(KODE : PENDBING-0053) : SKRIPSI IMPROVING STUDENTS READING SKILL THROUGH INTERACTIVE APPROACH
A. Background of Study
Reading is a crucial skill for students both English as a Second Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). By reading activities, in the writer's view, the students can get information that is needed and they can broaden their horizons. Moreover, ESL/EFL readers will make greater progress and attain greater development in all academic areas. Besides, indirectly they can communicate and interact with the people who have a different language, social and cultural background.
According to Anderson (1999 : 1), reading is an active, fluent process that involves the reader and the reading material in constructing the meaning. Furthermore, he notes that meaning does not reside on the printed page, nor is it only in the head of the reader. It means that reading can be constructed by combining the words on the printed page with the reader's background knowledge and experiences. Consequently, the teaching of reading should involve activities which connect the ideas on the text to what students already know.
In relation to the objective of teaching of English at senior high schools, the National Curriculum Board of Education (BSNP, 2006) targets the students at the information level. At this level, the students are supposed to understand various genres of English written texts, i.e. procedure, descriptive, recount, narrative, report, news item, analytical exposition, spoof, explanation, discussion, review and public speaking to access knowledge. It means that the teaching of reading will not be successful if the students can only read words without understanding the message being read. In other words, whatever we read should be well understood. Smith and Robinson (1980) argue that comprehension means understanding. This means that reading comprehension is a process of thought where the readers understand the writer's ideas and interpret them into his or her own needs.
In achieving the objective above, English teachers sometimes have many problems on how to improve the students' ability in reading. Based on the researcher's experiences and informal observation, it is found that most students at senior high school level frequently find it hard to understand English texts though the text is simple. It is difficult for them to find the word and sentence meaning contextually, get the main ideas, paragraph, comprehend the ideas' text and find the view of writer.
The difficulty may be due to the students' linguistic deficiencies. The students often lack of vocabulary or they may know a word but with a different meaning. Moreover, the students may be unfamiliar with grammatical structures. These deficiencies may lead students to inaccurate reading, which result in erroneous interpretation (Tamar Feuerstein and Miriam Schcolnik, 1995). In addition, they frequently, in reading English text rely on their language competency more-or bottom- up reading text-and less activate their background knowledge (top-down reading text).
Another difficulty may also be due to insufficient teaching of the skill in a structured way (Yuil & Oakhill, 1991 in Aarnoutse, 1999). Based on the researcher's observation, in many schools, reading instruction seems not to focus on the content of passage. They traditionally teach reading by answering questions based on the text and finding out unfamiliar words in dictionary. The main activities are mostly dominated by reading aloud, translating the texts and answering text-based questions presented in the text book used in teaching. They do not activate the students' background knowledge before reading activities. Consequently, this overemphasis act on decoding sometimes produces students who can decode and pronounce words but fail to comprehend what they read. They even get bored involving in reading instructions.
To overcome the above difficultness and to develop the students' reading skill, interactive approach becomes an alternative solution to be used in teaching. This approach is considered as more comprehensive one since it emphasizes not only on how students decode the text but also how they interpret the text as Eskey (1988) states that good readers are both good decoders and good interpreters of text.
With respect to interactive approach, there are two approaches of reading that become the basic principle of interactive approach. The first one is bottom up processing. This theory emphasizes on developing basic skill, matching sounds to the letters, syllables and words in the text, and the second one is top down processing. It stresses on the reader's background knowledge to comprehend the text. Bottom up approach is associated with teaching methodology called phonics and top down is related to the schema theory. Both of approaches have strength and weakness. Bottom up is more appropriate used to the students in the basic level while top down to the higher level. The third is interactive approach. This approach combines both bottoms up and top down (Elba in Max Koller, (Ed.), and 2006 : 8).
According to Stanovich (1980 in Carell, et.all 1990 : 31) interactive model of reading appear to provide a more accurate conceptualization of reading performance than strictly top down or bottom-up models. From this view, it can be stated that interactive can be best applied in teaching reading both for lower and higher level.
A recent research, conducted by Liu, et.al. (2007), on teaching reading has shown that an interactive model is effective in improving students' reading comprehension due to the importance of both processes. In practice, a reader continually changes from one focus to another. It means that besides a reader needs a top-down to predict meaning, he requires bottom up approach to check whether that is really what the writer said (Nutall, cited in Brown, 2001 : 299).
As an interactive links to bottom up, Eskey (1988) asserts that structure of the language of the text contributes much more to the readers' reconstruction of meaning than strictly top down theorists. Similar to Eskey view, Carell (1988) states that both processes interacting are efficient and effective reading in spite of the fact that top down processing is strongly linked to the teaching of reading.
To examine the effectiveness of interactive approach in teaching reading comprehension, this study involved grammar translation method as applied in control group. This method used in this study as comparison to interactive approach because it has been commonly used in teaching reading at MA X. In teaching reading comprehension, this method emphasizes on translating text from target language to native language. It also focuses on answering comprehension question.
Referring to the phenomena above, this research attempts to investigate the application of interactive approach proposed by Eskey (1988) as one of many reading strategies. This study intends to help students improve their reading skill by practicing both bottom-up and top-down model reading activities. In bottom-up model students are trained to develop their vocabulary and knowledge of structure. In top-down model, students are trained to activate their background knowledge before reading to predict the text.
B. Statement of the Problem
Reading comprehension is a complex task and a difficult skill for many students. As a result, students' achievement in reading comprehension is still far from being expected. Consequently, teachers need to teach comprehension strategies in order to improve students' comprehension. This phenomenon has become the researcher's starting point in conducting his study. Thus, this study attempts to investigate the effects of the application of interactive approach to develop students' comprehension in reading compared to grammar translation method.
C. Research Questions
Based on the background of study, the research problem can be formulated as follows :
- Is there a significant difference between students who are trained on applying interactive approach with those are trained with grammar translation one ?
There is no a significant difference between students who are trained on applying interactive approach with those are trained with grammar translation method.
E. The Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to investigate the effects of the application of interactive approach in teaching reading comprehension. The study specifically attempts to find out whether the interactive approach can be used to develop students' ability in reading comprehension.