OPTIMIZING ENGLISH LEARNING ACTIVITY FOR THE FIRST YEAR STUDENTS
OPTIMIZING THE LEARNING ACTIVITY FOR THE FIRST SEMESTER OF JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
BY : Pak paimin Wae
The first year students of Junior high school are the children who are experiencing a transition era, where they not only experience different places and society, but also experience different learning method and strategies. The students have to be able to make adaptation from their elementary school environment to the new environment in the junior high school. At the new school environment, of course the students meet different students ( friends ) from different elementary schools and different teachers at the junior high school. As they have a new situation and experience, the first year students are called the new students. On the learning method and strategies, the new students automatically will experience some different method and ways of learning since they are in different stages of learning.
When the students were at the elementary school, they learned English conventionally. Generally the students were taught by their class teachers who didn’t have any background on teaching English as the Foreign Language ( EFL ). The students were taught English based on the text book that they got from a certain publisher. The teaching and learning process just followed the material sequences that have been ordered on the text books without considering theories of EFL learning. In short, their target of of learning was just finishing and completing the tasks on the text books, so, they felt that learning English was not interesting. Farthermore, for the students who didn’t understand anything on their learning they would dislike learning English.
As an English teacher at the junior high school in which the students are in the new environment, I would like to provide different things from the ones they have experienced in their elementary schools. I would bring the students to the new ways of learning where they can feel interesting in learning English, so the students will not feel bored anymore. More over, I would give the students much motivation on the benefits of learning English, and how to be successful in learning English.
At the first time meeting with the new students in the first year of junior high school, the situation of the classroom will be not so familiar since we do not know each other . As a teacher of course I haven’t know the characters of the students, so I should be careful to give the instruction. As the new students in a new situation they also do not know me (as the teacher ) so well. Even, the students also do not know among themselves because they are from different elementary schools. To overcome this situation, I have to create the classroom learning situation to be more interestingly in order the students feel interesting and enjoyable in learning, as like Bu shanti said in one of her course that the first impression is very impressive situation . It means that if the students love the ways of learning in the first situation, the students will love love the teacher, so they will be interested in learning English for the next learning activities.
Starting on the first activity, I would like to ask the students to have introduction activity, I would like to introduce my self, my identity to the students friendly and interestingly by having some light jokes, small games or puzzles to make the situation fun. Fun learning can practice all basic language skills with really interesting activities ( Miltiadis D.Lytras and friends, 2009 ).
After that, I would like to ask the students to introduce themselves one by one spontaneously by asking them in random. In this case, the students will try to tell something autonomously related to their identity. Technically, I would ask the students to stand in front of the class one by one , having he or she finished introducing his or he identity, he should choose one of his friends to get the next turn.
After we get the familiar situation, I would like to give the students some motivation by telling them the benefits of learning English, telling them some examples of successful people related to their English proficiency and some other motivation. Motivation is essential thing to be possessed by the student to success. Without motivation we will almost certainly fail to make any effort ( Jeremy Harmer,2001 ). Besides, I would like to tell the learning objectives , so the students know what to achieve.
The next activity, I would like to ask the students their previous knowledge related to the language skill that we want to discuss in the learning activity. Listening involves a number of basic processes, some linguistic competence, and some depending upon previous knowledge .( Arif Saricoban ). By knowing the students’ previous knowledge I can determine kinds of activities that appropriate the objectives of learning and the students proficiency.
After describing the learning objectives and the students’ previous knowledge, I would start the activities by asking the students to sing an English song that contains certain utterances related to the proficiency to be achieved by the end of the learning activity. By listening a song as the exposure the students can get information and identify some utterances related to the learning objectives. After identifying and discussing the utterances,I would like to ask the students to practice listening a dialogue text containing the utterances we discussed before through authentic audiovisual medias.
For applying the utterances, I would like to ask the students practicing in a short dialogue among themselves. By having more and more practice the students will acquire the language skills easily. Beside practicing with their friends in the classroom, I would suppose the students to practice both speaking and writing in their real daily life. As the homework, the students can also practice to listen some other resources, such as radio program, TV program, browsing the internet, talking to native speakers and some other exposure that they can do in their life. The students have to listen and practice English as much as possible, because the more they listen and practice, the better they speak. As a result, through these kind of strategies, hopefully my students are really motivated to be autonomous learners. Jeremy Harmer suggested, “ students need to be encouraged to develop their own learning strategies so that as far as possible, they become autonomous learner”
In the second meeting, as the opening I would like to ask the students telling what they got from the exposure that they did, And, I will let the students tell the class what they got and give some comments. After that, I will give conclusion about their homework, and I have to say thanks for doing the homework nicely. I also have to give them reinforcement and reward for their effort. If we want to increase a behavior (make it more frequent, more intense, more likely), then when the behavior is shown, provide a Consequence of Reward.
To give the students more opportunity practicing the language competence, I would like to ask them play a language game. The playing of ‘language games’ are a necessary step in the learning of language, we learn to use a language through a variety of games, ( Augustine ). Technically , I want to ask the students stand around in front of the class, ask them to make a spontaneously questions to one another by throwing a ball to their opposite. The one who catch the ball should answer the question correctly, and then he should throw the ball to the other one and give a question for the next turn. The student who can not answer the question spontaneously will get a minus point, and for the student who can answer the question spontaneously will get a plus point. The winner is the students who get the most points.
Hopefully, the use of this technique will increase the learning atmosphere to be more fun and interesting, so the students will not feel bored but they will feel pleasant and fun. Role playing games, exercises and activities will help build teams, develop motivation, improve communications and are fun – for groups students, and even children’s development (Edward Harbour and Jill Connick )
At the end of this activity, after my students perform their language competence through game, I would like to evaluate their performance, give some corrections if they made some mistakes. I would like to give them more practice, to make sure that the students get the real meaning of the lesson. I would also evaluate my teaching strategies. Do the students understand the topic? Is the teaching and learning process reaching the objective? Are the students able to ask and answer some questions and understand the traffic signs and symbols based on the indicator fluently? If the answer is no, then I would like to explain again and do more practice the parts which did not master by my students well.
By experiencing the interesting and fun learning,the students will feel please to study English. With their high motivation and good expectation the students will apply autonomous learning not only in the classroom but also in their daily life. The students will find the difficulties and how to overcome the difficulties by themselves by getting more and more exposure through watching movies, English radio news programs, TV programs and browsing on the internet service. The more the students get the exposure from listening the more easily the students speak in English, and the more the students get exposure in reading the students will be able to write easily.
As the expectation, the students will become autonomous learners, so the will study autonomously whether or not they do the assignment. Hopefully, this interesting ways of learning will enhance the students awareness to practice their English competence in their daily life. With the awareness of learning and practicing English it will ease to get the acquisition.
- Harmer, Jeremy. (1991). The practice of English language teaching. London: Longman
- 2. Miltiadis D. Lytras .(The American College of Greece, Greece); Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos (Universidad de Oviedo, Spain)
- Agustine, http://www.dotrob.com/essays/essay5.html
- Edward harbour and Jill Connick, http://www. Businessballs .com/ roleplayinggames.htm
- Arif Saricoban, http://iteslj.org/Articles/Saricoban-Listening.html
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