Students Attitudes Toward English Education Essay

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This study is aimed to describe students' attitudes toward English in elementary schools, Students' attitudes contributes in determining the result of their learning process. English learning process will be successful if the teacher knows the students' attitudes so the teacher can build on students' positive feeling and counteract students' negative feeling (Moon, 2000). Attitudes, which can be positive or negative, is the respond to stimulus from one's social environment (Aiken, 1991). Positive attitudes will make students' !eaming better than the negative or less positive attitudes of the students.

English has become a popular subject at this time, especially for students in the beginner level. Nowadays, many elementary schools are programming English as their local content subject. It seems that interest in teaching of English of elementary school students has been growing in recent years.

English is a new subject for element9ry schools in Indonesia. Based on the writer's experiencclñ teaching English at the fourth grade of an elementary school, some students have positive attitudes in learning English and the rest do not. Since this is the first time for elementary students to learn English, it is important to know the students' perceptions toward


English as a new subject at the beginning of their study. For children, success in their learning is basically influenced by their first perception towards the teaching learning process itself. Reilly, V and S. Ward (1997 ) said that if children's first experience of English is pleasurable, they will have positive attitudes toward English for the rest of their lives. Therefore it is important to investigate the young learners' attitudes toward English because we have to ensure that their first experienôe in learning English is enjoyable so (hat they have positive attitudes towards English language in the future.

English as a local content subject in elementary schools has been officially taught since 1994. Based on the Decree of the Minister of Culture and Education No. 060/U!1993 (as stated by Kasihani, 2000 ), English can be taught to the fourth grade students. However, almost all of the public schools in Indonesia started to introduce English from the first grade. The reason is the students will acquire English better if English is learned from an early age. Therefore, it is important to make the teaching English interesting for students because there are still few researchers focused on this problem. However, teaching English for elementary students should be different from teaching junior or senior high school students because the unique characteristics of young learners.

English subject as a part of Muatan Lokal (MULOK) is an elective subject in elementarychool. The purposes of teaching English in elementary school are to make the students able to understand generally used English words, to comrnuriiate in simple English, and to like English so that they Will


feel encouraged in learning English further in SLTP. Furthermore, they are also expected to have positive attitudes toward English so that they will have a motivation to master English in order to be able to communicate with English speaking people ( Kurikulum MULOK SD DKI Jakarta, 1995). In conclusion, the ultimate goal of the teaching of English is to make students able to communicate in English.

Since Indonesian children - especially in the regions outside Jakarta - started school at the age of 6 or 7 years, they have been expected to master more than one languages; regional language and Indonesian language. Both languages are used for communication in teaching learning process. Sometimes the teachers do not realize that this condition can be one of the factors that hinder the students from acquiring English or, worst of all, make all the languages they have already learned jumbled.

However, the main objective of learning and teaching of English to young learners is not to be able to communicate in English. Kasbollah as stated by Nurrofiah ( 2002 ) suggests that the goal of teaching English to the elementary school students is centered on building positive attitudes toward English. Moreover, positive attitudes are related to success in second language learning (Gardner, 1 895 >. That's why the student's attitude is one of the important factors, which influence the success of students' learning.

Elementary students, as stated by Kasihani (2000), are young

learners with their own characteristics, which are biological, cognitive,

affective, personal, and social characteristics. Fourth grade students, children




age 8 to 10 years old, have several characteristics, such as, having their own views of the world as well as what they like and dislike doing and able to make their own decisions about what they want to learn ( Scott and Ythreberg stated by Santoso, 1990). In short, young learners have already brought their own views and attitudes to the classroom which will affect their further learning.

Although there are only few researchers that focused on attitudes, the writer thinks that it is important to observe students' attitudes. Research findings stated that the most influencing students' attitudes toward English were the learning materials used by the teacher and the background of learning as their motivation. Based on the statements above, the writer will oniy focus on the students' attitudes toward English.

