Monday, June 2, 2014

 Applying Eclectic Points of Second Language Teaching Method to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill

A.    Introduction
English language learning is a compulsory foreign language learning subject in Indonesian educational system. As a compulsory subject, English is taught from elementary school into senior high school; even some colleges require all students from any majors to take English course for several semesters. Like other foreign language learning, English language learning is also to assist the language learners to master and comprehend the four language skills namely listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Furthermore, the educational curriculum for English in this country is designed and developed based on the four skills. Therefore, the learners are expected to master the language skill, especially speaking skill, they have learned as soon as they graduate from their school.
The long-term of second language learning experiences do not guarantee that ones are able to use the language they learn in the daily communication or to speak the language they have learned for long times. For example, many students in Indonesia are lack of ability to speak English although they have learned English for years. Most of them show the poor speaking skill even some of them do not have any sufficient comprehension to speak English. Not only do they have less sufficient comprehension to speak but also lack of motivation and negative feeling toward speaking English. They perceive speaking English is so difficult that they will never be able to master it. Peer mockery also causes Indonesian learners to have lack speaking ability. They are reluctant to speak English because they are afraid that their friends will laugh or mock their mistakes in attempting to speak.
English language teacher is also said to have responsibility on this matter, for if they succeeded in teaching their learners, there wouldn’t any such problem be found. In this country, many English language teachers fail to make their students be able to speak English because they are not good enough in applying second language teaching methods. They tend to apply the simple method and stick to only certain method. Such learning activities will lead the monotonous classroom activities and also to the bad learning outcome because certain method only focus on improving certain language comprehension. Therefore, it is suggested that the teachers apply the whole second language methods by choosing to good points of those methods or what my lecturer says eclectic points.
B.    Theoretical Basis
1.    Defining Second Language Teaching Method and Eclectic Points of Second Language Teaching Method
Along its history, many experts of second or foreign language teaching and learning have established and introduced many methods that can be used in the process of teaching and learning. Such methods significantly contribute to the learning outcome because they offer some ways to assist the learners comprehend the second language they learn. Theodore Rogers (in retrieved on January 3rd 2013) defines second language teaching method as follow,
Language teaching methodology can be defined as the notion of a systematic set of teaching practices based on a particular theory of language and language learning…
From the definition above, it is clear that the second language teaching method should be both systematic and based on theory of language and learning techniques. To begin with, systematic language teaching method is that the techniques and the steps within the method should be applied in the sequence order by the teacher in order that the learning process will be running well and the goal will be achieved successfully. In addition to systematic, language teaching method, according to the definition, should be based on theory language and theory of learning. It means that every language teaching method is established and developed based on the certain language and learning theory. For example, Audio-Lingual Method is developed based on the structuralist language theory and the behaviourist learning theory.
Apart from being systematic and theoretic, language teaching method, according to Steinberg, Nagata, and Aline (2001: 189-192) is also characterized by five dimensions. The first dimension is called language focus. Seen from this kind of dimension, language teaching method is divided into two categories namely focusing on students’ comprehension to write and read in the second language or literacy focus and focusing on students’ comprehension to speak in the second language or speech communication focus. Meaning learning is the second dimension of language teaching method. In meaning learning, students can learn to express the meaning in the second language either through translation or direct experience. In learning meaning through translation, students are taught to express meaning through translating them from the first language into the second language and vice versa; on the other hand, in learning meaning through direct experience, students are not taught transferring the meaning but they are expected to extract the meaning through their experience communicating in the second language. The next dimension is grammar learning. Second language grammar can be taught through explication or induction. Language teaching method that uses explication grammar learning will suggest teaching grammar in the classic way as in GTM unlike induction in which students learn grammatical features by themselves through extracting the grammatical points in their daily communication using the second language. Psychological orientation is the fourth dimension of language teaching method. Related to language teaching method, psychological orientation refers to the psychological theory which is used as a basis for certain method such as, GTM is developed based on mentalist psychological theory and ALM is developed based on behaviorism psychological theory. The last dimension of language teaching method is linguistic orientation which can be defined as a linguistic theoretical basis of certain language teaching method.
