Observations of Fourth Grade Foreign Language Learning
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Published: Mon, 12 Feb 2018
1.1. Background of the study
The purpose of this study is to investigate fourth graders’ learning experiences in using English as foreign language during the learning process in classroom context.
In the process of learning, learners need experience as a result of what they have been involved in that learning. Experience is gained by direct involvement or participation of an event. As stated by Kellough (1998 : 280) when students are involved in direct experiences, they are using more of their sensory input channels, their learning modalities (i.e., auditory, visual, tactile, kinesthetic); and when all the senses are engaged, learning is most effective, meaningful and longest lasting. Moreover, in the context of learning English as foreign language, experience in using English is essential to achieve effective, meaningful, and longest lasting learning. As the results, learners are able to use the language for their daily communication.
Experience will be better to gain when learning is done in early age. Curtain and Pesola (1988:3) stated that when language learning begins earlier, it can go on longer and provide more practice and experience, leading ultimately to greater fluency and effectiveness. This study was employed to pupils who have range age from 7 until 10 years old (concrete stages) (Curtain and Pesola, 1988). It is assumed that when they learn English from Primary School, they have more practice and experience. As supported by Curtain and Pesola (1988:3) the thinking skills of most children in elementary school foreign language programs are at the concrete stage, and experience plays a major role in all learning.
However, children learning English as a foreign language in Indonesian elementary school context face many serious challenges. One challenge relates to lack of social uses of the English language real-life situations which would likely involve children in their daily life (CREST, 2002 :3). The pupils have experience in using English only from classroom context. They are lack to face real English communication. Moon (2001:14) added that in the foreign language situation, the pupils depend almost entirely on the school for input. Consequently, the English learning experience in classroom context is very essential to support pupils’ practice and communication simulation.
For that reason, it is needed to conduct a study which is investigating whether learning experiences in our Primary School has accommodate pupils’ practice and simulation communication. The findings of this investigation are answered by describing learning experience from the classroom observation and categorizing data description.
Learning experience is the experience in using language during the learning time, which is formulated in simulation and practices. The learning experience is developed by practice and communication simulation done by learners. By doing so, they will get a clear picture or discourse understanding about the use of language. The examples of practice and simulation communication are achieved from the physical activities (i.e., hands on experience), as cited by CREST (2002:3) children learn by way of physical activities (i.e., hands on experiences) in the context of doing things embedded in their daily lives, both individually and socially. From that hands on experience Moon (2000:6) also explained that the use of songs, rhymes, poems, drama and classroom routine all help to give children access to ready-made bits of language so they can begin to communicate. Curtain and Pesola (1988:xiv) assumed that successful language learning for children is organized in the term of concrete experience; considerable planning should go into the use of visual, props and realia, and hands-on activities. Concrete experience from the use of visual, props and realia and hands-on activities are able to lead pupils attain their language learning goals. Curtain and Pesola also gives example of concrete experience, those are song, rhymes, finger play, props and Concrete Materials (dialogs, role play, small-group or pair work). In addition from previous study conducted by Ririt (2004) said that various learning experiences in English program will be developed through various kinds of material, activities, such as song, stories, games, reading text, and media.
It can be concluded that in this study by having practice (sing songs, do classroom routines, read text, play game) and communication simulation (dialog, role play), the pupils will be able to achieve the purpose of learning English as foreign language for young learner which is developing pupils’ communicative competence in language accompanying action in school context and developing pupils’ awareness of the importance of English in global community. It is stated on Standar Isi Kurikulum Muatan Lokal Bahasa Inggris Provinsi DKI Jakarta (2006).
“Mata pelajaran Bahasa Inggris di SD/MI bertujuan agar peserta didik memiliki kemampuan sebagai berikut: 1. Mengembangkan kompetensi berkomunikasi dalam bentuk lisan secara terbatas untuk mengiringi tindakan (language accompanying action) dalam konteks sekolah; 2. Memiliki kesadaraan tentang hakikat dan pentingnya Bahasa Inggris untuk menngkatkan daya saing bangsa dalam masyarakat global”
Standar Isi Kurikulum Muatan Lokal Bahasa Inggris Provinsi DKI Jakarta (2006) is a government policy which is listed the purpose of learning English for primary schools pupils in Jakarta.
