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Selasa, 10 Mei 2011

Teaching Reading

Reading is an important skill in learning a foreign language. Students can improve their English and expand their vocabulary outside of class by reading on their own. Unfortunately, many teachers believe that teaching reading to children causes them to lose their motivation to learn English (Paul, 2003). This view is usually based on the teacher’s experience in using reading materials in the course book that are often long, boring, and/or filled with difficult words. However, reading can be fun and motivating if the language and the tasks are at the right level for the students and if the teacher uses the appropriate method and approach.

Two approaches that are useful in teaching reading to elementary school students are the word approach and the whole language approach. Paul (2003) proposed the following principles for teaching reading to young learners using these approaches:
• The word approach is used in introducing new vocabulary. Teaching a written word and its pronunciation without teaching its meaning is ineffective. It is more meaningful if students learn the meaning of a word and how to say it before they see the written word, especially when the sound and spelling are different.
• The word approach can be done with look and say activities or through word recognition games such as matching words and pictures, finding the objects of the words written on cards, rearranging jumbled letters, completing missing letters in words, drawing pictures next to words, putting words in puzzles, etc.
• In the whole language approach, children do not read words in isolation but in connection to other words. They read sentences that have meaning. For example, students read sentences with pictures that show the meanings or read a story that they are already familiar with. If the students find an unfamiliar word, they can guess the meaning by using context clues.
• Combining word and whole language approaches are good idea. Pre-teaching a story’s vocabulary using the word approach before giving the reading text to students helps them understand the text. If the teacher knows that the story text is not too difficult, the whole-language approach can be used, allowing the students to guess the meanings of unfamiliar words in the text.

Teaching reading to young children benefits them in many ways, including the following:
• Reading helps children thrive in school.
• Reading expands children’s knowledge of vocabulary, spelling, and writing.
• Reading texts give good models of writing.
• Good reading texts stimulate discussions and imagination.
• Reading aloud exposes children to grammar, phrases, and vocabulary that will be useful in improving their speaking skills and in their ability to express themselves well.
• Reading aloud helps children understand the relationship between printed words and their sounds and meanings.
• Children can expand their vocabulary by guessing the meanings of unfamiliar words based on the context of a reading text.

Teachers can easily make reading an enjoyable and consistent part of classroom activities, Following are several tips to help teachers achieve this goal:
• Set a regular reading time with the students.
• Supply the students with interesting books to read at school and at home, if possible.
• Encourage parents to have a family reading time.
• Motivate children to read different kinds of texts, such as game directions, road signs, menus, etc.
• Take students to the library, if possible.
• Help students solve their reading problems as soon as possible.
• Show enthusiasm and give genuine praise for students’ reading.

