Comparison of English Proficiency Improvement Among Selected Freshmen in Universitas Advent Indonesia (Unai)

The place of grammar instruction and vocabulary has always been a central aspect in the second/foreign language curriculum despite strong debates in teaching methods reliant on a structural syllabus. It is also one of the more difficult aspects of language to teach. Ellis (1991) as cited in Hinkel and Fotos (2002:47-51) summarizes the findings of empirical research and the effects of grammar instruction in academic setting as follows: 1. Formal instruction helps to promote more rapid L2 acquisition and also contributes to higher levels of ultimate achievement. (Long, 1988) 2. There are psycholinguistics constraints which govern whether attempts to teach learners specific grammatical rules result in their acquisition.

Formal instruction may succeed if the learners have reached a stage in the developmental sequence that enables them to process the target structure. (Pienemann, 1984) 3. Formal instruction directed at relatively simple grammatical rules (such as plural or copula be) will be successful in developing implicit knowledge, as such forms do not require the mastery of complex processing operations. (Pica, 1983; Pienemann, 1984) 4. Formal instruction is effective in developing explicit knowledge of grammatical features. 5. Formal instruction may work best in promoting acquisition when it is linked with opportunities for natural communication. (Spada, 1985)

Universitas Advent Indonesia (UNAI) requires all students who do not major in English Language Teaching to take 12 credits of English language courses during their course of study in UNAI. The curriculum begins with English I where the focus is grammar instruction in the first semester and ends with English for Specific Purposes in the fifth and sixth semesters. Starting from the academic year 2006,2007, however, UNAI has added Remedial English as a requisite for freshmen students who have very poor English proficiency.

The English Entrance Exam (E3) administered by the English Department to all freshmen measures the English proficiency and further determines if a student is required to take Remedial English and English I classes concurrently in the first semester or qualified to register for the grammar instruction course in the English I class only. To qualify for the English I class only without having to take the Remedial English class as well in the first semester, a freshmen needs to reach a minimum score of 350 points from a total of 677 points on the E3 test.

The aim of this study is to compare the difference in improvement in English language proficiency of freshmen who undertook the Remedial English and English I classes concurrently and those who undertook the English I class only during the first semester of the academic year 2008/2009 and to answer the statement of the problem, i.e. “Do freshmen who take the Remedial English and English I classes concurrently in the first semester have better improvement in English language proficiency compared to those who take the English I class only?” This study involves the freshmen of L1NAI in the academic year 2008/2009.

The data gathered is limited to the scores of the English Entrance Exam (E3) which constitute the pretest and posttest. Variables such as different teaching methods, study habits and motivation of the participants, and the length of exposure of participants to various academic and non-academic programs in English on and off campus, are not controlled in the study.

Name : Cherrilyne Goodenough and Katemba Caroline V

Source :