By: Istiqomah, S.Pd., M.Pd.
Technology in language teaching is not new. Technology has been around in language teaching for decades –one might argue for centuries if we classify the blackboard as a form of technology (Dudeney and Hockly, 2007). Tape recorders, language laboratories, and video have been in use since the 1960s and 1970s, and are still in used in classrooms around the world.
The rapid development in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the use of computer in education have made it easier for users to access, deliver and store knowledge. The success of the technology due to the fact that it uses a very familiar metaphor – the board – and consigns to the computer to a secondary or almost invisible role in the classroom. This is a role envisaged by Stephen Bax, where he suggests that technology needs to become ‘invisible’, to both the teacher and the learner, in order to be fully integrated into the learning process. It needs to become as natural a part of the classroom a more traditional, longer–established ’tools’ like the coursebook or dictionary.
As it always happens in the traditional teaching and learning process, teachers teach English by using exercises from textbooks or explain the material by writing it on the blackboard. Moreover in teaching writing skills, students are are easily getting bored and frustrated with the rules given by teachers because they don’t really understand what they want to write about since there is no such illustration given. It seems that teaching in traditional way is more simple than to use technology, since not many teachers are familiar in using this tool. To change this situation and to see the different result, there should be innovation.
The application of multimedia in today’s educational system is largely due to studies that claim proper usages of computers could help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of language learning ( Kulik & Kulik, 1991) as well as help students to gain knowledge more effectively. Even though these studies have pointed out the advantages of using multimedia, teaching instructions mainly remain traditional and static, and the use of computer as an alternative teaching tool may seem far-fetched as long as it is not a compulsory tool in the teaching process.
Background of the Study
As mentioned above, writing skills which is considered as difficult skill to do by students should be given in different way. Writing is disliked and avoided because it is frustrating. It is frustrating because it is unnatural. Students have to think about the grammatical correctness of the utterances, and think about mechanics. They should repeat utterances over and over again to check for correctness or appropriateness. So, to make the lesson of writing skills are meaningful, enjoyable and the students don’t get frustrated, the application of computer by using the word processors will be an aid.
Word processors can be used in many inventive ways, by both teachers and students. Teachers can prepare, create, store and share materials for their classes by using a word processing program, and learners can use a word processing program both in and outside the classroom, to practice writing skills, grammar, and other language points, as well as to present their work.
An enjoyable learning scenario is a necessity to effective instruction, especially in writing skills. Besides being an instruction that students enjoy, effective instruction also enables students to acquire specific skills, knowledge, and attitudes (Dick & Reiser, 1989). In order to achieve effective instruction, language teachers need to create an enjoyable learning environment and one of the methods is to use word processors in developing writing skills by writing creative poem.
This study hopes to shed some light on the following questions:
1. Is the achievement of students learning through word processing instruction better than the achievement of students learning through the traditional instruction?
2. What is the attitude and perception of students regarding word processing teaching instruction in writing creative poem?
One of the major concerns of educators from the past until now is how to enhance and sustain the good achievement of their students. With this concern in mind, research is constantly carried out to provide new proven methods that educators can use. Parallel with the advancement of technology, word processors lend themselves well creative writing both in and outside the classroom. Learners can work together with documents that can be exchanged easily pairs or groups of learners, and between learners and teachers, encouraging both teacher corrections, and peer corrections and revision.
Word processing is, simply put, typing on a computer. Word processing can support nearly any kind of task or teaching activity that was previously done by hand or with a typewriter and offers more capability and versatility than either of these methods. Since a word processing document is prepared on screen before being printed onto paper, the writer can correct errors, insert or delete words and sentences and even move lines or paragraphs around before printing the document. The students can easily change the words or appearance because the document is stored in the computer’s memory, and hopefully on a disk, flash drive or hard drive. Once stored or saved, documents can be changed or reprinted later.
The writing skills are complex and sometimes difficult to teach, requiring mastery not only of grammatical and rhetorical devices but also of conceptual and judgemental elements (Heaton, 1990).
Ghazi (2002) states that since writing is a complex process, it allows writers to explore thoughts and ideas, and make them visible and concrete. Writing encourages thinking and learning for it motivates communication and makes thought available for reflection. When thought is written down, ideas can be examined, reconsidered, added to, rearranged, and changed. To exercise students in this process, writing poem using word processors is the answer.
Moreover, responding to young adult fiction through writing is becoming common practice in English language arts classrooms. Jane E. Brown and Elaine Stephens point out in Teaching Young Adult Literature: Sharing the Connection that “current trends shift the emphasis in formal writing away from a critical analysis of literature to writing that allows students to explore their responses to the literature”(Bleeker&Bleeker:1996). In addition, Richard Beach and James Marshall in Teaching Literature in the Secondary School argue that teachers need to provide a meaningful structure to elicit students’ responses to literature, “…a structure that allows them freedom at the same time that it points them in potentially rewarding directions.”
One way students can respond to fiction is through writing poem. Poetic forms, recommended by the teacher, provide a framework for students’ responses and allow them freedom to respond independently and creatively to a given text.
This is a study that uses English lesson to apply new methods in teaching writing to create poem using word processing. The researcher used this method to know students’ appreciation toward the poem given and their achievement to write their own creative poem. Besides one-to-one interviews and classroom observations to investigate the attitude and perception of the participants towards word processors teaching instruction were also carried out.
One class of Senior High School 1 Banyuasin III grade X was chosen to be the participants. The total number of students was 32. There were 19 girls and 13 boys in the classroom.
