Students’ Perception on the Role of English Day Program in Speaking Skill Development

In every second and foreign language teaching and learning, speaking has always been considered as the most essential skill to be mastered due to several reasons. First, speaking leads to improved language acquisition. Swain (2005) claims that “the act ofproducing language (speaking or writing) constitutes, under certain circumstances, part of the process of second language learning”, p. 471).

When a language learner tries to speak to others or speak to himself in the target language, he may notice what is incorrect or what he does not know about his language production. This will helps him to reflect when he learns the rules of the new language he previously does not know. Second, language teaching researches and conferences have long focused on the approaches and methods for teaching speaking. Third, a huge number of conversation and other speaking course materials and media, be they are in print or online, are endlessly published. Finally, many language learners regard speaking ability as the measure of mastering a language. They define fluency as the ability to converse with others, much more than the ability to read, write, or comprehend oral language. For them, speaking is the most important skill to acquire. In the present era of globalization, the ability to speak in English is very important because people around the world have been more and more interconnected and integrated. To succeed the process of integration, the people need languages, and English has been elected as the main language for the global communication. Crystal (2012) emphasized that English today is the leading international language. To be more specific, the followings are some of the main reasons why the ability to speak English is highly needed. First, the ability to speak in English provides a person more job opportunities. Today’s businesses need employees who can communicate fluently with Englishspeaking partners and clients. In addition, the ability to speak in English makes it possible for businesspersons to access a wider range of customers. Second, the ability to speak English makes it easier to travel. Because English is spoken as a first or second language in almost all countries, it is always easy to find English speakers as well as printed information in English, especially at hotels and in areas visited by tourists. Third, English speaking mastery makes it easy to exchange ideas, e.g. in an informal forum or in international seminar and conference. Finally, English is now the main language of science and technology. A person with a good English speaking skill has more opportunities to collaborate in these fields and to share ideas and innovations. Since English speaking is very important to every individual, it is very crucial to find and employ the best instructional methods, materials, activities, media, and other requirements that will facilitate the learners to master speaking skill. A great number of studies aimed to help learners master speaking skill in the teaching of English as a second language (ESL) or English as a foreign language (EFL) has been conducted. However, many ESL or EFL learners still find speaking difficult to master. To many of them, speaking is still “the most complex and difficult skill to master” (Hinkel, 2005, p. 485). According to Tuan and Mai (2015), the problems that teachers can come across in helping students to speak in the classroom could be classified into four factors: inhibition, lack of topical knowledge, low participation, and mother-tongue use.

Therefore, reducing students’ inhibition, developing their topical knowledge, increasing their participation, and minimizing their mother-tongue use are the most important aspects to consider facilitating learners to master speaking. The results of recent studies have indicated that the key to a successful speaking lesson is the employment of good communicative speaking activities, such as role play, simulation, information gap, storytelling, discussion, interview, and so on. Such activities will place the learners in real-life situations that require communication in the target language (Kayi, 2006). Such activities can also be effective for reducing students’ inhibition, developing their topical knowledge, increasing their participation, and minimizing their mother-tongue use. In addition to the use of communicative speaking activities, English Day Program (EDP) has been implemented as another strategy to help students develop their speaking skills. EDP is a program organized by a community to use English as a communication facility or media in English teaching and learning process on a certain day. This community certainly does not use English as a mother tongue. The purpose of this program is to encourage the members of community to speak English. Thornbury (2005, p. 1) claims that speaking is so much a part of daily life that we take it for granted. Therefore students’ speaking skill needs to be developed and practiced day by day, especially on English day. In the school context, EDP is a program wherein a certain day principal, teachers, students, support officers must communicate in English all day long. The main supporter of EDP is English teachers, who should share their knowledge and skills about English with other teachers. The announcement, the name-board of school and room, the handout and worksheet of all subjects must be written in English. Every interaction is conducted in English. All these efforts are aimed to accelerate to create English environment in school. In Indonesia, EDP is usually carried out in international standard school.