The students' attitudes that the writer wants to investigate are the responses of English elementary students in learning English as their foreign language and what the elementary students think about their English classes. The reason of this scope of the study is that students already have views and attitudes toward a subject in learning English, as stated by Moon ( 2000 ) that children do not come to their English lessons like blank sheet of paper". Social environment in which students grow up and the people around them are one of the factors which give the influence in forming the students' attitudes. Thus, it is important to observe how are students of elementary school's attitudes in learning English and how they give their responses to English teaching in the



classroom. It is essential to remember that success in learning English depends on the way in 'which early language learning programmed.

1,2 Problems Identifications

An English teacher should take into consideration the students' attitudes. It is generally known that many elementary schools in Indonesia start teaching English to their students from the first grade, so, commonly, attitude has become an important factor in the educational field. Based on that, the writer identifies the problems as follow:

1. What are the students' attitudes toward English at the fourth grade of elementary school?

2. What factor can influence the students' attitudes?

3. Do the students' attitudes influence the English learning process in the classroom?

In this study, the main research question is "what are the students' attitudes toward English subject at the fourth grade of elementary school?"

1.3 Purpose and Beilefit of The Study

The purpose of the study is to find out the attitudes in learning English of students at fourth grade of elementary school.

The benefit of the study is that it is expected to be an input for English teachers to know the factors that influence the students' attitudes in



learning English at fourth grade of elementary school. As we know that attitude is one of the important factors which influence success in second language learning, it is a necessity for an English teacher to know their students' attitudes so the English learning process will be successful.

1.4 Scope of The Study

The scope of this study is the attitudes of elementary school students' toward English. In this study, the writer will discuss about young learners and foreign language, attitudes, and the nature of chiklren's language learning.

1.5 Method of The Study

This study employed a survey approach which used descriptive method to examine the students' attitudes in learning English at the fourth grade of elementary school. The instruments were questionnaires, interview, and observation.



IL1.Theoritical Description

In the theoretical description, there are three aspects discussed: (1)

Young Learners and Foreign Language Learning, (2 ) Attitude, and (3 ) The

Nature of Children's Language Learning.

1. Young Learners and Foreign Language Learning

Most children start formal education at the age of six. They attend elementary school between the ages of 6 - 14. Recent studies in SLTP 2 Tarakan ( Santoso, 2003 ) shows that students in first grade of Junior high School consisting of 46 respondents or 97.9 % have already learnt English since they were in elementary school. Moreover, some of them, 65.9%, said that learning English since elementary school gave them positive influence.

Met (in Nurrofiah, 2002 ) asserts that young children learn languages more quickly and more efficiently than older children or adults. Young children also have more capability than adults in the comprehension and repetition skills. (Brewster, 2002). Furthermore, Anderson and Carol (1988 ) argued that when the process of language learning started early, the duration of the process itself is longer so that the students can do more practice and therefore have more experience which lead to the mastery of the ianuage. Thus, children will get more

.t 8

advantages than adults in the early learning of English. As stated by

Kasihani ( 2000), elementary students are young learners who like doing

things, playing games, and singing songs.

Chomsky, as quoted by Coltrane (2004 ) argued that one of the way of children language learning is by imitating the sounds and patterns which they hear around them and receive positive reinforcement. But it doesn't, mean that children's mind is like a blank slates which can be filled only by imitating language they hear in the environment because children are born with special ability to discover for themselves the underlying rules of a language system. He also said that children between 5 until 10 years old are still acquiring the structures of their first language. For children younger than 5, many aspects of their first language have not yet fully developed. So while older learners have the foundation of a fully developed first language when they begin acquiring a new language, younger English language learners are working two things at the same time: the full development of their native language and the acquisition of English.