However, there are some problems about the implementation of learning experience that the pupils get from the learning. They have unvaried activities; make them bored and not interested to the learning, have the learning activities but does not give experience (it is not hands on activities); and misconception to teach grammatical than convey the meaning of language message to children. Retrieved information from http://www.businessballs.com/experiental learning.htm, there is mentioned the differences between experiential learning and conventional training and teaching. The differences are in how the learning process happens. The example of conventional training, the learning are usually presented by power point presentation, chalk-and-talk classes, reading, attending lectures, exam study, observation, planning and hypothesising, theoretical work, unreal role-play. In other hand, experiential learning presents by physical activity, games, and exercises, drama and role-play which becomes real, actually doing the job or task, ‘outward bound’ activities, teaching others, hobbies, pastimes, and passions. Based on the importance and problems of learning experience, and requirement of government policy, this study is conducted to examine the fourth graders’ learning experiences in using English as foreign language during the learning process in classroom context.
1.2 Research Questions
The research questions of this study are:
- What kinds of learning experiences that pupils acquired to support their English practice and simulation?
- To what extend that learning experiences accommodate the pupils’ need?
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to investigate fourth graders’ learning experiences in using English as foreign language during the learning process in classroom context
1.4 Method of the study
This study used a case study as its methodology. This study was carried out at four schools, SDN Cipinang Muara 14 Pagi East Jakarta, SDN Pisangan Timur 03 and 05 Pagi East Jakarta, SDN Pesanggrahan 06 Petang South Jakarta. The subjects of the study are fourth grader at each those schools. The research subject is pupils’ learning experiences in English classroom.
This study used classroom observation and teacher’ interview to gain the data. Class observation is used to provide description of learning activities then to be analyzed into what learning experiences. Teacher’ interview is used as the additional data of what in teacher’s plan and how the implementation of learning experiences happen in the classroom.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study is mainly to find out pupils’ learning experiences at Primary Schools. It gives a thick description of what kinds of learning experiences that pupils acquired during the learning process of English. This result will be beneficial as an input to the English teacher, school and the researcher itself; it gives the recent data about pupils’ English learning experiences at four grade of primary school.
Thus, it will be an input for those schools in developing their school curriculum and English Department of State University of Jakarta students who are interest in teaching English to young learner.
2.1. English Learning Experiences
Experience as a result of learning process is a must. Madya, S et all. (2004) stated that experiences are paramount and activities is a must in learning process.The experience it self is gained by doing activity or letting the learners to practice doing it. From Webster dictionary, the definition of experience is practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity (Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experience).
Pupils’ English learning experiences in the classroom context also can be achieved with direct participation during the learning process. During the learning process, pupils are given by teacher various learning activities which is contain various experiences. Then, as supported by Moon (2000:7) if pupils enjoy the learning activities, they will be more involved and this may increase their desire to continue. This is very positive for language learning, because if children want to continue with an activity for some time, it will give them more exposure to language input and more chance to practice the language. They will also develop more positive attitudes towards English, as they will associate it with something enjoyable and pleasing.
Teaching English to the primary school students need varieties of activities. The teacher needs to plan a range of activities to avoid students getting bored. In Ferguson (2008:v) mentioned that research shows that games and activities provide a fun and interactive learning environment and promote effective language learning. When students are active, engaged, and enjoying themselves, their ability to learn and master new vocabulary and other linguistic functions is much higher than if they are simply learning by memorization or drills. Therefore, the activities which carried on experiential learning for young learner is hands on activity or physical activity. Moon (2000:8) gives example of physical activities such as making things, action songs, games, rhymes and drama provide excellent context for language learning.
