I think the materials should be…
Once, I was asked to improve a school extracurricular curriculum in north Jakarta. Getting along with this activity, I had also to make revision of school English mid term and final test. In short, I received many complaints about the tests coming from parents, English teachers and school as well, telling me that the tests were too difficult. In addition, the English institution that the school has built such kind cooperation demanded to adjust the syllabus with going along with school English handbook and requested to eliminate number of pictures to cut down the print budget. For some period of time, I have been puzzled with a question, “What should be the materials for the students?” Is it likely a matter of difficulty level, such as easy, medium and difficulty? Or, things beyond it.
My inquiry was suddenly answered when I moderated a one-day training “Learning Strategy of English for Adult” presenting Ibu Siti Wachidah, Ph.d as key speaker in north Jakarta last December 19th 2009. Actually, the participant just complained to Ibu Wachidah that she felt so hard for learning English at her adult age. Calmly, Ibu Wachiday said “the first lesson was sometime difficult.” Then the discussion moved to learning material, “What material should we give to our students?” She continued
Well, if you give material that you think easy for your students to complete, you must be surprised if then you never find them learn. Like Burton says in his learning definition: Learning is moving from ignorance to knowing, isn’t it?
You give easy material to feed your students and yet don’t lead them to learning.
“Medium,” do you think so?? Yet, how do you know it is medium if there are many different students with various level of competence in the classroom. Or, other difficult material that you seem to intimidate your students in learning, like a joke; “give your students difficult material so you can relax for a while.” (Like giving a very long reading text, at the time your students finish reading, the bell rings)
Material for your students should be two: make your students learn and meaningful. Yes, a good material firstly could make your students know thing from their absence. What is it like? It is the material that your students would be so hard to complete by themselves individually and be easy when there is cooperation and, or, guidance. In this environment, teacher arrives as facilitator and provides guidance while their friends come up as partners that lead to cooperative learning. Secondly, your material should be meaningful. Meaningfulness here means that it provides assistances to your students in their social interaction. What makes your students reluctant in learning English particularly because they learn things which are not important or not meaningful for them (their life). Your English lesson (and material of course) has to cover what is said in English when your students want to dating, for example, buy new clothes at department store, cooking, making excuses (like: may I wash my hand, Ms rather than can I go to back) and etc. No wonder, a learning module that is more authentic materials – might be so close related to your students’ English rather than a text book.
The choices are yours … “What materials would you, English Teacher, give to your students?”
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