There are some factors that influence students attitudes. Moon (2000 ) argued that younger children tend to be influenced by their feelings for their teacher, the general learning atmosphere in the classroom, the methods used by the teacher, and their parents' opinion. This means that children who are learning a foreign language tend to be influenced by the elements of their language, which they are I


studying along with the foreign one. In conclusion, the teaching and learning process in the classroom should be planned so that the influencing elements that can harm the acquisition of the foreign language be reduced

as lOW as possible.

2. Attitudes

Attitude is an important concept that helps people to understand their social word. Based on Gordon's statement ( 2002) an attitude refers to a person tendency to consistently respond to various aspects of people, situatiop., or objects. An attitude could be inferred from a person's statement about their beliefs and feelings and from people's from what they say, what they do, and how they react. Baron and Byrne (1987) as stated by Gagne and Medsker (1996) showed these three aspects as the ABC model A for affect, B for behavior, and C for cognition. These three components are primary or which are the cause of the others. He also stated that these three components are highly interrelated and believed that all may be useflully employed in attitude development. The same opinion was stated from Forsyth, Don ( He defined an attitude can influence the behavior because attitude is an affective feeling about liking or disliking toward an object. He also said that an attitude is not a feeling, cognition, or a form of behavior. It combined all three components in an "integrated affect - cognition - behavior system". ft means that attitude are made of three components that all influence each



other. If one component changes, it will influence the entire attitude

structure. In addition, each component not only has an influence on the

attitude structure as a whole, but also on each other component.

While Luthans, Fred ( 2001 ) argued that attitudes can be divided into three basic components emotional, informational, and behavioral. The emotional components involve the person's feeling or affect-- positive, neutral, or negative - about an object. Emotion will be given specific attention as a type of intelligence. The informational components consist of the beliefs and information the individual has about the object. It makes no difference whether or not this information is empirically real or correct. The behavior component consists of a person's tendencies to behave in a particular way toward an object.

Oskamp, Stuart (1991) describe Tn Componential View point of attitude, there are 1) a cognitive component, consisting of the ideas and beliefs which the attitude holder has about the attitude object, 2 ) an affective ( emotional) component which refers to the feelings and emotions one has toward the object, 3 ) a behavior component, consisting of one's action tendencies toward the object.

Aiiother reseather, Morrel and Lederman (1998 ) as stated by Sa'di Irnad defined the attitude object as an enduring positive or negative feeling toward schdol. Moon ( 2000) concludes that there are two factors that influences, students' attitudes; they are in school inf uences and out-school influences. The in- school influences are learning process,

school cultures, method, materials, and teacher. And the out-of-school influences are peer groups, parents, local youth culture, and media.

In addition to the information above, Sa'di imad ( 2001 ) from Yarmouk University found that most primary schools in Jordan had lack appropriate learning environment. It is caused by the classroom which are crowded, no comfortable children's-size seat, not enough space for play at break time, too many home works and very short break which do not allow children time to eat. From this situation, the study begiii. In general, the result of this study indicated that children in Jordanian Primary schools' attitudes toward school were negative. From the above study, it is very clear that children' attitudes are very important and can affect their educational performance. Beside that, the bad school environment really affects students' attitudes toward the school itself, which will give negative influence to their attitudes toward learning

From all the definition, there are several opinions about the aspects

of attitude. The line can be drawn as in the table below:


Table 2.1





Gagne and Medsker


Divide an attitude into three aspects. There are cognitive, affective, and connation


Forsyth Don (2006)

Attitude is an "integrated affect-cognition-behavior system


Fred Luthans Divide attitude into three components. 'There are

(2001) emotional, informational, and behavioral


Oskamp Stuart Divide attitude into three componential points of

(1991) view. There are cognitive component, affective

component, and behavior component

r 12

It can be seen from the table above that this study employed cognitive, affective, and connation as components of attitude because these terms convey broader meanings. We can conclude that attitude is the positive or negative feelings people have in respond to the situations they are involved in. The more positive the attitude they have towards a certain circumstance, the easier their acceptance to the circumstance will be.

