Posts Tagged ‘English’



Universitas Diponegoro



Color does not only correspond to light-spectrum-based visual identification of a concrete entity, but it may also symbolize abstract values conceived in a socio-cultural community. Some values are shared, but some others are distinctive. Even in one community, the meaning of a color might be multi-interpretable. For instance, the color of RED is understood as a ‘stop’ command when it comes on traffic light. However, in the compounds such as ‘red specialist’, ‘red herring’, or ‘red army’, we cannot take for granted that the <red> also means ‘stop’. Both linguistic and meta-linguistic awareness are required to define what RED means. This paper seeks to describe the literal and non-literal meaning of RED in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), by focusing on laws and politic section. By using Keyword(s) in Context (KWIC) method, I have managed to retrieve 328 concordance lines where RED collocates with other token(s). I extracted the lines, including the extended context, for in depth interpretation. Both literal and non-literal meanings of the collocations are categorized into different classes, and the investigation indicates that in laws and politic science text, RED is a color that is often used to address negative polarities such as fallacy and ethnic discrimination.


Keywords: Colors, red, negative polarity, corpus, meaning, keywords in context


How many colors do you know? The answer to this question might vary depending on two variables: physics and language. What we commonly understand is that there are 12 colors. However, a recent study in physics (Kinoshita et al, 2008) has showed color is so complex that 12 is merely a simplified figure. On the other hand, some studies in linguistics have shown that there are languages, where the users do not distinguish some colors that are distinctive in another language (let’s say English). Consider Navajo language (Stea et al, 1972), where only one word is addressed to blue and green. Consider also Shona language that does not distinguish red and orange (De Bortoli & Maroto, 2001). Then how they distinguish the two colors? They technically do not. But when necessary, one of the strategies is using the color they know as an attributive to a noun, such as; ‘blue sky’, ‘blue like the sea water’, ‘green leaf’, ‘green like grasses’ and etc.

Besides number of colors, serious attention has been given to the topic of color interpretation. Colors can be understood literally, or non-literally (metaphorically). The literal interpretation of RED[1] is as color itself (as described in physics studies as a particular composition of light spectrum that our eyes perceive). While to understand the literal meaning of RED requires mere visual and linguistic awareness, to understand the non-literal meaning of RED involves meta-linguistic awareness as well.

The focus of this paper is to retrieve expressions involving the lemma RED. It also seeks to describe and to categorize the meanings of red, both literally and metaphorically. By the end of this research, I will also determine the polarities of RED. The data for conducting this research is obtained from the social and politic section in the Corpus of Contemporary American English. The next section of this paper deals with related studies the importance of contexts in determining the meaning and polarity of a word. By the end of the next section, I will show the review of these studies and show how my paper can contribute more to the subject of discussion.


Context, Meaning, and Polarity

When human is exposed to speech or text,the information is processed gradually up to the point of comprehension (Fernandez & Cairns, 2011).[2] Comprehension means that human successfully decodes the information. To achieve this, linguistic, meta-linguistic awareness (or both of them) are required to do the decoding process completely. Compare example (1) and (2), and focus on the underlines:


(1)   The supreme leader finally decided to resign

(2)   Saddam can no longer fight the resistance. The supreme leader finally decided to resign


Article <the> in (1) indicates that the compound is definite. However, this information is not sufficient to decode to whom does <the> concern or who the supreme leader is. Compare to example (2) where the anaphoric referent is present. At this point, it is not difficult to understand the referent of <the>. However, you may recover the referent of <the> in (1) if the same knowledge is shared to other participants in the speech event. The knowledge is called meta-linguistic awareness[3].

In some cases, meta-linguistic awareness takes primary role in taking deduction. One of the examples is in the ambiguity resolution. In the ambiguous sentence, ‘I saw the man with the microscope’, if you know what ‘microscope’ is, you will not deduce this sentence as a tool to see a person. Instead, you will deduce this sentence as there is a man with microscope that you saw. This may happen only when your understanding of microscope is the same as mine. So, what <black> color means to you? Our conception may be different. Black is often be interpreted as the color of death. However, in some areas in Indonesia, yellow is the color of the flag that you hoist when someone in your family passes away.

If participants in a speech event do not share the same concept, then the recognition of the referent is most likely to fail. This often happens in translation error.


(3)   I am feeling blue today

Hari ini saya sedang sedih (sad)

Hari ini saya sedang biru*(literally blue)


In English, the color BLUE has negative polarity (sad). Preserving the color in Indonesian translation makes the sentence semantically not compositional (although it is grammatically correct). A color survey in USA[4] has indicated that people interpret colors to positive, negative polarity or neutral. Aerim et al (2010) built a machine readable dictionary to assign polarities to digital Korean text for sentiment analysis. They believed that there are some lemmas that fall to ‘flexible’ categories. Their argument is that the polarity may shift to [+] or [-] following the companion words. As an example, the polarity of BIG in ‘mobile phone’s big screen’ is [+], while in ‘big problem’ the polarity is [-].


A recent study from (Yassine & Jeesun, 2014) revealed that even for a lemma that is inherently [+] or [-], the companion word may change the polarity as in ‘very perfect’ where the value is [+] and ‘too perfect’ where the value is [-]. This follows Firth (1957) tradition, as also shared by corpus linguists. Compare ‘a white wizard’ and ‘a white sheep’. In ‘a white wizard’, you are most likely to deduce ‘white’ as good (as opposed to evil). However, this reasoning for this is because of it is the noun it specifies <wizard>. In ‘white sheep’, you will resort to its literal meaning that there is a sheep and the color is white (the inherent color of a sheep is white). If that so, what about ‘black sheep’? It is uncommon for a sheep to be black. In this case, you are most likely to resort to individual difference in a common group, such as a member of family who behaves differently from others. But consider this sentence, ‘The biological experiment successfully modified sheep’s DNA to give birth to black sheep’. In this case, you will most likely resort to a sheep that is actually black.


In literary texts, we may find many referents that are expressed metaphorically. Literary text is often contrasted to academic text. On one side, academic language is known to be straightforward. On the other side, its readers are segmented (not all people can understand the word choice). Therefore, only people with shared meta-linguistic awareness may understand the meanings. Unlike the previous works, my paper seeks to describe both the linguistic composition and the referents of expressions involving RED in COCA, which is claimed to be the most balanced and representative corpus of American English (Davies, 2008).



Research Corpus and Automatic Retrieval

Research Data

The data in this paper is obtained from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (Davies, 2008). A Corpus itself is a collection of texts that is organized in a way that enables users to retrieve information based on queries (Mc Enery & Hardie, 2012). This might resemble the performance of search engines when you browse internet. However, syntax queries for a corpus are linguistically formulated and works beyond character similarity match.

The difference between using a search engine and a corpus interface might be described as follow. When queries are sent to internet, for instance STRIKE, it retrieves all documents where the character match is near or exactly 100%. It does not distinguish STRIKE as a verb or noun, a named entity, an acronym etc. But when you use corpus interface, you can also retrieve linguistic information annotated in the text. For instance, you can browse different word forms of lemma STRIKE such as, strike, strikes, stroke, striker etc. Some more advanced queries on annotated corpus allow you to retrieve semantic information such as features, polarities, and word relation (synonym, antonym, hypernym etc).

Data Collection

COCA is composed of texts from different types and this corpus covers a wide range of sections that is written (or transcribed) in American English. Registered users may access the website on I retrieved lemma RED in the corpus and selected one word form of the highest frequency hits. As for this research, I focused the retrieval on social and politic section of newspaper texts. Because there are different text types (spoken data transcript, fiction, academic, newspaper, magazine etc), the retrieval was controlled to focus to Academic section: law and politic texts.


The result of the retrieval was displayed on concordance lines. Each concordance lines were analyzed to decode the meaning of RED. Each word form of RED that conceives associative meanings was assigned to different category as opposed to literal meaning. The lists of possible non-literal meanings that are similar were categorized to specific classification. I finally assigned polarity based on this categorization to conclude this research.



Literal and Metaphorical Meanings of RED


The retrieval for lemma RED has managed to discover seven results. In figure 1, result number seven (R.E.D) is not shown, as it is not the word form of lemma RED. This seems to be an acronym and, COCA misretrieved it. Among the six results, <red> is the highest frequency word. Therefore, the research was focused on this word form.




Figure 1. <red> as the high frequency word form


COCA is composed of five grand section/ text types: spoken, fiction, magazine, newspaper and academic. As I have commented previously, this research is focused on academic section (7160). See figure 2:


Figure 2. Academic Section


Frequency hits in academic section shows 7160 hits. However, the academic section is divided into several sub sections. My focus in this paper is on law and politic, so I went deeper to the law and politic section as shown by figure 3:


Figure 3. Law and Politics


As I have mentioned previously, the result of KWIC based query is presented in the form of concordance lines. Figure 4 presents us with some of the concordance lines (total 328 lines). Each concordance line conceives year of publication, section, source, and target keyword <red> with left and right context. The sample for this research was 25%, which means it focused on 82 lines. The sampling was conducted randomly.





Figure 4. Concordance Lines


The context for each concordance is left and right context. However, this context can be expanded up to the textual level. As you may see on figure 5, significant improvements are seen on both the source and the text information. The source displays date, publication information, title, author and the source itself. It also expanded the coverage from just left-right context to the level of body text.


Figure 5. Extended Context




There are some examples when <red> refers to its literal meaning. Consider some entities like <red sea>, <red brick>, <red meat>. The nouns in the examples are attributed with <red> as they are literally and visually red. Red sea is the sea that might change color to red because it is densely populated with red algae. The same reasoning might apply to red brick and red meat (raw meat). Now consider <red cross> and <red crescent> in example (4):





(4)   The existence of an apparatus capable of mounting the required responses is

a function of the growth of the world relief system, in large measure represented

by the UN system, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and major non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam


What is interesting about the examples is the red itself might be interpreted both literally and non-literally. It is true that the symbols of these institutions are colored red[5]. Then why we do not resort to a cross sign that is red and a crescent (in the sky) that is red? The presence of the companion words like <world relief system> and <required responses> has triggered our meta-linguistic awareness to suggest that these two institutions are responsible for rescue missions, and prevent us to resort to false assumption.


Ethnic Discrimination


Black and white are two colors that are fully contrast. These colors are often used to address two different polarities, like good and evil, positive and negative, rich and poor etc. Ethnicity was once a sensitive issue In America, as well as in South Africa. Even in South Africa, ethnic segregation was authorized by Apartheid system (Downing, 2004). Now I will give you an example of how color in USA discriminates[6] ethnicities. See example (5):


(5)   Growing numbers of interracial pairings, along with the new terminology,

are causing real problems for bureaucrats who insist on categorizing all

Americans as colors — red, yellow, black, or white


That color is the representation of Ethnicity in USA is also acknowledged by (Yanow, 2003). In her book, Constructing Race and Ethnicity in USA, she further described the referent of those colors: red for American (Indian), Yellow for (Asian), black for African, and white for Caucasian. However, she also admitted that in the recent days the segregation gap has become small and smaller. Few years later after her publication, USA has it first African-American President, Barrack Obama.




