This is the example of the Journal that I’ve made for Konfrensi Internasional Pendidikan Dasar 2009. Hanya sebuah contoh saja, silahkan jika akan dijadikan sebagai referensi untuk tugas kita ;).
English and Children are NOT Nightmares
Asep Gunawan, S. Pd.
The research was aimed to find out the participants’ perspective about the basic requirements of English teacher in Elementary level. By finding these requirements, it is expected that there will be more people who want to be an English Teachers since it is needed, not only in a high quantity, but also in a high quality. This research was qualitative in nature. The data were gained from three groups of participants, which are four English teachers, three Headmasters, and twenty English Education Department’s students using observation, interview, and questionnaire. Then, the data was analyzed using Triangulation method. The findings showed that the participants highlighted seven requirements of English teachers, which are (1) understand about the management of learning, (2) understand about young learners’ characteristics, (3) having good personal characteristics, (4) having willingness to teach English, (5) having an educational background, (6) having a supporting system from school, and (7) having a supporting system from the government.
Keywords: English Teacher, Basic Requirements, Elementary School
English is one of important subject for students. Since English is an International language, learning English for the very beginning ages is needed. However, some students are afraid of learning English. In another side, some teachers are also afraid to teaching English. English looks like a very high level of subject, so that some people choose the other subject to be mastered.
Another focus of this research is elementary school. As we know, elementary level is the first stage of children in gaining knowledge in formal situation. There, children will learn how to interact with the knowledge and also social life. In their early age, children also have special characteristics which are built by their environment and also genetically. By their special characteristics, some people look at them as people who have their own world. Moreover, children who have a high ambition in asking questions or a high desire in doing “unordinary actions” (such as screaming, walking, hitting, crying, or others actions which are happened in teaching and learning process) are valuated negative for some people.
Here, English Subject and Elementary level, two things which are afraid of by several people, are investigated to change our perception which stated those two things are nightmare. “English is fun” and “becoming an English teacher is awesome” are two basic perceptions which are expected can be built by this research. By highlighting basic requirements, it is expected that many people will realize that becoming an English teacher in Elementary level is not too hard to be done. Understanding these requirements, teachers will know better how to be a good model for students and also how to rebuild their confidence in teaching English.
This research uses qualitative approach. This approach is used because this research is working with the phenomena. Besides, this research is expected to know more than just “to what extent” or “how well” teaching and learning process is done. In this case, this research will try to gain more complete picture of what is going on in the observed classroom. Besides, the present research is using descriptive method. This research will be focused on the four English teachers who have different educational backgrounds to find out how and what they present in the classroom.
There are three main groups of participants. To keep the anonymity and the confidentiality of the participants, the research uses pseudonyms in describing them. The first group is the four English teachers: Miss Indi, Mr. Yana, Mr. Awan, and Miss Rima. The second group is the three headmasters: Mrs. Sari, Mr. Tukiman, and Mrs. Linda. And the last group is the twenty English education students.
In this research, there are three main groups of instruments used in collecting the data. The instruments are observation check-list, interview transcript, and written documents which contains questionnaire, administration documents, and English textbooks.
Findings and Discussions
1. Understand about Management of Learning
Management of learning is a basic knowledge of teachers in teaching and learning process. The indicators are giving enough times for students in responding their questions, giving a clear instruction and example before students start the activity, using several media, providing some jokes in order that students feel more comfortable, and asking students to work in pairs or in groups.
Table 1: The Teachers’ Response on Management of Learning
|1. Saya memberikan waktu yang cukup kepada siswa untuk merespon pertanyaan saya.||A||F||F||F|
|2. Saya memberikan instruksi dan contoh yang cukup dan jelas sebelum siswa memulai aktivitas mereka.||A||F||A||F|
|3. Saya tidak menggunakan alat peraga dan media.||R||R||R||R|
|4. Saya menyelingi pelajaran dengan gurauan agar siswa bisa tertawa dan merasa santai selama pelajaran berlangsung.||A||F||F||R|
|5. Saya menyuruh siswa belajar berkelompok/berpasangan.||F||R||F||R|
From the table above, it is shown that almost every statement which is general principles of teaching are understood by all teachers. The basic principles such as giving enough time for students in responding teachers’ questions, giving a clear instructions and examples before students do the exercises, and using the media and model in learning process are understood by all teachers.