As suggested above, language teaching method is developed from the different language and learning theory and also the different dimension; accordingly, one method will be different from another method. Since each method is different, they will have the different language teaching practice that should be followed by the teacher. Therefore, it is crucial for the teachers to manage the different language teaching methods they use carefully. The best way to manage these differences is to look at the good points of each method. So, the teachers only apply the language teaching method having the good points, and this is what we referred to eclectic points of the second language teaching method. 
2.    Defining Students’ Speaking Skill
Speaking skill is an important skill should be mastered by the second language learner since the nature of the language itself is speaking, and linguistically, language is an arbitrary symbol system which uses to express and transfer the meaning or the messages from the speaker to the listener. In other word, language is a tool of communication. Thus, comprehending a language means using it the communication or speaking activities. Related to speaking, learning second language refers to learn to speak in the second language both accurately and fluently though fluency is more emphasized than accuracy. Fluency in speaking involves comprehending grammatical features used in the speaking and the ability to speak contextually, as suggested by Harmer (2003: 269),
The ability to speak fluently presupposes not only knowledge of language features but also to process information and language on   the spot.
The fundamental difference between speaking skill and other skills is related to the kind of discourse being used in those skills. While the three other skills mostly use written discourse, speaking skill use spoken or oral discourse. To be able to speak fluently, students need to comprehend the oral discourse of the second language. Luoma (in Richard, 2008: 19) states that the oral discourse has the following features :
a.    Composed of ideas units with conjoined short phrase and clauses
b.    May be planned or unplanned. The former means that speakers plan what they are going to say in advance of speaking activities while the latter means they don’t.
c.    Employs more vague or generic word that written language
d.    Employs fixed phrases, fillers, and hesitation marker
e.    Contains slip and error
f.    Involves reciprocity  
In addition to Luoma, Harmer (2003: 269) states the element necessary of spoken
language as follows:
a.    Connected speech
In spoken language, a set of words or phrases is not usually pronounced separately, instead it is pronounced in the fast way and sometimes unclearly. Connected speech encompasses assimilation (modified sound), elision (omitted sound), linking (added sound), and weakened.
b.    Expressive devices
In speaking, some clues are used to express the emotion of the speaker e.g high stress sound to express the anger. Expressive devices encompass pitch, stress, volume, speed, gestures and other paralinguistic clues.
c.    Lexis and grammar
It refers to the word, and grammatical pattern being used in speaking. Unlike written lexis and grammar, spoken language more variedly possesses lexical phrases and grammatical pattern. The rules being used are not as strict those are in written language.
d.    Negotiation language
It refers to how speakers express their intended meaning if the listeners do not understand what they are saying.
Another thing that language learners should master in improving their speaking
skill is to comprehend which speaking function they are in because different function applies the different speaking devices. Brown and Yules proposes (in Richard, 2008: 22-27) three functions of speaking. They are talk as interaction, talk as transaction, and talk as performances.
    Talk as interaction can be defined as a daily speaking activity in the social circumstances such as chatting in the restaurant, telling experiences etc. Since it occurs in the daily social circumstances, the central focus of this function is the participants, to increase their social relationship through interaction, not the meaning.  This kind of talk has the following categories:
1.  Has a primarily social function
2.  Reflects role relationships
3.  Reflects speaker’s identity
    4.  May be formal or casual
    5.  Uses conversational conventions
    6.  Reflects degrees of politeness
    7.  Employs many generic words
    8.  Uses conversational register
     9.  Is jointly constructed
    The second speaking functions, talk as transaction, is a speaking activity in which the intended of meaning is being focused on not the participants. We can see this function in the several speaking activities such as discussing something, asking for the direction on the street etc. This speaking function has several categories as follows:
1.    It has a primarily information focus.
2.    The main focus is on the message and not the participants.
3.    Participants employ communication strategies to make themselves understood.
4.    There may be frequent questions, repetitions, and comprehension checks, as in the example from the preceding classroom lesson.