In COCA, some expressions involving <red> are related to socialism and communism. Although the world war has ended long time ago, this stigma does not end and still last up to now. Consider example (6):


(6)   The project was resuscitated in the 1970s by its staunchest advocates –

the so-called ” red specialists ” who were trained in the Soviet Union as

engineers and scientists and are China’s greatest proponents of ” grandiose ”

engineering and energy projects


The association of <red> to communism and socialism is much related to the two polarities (in the past) between USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) and USA. It is also associated to Republic of China where the governance is run by communist party. And in fact, the color of the flag of republic of China is also red. An elite soviet army was even named <red army> as shown by example (7):


(7)   Georgii Zhukov, later the famous Marshal Zhukov, one of the most

successful Soviet commandants of the victorious Red Army in World War II,

was the commander he selected for his anticipated thrust to the west


In (6) and (7), <red> is marked by quotation, and upper case respectively. In (7), the initial font is uppercased as it is a proper noun. In (6), it is given a quotation as the writer wants us to 1) focus and 2) resort to metaphorical meaning that red is not only color, but it also signifies socialist-communist ideology.




Red can also be associated to fallacy, as in the compound <red herring>. Herring is a kind of fish; and there is an actual herring, in which the color is red. A question may rise why herring is used, or why fish is involved in such negative referent. You surely remember the expression such as ‘there is something fishy (suspicious)’. But now, let us focus on <red herring>:


(8)   I have come to regard economic espionage as something of a red herring in this debate — something that, although wanted by neither the government nor business, provides a distraction from the more compelling practical questions at hand.


The compound <red herring> in example (8) indicates a kind of fallacy, where you propose an idea that mislead or not relevant to the subject of talk. We can understand from the word choice <debate>, that there are at least two parties involved in the speech event. The term <distraction> that is used by the speaker clearly suggested that the topic (economic espionage) that the opposing party is trying to propose is not relevant to his proposition.




Red means stop. This is an almost universal color meaning and used in some idiomatic expressions in law and politic science text in COCA. In (9), Ehud Barack clearly said <would not cross>. The extended context implied that Israel would cease (stop) attacking Gaza.


(9)   In July 2000, prior to his departure for the Camp David summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak stipulated to his Cabinet the four ” red lines ” he would not cross during negotiations with the Palestinians.


(10)  If so, let us work on it and add to it Canadian football. Is it defining the acceptable methods of protection of culture, something like what was done in the WTO on subsidies, red light, green light?


(11)  The ABA played a key role, for instance, in efforts by a number of bars to block the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to regulate lawyers as ” creditors ” under the so-called red flags rule developed by the FTC to help detect identity theft


What Ehud Barak wanted to signify here (9) is four details in a rule that he will not cross during the negotiation. In (10), it makes use the ‘traffic light’ association which I believe is quite universal where red means ‘no’ or ‘stop’ and green means ‘yes’ or ‘proceed’. In (11), ‘red flags’ are used to mark an unfortunate event, in this case, theft.




I also discover some expressions that <red> is often associated to a discomfort. In (12), <red ink> refers to an undesirable situation. The subsequent clause ‘limited prospects for survival’ confirms this.


(12)  We were drenched in red ink and faced with limited prospects for survival.


The situation that <red> signifies in (12) has caused a discomfort. It must be understood negatively, as the impact is limited prospect for survival. The word red is sometimes associated with something bad, or discomfort such as in red zone (dangerous). There is an expression in Indonesian where you get bad grade, which is nilai merah red mark, where in the past, teachers wrote bad grade with red ink.


Emotional Stress


The term ‘red face’ is a common expression shared across cultures to express that one is under a circumstance of certain emotional stress. One that might make it universal is the face is literally red; which is cause by the increase of stress related hormones on face skin pigment. The stress may involve anxiety, embarrassment, anger, romantic situation or etc.


(13)  A bit of upfront planning can avoid a lot of red faces later when a cloud provider’s doors are locked and the remote servers storing your data start popping up for sale on eBay


In (13), the red faces are to be avoided as people get stressed when they are dealing with computer problems, in this case, providers and servers.


The expression ‘red tape’ is used to show multi-layered regulations that people have to go through before doing something, that is considered unnecessary. One however, must go through this, otherwise will not achieve his/her goal. This is usually related to bureaucracy.