About giving some jokes as the interlude could not be done by all of teachers. This is also happened in asking students to make a group while learning. These facts might be happened since every single teacher had their own style in teaching. However, the learning process still felt comfortable from the observation analysis.
Since the management of learning is one of important tools in the teaching learning process (Harmer, 2004), the teachers are expected to know and understand about this principle. Brown (2001) adds the information that management of learning is the basic requirement for teachers in conducting the learning process in the classroom.
2. Understand about Young Learners’ Characteristics
The young learners’ characteristics are important to be known by the English teachers. Since young learners’ characteristics are totally different from adult characteristics (Labaiky, 2007), teachers are expected to give an appropriate learning strategies (Mooney, 2000).
The teachers were asked to fulfill the questionnaire with the scale of strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. The data analysis will be presented and described based on each groups of statements.
a. Children Have Their Own World
Table 2: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #1
|1. Cara dan karakteristik belajar bahasa anak pada dasarnya sama dengan cara belajar bahasa orang dewasa.||D||D||SD||D|
It is clear that young learners are different from adults (Pinter 2006). This makes their learning style and characteristics are different. While teachers taught English for young learners for the first time, they could find several unique characteristic of children.
The table above shows that all of participants agree that the children characteristics of learning language are totally different from adult. It means that all of participants understand about this criterion.
b. Children Learn by the Way of Physical Activities
Table 3: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #2
|2. Belajar sambil bermain lebih cocok dan lebih berhasil untuk anak-anak daripada beljar dalam suasana formal dan serius.||SA||A||SA||SA|
Total physical response (TPR) is one of the methods suggested by Musthafa (2006, as cited by Labaiky 2007) to be implemented in teaching English for young learners. The table above shows that all of participants agree that children learn by the way of physical activities.
c. Children Have Relatively Short Attention and Concentration Span
Table 4: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #3
|3. Anak memiliki ketahanan konsentrasi dan perhatian yang relatif pendek.||A||SA||D||A|
|4. Dalam satu pertemuan sebaiknya hanya satu kemampuan berbahasa saja yang diajarkan.||D||A||A||D|
Actually, children do have the short term memory (Labaiky, 2007). It is not because their brains are not capable of remembering things, but it is because of the fact that children’s attention tends to get easily shifted in the middle of doing something. Therefore, it is suggested that one of the methods to teach English to young learners is by applying repetition.
From the table above, it shows that most of teachers agree that children have a short attention. The second statement about mastering a skill in a session is agreed by two teachers while the others disagree with the statement.
d. Children Should Have a Great Deal of Exposure to, Engagement in, and Support
for the Language They are Learning
Table 5: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #4
|5. Siswa akan sangat senang apabila berbicara tentang mereka dan kehidupan mereka sendiri sebagai topic utama pelajaran di kelas.||A||A||SA||A|
Yteberg (1990, as cited by Labaiky, 2007) states that children is egocentric. This fact becomes the reason of why all activities should engage and involve students. By doing this, it is expected that they will feel appreciated and at the same time the teachers help them to build their self esteem. From the questionnaire, all of teachers agreed with this statement.
e. Children Will Learn Best When Learning is Kept Whole, Meaningful, Interesting,
Table 6: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #5
|6. Mengajar Bahasa Inggris kepada anak-anak akan lebih berhasil jika bahasa yang diajarkan berguna untuk mendapatkan apa yang mereka butuhkan.||SA||A||SA||A|
|7. Mengajar Bahasa Inggris akan lebih berhasil jika yang diajarkan menarik.||SA||SA||SA||SA|
|8. Anak-anak akan bisa belajar dengan lebih baik apabila mereka diberikan kebebasan untuk memilih sesuai dengan kebutuhan mereka.||A||A||A||A|
Children will find things meaningful, interesting, and functional when they can relate the materials with their needs and personal experiences (Vygotsky, as cited by Mooney, 2000). The materials taught in the classroom should engage students’ personal life. The table above shows that all of teachers agree with the statements. A fun learning process should be created by the teachers since students could learn English easily when there is no pressure in learning process.