5.    There may be negotiation and digression.
6.    Linguistic accuracy is not always important.

The last speaking function is talk as performances. This kind of talk is found in
public talk, to express the intended meaning to the large audiences such as speech, debate, lecturing etc. The followings are the characteristics of talk as performances:
1.     Focus on both message and audience
2.     Predictable organization and sequencing
3.     Importance of both form and accuracy
4.     Language is more like written language
5.     Often monologic
C.    Discussion
Many language teaching methods have been established to ease the process of foreign language learning. Such methods allow the students to have learning outcomes   in the different ways, for each method has the different views about language and language learning. These differences lead to the different consideration about the ultimate goals of learning language and the different applied techniques of teaching second or foreign language. However, most of the methods seem to put speaking skill as the crucial aspect in learning language through involving speaking activities in the teaching and learning process; why we learn language is to use the language itself both spoken and written. Since each method considers speaking as the crucial aspect, teacher can vary using such methods in the teaching and learning process by selecting the good point or eclectic point of those methods. Once the teachers succeed in varying the eclectic point of the methods they have selected, they will be benefitted by those methods, not only one but many methods.
The followings are the explanation of eclectic points of seven language teaching methods which can be applied to improve students’ speaking skill:
1.    Applying the eclectic points of Grammar Translation Method to improve students’ speaking skill
Grammar translation method is the oldest second language teaching method in the world. It was found in the 19th century and was widely used in the world until in the half beginning of 20th century. This language teaching method views that the familiarity of grammatical structures of target language will help the students to master the language they learn. Due to this consideration, the second language teacher emphasizes on teaching the students the grammatical structure of the language.
Many people perceive this method is not effective to improve speaking skill of the language learners since it emphasizes on training students’ ability to comprehend grammatical structure and translation. Although this method does not significantly contribute to students’ speaking skill, teacher can apply through the eclectic point of this method in teaching speaking.
GTM can be applied in teaching speaking for accuracy. Accuracy in speaking emphasizes on speaking grammatically correct, so those who want to speak accurately have to posses sufficient knowledge of grammatical structure of the language. Since GTM emphasizes on grammatical mastery, it can contribute to improve students’ grammatical knowledge which can be applied in speaking for accuracy.
2.    Applying the eclectic points of Direct Method to improve students’ speaking skill
    Direct method was established in the late of 19th century. In this method, second language should be taught in the classroom by using it as well. Using direct method in second language teaching will help teacher improve students’ speaking skill in two aspects. Firstly, it will develop students’ ability to speak in daily life because one of the Direct Method teaching principles is that the teacher only teaches everyday vocabulary and sentences to the students. In other word, vocabularies and grammatical structures taught in the direct method classroom are those that are used in the daily communication. Secondly, it will help teachers improve students’ both speaking accuracy and fluency since emphasis on correct pronunciation and grammar are the next teaching principle of Direct Method. As we know, correct pronunciation is one of crucial comprehension should be mastered to increase speaking fluency since poor pronunciation will inhibit someone from speaking fluently. On the other hand, mastery in grammar will increase students’ accuracy in speaking, for speaking accuracy means speaking grammatically correct.
3.    Applying Audio-Lingual Method to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill  
    Along with Grammar Translation Method, Direct method, and Reading Method, Audio-Lingual Method belongs to the classical second language teaching method being applied in the whole world. Audio-Lingual Method itself was developed under the influence of Skinner psychological theory, behaviorism, and began to use during World War II. Similar to GTM, many people decline the usage of this method in improving students’ speaking skill but it still can improve certain aspect of speaking. Therefore, we cannot fully decline the usage of this method in improving speaking. 
Although this method do not significantly contribute to improve students speaking skill, one teaching principle of this method will help students improve their fluency. Audio-Lingual Method views that the second language should be spoken in the same was the native speaker does, so the learners is drilled to pronounce the word correctly in the hope that they will master the correct second language pronunciation. As I said in the previous part, pronunciation mastery is highly required to increase fluency in speaking. That is why this method contributes to improve students’ speaking fluency.
