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Using Visual Dictionary In Teaching Vocabulary To Elementary School Students

Background of the Study

Learning English is very important, because English has become an international language, which is used by most communities in the world. Many countries use English as their second language. In spite of the difficulties in studying English, it is worthwhile to studythe language because it plays a very important role in almost all fields of life such as: communication, commerce, economy, politics, education, science, technology and so on.

Finocchiaro stated that “Language isa system of arbitrary, vocal symbol, which permits all people in given cultureor other people who have learned the system of that culture, to communicate or to interact”. (Finocchiaro, 1974:3).

In Indonesia, English is the first foreign language. English has a major position in Indonesian educational system. Itis one of the compulsory subjects to be studied in junior and senior high school in today’s Indonesian curriculum. A large number of public and private universities and colleges realizing the demand of producing graduates mastering English. That’s why English is included as one of the subject to be taken in early semester of the study. More over, now there is a preference to teach English at Elementary Schools even in kindergartens.

According to 2004 Curriculum of Elementary School, elementary school may add a lesson that is called local content or “muatan lokal”. There are many kinds of local content taught in different elementary school such as gardening, dancing, handicraft, regional language, English, etc. As one of the local content subjects taught in elementary school,English has some function as follow:

(1) By studying English, students are expected to have a means to develop their knowledge of science, technology, and culture so that they can grow up with Indonesian personality.

(2) Later, the students are expected to be able to support the development of tourism. It means that students are expectedto have skills of language in simple English with the emphasis to havespeaking skills using selected topics related to their environmental need such as tourism industry (Kurikulum Mulok SD 2004:4)

Based on the function above, the students are expected to have skills of language in simple English with emphasis to have speaking skill using selected topics related to their environmental needs such as tourism industry. It is in line with the objectives of learning English at Elementary School as stated in the local content of teaching guidelines (Kurikulum Muatan Lokal SD,2004) that one of the objectives of learning English at Elementary School is that the students are expected to have skills for listening, speaking, reading, and writing English with the emphasis on mastery of speaking skill for communication using selected topics related to the environmental needs such as tourism and business in Central Java Province. Why is English taught at Elementary School? Answering the question, some people say that children learn languages faster than adults do.

They argue that children seem to pickup new languages effortlessly. Perhaps it has something to do with plasticity of their brains which enable the children to acquire the language unconsciously.

Teaching children is not same as teaching adults because they have different characteristics and different motivations. In order to make English teaching successful, we have to consider some factors such as the quality of teacher, students’ interest and motivation, the book used and the others. All of them are involved in a teaching and learning process. In teaching English to children, a teacher plays an important role because he has to give the very basic introduction of the first foreign language. He must be able to know the students’ interest and motivation in learning English.

Vocabulary is one of the language components that have to be taught to the students in learning a foreign language. Petty and Jensen (1980: 76) support the idea by stating; “since the knowledge of words and word meaning is essential in both the expressive and receptive aspect of language, vocabulary building is vital to the early language program”.Unfortunately, many students consider learning vocabulary as a tedious job. Because of that, the teacher should look for an effective technique to make learning vocabulary easier, more pleasant, and enjoyable.

Techniques are the tools of a teacher. An effective teacher has a multitude of technique and must be able to select the ones, which will bethe most efficient in leading the learners to the desired terminal behavior. To reach the success in teaching and learning process, teacher needs some teaching media such as regalia, chart, picture, etc. Choosing the appropriate media, the teacher should take a note of the suggestion from Gerlach and Ely (1980: 260) as follows, “Once a medium has been verified as appropriate, it should be subjective to four other criteriacriteria level of sophistication, cost, availability, and technical quality”.

Considering that criteria the writer chooses visual dictionary as her teaching media. The writer believes that by using visual dictionary the students should find vocabulary learning both stimulating and enjoyable. By using visual dictionary, as means of teaching vocabulary, the students will be interested and more enthusiastic in learning vocabulary.

Learning in enhanced, and has more meaning when students have direct experience beyond the textbook with the material studied. Direct experience not only make for better learning but can bring about much better teaching, because it may involve more work and planning.

The teaching that uses visual material will almost certainly be better and will not probably be easier because understanding and idea are more easily discovered by the students. (Howard, 1968: 143).
Lynne Cameron also said that “Vocabulary is best learned when the meaning of words is illustrated, for example by a picture, an action or real object”.

However, it must not be forgotten that the material values depend on how much they contribute to the learning process. The function of media is not to take the lesson more colorful or to demonstrate the teacher versatility either in constructing or handling them, but tomake learning more effective.

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