Sabtu, 17 April 2010

COMMUNITY LANGUAGE LEARNING

Discussion

Community Language Learning is a humanistic-oriented methodology which has been getting a lot of attention recently and there are many people who call this methodology as a humanistic approach to language learning. The term humanistic used here refers to the mixture of all other emotions and feelings of learners in the teaching-learning process which includes self-esteem and pride after their accomplishment in their own efforts and the creation of the cooperation atmosphere in the classroom (Subiyakto, 1988:48). Now it is time to discuss the historical and theoretical background, followed by the basic principles of Community Language Learning along with the ways to apply it in real life and concluded by the positive and negative sides of this method.

A. Historical and Theoretical Background

Charles A. Curran was a specialist in the counseling program and a professor in psychology in Logola University of Chicago, in the United States of America. He came up with the idea to apply the concept of psychotherapy in the form of counseling to his students soon after he was inspired by Carl Rogers. According to Brown (2000:103), Carl Rogers has a way in viewing education that in order to facilitate learning so that each individual in the group can be valued and prized appropriately, students and teacher should join together. This is the main reason why Curran created a special method which is called the Community Language Learning. In this method there are two roles that should be played in the process of language teaching and learning. The first role is a counselor, which is played by the teacher and the second role is the clients, which are played by the students. There are other terms used to refer to the teacher’s role in this method. Besides using the term counselor, the terms knower, counselor experts and counselor teachers exist as well.

This method is based on several theories. First of all, it is based on the idea that what is actually learnt by a human being is generally in his cognitive and affective areas (Subiyakto, 1988). It means that a learner gets all of the inputs from outside world through his mind, which can be considered as his cognitive ability and also through his feelings, which can be considered as his affective ability. Creating a learning atmosphere that facilitates a learner to communicate and interact with others freely seems to be the best way to maximize a learner’s cognitive ability as well as his affective ability.

The second theoretical base of this approach is quite similar to the first. According to Pateda (1991:103) who quoted from Atmodarsono (1984:22) as an effort to learn a second language, Community Language Learning is based on several factors in a learner’s mind such as attitude, emotion and motivation. It is clear from this statement that this method is dealing mostly with the internal factors of a language learner. Pateda (1991:103) also mentions that this method is based on the interactional theory as well. It means that language can be used by an individual as a mean to have an active interaction with others in a community.

The next theoretical premise of this approach is basically directed to achieve the personal needs of the individuals. It is confirmed by Tarigan (1989:232) that this approach is based on a particular assumption saying that a person as an individual needs to have an understanding and assistance from others to go through the process of achieving not only their personal values but their personal goals as well.

Another assumption that has become the basis of this method is that Curran emphazise that counseling and teaching should be integrated together (Hamied:1987:143). It is because according to Curran, counseling is concerning with the self-insight and self-awareness of an individual that can stimulate his personal growth, satisfaction and better relationship with others, while teaching is exclusively concerning with intelectual learning process therefore counseling and teaching should not be separated.


B. Basic Principles and Application

This part of the paper consists of two main parts, the first part is the basic principles and the stages in Community Language Learning and the second part is the steps that can be taken in applying the Community Language Learning in real life.


1. Basic Principles

There are five important principles in Community Language Learning according to Stevick (1976:128-131) as quoted by Pateda (1991). Those principles are:

1. Language is a behavior of a learner that is directed towards others. The learner can talk about things that make him interested and things that he has been experienced before.

2. A learner can learn a new behavior fast if he is not interupted. Therefore a leaner as the client must have as many opportunities as possible to practice his language knowledge without many interverence from the teacher as the counselor.

3. The counselor should give assistance the clients in using their language all the time.

4. The counselor should give assistance in maintaining useful behavior by using three suggested techniques, they are (1) give the chance to clients to talk much, (2) develop the language productivity of the clients and (3) give the counseling and then make some evaluations.

5. In preparing the materials, the counselor should choose the easy ones for both the clients and counselor which are suitable for the level and goal to be accomplished.

Besides those basic principles above, Curran also has five stages in the learning and teaching process. Several experts such as Tarigan (1989), Hamied (1987) and Pateda (1991) have similarities in discussing these five stages while Subiyakto (1988) discusses the same five stages with different terms and perspectives. The differences and similarities of the five stages can be seen in the discussion below.

There is a brief explanation made by Hamied (1987) in his book about the five stages of development in the teaching and learning process of the clients from Curran. Those stages are:

1. The embryonic stage. In this stage therea is a total dependancy of the clients to their counselor.

2. The self-assertion stage. In this stage the clients begin to show their independence and try the language they learn.

3. The birth stage. In this third stage the clients speak independently although not perfectly. In this stage they tend to get upset whenever they gets the unwanted assistance from the knower.

4. The reversal stage. In this stage the clients feels safe and they are open to take correction from others, they are now in the position to exchange the role play periodically with the knower and they begin to elaborate the warmth and understanding with their counselor.

5. The independence stage. In this stage interruption from the knower to correct the clients’ mistakes is not done too often, instead it is only done to enrich and improve the language style of the clients.

As quoted by Pateda (1991:107) from Dardjowidjojo (1987:186-189), Curran divides the stages in the language acquisition into five main stages, which are:

1. The embryonic stage. In this stage the dependancy of the clients to their counselor is nearly or even exactly 100%. The clients do not feel sure of their abilities when they face their counselor or other people. The counselor’s role is to lose the clients’ anxiety so that they feel confident to practice the language they are learning.

2. The self-assertion stage. In this stage the clients feel that they already have the moral support from their friends. The clients begin to free themselves from the dependancy to their counselor and start to practice the language they are learning to their friends by using simple words, phrases and sentences.

3. The birth stage. In this third stage the clients lower the use of their first language gradually. Since the clients are moving towards their independence, they still need some help from their counselor although they do not realize it, the counselor needs to minimize his assistance wisely.

4. The reversal stage. This stage refers to the stage where the clients and the counselor are now in the level of trusting each other. It means that in this stage the clients feel that now they have become more active and on the other hand they need the counselor to correct their mistakes.

5. The independence stage. In this stage the client feel that they have master the materials given by the counselor and they want to elaborate their knowledge by learning the social and cultural aspects of the language they are learning.

There are also five other stages mentioned by Tarigan (1989) similar to the ones mentioned by Pateda (1991) above. Those five stages are:

1. First stage. The first client builds sentences in his native language based on whatever he wants to talk about to others in a group. The counselor then translates the utterances in the target language and asks the first client to repeat the translation correctly. The translation is recorded. The second client who wants to respond to the first client says his sentences in his native language and again the counselor translates them into the target language. This response is also recorded so in the end of the conversation all data has been recorded. The script of the recorded data then can be used in the classroom as an input for the analysis and exercise of the language.

2. The self-assertive stage. In this stage the clients try to say what they want to say without the interference and constant assistance from the counselor.

3. The birth stage. This is the stage where the clients improve their independence and freedom from e counselor and speak in the target language without the translation from the counselor. The counselor gives the translation only when the clients ask for it.

4. The teenage stage or reversal stage. In this stage the clients have become strong enough to take the corrective feedback from other clients or the counselor.

5. The independent stage. This stage is characterized by the interaction that flows freely among the clients themselves and the counselor. Here everybody does the correction work in stylistic areas for each other. In this stage, the level of trust is high and the clients do not feel nervous or anxious anymore.

Subiyakto (1988:48-49) somehow has a different opinion about the five stages existing in the learning and teaching process constructed by Curran. Those five stages are as follows:

1. The stage of birth. In this stage the clients are nurtured in order to have feeling of “safety” and feeling as “a member of the community”.

2. The stage of accomplishing independence. In this stage the clients learn more and more through time and they get more experience. With more knowledge and experience their ability increase as well and they become more independent from the counselor.

3. The stage of speaking freely. In this stage the clients begin to show their identity by rejecting the unwanted advice and suggestions given by other people.

4. The stage of accepting the constructive criticism. In this stage the clients have already had the self-confident and they are ready to take the constructive criticism from others to improve their ability.

5. The stage of improving the language style and knowledge of the normal linguistic forms. The clients begin to improve their language style in order to make it suitable for certain situation and also more satisfying for themselves.

2. Application

There are several simple steps of Community Language Learning method that can be applied in real life. Those simple steps are taken from Brown (2000:104), and they are shown as follows:

1. The group of clients are seated in a circle with the counselor on the outside of the circle. Thos clients first of all have to establish an interpersonal relationship and trust in their native language. The clients may consist of complete beginners in the foreign language.

2. When one of the clients wants to say something to the group or to an individual, he say it in the native language.

3. The counselor translates the utterance back to the client in the target language.

4. The client repeats the translation as accurately as possible.

5. When another client responds in his native language, again the counselor translates his utterance in the target language. This is done over and over again with other clients who wants to speak.

6. If possible the conversation is taped for later listening, and at the end of each session the clients try to get information about the new language.

7. The counselor may take a more directive role and explain certain linguistic explanation rules.

The simple steps of Community Language Learning method that can be conducted in real life taken from Brown (2000:104) above can be developed further as shown in the work of Subiyakto (1988:49-50) below:

1. The group of students are limited from 5 to 10 people in order to get a more effective teaching process. The students are asked to choose a topic based on the general agreement among them. Once they are ready, they record their sentences or utterances one by one.

2. After taping for 20 minutes, the teacher stops the activity and ask the students to listen carefully and play the recorded sentences or utterances of the students.

3. After listening to the tape, the teacher stops the tape to give a chance to the students to make some suggestions to improve the recorded sentences or utterances.

4. On the next meeting, the students are asked to listen to the record once again and write down the transcription of the record together.

5. After reading the transcription written by the students, the teacher can determine which language structures that should be learnt more thoroughly.

6. By using the sentences made by the students, the teacher can give the instruction to change a form of sentence into another form of sentence, for example from statements into questions. The teacher can also give other language exercises, for example making sentences or utterances to invite special responds from the students.

There are also several complete stages of development shown by Charles A Curran which are in accordance with the stages mentioned before (Tarigan, 1989:239-241). Those complete stages are as follows:

1. The first stage. This is the stage where the clients still depend on the counselor almost entirely.

a. The client expresses what he wants to say only to the counselor in the native language. Every member of the group listens to what he says but they are not involved in it.

b. The counselor reflects the client’s ideas back to him in the target language, in a simple way by using phrases that consist of five or six words.

c. The clients expresses his ideas in the target language and he will get the assistance from the counselor when he makes a mistake or does not feel sure about a word or a phrase. This is also called as the client’s maximum security stage.

2. The second stage.

a. The client expresses what he wants to say only to the counselor in the native language. Every member of the group listens to what he says but they are not involved in it.

b. The counselor walks around the group and begins to speak directly to the group in the target language.

c. The counselor only give assistance to the client when he does not feel sure about a word or a phrase. It is a sign of trust and positive expectation.


3. The third stage.

a. The client speaks directly to the group in the target language. This is a sign that the group has acquired the ability to comprehend simple phrases.

b. The counselor only give assistance to the client when he does not feel sure about a word or a phrase. It is a sign of bigger trust, independence and the view of the clients towards the relationships among phrases, structures and ideas. Translation is given only when a member of the group needs it.

4. The fourth stage.

a. The client now speaks more freely by using more complicated structures and expressions in the target language. It is a sign that the group can understand what he says.

b. The counselor interferes directly especially in correcting complicated expressions to make sure that the clients get satisfying improvement.

5. The fifth stages.

a. The client now speaks more freely by using more complicated structures and expressions in the target language. It is a sign that the group can really comprehend what he says.

b. The counselor interferes not only to correct the client’s mistakes but also to give idioms and more beautiful construction.

c. In this stage, the clients may become the counselor for groups that are still in early stages of the first, second and the third.

According to Stevick (1976:126) as quoted by Pateda (1991:104-105), there are two main phases in applying the method of Community Language Learning. The two main phases are the investment phase and the reflection phase. The description can be seen in the following:

1. The investment phase. This phase refers to the effort of involving the clients with the social interaction with others, for example the need to talk to someone else in a certain community. It consists of five stages as shown below:

a. Stage 1. The client utters short sentences in his native language. The counselor stands behind him, and translates the client’s utterances to target language. When the clien makes a mistake, the counselor corrects him.

b. Stage 2. The client begins to utter the previous utterances that were used in his native language by using the target language.

c. Stage 3. The client directly utters new sentences or utterances in the target language. He only uses his native language when other clients need him to. In this stage, making mistake is something that is inevitable.

d. Stage 4. The client utters his utterances or sentences in the target language and he feels free from anxiety.

e. Stage 5. The clients are capable of using words and sentences in the target langauge, the counselor gives additional vocabulary and guides them in using the basic structure.

2. The reflection phase. This phase refers to the effort of doing some introspection to see whether the clients have acquired and mastered the material and problems in the language learning. It consists of three steps as shown beow:

a. Step 1. The client expresses his experience in his own words. The counselor listens to what he says and he can say if he agrees or not to what the client says.

b. Step 2. The client’s utterances are played back with no pause.

c. Step 3. The client’s utterances are played back sentence by sentence. It is also possible for those utterances to be written down on the whiteboard and the clients copy them. Then every clients translates the sentences in the target language.


C. Strengths and Weaknesses

Just like any other methods in language teaching the Community Language Learning method also has some strengths and weaknesses. Those strength and weaknesses are summarized as follows:

1. Strengths of Community Language Learning

1. Since this method is a student-oriented method it can help students become independent in doing their activities in the classroom.

2. Having a strong cooperation with other students in learning a target language can help create a healthy atmosphere, reduce the low self-esteem of the slow learners and increase the self-confident.

3. The students learn to communicate and use the cognitive knowledge from the very beginning in order to practice the rules of the target language before they formulate their individual sentences or utterances.

4. This method offers certain insights to teachers by reminding them to lower the learners’ anxiety, to create as much supportive group as possible in the classroom, to allow students to initiate language, and to show learners the autonomous learning as a preparation to face the day when the teacher is no longer around to guide them.

5. Eventhough this method allows students to move according to their own speed, the fast learners may push and help the slow ones.

6. This method allows students to identify themselves to language they are learning.

7. This method allows students to have the freedom and inisiative as much as they want that makes this method as a unique and fascinating learning experience.


2. Weaknesses of Community Language Learning

1. In the beginning when the teacher uses a tape recorder as an audio instrument and the students build their own sentences and utterances, the process can only go well if the students have a certain knowledg about the structure and vocabulary of the target language. If the teacher keeps on giving the translation of the students’ sentences, the presentation in the classroom tend to be “translation presentation”.

2. The presentation of this method in the classroom is process-based and not content-based which makes it difficult to build the outline of this method.

3. The possible fixed material to be used in all classrooms may be the instructions given about the structure of the target language.

4. The recording process can create difficulties to those who are not familiar to the it and may waste valuable time in doing it.

5. The new role of the teacher may cause a certain feeling of frustation to those who do not get the teacher-student relationship that they expected before.

6. The evaluation test to see the progress that students have may be more complicated to be done than in ordinary classroom that does not use this method.

7. The success of this method depends largely on the translation expertise of the counselor. The counselor must not make any mistakes in doing the translation because if certain aspects of language are mistranslated there could be a less effective understanding of the target language.

3. Conclusion

Community Language Learning is a method which is basically concerning with the internal aspects of the learners of a new language. In this method, in understanding what the learners need in the classroom, the teacher must have a high sensitivity to be able to identify the time when the clients need help in communicating their ideas and the time when they need to do it on their own. Since the teacher has a role as a translator to guide the learners on the early stages of this method, the teacher must have a good command of the target language so that he can make necessary correction to the mistakes that the clients do.

For those who are interested to apply this interesting method in their classrooms here in our country, it may be a little difficult since this method not only takes more time and energy but it also depends on the diversity of the culture and language as well as the clients themselves. Inspite of that, the role-play in the classroom offered by this method still can be applied in our country, the teacher may take the part as a counselor and the students as the clients. As long as the teacher is less active than the learners the use of this method will give a great advantage and a brand new wonderful learning experience to both the learners and the teacher.



REFERENCES

Brown, H. Douglas. 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching, New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Hamied, Fuad Abdul. 1987. Proses Belajar Mengajar Bahasa, Jakarta: Proyek Pengembangan lembaga Pendidikan Tenaga Kependidikan.

Pateda, Mansoer. 1991. Linguistik Terapan, Flores: Nusa Indah.

Subiyakto-N, Sri Utari. 1988. Metodologi Pengajaran Bahasa, Jakarta: Proyek Pengembangan lembaga Pendidikan Tenaga Kependidikan.

Tarigan, Henry Guntur. 1989. Metodologi Pengajaran Bahasa, Jakarta: Proyek Pengembangan lembaga Pendidikan Tenaga Kependidikan.

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