4.    Applying Total Physical Response to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill
        Total Physical Response was developed by James Asher in 1980s. This method considers that second language teaching should be taught through acting out the vocabularies and the sentences within the language because human tend to master the languages through seeing rather than memorizing as is that in the first language acquisition. Total Physical Response can be widely used in improving students’ speaking skill especially speaking in the daily life, talk as interaction, because language is taught through showing its physical equivalence or acting it out, and it will make the learners easier to understand and use it as well. It is only daily languages be normally taught through acting them out because daily language is usually involved simple languages. Thus, Total Physical Response can significantly contribute to improve speaking skill, especially in the daily life.
5.    Applying Community Language Learning to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill
Community Language Learning was developed by Charles A. Curran in 1972. This method consider that second language teaching should be taught through applying counseling technique in its process in which the relationship between the teacher and students is viewed as the relationship between the counselor and client. In this case, teacher as counselor has the task to reduce the negative feeling of students toward second language learning, especially speaking.
This method significantly contributes to encourage students to speak. Many students are reluctant to speak because of feeling insecurity toward speaking such as fear of making mistake, less of self-confidence, low of motivation, ashamed of being laughed or mocked etc. To encourage students’ to speak, teacher needs to reduce and diminish these negative feelings from students as counselors solve the negative problems of their client. In addition to reducing and diminishing the negative feeling toward speaking, this method will also make the students not being forced to speak because the process of students’ ability in this method appear in the sequence stages, from the independent to dependent ones.
6.    Applying Natural Approach to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill
Natural Approach was firstly developed in 1976 by Tracy D. Tarrel. This method has a strong relationship with Monitor Theory from Krashen. This method considers second language teachings should firstly be focused on linguistic exposure or input before practicing. In other word, teacher must prepare students many things before they attempt to speak. This method also contributes to improve students’ speaking well. Although students are not instructed to directly speak, they can speak both fluently and accurately because they have been prepared for such activities in advance. 
7.    Applying Communicative Language Teaching to Improve Students’ Speaking Skill
Communicative Language Teaching is current language teaching method which is developed in the late of 1960’s by a British Linguist, Wilkins. This method considers that the second language teaching should be taught as it is used in the real communication because communication is the nature of the language. Teacher is suggested to widely use this method in attempt to improve students’ speaking skill because this method will significantly improve students’ speaking skill.
To speak a second language well, students need to know how it is used in the real communication. Communicative Language Teaching teaches students language in the way that it is used in the real communication. Accordingly, students is indirectly involved in the real communication when they learn the second language. Since they are involved in the real communication when learning second language, their speaking will significantly be improved. They do not only about a language but also know how it is used in the real world. Hence, it is important that teacher apply this method to improve students’ speaking skill.
D.    Conclusion
To conclude, the variation of second language teaching method will benefit teachers in attempt to improve students’ speaking skill. It is true that several methods are not effective to be applied in second language teaching, especially speaking, yet we cannot fully ignore the usage of this method. Although they do not have significant contribution, there are some good points we can still take from such methods.
Different language teaching method contributes to improve students speaking skill in the different way. Certain method only improves students’ speaking fluency; others only improve     students’ speaking accuracy. Hence,     in applying the eclectic points of second language teaching method, second language teacher has to pay attention to what speaking aspect students’ need to improve.   

Harmer, Jeremy. 2004. The Practice of English Language Teaching 3rd edition. New York: Longman retrieved on January 3rd 2013
Richard, Jack. C. 2008. Teaching Listening and Speaking From Theory to Practice. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press
Steinberg, D. D, Nagata. H, and Aline D. P. 2001. Psycholinguistics: Language, Mind, and World 2nd edition. New York: Longman
Zainil. TEFL. Padang: Universitas Negeri Padang


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