To make reading enjoyable and to help students improve their reading skills, teachers should vary the types of reading activities. The reading activities described below are only some of the many reading activities that can be used with young learners.
• Extensive Reading
Children choose what they want to read from the selections provided either by the teacher or from other sources outside class such as children’s magazines, comics, storybooks, novels, and web pages.
This activity usually involves ‘reading for pleasure’ as the students normally choose what they like.
• Intensive Reading
This type of reading usually takes place in the classroom, and the teacher generally decides the texts. The teacher uses the texts to help children develop reading skills such as skimming (reading for general information), scanning (reading for specific information), predicting what they are going to read, and guessing the meaning of vocabulary from context.
• Predicting
The teacher shows pictures that go with the text or, if there are no pictures, uses the title to discuss the topic and ask questions. This process helps the students predict what they are going to read. Students can activate and recall any vocabulary and knowledge related to the topic, which makes the reading easier to understand.
• Jumbled Letters, Words, Sentences, and Paragraphs
1. Jumbled letters:
In the word approach to reading, the teacher might provide the students with jumbled letters for them to practice spelling the words they have learned.
2. Jumbled words:
Students arrange words to make sentences. This activity makes the students aware of sentence structures and word relationships needed to make a sentence.
3. Jumbled sentences:
Students rearrange sentences to form a paragraph. They must use their knowledge of paragraph structure to connect sentences so they make a meaningful paragraph.
4. Jumbled paragraphs:
This activity is only suitable for older students with sufficient knowledge of English. To rearrange the paragraphs, the children use their logic and higher-level knowledge of connectors and transitions. Younger students can perform this activity if they hear the story read aloud before attempting to arrange the paragraphs in proper order.
• Following Instructions
There are a variety of activities in this category, including activities such as read and color, read and draw, and read and act. Also in this category are how to make types of activities that require the students to make something or to operate an instrument by following written instructions. Most students enjoy these activities as they are closely related to what they do everyday, such as playing games.
• Comprehension Questions
There is a wide variety of activities to help children understand what they read. Some examples are comprehension questions, true/false questions, completing a chart/table, matching, rearranging pictures, and drawing a scene illustrating what they have read.
• Gap-fill Sentences
The teacher gives the students incomplete sentences. A word or phrase is missing from each sentence, and the students must complete the sentences using provided words or phrases. This activity requires students to understand the meaning of each sentence.
• Cloze Paragraphs
Similar to gap-fill sentences, this activity requires students to find the missing words or phrases in a paragraph. To do this, the students need to understand the paragraph and how the sentences relate to one another.
• Retelling
Retelling helps children develop not only their reading skills but also their verbal skills. After reading a short text, the children are required to practice retelling the text in a small group, using their own language and choice of vocabulary. After practicing with their groups, students may be asked to retell the text to the whole class.
• Introducing New Books
Following are ideas for introducing new books and encouraging students to read them (Scott and Ytreberg, 1990):
o In a class of young learners, the teacher reads the book to the whole class several times. When the students are familiar with the story, many of them will want to read it again on their own.
o For older students (grades 4-6), the teacher can show the students the book and tell them what it is about.
o The teacher shows the book’s cover and pictures to the students, and students predict what the happens in the story.
o The teacher reads an interesting or funny part of the book.
• Book Reviews
Having students write book reviews can develop their critical thinking skills. Additionally, the sti1ents’ reviews can help the teacher choose suitable types of books for the students. They can also help the teacher observe the students’ progress. Reviewing what they read helps the students develop critical thinking and allows them to reflect on their progress. Following is an example of a simple way to record book reviews (adapted from Scott and Ytreberg, 1990):
The teacher asks the students to keep a record of the books they have read. Face images can be used to show the children’s responses:
 the child likes the book
 the child does not like the book
 the child does not have a strong feeling about the book

Example of an Individual Book Review Record:
Name : Gyra
Book’s title   
1. Happy Elephant √
2. The True Princess √

Likewise, the teacher can keep a record of what each child thinks of a particular book. For example:

Happy Elephant
Children’s names   
1. Gyra √
2. Gita √

Kamis, 14 Oktober 2010

Teaching Aids

Sabtu, 12 Juli 2008


A. Teaching Listening

Listening is one of the four language skills. It is naturally the first skill children need to develop before they feel ready to speak, read and write. Listening in English is difficult for many young learners, especially for Indonesian learners. They often do not understand what the teacher is saying and they ask the teacher to speak in Indonesian. Therefore, it is important that the teacher speaks at the students' level or just above so that they can understand and not lose confidence.
It is a good idea to support a listening activity with visuals such as pictures, facial expressions, movements, and mimes. When students can relate to what they are hearing with movement or actions, they comprehend what they hear and remember it for future use.
Following is a variety of listening activities that teachers can incorperate into their lesson plans :

1. Songs
Songs can help to enhance listening skill as they provide students with practice in listening to various forms of intonation and rhythm. However, some songs do not use standard grammar and can be quite confusing for beginners. Teachers should choose right songs and rhymes so that they can be valuable source of grammar reinforcement.

2. Dictation
Dictation can be both fun and challenging to students. It is useful to gain students' attention and to calm them down after a noisy and energetic activity, it is also good for a large class.
Dictation provides not only listening practice related to sounds, sentence structures and meanings but also spelling. In addition, it can be used from pronunciation practice when students are asked to repeat what they hear.
It is important that teachers give clear instructions with demonstration when introducing a dictation activity so that the students know exactly what to do.

3. Rhymes (listen and repeat)
Using rhymes in Listen and Repeat of listening activities is naturally repetitive and fun because students can play with the language.

4. Filling in missing information
While listening to a song or conversation, children can fill in missing words from the printed song lyrics or from a chart or schedule.

5. Stories
Reading a story is different from storytelling. The teacher reads aloud from a book without adjusting the language. The story can be repeated again and again. When the students are familiar with the lines, they can read the story on their own.

6. Responding to Commands - Activities Using Total Physical Respons (TPR)
In this type of activity the students respond physically to the students' commands.

