfully, it does not mean only for the good of the children’s present skill and knowledge but also for encouraging a life long involvement with books and reading (Latha 2005). When young learners are provided with insightful and careful orientation and guidance to reading (Ono, Day, Harsch 2004), they are not only improving many aspects of their overall reading and language ability; they are also opening a door to the variety of worlds that reading can present. According to Culbreth (2004), preparing a child to be a good reader is one of parent’s greatest gifts. As Jenny Nash, author of Raising a Reader, (as quoted by Culbreth, 2004, p. 115) states, “you can find companionship in books, counsel, solace and delight. You can spend hours alone in a room listening to the quite music of the written word.” Reading can give children those magic moments and much more.
Multimedia Arouses Students’ Motivation In Learning English “English is difficult!” said most of Junior and high school students in Jakarta. The major problem of learning this worldwide-used language is lack of practicing outside the class. These students think that class session is the only opportunity to practice English. Furthermore, a teacher’s role and assistance are considered as the only sources for explanation of the usage and real-life applied examples of word choices, idioms, or even popular slang. In spite of those problems, the students admitted that English is very important. They need it and face it daily on some regular basis for various purposes such as reading text books, manuals, instructions, or just for browsing the internet. Now, there is an interesting, attractive and interactive learning device to encourage the students’ motivation in learning English that is by using the multimedia.Multimedia is a complement to class activities and it can also be a replacement of teachers, peers, and oral explanation outside the class where students used to find difficult for self-learning. Supplementary practices outside the class would be very important and beneficial for those who are reluctant to be actively involved especially in speaking practices since they tend to be afraid of making mistakes in front of their teachers or peers. In fact, this unnecessary behavior towards learning may hampers them to do essentials speaking exercises which are required to be fluent in producing the language. This is why Multimedia is created in order to anticipate potential problem such as mentioned above, by eliminating the effective filter that students have to deal with in class. Students can do self-learning since some multimedia programs are fully equipped with complete explanation of the material discussed, modified exercises that can be done individually or with peers and real life examples of word choices, idioms, or even slang. Multimedia is designed under the considerations on individual differences. Students do not have to worry or rush since they are able to elaborate the exercises on their own pace. They will also be more motivated in doing the exercises as multimedia offers interactive activities by which students can learn, respond directly, get immediate feedback, and be awarded by enormous encouraging responses. Students are exposed with interactive learning without being afraid of making mistakes or feeling left behind. Multimedia enhances all students’ learning skills; listening, reading, speaking and writing using tons of educative English learning software. Each software presents the lesson uniquely to attract the students’ attention while they are enjoying their learning. Some materials are packed in songs, stories, puzzles, or role-plays with colorful, inspiring scenes and printable pages. Some are particularly designed for students to learn the usage with different levels of difficulty. Some are only speaking skills such as pronunciation with visualized examples of how to pronounce the words. Some are made as one-stop sources for combined skills practices as so called integrated skill practices. In sum, multimedia is really a helpful way, for great enjoyment in learning, to build students’ strong self-motivation and confidence in the mastery of English language. It may be provided at school or at home as self-learning equipment as long as the required specification of the personal computer is fulfilled. The students who have experienced this new learning method said that they no longer have hesitation to learn more everyday and gain significant progress. In addition, they also get better English scores at school.