f. Children Tend to Learn Holistically, in the Forms of Scripts
Table 7: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #6
|9. Bermain drama dalam Bahasa Inggris akan membuat bahasa yang diajarkan lebih bermakna bagi mereka.||A||D||SA||A|
|10. Grammar wajib diajarkan kepada anak-anak karena grammar sangat penting dalam Bahasa Inggris||D||D||A||D|
|11. Apabila anak melakukan kesalahan dalam vocabulary atau grammar, maka kesalahan itu harus segera dikoreksi dan dijelaskan letak kesalahannya.||A||A||A||A|
Here, children will find difficult when the language is separated into pieces, such as words, phrases, sentences, and paragraph as analytical units. Since children are lack of ability to analyze something in details, teachers are not suggested to teach grammar in the form of analytical unit (Dewey, as cited by Mooney, 2000).
From the table above, it shows that playing drama makes learning English has a means for students was agreed by most of teachers. About teaching grammar, it was disagreed by most of teachers. The last, while students did a mistake in vocabulary or grammar, the mistakes should be corrected by teachers was agreed by all of teachers.
g. A Teacher should be a Good Model for Students
Table 8: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #7
|12. Bahasa Indonesia harus lebih banyak digunakan ketika mengajar Bahasa Inggris karena anak-anak belum mengerti apa-apa.||D||A||D||A|
|13. Menjdi model yang baik dengan menggunakan bahasa Inggris yang fasih akan membuat anak-anak bingung dan frustasi.||D||SD||SD||D|
|14. Kata-kata baru harus diterjemahkan ke dalam Bahasa Indonesia agar anak benar-benar mengerti.||A||SA||A||SA|
Teaching English for young learners would be more effective when the language is used as communication tools without too much translation. Here, translation can be avoided since the students would understand the language naturally from the habitual action (Labaiky, 2007). That is why the teachers should use good and proper English since they are the model for the students.
The table shows that using of more English than Indonesian was agreed by two teachers while the others disagreed with the statement. However, all of teachers agreed that using English would not make students confuse. Then, the translation should be given to students so that they understand about the meaning of the words. Although the last statement is not appropriate with the principle of teaching English for young learners, in Indonesian context, direct translation will help students with low basic understanding in English. Therefore, this act is understandable.
h. Children are often Learn Indirectly Rather than Directly
Table 9: The Teachers’ Response on EYL Students’ Characteristic #8
|15. Anak selalu aktif mengeksplorasi lingkungan dan dengan cara itu dia mendapatkan pengetahuan dan pengalaman.||SA||A||A||SA|
It is true that children are often learning indirectly rather than directly (Labaiky, 2007). Here, students will learn more easily from their environment. Since all of the participants agree with this statement, it shows that all of teachers understand about this principle.
By understanding these principles, it is expected that teachers can do the right things in appropriate place, especially in the elementary level. Since the principles are not learned from English education background only, all of teachers can explore more from the other sources.
3. Having Good Personal Characteristics
There are several personal characteristics which are necessary to be implemented by teachers during the teaching process. A good personal characteristic will help students to understand English better. Students often feel more comfortable in learning English if their teacher has good personal characteristics.
The observation shows that teachers should be patient in facing students needs (Dewey, as cited by Mooney, 2000). When students acted too attractive, sometimes it made teachers angry. However, teachers in Elementary level should have low personality (Vygotsky, as cited by Mooney, 2000), so that students feel comfortable when they contribute in classroom interaction. Besides, teachers should know when the appropriate time to be teachers and to be students’ friends. These acts could make students learn English easily.
Besides, from the observation the researcher found that an English teacher should love children’s world. When people love young learners, they will know how to interact with them, and then they will learn how to teach and share the knowledge, especially English, with them. By loving young learners, they will also learn more and more through seminar, workshop, or other sources in increasing their ability in transferring the English knowledge to young learners.
