The first meeting should be with grade 12 science-2, then science- 1, science- 3 and science-4 respectively. I sent one of the students a text to inform that I would teach them. As I expected; the students were surprised for my coming. I got myself surprised too. I thought that the students had prepared themselves to study. But I was wrong. The students probably thought, as the first three day of the week there is what so called on Orientation Session for grade 10, “the elders” class thought there would be no class.
Most of the students of 12 ia 1 and 2 arrived, perhaps it was because the meeting started at the early time (before the break time) and the students were still at school. But not many with 12 ia 3 and 4, they said that they had already went home. Even one of the parents gave me a call informing her daughter had gone to Bandung to visit their grandparents to welcome fasting month together.
I gave copied article taken from The Jakarta Post entitled: Path to harmony: in search of responsible person by Jennie.
Before I started helping to make the article understood, I invited some questions from the students. Most of them were just sit still, no questions at the start. Then a student asked my hobby, my teaching motivation, my address. Considering this was my first meeting with the students, I could understand the ‘silence’ and ‘cold-look’ of my students. I tried to use mostly English. There are two reasons for this. First I wanted to show my students that they actually could understand English but they did not have the ability to use spoken English. Secondly, the spoken English I used is aimed to show them that Indonesian like me can speak English.
Then I started to help the students to understand the article. I translated them into Bahasa and told them what the writer tried to propose. I asked them some questions while reading the article such as:
– After you read paragraph one, what is the main idea of this paragraph?
– What words attract you?
– Do you think that the writer is just an ordinary writer or she is very smart? Why you said so?
– How did the writer translate the word ‘responsible”?
I also asked students to translate per line. Yet, they looked like very afraid of making mistake of translating. So I guided them again by helping them with new words.
Half of the article was understood. I asked the students to read the rest at home. Besides, I also asked them to be an active reader by giving response to the article. They may show their agreement or disagreement to the opinion provided by the writer.
I gave this assignment as they have four days to go without doing anything. I hope this task will help them to start become a good reader of English and at the same time I know their writing ability too.
I highlighted a question given by Rahmatillah (science-4). She came with a question like this: ‘How to be a good speaker without grammar?’
I kept quite for a moment I tried to find easy-understandable answer for that tricky question. For Indonesian as English learner and put English as a foreign language, the first thing the learner knows is grammar. It is like verb pattern. The learner must bear in mind if they want to say this or that, they must consider the tense. And this kind of learning, I do not really like (actually) as it often sends me into confusion and frustrated feeling.
But what burst from my mouth just, “just say whatever you want to say, do not think about grammar. People will understand anything you said. Take an example –I go to Bandung yesterday-. That sentence is acceptable; you knew that the speaker went to Bandung the day before. So, just talk, ignore grammar’.
Perhaps what I said causes a little bit confusion as the students had fed up with the warning that ‘grammar is important and use grammar to make you speak good English’.
Theories of language (grammars) are a bit like the blind men’s experience of the elephant. à consider for a moment the experience of the six blind men meeting an elephant for the first time. One blind man felt the tail and declared that the elephant was like a rope; another felt the trunk and decided that an elephant was like a hose. Another, feeling the ear, felt and elephant was like an umbrella. Each blind man developed a theory of what elephants are like (Gerrot and Wignell, 1995: 4).
Why it is said a bit like the blind’s men experience the elephant. It is because each ended up with somewhat different perspective. And like the blind’s experience, theories of language or grammar are not inherently good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. Rather, grammars are validated by their usefulness in describing and explaining the phenomenon called language.
For the students, grammar helps to understand and produce texts, and grammar also shed light on how texts make meaning.