3. The Nature of Chikiren's Language Learning

Teaching English to young learners is very challenging because at this level they are learning how to handle with their school life, learning to become literate and continuing to develop concepts. As children grow older, their concentration are span increases (Brewster, 1991). It can be difficult to create the kind of variety needed to keep their attention. We all know that children are different from adults so we need to know these differences in order to acknowledge and to assess to optimie the learning experience for young learners.

The study will concern about young learners, which are at fourth grade of elementary school, it is between eight to ten years old. Many researchers agree that children have a tendency to use a language. There are common characteristics in learning first language and learning second language. However recent studies stated that imitation, repetition, and formulaic speech are the first strategy to be used when young children learning a foreign language ( Tough, 1991). ;1

- _____________________;0]



Based on Anderson and Carol (1998 ), children whose ages are eight to ten years old are very easy to accept new situations and new people. It is assumed that they will be eager and interested in learning something different, in this case different language from their native one.

Yani (2003 ) in his journal Pembelajaran Bahasa Inggris Aktif, Kreatif, Efektif, dan Menyenangkan ( PAKEM) in elementary school, states that each children has different characteristics so they will need different ways of learning. Children are different from adults in their hope, their thoughts, and their behavior. Their characteristics are also different with the characteristics of SLTP students or SMU students. Thus, teachers should vary the teaching and learning process in class so that they can accommodate these different characteristics.

Vygotksy, supported by Scoot and Ytrebereg ( as stated by Saritoso, 2004) said that learning process for young learners should be concentrated on the learners characteristics, Scott and Ytreberg sure that young learners are learning by doing. Whereas Kahn

( explained that children at this age can understand rules and can follow, they like group activities and excursions, takes initiative and aresèlf motivated, becoming an independent learner, a perfectionist who will practice the same thing over and over again, avoid the opposite sex and, the 1as one, they can sit still and listen 20 - 30 minutes. According to Mustafa (2002 ), young learners have some characteristics, they are : children learn naturally, they know a lot about


literacy before entering school, all children can learn, children learn best when learning is meaningful, interesting, functional, and they can make their own choices, children learn best when they are in a non - competitive environment by talking and doing things in a social context. Therefore, the process of teaci'ing and learning in the class also should be designed in such a way to facilitate these characteristics,

11.2. Conceptual Framework

From the discussion above, it can conclude that there are many factors that influence students' attitudes toward English. Since this is the first time for students learning English, it is important to know what the students' attitude toward English because positive attitudes will make students' learning better.

It has been discussed earlier that this study employed the terms cognitive, affective, and connation as components of attitude. The components of the attitudes itself are also related to each other. Cognitive, affective, and connation are the dimension to be used in measuring the students' attitudes toward English. in cognitive, there are backgrounds of learning English, material used by the teacher, and material presentation. In Affective, there are the students feeling about their teacher, classmates, and the method i13 learning Englisk And in Connation there is tendency for doing something. When students have the background of learning English, the personal opinion about the subject, the teacher and the classmates, they


will eventually learn the subjects based on those previous opinion and judgment. This point of view will be the basis of developing the instrument of this study as seen on the table below:

Table 2.2



1. Cognitive Idea Opinion

. Beliefs

• Backgroimd of learning English


• Material

• Material Presentation

2. Affective . Feeling . Confidence

• Teacher

• Classmate

• Method

3. Connation

• Action

• Behavior

• Tendency for doing something



This Chapter describes the methodology used in conducting the study. Details on methodology of the study covering; the approach arid method used in the study, the participants of the study, time and place of the study, the instruments of the study, and the procedures in collecting and analyzing the data.

111.1 The Approach and Method used in The Study

This is a descriptive quantitative study in the form of small-scale survey. The researcher did survey in order to portray the existing condition of the students' attitudes toward English at the fourth grade of elementary school. As citied in Nunan (1993), surveys are the most commonly used descriptive method in educational research, and may vary in scope from large-scale governmental investigations through to small-scale studies carried out by a single researcher. In addition, "the aimed of survey is to estimate as precisely as possible the nature existing conditions, or the attribute of a population" (p. 140).