According to Hasanah and Syafri (2015), EDP is Based on two approaches in teaching language, namely Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), which accentuates the students to use the language rather than know the language, and Community Language Learning (CLL) which is primarily directed to reduce anxiety of the students to communicate in a foreign language where the teachers’ role is to be a counselor for the students. In general, the community which runs EDP rules out that every member should use English only as the means of communication during the specified days. If the community is a school, all teachers, students, and support officers must communicate in English, including in the classroom. In many schools, outside of the class time, some activities are carried out to enrich the students with language inputs. Some of the most common activities are picture labeling, English songs appreciation, proverbs exchanging, short story reading, interviewing, movie appreciation, debating, and so on. These activities are designed to create an informal and relaxing atmosphere so that the students do not feel stressed or shy to speak English. In Indonesia, EDP is a relatively new strategy to help students develop their speaking skills. Therefore, little research has been carried out regarding this program. Saputra’s (2011), a study on the influence of EDP to students’ speaking ability at the second year of State Islamic Senior High School 2 Pekanbaru revealed that the program increased students speaking ability as seen through the mean score of their speaking post-test. The results of Mudyanita’s, (2011) study on the contributions EDP towards students’ speaking skills in International Standard School SMK N 1 Pacitan showed that EDP could improve students’ and teachers’ speaking skills. However, the implementation of the EDP was not done well, mainly because the students were still shy to use English and they had some difficulties to understand English conversations. The study of Latif (2012), conducted to investigate the implementation of EDP for the second, fourth, sixth and eighth semester students of the English Education Department of Muria Kudus University showed that (1) the program implementation inside the class is a good but the implementation outside the class is not really good; (2) the main problem encountered in the program implementation outside the class was that the students felt shy and ridiculous to speak English in front of other people in the public area. Another study by Khikmiah (2010) was carried out to investigate the impact of English Club (a program having similar nature with EDP) towards students’ speaking skill.

The results revealed that an English Club has many advantages for improving students speaking skills. She also concluded that an effective way to obtain more practices to speak English is by joining an extracurricular program like an English Club). Finally, Liyanni (2015) conducted a study to analyze students’ speaking activity on English Day at SMA Taruna Bumi Khatulistiwa. The results revealed that EDP can facilitate the students to develop their speaking ability although some linguistic and psycholinguistic problems were still occurring. Reviewing these related studies, it is obvious that none of them concern with the students’ perceptions of the EDP, whereas students’ perceptions play a very important role to succeed learning because students are at the center of every learning process. Derived from the Latin word ‘perceptio’, perception refers to the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. It is the process by which individuals select, organize, store and interpret the information gathered from these senses. Slameto (2010, p. 102) describes perception as a process that involves the entry of messages or information into the human brain, through human perception of continuous relationships with the environment. This relationship is done through the senses, namely the senses sight, listener, touch, taste, and smell. Perception does not appear by itself, but through processes and many factors affect one’s perception. This causes why everyone has a different interpretation despite seeing or facing the same thing. According to Robbins (2003, p. 108-109), there are three factors that affect perception. The first is the perceiver. When looking at something and trying to give an interpretation, an individual will be influenced by his or her characteristics such as beliefs, attitudes, motives, interests, experiences, cognitive structures, expectations, and cultural upbringing. The second factor is the object or target being perceived. It can be persons, objects, or events. This affects one’s perception. The target of perception is not something that is viewed in theory but in relation to others involved. This causes one tend to group similar people, objects, or events and separate them from other groups that are not similar. The greater the similarity, the greater the probability we will tend to perceive them as a group, and vice versa. This domain may cover such as those as novelty, motion, sounds, size, background, proximity, and similarity.

The third is the context of the situation in which the perception is made. Elements in the surrounding environment influence our perception. Perception must be considered contextually, which means the situation in which the perception appears should obtain attention. The situation is a factor contributes to the process of establishing a person’s perception. Situation covers time, work setting, and social setting. Bada (1997) accentuated that “learners are no longer free from the responsibility of contributing to their language learning; rather, they are active participants in designing and evaluating their language learning process” (p.20). He also added that learner-centeredness has extra responsibilities both for teachers and students. Teachers should evaluate themselves in a critical way. Students, on the other hand, share the teachers’ burden. They are expected to produce something. Thus, teachers should accept the fact that without learners’ participation in the English class, there will not be an effective and enjoyable teaching and learning will be up to failure. This article discusses the findings of a study recently conducted to investigate the students’ perceptions of the role of EDP in speaking skill development at SMPK Penabur Kota Wisata. An awareness of the students’ perceptions will hopefully be beneficial for teachers to help their students develop their speaking skills by means of EDP.

Name : Octovany Sinaga

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