4. Having a Willingness to Teach English
The first point of the requirement of becoming English teachers is their desire of being an English teacher. Unfortunately, from the questionnaire about the willingness of being English teachers, twelve students (60%) who said yes. It shows that there are still 40% students who do not want to be English teachers in Elementary school.
Considering on the fact that only several people who want to be English teachers, there are several reasons about this phenomenon happened. The reasons are:
- Not everyone is interested in young learners’ world, since teaching English for young learners needs a special requirement. (Participant 1)
- They want to teach in a higher level, such as Junior High or Senior High. (Participant 2)
- Teaching young learners has a big responsibility. (Participant 6)
- Becoming English teacher in Elementary school gets a small salary. (Participant 10)
- Becoming an English teacher in Elementary school is not challenging. (Participant 17)
The reasons above are some reasons which were given by the students. Most of them wrote that a big responsibility with a low salary as the main factor of why there are only few people who want to be an English teacher in Elementary school. Since there are only several people who want to be an English teacher in Elementary schools, a big appreciation should be given to them.
Whatever their educational backgrounds, teachers should have a desire in learning English more (Brown 2001). The theories of learning English develop day by day, so that teachers should be aware of this condition. By learning English more, teachers can increase their performance in teaching. The increasing of performance can help students to gain the knowledge of English easily from the learning process.
From the questionnaire which was fulfilled by English students, they added some comments about basic requirement of becoming English teachers. They wrote that “They want to learn more from the seminar, workshop, or other sources (Participant 12)”. It means, after becoming English teachers did not mean that they stop learning. They should add more knowledge about English.
From the interview with the headmasters, the researcher also found some comments about basic requirements of becoming English teachers.
[T] Namun, selama yang bersangkutan memiliki kemauan untuk mengembangkan dirinya dalam berbahasa Inggris, saya rasa hal ini tidak akan menjadi suatu masalah yang besar.
However, as long as the teachers want to develop themselves in (learning) English, I think this fact (English teachers from different educational backgrounds) would not be a big problem.
The statement above shows that the headmaster agreed that English teachers should learn more about English. It means, it is expected that after those people with non English education background were accepted to be English teachers, they still have a willing in learning English more.
5. Having an Education Background
From twenty random participants of English education students, only four of them (20%) who agree that elementary school English teachers can be from any educational background. Then, there are sixteen participants who agree that elementary school English teachers should be from English educational background.
Related to Government Regulations number 20/2003 and 19/2005 about education, they state that sarjana degree is a minimum requirement for teachers’ educational background. Besides, they should come from the same educational background. The result means that most of English Education Department students agree with the government regulations.
All of headmasters agree that it will be better when English teachers come from English educational background. It can be seen from the statements below.
[T] Idealnya memang seorang guru Bahasa Inggris harus memiliki ijazah dengan latar belakang pendidikan Bahasa Inggris.
(Ideally, an English teacher should have an English education certificate)
[S] Menurut peruturan, seharusnya memang sarjana Bahasa Inggris.
(According to the regulation, (English teachers, red.) are people who are graduated from English education)
From the statements above, it is shown that all of headmasters know that English teacher should come from English education background. Unfortunately, the situation does not support the regulation which was made by the government.
[T] Namun, selama yang bersangkutan memiliki kemauan untuk mengembangkan dirinya dalam berbahasa Inggris, saya rasa hal ini tidak akan menjadi suatu masalah yang besar.
(However, as long as the person eager to increase his/her ability in English, this (English teachers with any educational backgrounds, red.) would not be a big problem).
[S] Namun karena kebutuhan tidak sesuai dengan ketersediaan SDM, sarjana dari keguruan saja diasakan cukup.
(Since what we need (English teachers from English education background, red.) is not balanced with the human resource, a person who is graduated from education background is quite enough).
The statements above shows that the school lack of the human resources, especially people who come from English education background. The statements also answer the third research question about the basic requirements of becoming English teachers. Besides, it is expected that at least English teacher come from education background.
Since there are many English teachers with different educational backgrounds in the real situation, what they need is not a pressure to gain English educational background. They need special treatments, such as seminars, workshops, or trainings which focus on English teachers with no English educational background.
6. Having a Supporting System from School
Although all English teachers in SDN Gumuruh Utara Bandung are “unofficial” teachers, the headmasters still supervise and evaluate their teaching process.
[T] Proses pendampingan dan pengawasan oleh kepala sekolah tetap berlangsung. Namun untuk evaluasi, saya lebih menyerahkan kepada yang “lebih ahli”.
(The supervising process is conducted by the headmaster. However, I gave the evaluation process to the others who understand more than me).
[S] Proses pengawasan dapat dilakukan dengan memeriksa laporan persiapan (RPP) yang dibuat oleh guru yang bersangkutan. Di sini, kepala sekolah tidak selalu stand by di dalam kelas untuk melihat apa yang guru lakukan.
(The supervising process can be done by checking the preparation reports which were made by the teachers. Here, as the headmaster, I do not have to stand by all the times to see what the teachers do).
The statements above show that the headmasters still aware of English teachers through their different own ways. Checking the administration documents which should be prepared by teacher could be an effective way to supervise them. Besides, paying attention to them can increase their performance in teaching English.
There are several school’s regulations in increasing English teachers’ quality. The regulations can be seen from the statements below.
[T] Adanya pemberian ijin untuk tidak mengajar untuk mengikuti seminar atau pelatihan dengan syarat digantikan oleh guru lain, jika memang jadwal berbentrokan.
((the headmasters, red.) gave the permission for those teachers who attended the seminar or workshop as long as (the teaching process, red.) in the classroom is replaced with other teacher.
[S] Melibatkan secara langsung para guru dalam kegiatan Kelompok Kerja Guru (KKG) merupakan salah satu bentuk peningkatan kualitas mengajar.
(The teachers are mixed up with the Teachers’ working group. This activity will increase the quality in teaching process).
Teachers’ working group (Kelompok Kerja Guru – KKG) is an activity which is expected to increase teachers’ ability in teaching process. Although all of English teachers are “unofficial” teachers, they are involved in that activity. This regulation was given since the headmasters do all of teachers in the same ways.
7. Have a Supporting System from the Government
Solutions were also given by English education students as the way-out of the problem about English teachers in Elementary schools. The solutions are:
- The government should clarify and specify about the regulation of English teachers in Elementary school. (Participant 1)
- The education department organizes the seminars, workshops, and trainings in teaching English for young learners. (Participant 2)
- Give a clear explanation about the important of professional teacher in Elementary school. (Participant 5)
- Give a bigger salary. (Participant 6)
- Give a limited responsibility. (One teacher supervises only for three different grades.) (Participant 6)
A bigger salary becomes the most popular solution to gain more people to become English teachers in Elementary level. if the salary is very low, people will choose another place to teach or another job to pick. The solutions are not come from the government only, but also from ourselves as people who concern in English education program.
In the real situation, there are many English teachers who have non English educational backgrounds. The government seems cannot replace them all by the appropriate teachers with English educational background. While the government, especially the education department could provide special seminars, workshops, or trainings for those English teachers with non English educational background, the quality of their teaching skills can be increased.
Compared with the requirements of being English teachers which are given by some experts, most of statements are agreed. When Brown (2001) says about good language teaching characteristics, which are having technical knowledge, having pedagogical skills, having interpersonal skills, and having personal qualities, all of participants agree with these statements. However, most of participants seem not agree that English teachers should have an English educational background. To replace all English teachers with non English educational backgrounds is not an easy task. Therefore, what they need are seminars, workshops, or trainings to increase their teaching quality.
There are only seven basic requirements which are expected to be understood by teachers who want to teach English. There are could be other requirements to be the better one. This research tries to build up first the basic ones so that teachers are brave to teach English. One important note from this research is, people who have a big responsibility are not only the teachers, but also the schools’ management and the government. After all, the last question mark which will be given, become an English teacher in elementary level, why not?
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 The paper was presented at Konfrensi Pendidikan Dasar Internasional in Sumedang on 10th-11th October 2009.
 General English teacher of TK-SD Al-Irhaam Global Islamic School Bandung.
December, 3 2012, 12:30 pm