The study was conducted on May 22, 2009. It took 2 hours and was continued on the following weeks. The total hours used was four hours. Teaching and explanation were done using LCD projector and automatic projector screen. The teacher controls the use of these equipments with a touch panel icon on the computer screen. For this class, the teacher carried out class teaching. The teacher usually stood in front of the class explaining the content of the poem in the form of power point, while the students sat facing the screen. Sometimes, students asked some words they don’t understand. The discussion happened between and students teachers about possible words to be used.
Discussion of Findings
1. Face-to-face Interview
The students in the class X turned up for the one-to-one interview with the teacher. The questions asked were as below:
1. Do you like your teacher use LCD and word processors teaching instruction
to teach you? Why?
2. If you can choose, which class do you want to attend – the one with
computer / LCD teaching instruction or the one using textbook?
3. Do you think the description on the poem presented through LCD are
4. After learning through word processing teaching instruction, did you notice
any change(s) in your attitude toward learning English?
5. Did you get any benefits after learning English by using LCD and want to create your own poem using word processing?
Below are the results of the interview:
1. Almost all the students gave a “yes” answer and indicated that they like to learn English through the computer teaching instruction very much. For them, learning through computer teaching instruction is very fun and exciting.
2 All the students said that they certainly prefer to attend the class with computer teaching instruction instead of attending the class that uses textbook. They indicated that the former benefits them more and is not boring.
3. Students liked to watch the LCD that presented poem in real situation. This makes them get motivated to write the poem by imitating the description of the poem on the screen.
4. They felt good and excited because English can be presented in different way. They hope that in the next future teachers will shift the method in teaching English into an interesting one.
5. They said that they got much benefit from this lesson. It seemed that writing a poem is not difficult and a big burden anymore. They also did not feel hesitant to request the teacher to let them know the words or sentences arrangements that they want to write in the word processing to be corrected – something that they would not have done in a traditional classroom instruction class. However, few students said that the teaching using LCD is not interesting. They hoped the teacher would use simpler slide and give sound of someone who read the poem.
2. Classroom Observations
The learning atmosphere was observed to be lively and encouraging. On the first two hours, the students paid full attention on the Power Point presentation. Sometimes, they ask the meaning of the sentences and the teacher will suggest them to consult their dictionary. This is to help them to make a habit to find new words from dictionary by themselves.
Almost all the students seemed to enjoy this new way of learning. A few students read new words and sentences and try to understand each word on the screen. The class sometimes looks serious, since this is a new teaching method for them. Although their faces looked serious, but when the teacher asked them to write their sentences for their poem, students tried voluntarily typing on teacher’s laptop.
The teacher did not find students having a chat or busy with their own activities. However, one weakness that was observed was the students were busy copying the sentences shown on the slides into their notebooks. It happened because it was not easy for students to start writing. So, the teacher assumed that they want to take some examples to be written in their poem.
In the process of teaching and learning writing, the mastery of grammar and the lack of vocabulary are still being a problem for students. Sometimes, they difficult to express their ideas because they don’t know what suitable words to be used. Undoubtedly, when they are asked to organize the words in the form of sentence or paragraphs, they get frustrated.
Before they wrote their poem into a good one, teacher asked them to write the script of their own poem. Then, they were asked to show their poem to be checked and revised whether there is ungrammatical word or sentence in it.
So the best way for teachers to make the students feel comfortable in writing is asking them to free write. If it is succeed, teachers will have won most of the battle over frustration. Frustration is the main cause of the dislike and avoidance of writing. Perhaps then students will be more eager to write, and do more of it.
At the end of this project, teacher got the result. It surprised her. The poem that the students wrote were quite good. They wrote it using word processors in colourful pictures and variety of font. Although the material given was about the poem ‘from Father to Son’ but the result showed that only few students reflect ed their poem to their father. Most of the students addressed their poem to their mother. However, the teacher really appreciate for that good work.
As a whole, the teacher found that the students showed good and positive respond towards the use of computer teaching instruction by him. From the classroom observations and interviews with some students, it shows that the students like this new teaching instruction instead of the traditional method.
3. Reflection on the Project
The writer found that the teaching instruction using computer is interesting. This experience is very challenging and gave her insight of the difficulties students have in learning a foreign language, especially when her students want to express their ideas in the form of writing.
The teacher realized that her students are really interested when the lesson used computer in the classroom. Even when the material was shown on the screen, they felt that writing a poem is not difficult. The difficulty they faced was word arrangements. Again, the teacher told them to ignore the first problem. The more important thing was they are really encouraged to write a poem without thinking much on the grammar. And it is proved by their action to make their own poem. And when they did the task, they were in hurry chasing the teacher to her office asking her to revise their work. It has never happened before if the teacher asked them to do such task in the traditional way.
This activity showed her that teachers should be smart and innovative and ready to be the changing agent for the sake of success in teaching and learning process. The teacher used to think that her students are lazy and have low motivation to learn English, but now when the teacher applied a new method then asked them to express their creativity, they can do it.
Even though, this is a small study in the class-hour of English lesson, but it can be useful in the future application in teaching English to replicate its effectiveness. Another consideration that may take off from here is to use and to study the effect of using an electronic to replace the printed workbook that teachers normally use in class.
Teacher should take advantage of using computer instruction not only to teach but also to create and enhance students’ motivation, interest and achievement. Language teachers especially those who teach English as a Foreign Language should be cognizant of the benefits of using computer instruction. A combination of their skills, experience and the use of computer teaching instruction will definitely bring about a more effective teaching and learning.
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