7. Checking Off Items in a List
This activity encourages students to listen for specific information. It can be used to practice vocabulary the students have learned or to introduce new words. While listening, the students view a series of pictures or information for which they hear the vocabulary

8. Arranging Pictures as a Story is Told Aloud
This activity is usually done in pairs or small groups. While listening to a story, the students look at a series of pictures. By listening to clues and key words, such as names of people, places, things and physical descriptions, they arrange the pictures in the same sequence as that of the story



Speaking and listening are very closely related. Before students can speak they need a lot of exposure to the language they are learning. That is why the first skill students learn is listening. By listening to words, understanding their meaning, and learning how to pronounce words correctly, they are preparing themselves for the next skill: speaking. In speaking, they learn to use the right pronunciation, stress, and intonation patterns in order to communicate successfully.


Bailey (2005) states that the three main reasons for getting students to speak in the classroom are:

• to provide students with practice in using English in real life situations.

• to inform the teacher and the students about the students’ progress.

• to get information about the students’ speaking problems.

The teacher is instrumental in helping students learn to speak fluently and should carefully consider the following:

• Teachers should motivate students to practice as much as possible. The more often students use the language, the more automatic and natural their language becomes. Once students feel comfortable using the language, they will be eager to learn more.

• Teachers must give students a reason for speaking. Choosing familiar and interesting topics for students to discuss will motivate them to speak.

• Teaching speaking in the language classroom can be challenging. Indonesian students usually speak Indonesian when they cannot say what they want in English, or they may not speak at all because they are afraid of making mistakes.

• Teachers should provide appropriate feedback and correction. In most EFL contexts, students are dependent on the teacher for useful linguistic feedback. It is important that teachers provide the kinds of corrective feedback that are appropriate for each type of activity.

• Teachers should focus on both fluency and accuracy. It is very common that teachers focus mostly on interactive activities (fluency) and forget about grammar and pronunciation accuracy. Therefore, teachers should make sure that the tasks help students practice both fluency and accuracy.


The goal of teaching speaking is to get students to communicate effectively and efficiently. In order to achieve this goal the teacher should
• make sure that students use the language to the best of their ability.
• teach students correct pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
• explain to students the appropriate context of the communication

Effective and efficient communication is the result of providing enough language input (Harmer, 1998). The teacher can accomplish this by using English when giving instructions, giving simple commands (such as “get out your math books”), reading passages out loud, etc. Other English activities such as playing games, singing songs, performing a role play, etc. give the students opportunities to communicate in English. As teachers consider including varied speaking activities in the classroom, they may find the following tips useful:

• Help students to become familiar with the topics. Personalize the content to motivate students, elicit what they already know about the topic, and let them share their knowledge with the class.

• Put students into pairs or groups. Working cooperatively in groups is more motivating and less intimidating for the students. Group work also promotes choice, independence, and creativity.

• Rearrange the classroom. If it is not possible to move desks and chairs, get the students to walk around as they perform tasks.

• Give students the English word and its Indonesian translation when they are learning new vocabulary. This strategy gives the students a language reference and helps them understand. Once students understand the meaning of the word, the teacher and students can resume using the English word.

Many types of speaking activities can be included in lessons, including the following:

1. Recitation

Students choose a short poem or rhyme and recite it in class. This activity can be done individually, in pairs, or in groups

2. Pronunciation Drills
Students repeat correct pronunciation in chorus and individually. This activity helps students practice and remember the vocabulary as well as the pronunciation.

3. Choral Reading
Students read a short sentence or passage together. As the students read, the teacher can listen for students’ pronunciation and give corrections when the activity ends.

4. Role Play
Students are given particular roles in an imaginary situation to act out. The teacher can give the students the dialogues or help them prepare their own dialogues for the roles.

5. Storytelling
The teacher can tell a story, adjusting the language to the students’ level, or read a story aloud without adjusting the language. Students can be asked to share their experiences with the class, to retell their favorite story, or to create an ending to a story that the teacher tells.

6. Songs
Students listen to a song and learn the lyrics. Adding physical movements to the song creates a fun environment and helps the students learn pronunciation, vocabulary, and meanings of words.

7. Questionnaires
Students ask their classmates a set of questions in order to complete a questionnaire. The result of their surveys can be checked by the teacher or discussed together in class.