The approach which used is descriptive analytical because the characteristics ofthe study is to explain about the students' ideas or opinions toward students' background of learning English, purpose, material, method of material presentation; students' feeling toward their English teacher, classmates, and method used by the teacher and students action or tendency


classmates, and method used by the teacher; and students action or tendency in doing something. The survey data are collected through questionnaires or interviews, or a combination of questionnaires and interview (Nunan, 1993). In this study, the researcher used a questionnaire, interview, and observation to collect the data. The principal reason underlying the researcher used descriptive survey was the researcher was more interested in finding out students' attitudes toward English at the fourth grade of elementary school that was reflected on their reaction to the materials presented and the methods employed by the teacher.

111.2. The Participants of The Study

The participants of the study were 40 students of the fourth grade of elementary school in SDN Percontohan 02 pagi Cipinang Cempedak, East Jakarta. Their ages were between 9-11 years old. They live in common housing. Most of their parents' jobs were PNS or civil servants, teachers, employees in private companies, housewives, and businessmen. Only some students joined English courses outside the school. And the mean of the English score of all the students in this class is 7.

111.3 Time and Place of The Study

The study was conducted from January 2005-beginning with the

preliminary study. The data were gathered from December 2005 to February


The place of this study was in SDN Percontohan Cipinang Cempedak 02 Pagi. This school is a model elementary government school in Jatinegara district because it has a lot of achievements. The study conducted in this school because English is taught there. In addition, this school is

= considered as a school with good quality. So the writer can compare the result of the study with other school of lower quality. In conclusion a model elementary school is expected to have students with positive attitudes toward English because an ability test was given to them when they first

enrolled the school.

ffl.4 The Instruthents of the Study

In this study, the researcher used questionnaire and interview as the instruments to collect the data.

111.4.1. Questionnaire

The questionnaire was constructed based on the dimension of the attitude; there are cognitive, affective, and connation. The questions were about the students' cognitive, affective, and conflation toward English. The indicators are students' ideas or opinions toward students' background of learning English, purpose, material, method of material presentation; students' feeling toard their English teacher, classmates, and method used by the teacher; and students action or tendency in doing something. The uestionnaire was written in Indonesia in order to make the

III IillJlHtu1F ;1

IiL ______________;0]


correspondents understand what are being asked by using Gutman Type scale method. Djaali (2000) stated that Gutman scale is only used to find definite answer. The researcher used this type of questionnaire in order to make it easier for the students to answer the questions because they are not open-ended questions. There were only two optional answers, "yes" or "no". The questions consisted of twenty-six closed questions about the students' attitudes toward English at the fourth grade of elementary school. The score is 1 for positive answer and 0 for negative answer. Table 3.1 shows the dimensions and the indicators of statements classification in the questionnaire.

Table 3.1

111.4.2 Interview

The interview was conducted outside the class. Because of the limited time of the study, the researcher Only interviews 10 students from all students. These ten students are chosen based on the result of the questionnaire data that were believed represent the positive, average, and negative attitudes. it was in the form of





1. Cognitive

.. Idea

• Opinion

• Beliefs

• Background of learning English

• Purpose

• Material



2 1,23







2. Affective

• Feeling

• Confidence

• Teacher

• Classmate








3. Conflation . Action


• Tendency for doing something


2,24 25,26



open-ended questions consisted of 8 questions that recorded on the cassette. Each question represented one indicator. The interview is done to find the students' feeling and opinion toward English. Table 3.2 shows the dimensions and the indicators of the statement classification in the interview.

111.4.3 Observation

Table 3.2



No 1


I. Cognitive

o Idea

• Opinion

• Beliefs

• Background of learning English

• Material

• Purpose

• Material Presentation

3, 5






2. Affective

• Feeling . Confidence

• Teacher

• Classmate

• Method







3. Connation .Action

• Behavior

• Tendency for doing something





The researcher observed the situation and the condition of

the English classroom by ticking (I) Yes (Ya) or No (Tidak) based

on the activity happened in the classroom consists of 40 students.