It is also supported by Curtain and Pesola (1988:199), they said, because children require hands-on learning experiences with concrete object, the elementary school foreign language classroom must have a wide variety of objects and material available, as many of them as possible from the target culture. Futhermore, Moon (2000:9) stated that children’s desire to communicate is very powerful and this carries over into foreign language learning. If they are engaged in an interesting activity, they will talk their heads off happily. This is very useful for language learning because it means that pupils will get plenty of practice in using the language. In this study, the practice and communication simulation that pupils use during the class is limited. Practices are singing songs, doing classroom routines, reading text, playing game, and simulation communications are dialog, role-play. Paul (2003)l mentioned some kinds of activities that can makes learning more meaningful, he stated that when playing, singing, and learning are integrated into total learning experience, the combination is very powerful.
Children learn through first-hand (concrete) experiences, particularly through structured play as stated by Gipps (1994, p.26) cited in Brewster (2003). Pupils are expected to be facilitated by the teacher with concrete experiences.
2.2. English for Forth Graders
The characteristic of young learner based on CREST (2002:3) children have their own world, which is far different from that of adults. The pupil is not the mini adult. They have their own way to learn. As stated also in CREST (2002:5), the characteristics of children are:
- Children learn naturally
- Children know a lot about literacy before schooling
- All children can learn
- Children learn best when learning is kept whole, meaningful, interesting, and functional.
- Children learn best when they make their own choices
- Children learn best as a community of learners in a non-competitive environment
- Children learn best by talking and doing in a social context.
Curtain and Pesola (1988:67) explained those children ages 8 to 10 is named Intermediate Students. This intermediate students is categorized to grades 3, 4, and 5. Children at this age are at a maximum of openness to people and situations different from their own experience. For these students, a global emphasis is extremely important, because it gives them an opportunity to work with information from all parts of the world. As intermediate develop the cognitive characteristics of the concrete operations stage, they begin to understand cause and effect. Students in intermediate grades can work well in groups. They can begin a more systematic approach to language learning, but they continue to need first-hand, concrete experiences as starting point and continue to benefit from learning that is embedded in context. Moon (2000:7) defines that children are naturally curious and active. They eagerly explore their environment and interact with people, which helps them to construct their understanding of the world they live in. An important way in which they do this is through physical activity and experiencing things at first hand.
Children love discovering things and because they respond well to being asked to use their imagination, they may well be involved in puzzle-like activities, in making things, in drawing things, in playing games, in conducting physical movement (Harmer, 2001, p.38)
2.3. Related Researches on the English Learning Experiences
There is a study about learning experience, which has done by Kartika, Jatu (2007). Her study entitled “Supporting Basic Literacy through English Learning Experiences” is focus on students’ basic literacy through learning experiences. The study was done in SDN Tegallega 1 and 2 Bogor. The result of her study is students have been involved in English learning experiences in the context of executing classroom assignments but have not yet fully supported the students’ basic literacy. Her classroom observation data showed that students were mostly engaged in language pronunciation activity during the English and very limited learning activities were pursued to develop students’ self-awareness in employing English to be socially literate. Her finding from the data interview and questionnaire showed that students felt bored to be engaged in unvaried activities and felt difficult to memorize English word.
The previous study conducted by Ririt (2004) entitled Fifth Grade students preferences towards English Learning at Labschool Elementary School founds that various learning experiences in English program will be developed through various kinds of material, activities, such as song, stories, games, reading text, and media. Another study, which carried out, by Astriani R. F (2006) notes that in her survey titled The English Vocabulary size of elementary school students in Jakarta, the score of average vocabulary size of the students is 477 words out of 1000 words. She is recommended that the teachers in elementary school should emphasized teaching and learning English in vocabulary and they also apply creative teaching and learning techniques such as singing, drawing, telling stories, and mentioning something through games so that the pupils will feel happy when they are learning English.
