what teachers don't teachSeveral days ago, when I worked in my “Rentalan Komputer”, there was a boy came to me and asked for me to type an English homework (a script of drama “Bawang Merah – Bawang Putih”). Type, not do the homework!
Then I did his order to type the homework. But, when I started to type, I found that the sentences were wrong. Almost all of the sentences were wrong in order/structure, diction, and of course, the tense he used. Then I asked whether it was his homework or other people’s homework. He answered that the homework was other people’s homework. The homework of 3rd grade students of senior high school!
By paying attention to that homework and remembering my experiences of learning English at school (several years ago hehehe….), then I made an analysis. I remember something about why sometimes students cannot make good composition / sentences. TEACHERS DID NOT TEACH HABITS!
What kind of habits that I mean here? Let me explain it later.
Several years ago, when I was at school, my teachers didn’t teach me several things such as:

  1. Daily language
  2. Effectiveness of a dictionary
  3. Writing and/or speaking habits

Is it a big problem? For me, YES.
The complexity of curriculum and the width of materials that need to be delivered in the classroom made our teachers some kind of forgetting 3 urgent aspects above. Teachers gave “Language Functions” in the classroom but they forgot to give “How the English speakers speak in the real daily life”. Sometimes students get no new knowledge such as about idioms, proverb, speaking styles, diction, terms, and jargon. This problem was so close to problem number 2 in my points above (Effectiveness of a dictionary).

As we know, our students are sometimes too much dependent on their dictionary. In fact, we must not trust the dictionary 100%. Why? Of course, the dictionary only gives us basic words, which are not always suitable to be used in a certain sentence. Building sentences, in fact, is not only about mastering hundreds of vocabularies, but also about the understanding of context, diction, synonym, words variant, the usage and positioning of words.

I have a funny story about my friend. That time, I was in the 3rd grade of senior high. My friend was asked to translate a sentence “Saya bisa makan” which could be translated into “I can eat” (good English). But he translated into “I poison eat”. How could?

In fact, he used a dictionary to translate the word “bisa”. In Bahasa Indonesia, the word “bisa” has 2 meaning: “poison” and “can”. On the other hands, one of the synonyms of “bisa” is “mampu” (able/capable). So, word in Bahasa Indonesia = word in English, but word in English not always = word in Bahasa Indonesia.

From this story, I hope that we can conclude that if someday we need a help from dictionary, please re-check whether the word we need is true. Is it that we need? Find the synonym if it’s needed to ensure ourselves.

Back to my first case about “Bawang Merah – Bawang Putih” script that I had to type. Besides couldn’t find good structured sentences, I found that the name of the characters was translated into English. I didn’t know, whether the teacher of the student explained which word might be translated into English and which one might not, or not. But I found on that script, the name of “Bawang Merah” was translated into “Red Onion” and “Bawang Putih” became “White Onion”. So far I know, the name of people, place, native culture/food/animal, cannot be translated into any other languages.

OK, I won’t analyze all English problem I found in my surrounding. Let’s move to my 3rd point. Writing and/or speaking habits that not often be taught/accustomed made our students confuse to practice their English although they got a lot of “Language Functions” lesson. They only able to use their knowledge to answer the test. But they couldn’t construct the real daily conversation well. They could answer “How to agree”, “How to express disappointment”, but they couldn’t make a narration/story/describe something with their own sentences.

So, what we actually can do?

Step number one: give our students new knowledge about daily conversation. Try to introduce “What the hell is this?” to substitute “What is this?” or “What’s happening?”.
Try to use “Is everything running well?” to substitute “Are you OK?”.
Try to teach new expression you can get from TV program/movies on TV. Leave your handbook for a while.
Try to compare a good sentence (the structure, the tense) with daily sentence that sometimes avoiding the right writing method but still can be understood.

Step number two: explain the effectiveness of a dictionary and how to use it effectively, so that the students get no wrong translation as I featured above. Ask your students to re-check their translated word, both from Indonesian to English and from English to Indonesian.

Step number three: make an activity that can improve your students’ ability in speaking and writing. You know more about the most suitable activity for your students (because you know more your students’ characters and condition, especially their level of English skill).

  1. zen
    April 26, 2011 at 10:32 am

    That’s right, bro

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: