A. Background of the Study
In recent year, English as a foreign language has been learned by Indonesian learners since they were in Elementary School. At the elementary school, English is taught as local content subject. The importance of English as the key to the international communication and commerce makes it compulsory subject for students from the Junior High School up to the Senior High School.
English vocabulary is one of the elements in teaching English at the elementary school. Vocabulary is the basic competence that must be reached by students in order to get other competencies like reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It is difficult to master the other competences without mastering and understanding the vocabulary. Rivers in Nunan (1991: 117) argues that the acquisition of an adequate vocabulary is essential for successful second language use because without an extensive vocabulary, we will be unable to use the structures and functions we may have learned for comprehensible communication. In the field of education, including English education in Indonesia, our education is still dominated by the view that knowledge is a set of facts which have to be memorized. Teaching learning process focuses on teacher as prominent source of knowledge. As a result, students have problems to understand academic concepts as what they usually get is something abstract and lecture method. Many students can serve good level of memorization of teaching material but in the end of teaching learning process they actually do not understand it at all. Actually memorization of teaching materials lasts for a short time in their memory and knowledge is not sets of facts which have to be memorized. Zahorik (1995) in DEPDIKNAS (2003) states:
Knowledge is constructed by humans. Knowledge is not a set of facts, concepts, or laws waiting to be discovered. It is not something that exists independent of knower. Humans create or construct knowledge as they attempt to bring meaning to their experience. Everything that we know, we have made.
Based on this opinion, learning process which focuses on the teacher is no longer suitable. It is because our brain is continuously finding meaning and saving meaningful cases, and learning process has to involve students in finding meaning. Teaching and learning process has to make it possible for the students to understand the meaning of their learning material.
Students as the learning subject are the starting point in teaching and learning which measure the success of the teaching learning process. Teaching and learning can be successful when the students can directly feel the advantages of learning materials by experiencing and learning it. There are many other factors supporting teaching and learning process, such as the using of appropriate media, learning materials which support teaching learning process, class management, and teacher's ability and creativity in developing and managing learning process optimally.
When the teaching and learning process takes place, problems would appear to the teacher. They have problems of how to teach them in order to gain satisfying result. The teacher should prepare and find out the appropriate techniques which are implemented to the students. A good teacher should prepare himself or herself with various and up-to-date techniques and mastering the material in order to be understood by students, and make children interested and happy in teaching and learning process in the classroom.
The teachers should concern that teaching vocabulary is something new and different from student's native language. They have to take into account that teaching English for young learners is different from adults. The teachers have to know the characteristics of young learners. The teachers need to prepare good techniques and a suitable material in order to gain the target of language teaching to the children.
Unlike adults who can learn formally in the classroom by following and attending teachers' explanation in the classroom, children tend to learn things by playing. For children, things are easy to learn when they are totally in their context. Children will learn something more meaningfully and interestingly when they can relate these things with their needs and personal experience. Students learn best by actively constructing their own understanding (CTL Academy Fellow, 1999).
Based on the pre-observation done by the writer in the third year of SDN X, teaching English as a foreign language in Indonesian elementary school faces many serious challenges. The problems are the students find it difficult to spell, understand the meaning and pronounce English words.
Some factors can cause these problems, like: (1) the way English words are written differ from the way the words are pronounced; (2) the rare use of the English language; (3) the lack of understanding of the teacher about who the children are; (4) there is no media used in teaching and learning process; and (5) the method used is not suitable for the students.
An appropriate method for teaching English for children is very important because appropriate method determines the result of teaching vocabulary, that is, improving student's vocabulary mastery. There are many methods that are appropriate in teaching English such as task based learning, experiential learning, Contextual Teaching and Learning, etc.
Contextual teaching and learning involves students totally in learning process. Students are motivated to be active to study the materials of learning suitable with the topic. CTL emphasizes on the process of students' involvement in order to be able to find the materials they will learn and connect it with the real situation, so it will motivate the students to apply what they learn in their daily lives. Learning in CTL is not just listening and take notes but learning is direct experiencing process. By that experience, it is hoped that students' development can happen; they do not only develop cognitive aspect, but also affective and psychomotor aspects. By using CTL, it is hoped that the students find the learning materials directly (not given by the teacher).
In http://vhajrie27.wordpress.com it is stated that CTL consists of 3 elements, contextual, teaching and learning. "Contextual" comes from the word context which means the situation in which and events happens. "Teaching" comes from the word teach, it means give lesson to somebody; give somebody knowledge, skill, et cetera. While "learning" comes from the word learn that means gain knowledge or skill in a subject or activity. It can be concluded that CTL is learning method whose process of learning involves 3 aspects, students as learning subject, teacher as mediator and facilitator, and the situation which is set by the teacher to get effective and planned learning process.
Johnson (XXXX: 65) states that CTL is a comprehensive system. CTL consists of components which are connected. If these components combine each other, it will give effect more than the result when the components are separated. Every different part of CTL contributes to help the students understand learning materials and assignments which connect with those materials. Students are assisted to form a system which makes it possible for the students to see the meaning and remember the learning materials they have studied before.
Contextual teaching learning is one of the methods appropriate in teaching English for children. In a CTL learning environment, students discover meaningful relationships between abstract ideas and practical applications in a real world context. Students learn something by experiencing by themselves. Contextual Teaching and Learning creates a team, whether in the classroom, language laboratory, or in the worksite. Students learn best by actively constructing their own understanding (CTL Academy Fellow, 1999).
Considering the importance of implementing a method in teaching English, the writer decides to carry out a research on "Improving Students' Vocabulary Mastery using Contextual Teaching Learning (A Classroom Action Research at The Third Grade of SDN X in Academic Year XXXX/XXXX).
B. Problem Statements
The problems in this research are formulated as follows:
1. Does the implementation of contextual teaching and learning improve the students' vocabulary mastery of the third year students of SDN X Academic year XXXX/XXXX?
2. How do the students response when contextual teaching and learning is applied in teaching and learning process?
C. The Objectives of the Study
This study has some objectives which include:
1. To improve the students' vocabulary mastery at the third year students of SDN X Academic year XXXX/XXXX by using contextual teaching and learning.
2. To identify the students' responses in the process of teaching and learning at the third year students of SDN X Academic year XXXX/XXXX when contextual teaching and learning is applied in teaching and learning process.
D. The Benefits of the Study
This study gives some contributions for the improvement of the English language teaching and learning. The benefits are:
1. It enables teachers to get information and to select a suitable technique in teaching vocabulary at Elementary Schools. It is an important thing for the teacher to develop the technique in their classroom in order to make the students interested in the subject.
2. It enables other researcher to get reference about the implementation of Contextual Teaching and Learning in improving students' vocabulary mastery.
3. It gives inputs to school about a suitable method in teaching vocabulary. The result of this study is expected to give more information about Contextual Teaching and Learning so that it can be applied in SDN X.
4. It gives spirit and knowledge for students that learning English can be fun and interesting. The students will not feel to be forced in learning English but they will feel happy to learn since they are put in an enjoyable situation.
Contextual Teaching and Learning stimulates the students to work in teams. They try to cooperate with other students to practice the language together. Students are expected to have a good improvement in vocabulary mastery.