Yeni (2009) in her research entitled Using Games to increase students’ participation in Listening Activity at SDN Pisangan Timur 11 shows that games; missing lyric, word race, Simon say, what’s the number and song puzzle can be used to increase students participation. It also reports that there was significant improvement to the students’ participation in listening activities. Students’ were actively involved in listening activity. The students are interested in following the game and feel enjoy confident in participating activities.
2.4. Conceptual Framework
The purpose of the study is to get factual data and information of pupils’ learning experiences in English classroom context by using describing, categorizing and analyzing classroom observation. The researcher decided to conduct the study on fourth grade because English is introduced in Primary School started from fourth grade of primary school. The study is also meant to see whether pupils have various kinds of learning experiences during the learning process. Learning experience can be developed by practice and simulation communication. If the pupils have experience in practice and simulation, it is assumed that they have meaningful, effective and longest lasting learning experience.
2.5. Definition of Terms
Learning experience is the experience in using language during the learning time, which is formulated in simulation and practices. The learning experience is developed by practice and communication simulation done by learners.
Practice means sing songs, do classroom routines, read text, play game and communication simulation here and communication simulation means dialog, role-play.
This chapter describes how this study is carried out. It covers the design of the study, the subjects of the study, instrument of the study, data collection procedures, and data interpretation.
3. 1. The Design of the Study
This study is conducted through a case study in order to find in depth (1) what kinds of learning experiences that pupils acquired to support their English practice and simulation (2) To what extend that learning experiences accommodate the pupils’ need. The data is picked up through classroom observation and interview.
3.2 Research Setting
3. 2. 1 Time and place of the Study
This study was carried out from March up to April 2009 in four primary schools. They are SD Negeri Pisangan Timur 03 and 05 pagi, East Jakarta; SD Negeri Cipinang Muara 14, East Jakarta; and SD Negeri Pesanggrahan 06 Petang, South Jakarta.
3. 2. 2 Subject of the Study
The subjects of this research are the fourth graders from four schools in Jakarta. Their experiences during the English class were be observed and recorded.
3. 3 Data Collection Method
For the first research question “What kinds of learning experiences that pupils acquired to support their English practice?” The data was gathered by observing and recording the pupils and teacher’s interaction during their English class. After observing and recording, the visual data was transcribed.
The data transcriptions were described as data description. Afterward the data was be classified by bolding the description, it was be reduced based on the needs of the study and will be put in the table because of the amount of data collected during the classroom observation. Next, the data reduced will be put in the table which is categorized based on the synthesis which was mention in the conceptual framework. The categorization was made in order to answer the research question.
Second research question, “to what extend that learning experience accommodate the pupils’ need?” is answered by analysing the data categorization. Besides, the interview is also used to support the information of learning experience in the data analysing. It is open-ended interview and it is done after the class ended and recorded.
3. 4. Data Interpretation
The data from the recorded classroom observation was analyzed from transcribing and categorizing learning experience data. The information of pupils learning experience also gathered from data interview. The data obtained in this study were mainly descriptive data, which had been narrated by using a procedure, proposed by Woods (1996: 27); and Bailey (1996) described as follow:
The data were classified by bolding the description related to the focus of the study.
The observation data were reduced based on the needs of the study and was put in the table because of the amount of data collected during the classroom observation.
The data reduced will be categorized based on the synthesis, which was mention in the conceptual framework. The categorization was made in order to answer the research question.
Data Description and Research Findings
This chapter presented data description and interpretation to lead the discussion in the research findings. The data description of this study is based on classroom observations.
A. Data description
A.1 Classroom Observations Data
The factual data of pupils’ learning experiences in this study was obtained from classroom observations. The interaction between teacher and pupils from four schools observation is described in the following data description.
1. Observation on March 7th, 2009
The observation was carried on Saturday, on 06.30 to 07.40 a.m. The pupils started the class by saying “Good Morning” to reply teacher’s greeting. The pupils also said “I am fine, thank you. And you?” when the teacher asked them “How are you?”. At that time, it was the first time of observation, so the teacher introduced the observers before starting the lesson. While the teacher was introduced the observers, one of the pupils was coming late. With automatically the teacher and the pupils greeted the late boy by saying “Good Morning”.
