Monday, October 25, 2010




A. Background of Study
Learning a language is expected not only to help the students realize themselves, their culture and others but also help them to express ideas and opinions to participate in their lives. English is a means of communication spoken and written. Communication means to understand or produce spoken and written texts that can be realized through four language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. These four skills will be used to create discourse in their lives.
Therefore, English lesson is pointed to develop those skills because Junior High School graduates are expected to be able to communicate and make discourse in certain level of literacy (Depdikbud, 2006: 277). Wells, in Depdikbud (2006: 277) states that the levels of literation include performative, functional, informational, and epistemic. In performative level, the students are able to read, write, listen, and speak with symbols used. In functional level, the students are able to use the language to fulfill their daily needs such as reading newspaper, manual or direction. In informative level, the students are able to access knowledge using their language ability while in the epistemic level, the students are able to express knowledge using target language. In Junior high school, the students are expected to reach functional level means they are expected to be able to communicate spoken and written to participate in their lives. Therefore, at Junior high school, the students are expected to learn daily expressions related to their lives when they are in class, interaction with others, etc. The standard of reading for SMP on the ninth grades, the students are expected to understand the meaning of functional text and short essay in descriptive, narrative, recount and should read aloud with acceptable pronunciation and intonation, response rhetorical ways accurately and fluently in the form of descriptive, narrative, report and recount text. Besides, the students must comprehend the text deeply as in national standard for examination. Reading always becomes an important skill. That's why reading must be comprehended by the students in Junior High school. In national standard for examination, it is mentioned that the student must comprehend some comprehension skill: (1) finding information explicitly and implicitly; (2) finding main idea; (3) finding meaning.
Furthermore, in learning English, there are four skills; listening, speaking, reading, and writing which should be mastered by the learner. Reading is similar to listening in many way involves the need of additional skills and require a higher level of syntactic sophistication (Adam in Harris, 1975: 448). However, in reading, the learners must organize the material into meaningful phrases and thought units (Harris, 1975: 448).
Reading has been the major medium not only for transmitting thought but also for building concepts, developing vocabulary, providing knowledge, giving pleasure, giving personal enrichment, growing in intellectual, aiding in understanding personal problems, improving one's self-concept and conveying the problems and ways of other people and culture (Petty, 1980: 209). In other words, by reading, reader can communicate with the writer by using printed or written text in order to get information, ideas, pleasure, and develop vocabulary to understand the writer's message.
In process of reading, the learner should use two process; bottom up and top down process to comprehend the passage (Hammer, 2001: 201). In bottom up process, the readers get general view of reading passage by knowing multiplicity of linguistic signals (letters, morphemes, syllables, words, phrases, grammatical cues, discourse maker) and then comprehension would be derived from all of the parts (Brown, 2001: 299). Meanwhile, in top down process, the readers use their own intelligences and experiences to understand passages (Hammer, 2001: 201). It means that the reader focuses on individual word and phrases to achieve understanding of whole passage.
Reading is difficult when the readers do not have enough vocabulary to understand the text/passage and short or long sentences in reading passage (Harris, 1975: 469). He also states that the difficulty in comprehending reading passage is the use of pronoun. It becomes more difficult when there are many words between pronoun and antecedent. Besides, the sentences printed materials tend to use much more formal style of English than the students is accustomed to use in conversation (Harris, 1975: 470). Nuttal (1985: 83) says that:
It is possible to have a pretty good idea of a writer's message without understanding the signification of every sentence, but it is not possible to be absolutely certain of it, nor to give the fullest response. This entails, first, understanding all the vocabulary as one of the student ( SK ) said:
Saya merasa kesulitan ketika menemui kosa kata baru dalam memahami bacaan, mungkin karena kosa kata memang sangat kurang di tambah lagi saya kadang malas untuk mencarinya.
In this class, the students have lack of vocabulary when they comprehend the text and they have problems in comprehension skill. The indications can be seen from the result of students' preliminary test. The average of students' score is 53.9. There were only 16.6% or 4 students who got score above 70 and the others or 83.3% were failed in comprehending reading passage. The scores of students showed that the worst element of comprehending reading passage is lateral comprehension. The average score of interpretative comprehension was adequate. The average of critical comprehension was not enough. It means the students' capability in comprehending reading passage was far from the expectation because their vocabulary was not enough to comprehend reading passage. Furthermore, the result of questionnaire showed that 30.4% students like to read. Although they like to read, 69.5% students still have difficulty in understanding new vocabulary and 56.5% students have difficulty in comprehending reading passage. In addition, 78.2% students like to discuss in comprehending reading passage.
From the preliminary observation above, the researcher found out two causes; from the teacher and the students. First, the teacher still used traditional technique in which the students only had less time to read whereas reading passage is the complex activity. The teachers just read the passage and discussed with the whole class until the students did not have time to share about the passage freely. The teacher seldom used varied technique to make the students become a better reader. The teachers asked the students to read and answer the questions individually. After that, they submitted the assignment without discussing the answers with other students. Whereas, reading is the complex activity because this activity need more time to comprehend the passage deeply. Second, the students did not comprehend the passage well. They have lack of vocabulary so that it made them difficult to comprehend the passage in lateral comprehension, interpretative comprehension and critical comprehension. It made them have low motivation in reading activity because the students had low capability in comprehending reading passage and the results of reading were not good. Besides, the students still have less confident if they are asked to read in front of their friend. They feel shy if they make mistake in reading the text. Sometime their friends laugh if there is a unique sound. This situation make the lesson crowded because the students did not concentrate with reading activity.
Based on the reason above, the researcher proposed the use of group work as a solution to overcome those problems. Group work is a guidance that comes not only from the teachers but also from fellow-students to understand the text and discuss together on the chance of getting the best interpretation (Nuttal, 1982: 159). It means that group work makes the students possible to help each other because it is a technique where the students can work together to solve the problem. In group work, students are divided into four or less than that. They sat together, face to face one another and talk freely based on the problem. In this study, the writer tried to apply group work during the reading activity. Hopefully, it could make the students motivated to exchange knowledge and information each other during reading activity. It gives much time to get the point of the text/ passage and the students can express their analysis freely. Furthermore, group work is the form of discussion in which the teachers group the students into four in order to give maximum participation in reading activity. Therefore, group work can improve the students' capability in comprehending reading passage.

B. Problem Formulation
Based on the background of the study above, the statements of the problem are;
1. Can group work improve the students capability in comprehending reading passage?
2. What happens when group work is implemented at ninth grade students of X?

C. Objectives of the Study
In general, this study was proposed to improve the students capability in comprehending reading passage of class IX X.
Particularly, in accordance with the problem formulation above, the objectives of the study are:
1. To know whether group work can improve the students capability in comprehending reading passage.
2. To know what happens when group work is implemented at nine grade students of X.

D. The Benefit of the Study
The researcher hopes that this study can be useful to the English teacher, the students, and the other researchers and even to the researcher herself. For the English teacher, this research provides the other technique that is proposed to teaching reading and the result of the research can be useful input in English teaching learning process especially for improving reading comprehension. Then, for the students, this research finding will enrich the students reading comprehension because they can think and collaborate with others using group work in understanding reading passage. Therefore, they can improve their capability in comprehending reading passage. Then, for the other researchers, this research can give the information to be developed for further studies. The last, for the researcher, this research gives more understanding about group work implemented in classroom.

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