Language in Diversity

A.     Background

            Mastering English is necessary and becomes a need for the students. When they learn English, they will learn about words or vocabulary at the first time. Mastering vocabulary can help students deal with Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (Language Basic Skills) and elements of language, such as grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. “All languages have words. Language emerges first as words, both historically, and in terms of the way each of us learned our first and any subsequent languages.”[1]  In addition, vocabulary should be learnt in learning English.
            Vocabulary is one of the most important elements of language besides grammar and pronunciation. In Scott Thornburry’s How to Teach Vocabulary, the linguist David Wilkins summed up the importance of vocabulary learning:
Without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed. His view is echoed in this advice, If you spend most of your time studying grammar, your English will not improve very much. You will see most improvement if you learn more words and expressions. You can say very little with grammar, but you can say almost anything with words![2]
            David Wilkins believes that people can express many ideas with words or vocabulary. On the other hand, people can express in a few things with grammar. That is why vocabulary is important for someone who wants to learn English language.
            In Indonesia, vocabulary usually taught in two ways, planned and unplanned. When it is taught with any planning by the teacher or deal with the syllabus in the school, it is the ‘planned way’. In addition, if the teaching vocabulary is rising suddenly or incidentally, it called ‘unplanned way’. “Seal (1991) divides vocabulary teaching into planned and unplanned activities. Unplanned vocabulary teaching happens when the student request a meaning for a vocabulary item during a lesson or when the teacher realizes that a word that has just come up needs to be clarified.”[3] Sometimes they called explicit and incidental. Norbert Schmitt stated in his book, “In any well-structured vocabulary program there needs to be the proper mix of explicit teaching and activities from which incidental learning can occur.”[4]
            Therefore, some experts distinguish vocabulary into several names as in Seal with planned and unplanned, Norbert Schmitt with his explicit and incidental vocabulary.
             Many techniques can be applied in teaching vocabulary, for example, by memorizing each word, contextual clue, using picture, pair work, etc. One of the techniques mentioned above is pair work. Pair work usually described as a technique in teaching that involves students to learn and study with their partners so that allow the students to be more communicative, active and effective. Stephen J. Gaies in his book, “Pair work can be highly effective format for intensive practice with specific points of grammar and vocabulary.”[5]
            Here, the writer proposes a technique that improves the students’ ability in learning vocabulary. The technique is using pair work to increase students’ vocabulary. Using pair work means students can practice vocabulary together and give the students the opportunity to learn from each other and learn from doing.
            Through pair work, the students are encouraged to work and to interact independently. Moreover, it can help them find the meaning of unknown words with a high confidence
 

B. Theoretical Description

1    Vocabulary

  1. a.      Understandings of Vocabulary

Language consists of basic skills namely listening, speaking, reading, writing and sub skills (pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary). Vocabulary as one of the language aspect is needed when someone wants to learn a language. As a result, mastery of vocabulary is very important as a basic in studying language as stated by Edward, David Allen and Rebecca M, Vallete in their book, “Vocabulary is one of the important factors in all language teaching, student must continually be learning words as they learn structure and as they practice sound system”[1]
From the statement above, it is clear that vocabulary is the first thing in language teaching. Structure and pronunciation are the next step after learning vocabulary. In addition, vocabulary is one of the important factors in teaching language.
There are many definitions of vocabulary given by some experts. Robert Lado defines vocabulary as means the memory of the situation in which they have been observed and understood.[2] While A.s Hornby state in his book, vocabulary is “a total number of words which (with rules for combining them) make up the language/list of words usually with definition for translation.[3]
                  Meanwhile, according to Webster’s, vocabulary is:
1) : a list or collection of words or of words and phrases usually
      alphabetically arranged and explained or defined : lexicon
2) : a sum or stock of words employed by a language, group,
      individual, or work or in a field of knowledge b : a list or
      collection of terms or codes available for use (as in an indexing
      system)
3) : a supply of expressive techniques or devices (as of an art
      form).[4]
    
From the definitions about vocabulary above, the writer concludes that vocabulary is a list or a stock of words usually arranged alphabetically which make up the language and usually with definition for translation.
  1. b.      Kinds  of Vocabulary

In fact, there are many different kinds of vocabulary or word. Jo Ann Aeborsold and Mary Lee differentiate vocabulary into active vocabulary and passive vocabulary.[5]
Active vocabulary is all of the words produced during lesson or event in the later lesson. This term is used in speaking and writing appropriately. It is also called ‘productive vocabulary’. John Haycraft (1978): productive vocabulary is “words which the student understands, can pronounce correctly and use constructively in speaking and writing”.[6] Meanwhile passive vocabulary is all of the words heard or read by the students. It refers the language items that can be recognized and understood in the context or reading or listening and are also called as ‘receptive vocabulary’. Receptive vocabulary is “words that the student recognizes and understands when they occur in a context, but which he cannot produce correctly,”[7] stated John Haycraft.
According to Mary Finochiaro, vocabulary is also classified into two kinds, function words and content words. Function words need to be learned as quickly as feasible (in a logical order and sequence, however). For examples: for, many, will, etc. Content words can be learned in small groups around “life” situations. For examples: school, pencil, book, etc.
According to the explanation above, some experts classify vocabulary into active and passive, productive and receptive, and function and content word.
  1. c.       Learning and Teaching Vocabulary

1)      Learning Vocabulary
Learning vocabulary is a very important part of learning language for the students. Many techniques can be applied in learning vocabulary. Some students put or cross in their dictionary next to every word they look up. The next time they turn to a page with a marked word. Then they quickly check to see if they remember the meaning of that word.
Evelyn Hatch and Cheryl Brown in their book presented five essential steps in learning vocabulary:
a)      Encountering new words
b)      Getting the word form
c)      Getting the word meaning
d)     Consolidating word form and meaning in memory
e)      Using the word
 
The first step in learning vocabulary is encountering new words, means that, having a source for words. In this step, the student can learn new words by reading books, newspaper or magazines, listening to Television or Radio. As far as the source given to the student, this step will be faced.
Getting the new word form is second step in learning vocabulary, that is, getting of a clear image – visual or auditory or both – of the form of the word item. This step is appeared when the student think about what happens when they try to retrieve the words. For instance, when the students are asked to give definitions about the word.
The third step in learning vocabulary is getting the word meaning, that is, getting the meaning of vocabulary item. This step is shown when the students produce the meaning of such a word. For example, the students ask to the teacher or to the native language the meaning of new words.
 Consolidating word form and meaning in memory is fourth step in learning vocabulary, means that, joining word form and meaning that the student had in the previous step to place it in his memory. This step is appeared in vocabulary learning drills, such as flashcards, matching exercises, crossword puzzles, etc. Such vocabulary learning strategies can consolidate the connection between word form and meaning in memory.
The last step in learning vocabulary is using word, that is, applying the word in the real life. For instance, when the student face the vocabulary test.[8]
 
 Although there is a broad range of others explanation about step in learning vocabulary, the necessity of the all steps are more constant. The students need all five steps in order to have a full knowledge about vocabulary.
 
2)      Teaching Vocabulary
The discussion of teaching vocabulary is a part of learning vocabulary itself. When the student wants to learn about vocabulary, there should be a teacher who will teach him. The teacher can give the explanation what he need about vocabulary.
About vocabulary teaching, Marianne Celce-Murcia asserts:
In general, vocabulary teaching is divided into two parts. First part deals with “unplanned vocabulary teaching” – that is, the extemporaneous teaching of problem vocabulary items that come up without warning in the course of a lesson. The second part deals with “planned vocabulary teaching” – that is, where the teacher goes into the classroom with an item or a set of vocabulary items that she/he has decided beforehand will be taught during the course of the lesson.[9] This idea is same as Seal view who divides vocabulary teaching into planned and unplanned activities.[10]
 
Meanwhile, others distinguish the vocabulary teaching into explicit approach and incidental approach. Explicit approach is same as planned vocabulary teaching and incidental is equal to unplanned vocabulary teaching. In the explicit approach, the teaching of vocabulary should be taught with some principles. Sokmen (1997) surveys explicit vocabulary teaching and highlights a number of key principles:
  • Build a large sight vocabulary

  • Integrate new words with old

  • Provide a number of encounters with a word

  • Promote a deep level of processing

  • Facilitate imaging

  • Make new words “real” by connecting them to the student’s world in some way

  • Use a variety of techniques

  • Encourage independent learning strategies[11]

 
There are many techniques to present a new vocabulary item. Using Pair Work will give the students a chance to be more communicative and will probably be as effective as a well-drawn picture, word relations – as in synonym and antonym, giving definition, and guessing in context.
When the presentation is done, the teacher can check the students’ comprehension by giving the exercises test how far the students have grasped the meaning of the items. For instance, fill in the blank, matching pair, sorting exercises, etc.
  1. d.       Problems in Teaching Vocabulary

Some problems may occur in teaching vocabulary. For example, the students cannot understand the meaning of such word or they cannot use the word in the proper place.
Scott Thornbury stated in his book about factors that make some words more difficult than others. The first factor is Pronunciation. It becomes difficult because it has clusters of consonants, such as strengths, crisps or breakfast. The second factor is Spelling. Words which contain silent letters are more difficult to be learnt, for instance foreign, listen, headache, climbing, bored, honest, cupboard, muscle, etc. The next factor is Length and Complexity. The word that has variable stress and long syllabic are more difficult that short ones. Then Grammar is the next factor that word becomes more difficult. Some phrasal verbs are separable (she looked the word up) but others are not (she looked after the children). The fifth factor is Meaning. Two words that have overlap in meaning can make the learners confuse. Such as Make and do, you make breakfast, but you do housework. The last factor is Range, Connotation and Idiomaticity. Words that contain narrow range in synonym is more difficult. Thus impose is very narrow range verb, compare to put. Propaganda has negative connotations in English, but it is same meaning as publicity. Words or expressions that are idiomatic (keep an eye on) is more difficult than words whose meaning in transparent (watch).[12]   
 
According to Scott Thornbury, Pronunciation, Spelling, Length and complexity, Grammar, Meaning, Range, connotation and idiomaticity are some factors that make vocabulary more difficult than others.
 

2.      Pair Work

2 a.      Understandings of Pair work

A recent teaching strategy in the language classroom is to allow students to work on a task in pairs or small groups. Research on group/pair has shown that such classroom organization promotes speaking practice and negotiations of meaning. However, most of the studies on pair work to date have focused on factors affecting the quantity of certain types of negotiation moves. Very few studies have investigated the nature of group or pair interactions; that is, whether they are collaborative or not. Moreover, very few studies have utilized tasks which require students to produce a written text in pairs.
Pair work is a classroom activity in which the whole class is divided into pairs.
2 b.      Creating Pairs
There are certain principles how to create a pairs. Jeremy Harmer promotes 6 principles in deciding a pairs. The first principle is Friendship. It allows the teacher to make a pair by putting the student with his/her friend. In this stage, the students feel more comfort. The second principle is Streaming. The teacher can make a pair by streaming the weaker and stronger students. It hopes that the strong one can help the weaker student. The third principle is Chance. In this part, the teacher make a pair without special reason. The teacher can have the students who are sitting next to or near to each other work in pair. The fourth principle is Changing groups. The teacher can change the member of pair while the exercise is being worked. And the last principle is Gender and Status. In some context, it may not be appropriate to have boy and girl working together. The teacher can make a pair with same gander or status. This stage can be applied in business English where different tiers of management.[13]
 
According to Harmer’s view above, there are some principles in creating a pairs. We can adopt Friendship, Streaming, Chance, The Task, Changing Groups, Gender and status as the key to create a pairs.
2. c.       Advantages of Pair work
Like other teaching techniques, pair work has many advantages. Jeremy Harmer states in his book about advantages of pair work:
• It dramatically increases the amount of speaking time any one student gets in the class.
• It allows students to work and interact independently without the necessary guidance of the teacher, thus promoting learner independence.
• It allows teachers time to work with one or two pairs while the other students continue working.
• It recognises the old maxim that ‘two heads are better than one’, and in promoting cooperation, helps the classroom to become a more relaxed and friendly place. If we get students to make decisions in pairs (such as deciding on the correct answers to questions about a reading text), we allow them to share responsibility, rather than having to bear the whole weight themselves.
• It is relatively quick and easy to organise.[14]
           
It is clear that pair work has many advantages. Therefore, the writer assumes that it is necessary to apply pair work technique in teaching English, especially English vocabulary. The writer believes that applying pair work will create a new experience for the students in learning English vocabulary as Stephen J. Gaies states in his book “Pair work can be highly effective format for intensive practice with specific points of grammar and vocabulary.”[15]
 
3.      Grammar Translation Method
3.
a.  Understanding of Grammar Translation Method
In teaching languages, Grammar Translation Method has been used by language teacher for centuries. It is believed as one of the most popular methods in teaching languages. Many people believe that Grammar Translation Method is one of the oldest methods in teaching languages especially in teaching English.
It was firstly recognized at Middle Ages in teaching Latin, which was the dominant language in Europe at that time. Grammar Translation Method was also known as Classical Method.
When using Grammar Translation Method, the teaching and learning process is focused on written text because it is aimed to make students able to read texts. The aims are:
  1. To develop logical thinking.

  2. To develop intellectual capacities and to have a generally

       educational and civilizing effect.
  1. To develop, at least in the better learners, an ability to

 read original texts in the language concerned.
  1.         To develop the standard of learners’ L1. [16]

 
From the points above, it is clear that Grammar Translation Method is not aimed to make students able to use the language orally but on comprehension of text.
It is known that Grammar Translation Method instructs students in grammar and provides list of vocabulary with direct translations to memorize.
It is typical of this approach, therefore, to place emphasis on the rote memory learning of long lists of bilingual ‘vocabulary equations, and on the learning of explicit rules of grammar, frequently in form of tables for declension and conjugation of nouns and verbs.[17]
From the opinion above, it can be assumed that grammar and vocabulary are the main aspects to be taught in teaching languages by using Grammar Translation Method. Students have to memorize the long list of vocabularies. They spend much time in understanding the grammar rules of language. Moreover, if the students have already mastered grammar rules and memorized vocabularies, they are expected to be able to write texts in the target language and to translate their native language texts into the target language correctly and vice versa. It is clear that this method has little or no attention to speaking or pronunciation.
Although there are many teaching methods which are applied by teachers in teaching languages, the Grammar Translation Method is often considered by teachers as an effective method in teaching languages. Therefore, the writer assumes that many teachers in teaching languages, especially in teaching English, apply the Grammar Translation Method frequently.
b. Characteristics of Grammar Translation Method
As a method, Grammar Translation Method has principles. Some principles of Grammar Translation Method are:
  1. Translation interprets the words and phrases of the foreign languages in the best possible manner.

  2. The phraseology and the idiom of the language can best be assimilated in the process of interpretation.

  3. The structures of the foreign languages are best learned when compared and contrast with those of mother tongue.[18]

From the principles above, the writer assumes that this method considers that the mother tongue should be involved in learning other languages. This method assumes that mother tongue or native language can help students when they learn other languages. For example, the students’ mother tongue is involved when they translate the target language to their native language or vice versa. In addition, the students’ mother tongue is also needed because students compare and contrast the structure of the target language to their native language. By comparing and contrasting the target language to their native language, students are expected to be able to study and analyze the structure of the target language.
Grammar Translation Method has features:
  1. A careful analysis of the target written language, particularly its grammar.

  2. The grammar rules are presented and learned clearly.

  3. From bilingual word lists, vocabulary is learned.

  4. A paramount use of translation exercises.

  5. The medium of instruction is mother language.

  6. Less or no attention is paid to speaking and listening skills. [19]

Based on these features, students are aimed to study language pattern or grammar. If a text is read, the main point to be learnt is the structure. In other words, a text is read by students to study grammar, and it is analyzed and learned carefully. Translating the texts is frequently used as an exercise. The target language vocabularies are learned by knowing their meanings in the native language. These vocabularies are memorized by students. Speaking and listening skills are considered as insignificant skills to be learned. There are almost no speaking and listening tasks or exercises. Even the medium of instruction in the class is the students’ mother tongue.
In this method, the use of target language as the medium of instruction is not required. The mother tongue will be the media that is used to explain and translate the target language in bilingual words.
 