The pupils were asked to recall their memorization about the previous lesson. A pupil mentioned the previous lesson was “question” but another pupil mention “public sign”. Pupils were experienced to recall the information that they have studied before. Pupils were experienced to count number of their classmates. Each pupil was experienced to count one until thirty two. They counted the amount of pupils that come in the class. There were 32 pupils and 5 were absent.
After all pupils are ready, they were experienced to read the picture on the whiteboard. The pupils tried to recollect their previous memory about public sign. They pay attention to the picture then mentioned the function of those public sign picture. Pupils were experienced to answer teacher question by mentioning that Cross Park sign mean you cannot park here, stripe sign mean you do not enter, turn left, turn right, go straight. Then, the pupils were asked to use their hand in giving direction of left and right sign. The pupils were experience to act out the teacher instruction by using their hands. They seemed able to differentiate right sign and left with enjoyable.
Next, the pupils guessed the second pictured drawn by the teacher on the whiteboard. They mentioned it was a picture of “lampu lalulintas”. Pupils were experience translating word into English with teacher’ scaffolding. Then they have to repeat words written in whiteboard in order get the right pronunciation. Pupils were experience to pronounce traffic light, red, yellow and green. The pupils also were experience to mention the meaning of each traffic light lamp colour. They were able to identify meaning of the green lamp for go, yellow lamp for be careful and red lamp for stop. After mentioning the meaning, the pupils were experience to pronounce the words such as stop, be careful and go by repeating their teacher. Then pupils were reminded by their teacher, the expression for borrowing something from friends. They were experience to mention the expression for borrowing by saying “May I borrow your …”. The pupils also were experience to practice the conversation in simple dialogue. They practiced in pairs.
After practicing the conversation, the pupils were noisy. The teacher engaged the pupils to sing happy song in order to get pupils silent. Pupils were experience in English to sing “Happy song, please silent”. That time, pupils have a small test. Before starting the test, a pupil cleaned the whiteboard in responding teacher instruction. Pupils were experience in English to act out teacher instruction such as “Clean the board please; Listen to me please; Sit down please; Silent please”. They were experience in English to do the teacher instructions.
Afterwards, the pupils were experience in English to answer the written test. They matched part A into part B. Finishing done the test, the pupils were experience to check the answer test with a whole class. The pupils were given chance to come forward to write the answers on the whiteboard. Most pupils were enthusiastic to come forward. They raised hand and the teacher selected them. While a pupils writing on the whiteboard, the others pupils sing a song “Que Sera Sera”. Pupils were experience in English to sing a song.
In the end of the class, pupils were experience in English to mention what they have learnt on that day. Pupils simulated again the conversation of borrowing things from friends. After that, teacher closed the class by singing “Happy song, good bye”
2. Observation on March 14th, 2009
The observation was held on Saturday from 06.30 to 7.40. The class was opened by pupils’ greeting. Pupils were experienced to greet the teacher by saying “Good Morning”. Also replied greeting “How are you?” by saying “I’m fine. Thank You. And You?”. Before the class starting, their sitting places were arranged. They have to sit on their own chair to avoid much tease between them.
The pupils were experience in English to mention previous study such as “public sign, stripe sign, do not enter, no smoking, push, pull, exit, enter, turn right, turn left”. Then, they asked to pay attention to the picture shown by the teacher. The pupils were experience to guess the picture and to conclude the picture. The picture was not clear enough to be seen from the back class, so some pupils come forward to look at the picture. They were ordered to sit, the teacher said “Sit down please” then the pupils sat on their chair. The pupils were experience to do the instruction in English.