In the observations forms there are only the dimensions of

connation because in the observation the researcher only want to

observed students' performance that reflected from their action and

behavior in the English class. Table 3.3 shows the dimensions and

the indicators of statements classification in the observation.

Dimension Indicator 1

Connation • Tendency for doing

• ,Action and Behavior I something

Table 3.3


111.4.4 Pilot Study

Before doing the research, the researcher tried out the questionnaire in order to test the validity and the reliability of the questionnaire. There was a model questionnaire which was designed for pilot study before the real questionnaire given to the students. After the questionnaire had been designed, then it was time lbr the researcher to testify the questionnaire whether it was valid and reliable to use in a next real questionnaire. The questionnaires were tried out to 10 students.

L Validity

The researcher used Dis-Continuum Score to test the validity of the questionnaire. Based on Djaali ( 2000), Dis-Continuum Score test is used for objective questions with are scored 0 or 1. The researcher used this way in measuring validity in order to know whether the statements in the questionnaires were valid or not. The formula of the Dis-Continuum Score is:

rbI) coefficient correlation between score of question

number I with total number of score

Xi = mean of total number of score in question number i Xt mean of total respondent ;1

I . . . .




St standard deviation of score total respondent

= total number of right answer for question number i qi = total number of wrong answer for question number I

From the calculation above ( see Appendix A.4), the result showed that from thirty questions, there was four questions were not valid. For n =10, the score for r table is 0,632. l'he score which was under 0.632 (see Appendix A.7 for r table) was not valid.

2. Reliability

The researcher used formula of coefficient alpha to test the

reliability of the questionnaire. The formula is as follows

coefficient of test reliability

k = question number

Si2 = variants of score question

St2 = variants score total

The result of the calculation is 0.996 (see Appendix A.6).

Based on the Pearson-product moment table, 0.996 is between


0.8 and 1.00 ( see Appendix A.8 ). it can be concluded that the reliability of the questionnaire is high.

11L5 The Procedures in Collecting and Analyzing The Data

I1L5J Research Procedure

The researcher did the pilot test before doing the study in order to know whether or not the students understood the statements in the questionnaires. Because the researcher only used 30 students from 40 students in the questionnaire, the pilot test was given to 10 students who were not given questionnaire. These ten students were mix-ability students, consisted of students who are clever, average, and slow learners based on the data from their English teacher.

The questionnaires were given to 30 students and 40 students were observed; and because of the limited time of the study the researcher only interviewed 10 students out of 30 students or it is equals to 33.3% that were believed to represent the positive, negative and average attitudes. As stated by Burns ( 2000 ), the sample size of the population also has to be considered, the larger the sample the better. This does not mean that large sample is sufficient to guarantee accuracy of result.

The researcher were observed students' performances once a week for 3.0 minutes according to their English schedule in that


school. The observation was conducted 2 times. Only one of the two observed students' performances was examined, it was the performance that the researcher assessed as the best one.

111.5.2 Data Analysis

The study represents a survey approach, which commonly used descriptive method in order to answer the questions introduced in chapter 1. In this method, the data are gathered through questionnaire, interview, and observation. The data gathered from the questionnaire are quantitative data, which are analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The qualitative data are taken from interview and observation. The description of the interview result is aimed to enrich the data of the questionnaire result, and the description of the observation is used to check the students' attitudes according to their performance or action during the English class. Quantitative Data

The quantitative data are calculated from th result of the questionnaires. The respondents' answer was classified according to emerging categories. Then, the data was quantified into percentage form. The qualitative data was using ordinal scale; the score 1 for positive answer and 0 for negative answer ( see appendix A.4). After that, the frequency analysis was carried out to