  1. c.    Typical Techniques of Grammar Translation Method

Diane Larsen-Freeman, in her book Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (2000:19) provides expanded descriptions of some common/typical techniques closely associated with the Grammar Translation Method. The first technique is Translation of a Literacy Passage. In this part, students translate a reading passage from the target language into their native language. The translation maybe written or spoken or both. The second technique is Reading Comprehension Questions. This technique allows students to answer the questions in the target language based on their understanding of the reading passage. The third technique is Antonym/Synonym. In this part, the students are given one set of words and are asked to find antonyms or synonyms in the reading passage. Cognates is the fourth technique. Students are taught to recognize by learning the spelling or sound patterns that correspond between the languages. This technique would be useful in languages that share cognates. The fifth technique is Deductive Application of Rule. Grammar rules are presented in the first with examples. When the students understand a rule, they are asked to apply it with different examples. The next technique is Fill in the blanks. The teacher gives the students a series of sentences with words missing. They fill in the blanks with new vocabulary items or grammar type, such as prepositions or verbs with different tenses. Memorization is the next technique in Grammar Translation Method. Students are given lists of target language vocabulary words and their native language equivalents and asked to memorize them. They are also required to memorize grammatical rules. The next technique is Use Words in Sentences. After understanding the meaning and use of a new vocabulary item, the students are asked to make up sentences in which they use the new words. The last technique is Composition. This technique allows the teacher to give the students a topic to write about in the target language. The topic is based upon some aspect of the reading passage of the lesson.[20]
From the explanation above, it is clear that the purpose of Grammar Translation Method is to make students to be able to analyze grammar and vocabulary of target language and to comprehend the text.
  1. B.     Thinking Framework

                 In this research, the writer would like to find empirical evidence of how significant the effectiveness of teaching vocabulary through pair work at seventh grade of “SMP Dharma Karya Pamulang”. As has been discussed previously, Vocabulary is the one of the most important elements of language besides grammar and pronunciation. People can express many ideas with words or vocabulary. On the other hand, people can express in a few things with grammar. That is why vocabulary is important to be learnt.
                 Among the ways to improve students’ competency in understanding English vocabulary, the writer chooses Pair work technique to be studied in this research. This is based on the consideration that the purpose of this technique is to allow the students to be more communicative. Pair work is one of language teaching technique that involves the students to learn and study with their partners. This is to train students in learning English language with more comfort and enjoyable. They can study with their different partner based on the teacher instruction.
                 There are reasons that make Pair Work technique is effective. Firstly, it can increase the amount of speaking time any of student gets in the class. Secondly, Pair Work allows students to work and interact independently without necessary guidance of the teacher. Thirdly, it allows teachers time to work with one or two pairs while the other students continue working. Lastly, Pair Work is relatively quick and easy to organize. It is hoped can be an alternative technique in teaching vocabulary.
 


[1] Scott Thornburry, How to Teach Vocabulary, (Essex: Blueston Press, 2002), p.1
[2] Ibid.
[3] Evelyn Hatch and Cheryl Brown, Vocabulary, Semantics, and Language Education, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 403.
[4] Norbert Schmitt, Vocabulary in Language Teaching, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p.145
[5] Stephen J. Gaies, Peer Involvement in Language Learning, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1985), p.29

[1] Edward, David Allen and Rebecca M, Vallete, Classroom Technique. Foreign Language and English as a Second Language, (New York:  Harcout  Brave Javanovich, 1997), p. 149.
[2] Robert Lado, Language Teaching: A Scientific Approach, (Bombay-New Delhi: McGraw Hill Publishing Co. Ltd, 1974), p.118.
[3] A.s Hornby, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, (Oxford: Oxford, 2002), p.959.
[5] Jo Ann Aeborsold and Mary Lee Field, From Reader to Reading Teacher (New York: Chambridge University Press, 1997), p.193.
[6] Evelyn Hatch and Cheryl Brown, Vocabulary, Semantics, and Language Education (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p.370.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid., p. 372.
[9] Marianne Celce-Murcia, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1991), p. 298.
[10] Brown, op. cit., p. 404.
[11] Norbert Schmitt, Vocabulary in Language Teaching (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 147. [12] Scott Thornbury, how to Teach Vocabulary (London: Longman, 2002), p. 28.
[13] Jeremy Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching, (London: Longman, 2001), p. 171.
[14] Ibid., p. 165.
[15] Stephen J. Gaies, Peer Involvement in Language Learning, (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1985), p.29.
[16] http://www.onestopenglish.com., retrieved on December 20th 2012.
[17] http://www.uniwuppertal.de, retrieved on December 10th 2012.
[19]  http://www.academon.com /lib/paper/8079.html,  retrieved on December 15th 2012.
                [20] Diane Larsen-Freeman, Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000),  pp. 19-20.

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