After the pupils settled down, the pupils were asked to conlude the pictures theme. They were experience to conclude the theme pictures by saying it is about “Hobby”. The teacher wrote some words on the whiteboard, the pupils were experience to repeat and to read aloud words such as “watching, playing soccer, swimming, traveling, sleeping, reading books”. Every word they were repeated and read, they were experience to gesticulate it. They act as they were playing soccer, swimming, traveling, sleeping, reading books and cooking. The pupils seemed enjoy the activites.
Next sequence, the pupils were asked about their hobby. They were experience in English answering teacher’s question “What is your hobby?” by saying “My hobby is …..”. Then, the teacher asked the pupils to ask her hobby. The pupils were experience in English to question the teacher by saying “What is your hobby?”. After that the pupils were explained about the difference of his and her. They were given the example question in distinguishing his or her. The pupils were experience to pronounce “his” and “her”.
Subsequently, the pupils were experience to do questioning and answering to their friend about hobby. They practiced how to ask their friend’s hobby use English. The pupils were experience to practice conversation in a simple dialog and to note it in their workbook. Pupils were experience in English do the task in written. In the closure time, the pupils were experience to write home work in their workbook do the same task. They have to question their families’ hobby. Teacher closed the class by saying “Good bye”.
3. Observation on April 18th, 2009
The observation was done every Saturday, at 06.30 to 7.30 a.m because the English class is every Saturday. Pupils started the class by praying and then greeting the teacher. They were experience greeting the teacher by saying “Good Morning”. Next, the pupils were asked to guess the picture that be drawn by the teacher on whiteboard. They were experience to identify the picture by saying “Radio” and “Television”. After that, they have to pay attention to what teacher’s was done. The pupils were supposed to guess the teacher’s act. They were experience to conclude the word from teacher’s action. The pupils said “Lamp” when the teacher turn off and turn on the lamp.
The pupils were experienced repeating the teacher by saying “Radio, TV, and lamp”. From the three pictures, the pupils asked to guess what the key word for those things is. The pupils have the right answered which is “electronic”.
The core activities of that day, pupils were experience to practice turn on and off the lamp, turn on and turn off the tv, play and eject the cassette from the radio. The pupils followed step by step the teachers’ instruction like “turn on the tv please, turn on the lamp please, turn off the lamp please”. In practicing play and eject the radio, the pupils were experience to identify the button in the radio. They have known which play button, stop button, rewind button, fast forward button are. They also were experience to mention each button function.
Finally, they were experience to write the right procedure of playing the cassette in their workbook. The pupils have to arrange the sentences into good order. While the pupils writing the task, some pupils were chosen randomly to come forward in front of the class. They practiced press the buttons from the button pictures on the whiteboard.
Before the class was dismissed, pupils were asked to conclude what they have learned on that day. The class were closed by the teacher’ saying “Good bye” and pupils were experiences in English replaying say “Good bye”.
4. Observation on March 3rd, 2009
The observation was conducted on Tuesday afternoon at 12.30 to 13.40. The pupils replied teachers’ greeting by saying “Good Morning”. Afterwards, they sang a song titled “Happy song” but with a little different melodies. The pupils recalled their experience in previous meeting by mentioning the English of “lemari” with “cupboard”. The class started with guessing the English of thing that teacher’s point out. The teachers pointed out two cupboards, and the pupils mentioned it by saying “These are cupboards”. Some pupils seemed still confused the diffrence of “these are” and “this”. Then they listened to teacher’ explanation about the difference of the “these” and “this”. The pupils were experience to read aloud “This is a cupboard; These are books; That is a chair; Those are chairs” Finally, the pupils were experience to do the exercise fill in with this, these, that or those. They did the task in an exercise paper. While pupils were answering the questions, they were checked for the absent. After finish answer the exercise, the key answer be written on the whiteboard. They were experience to write the answer on the whiteboard. Teacher checked pupils’ answer on the board. The pupils checked their friend’s work or peer correction. Teacher closed the class by submitting pupils’ paper.
5. Observation on March 10th, 2009
The pupils started the class by saying “Good Afternoon” to the teache
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