(14)  They are also increasingly willing to travel, live and work abroad, in part out of frustration with the corruption and red tape that continue to stymie entrepreneurial ambitions inside Russia


In (13), ‘red tape’ is the subject defined in the relative clause construction as something that stymie or stop you to do something, in this case, entrepreneurship in Russia.


So far we have discussed the multi facets meanings of <red> in politics and laws section in the academic COCA. We know understand that meanings might change with regard to the collocates. There are some expressions where <red> literally means a color. However, when they appear in uncommon combination, such as ‘red tape’, ‘red herring’, ‘red army’ the meaning might change.

Besides the collocation, what is more important is readers knowledge. What makes people can understand this, is the shared background with the text or the text writer. The term ‘red tape’ can possibly be understood as a tape that is red in color if the reader does not have the background knowledge required. The term ‘red herring’ can literally be associated to a herring (fish) that is red.

People however are aware of sentence context and investigate this context first when they are unsure of the meaning. When the meaning they project seems to be odd, the will not resort to literal meaning (though not to the correct metaphorical meaning yet). As for this, they can consult existing resources to confirm the meaning.



Figure 1. The Meaning of <red> in Politics and Laws Section in Academic COCA


Figure 1 shows the multi-facets meanings of <red> in COCA. Here, we can understand that meaning is always negotiated not only by linguistic factors, but also by speaker-readers relation in terms of their knowledge.




Lemma RED might be used to attribute both abstract and concrete entity. The sample analysis has shown that the polarity of <red> to these entities may be flexible. This follows the finding from Aerim, et al (2010). The color <red> might literally denote a color as in <red sea>. However, the investigation has shown that the dominating discoveries about the polarity of <red> in COCA are negative. The color <red> is often associated to racial discrimination and fallacy.

The number of shift to positive polarity is present but in insignificant quantity, such as ‘rescue’ in <red cross> and <red crescent>. The determination of polarity may vary from person to person. For instance, socialism-communism is not always considered negative, and democracy is not always considered positive. However, the most challenging part of this that there are some compounds that may fall to both literal and metaphorical meaning as they are visually red. To sum up, this paper has shown that the process of understanding the meaning of lemma RED in Social and Politic Science section in COCA strongly requires both linguistic and meta-linguistic awareness. This paper also suggests that other colors are also investigated for further research to widen the coverage of this research topic.



Aerim, A., Laporte, E., & Jeesun, N. (2010). Semantic Polarity of Adjectival Predicates in Online Reviews. Seoul International Conference in Linguistics (pp. 20-27). Seoul: Korea Linguistic Society.

Davies, M. (2008). American Corpus. Retrieved August 9, 2014, from The corpus of contemporary American English (COCA):

De Bortoli, M., & Maroto, J. (2001). Translating colours in web site localisation. Proceedings of the European Languages and the Implementation of Communication and Information Technologies (Elicit) conference (pp. 41-77). Paisley: University of Paisley.

Downing, D. (2004). Apartheid in South Africa. German: Heinnemen Library.

Fernandez, E.-M., & Cairns, H.-S. (2011). Fundamentals in Psycholinguistics. UK: Blackwell.

Firth, J. (1957). Papers in linguistics 1934–1951. London: Oxford University Press.

Kinoshita, S., Yoshioka, S., & Miyazaki, J. (2008). Physics of structural colors. Reports on Progress in Physics 71(7) , 076401.

Mc Enery, T., & Hardie, A. (2012). Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richard, J. C., Hull, J., & Proctor, S. (2005). Interchange 3rd Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stea, D., Carson, D.-H., & Wisner, B. (1972). Navajo Color Categories And Color Discrimination-Experiment In Relation Between Language And Perception. Anthropology UCLA, 4(2), 27-38. Anthropology UCLA, 4(2) , 27-38.

Yanow, D. (2003). Constructing Race and Ethnicity in USA. New York: ME Sharpre Inc.

Yassine, F., & Jeesun, N. (2014). Study on the Sentiment Polarity Types of Collocations for too and very. Journal of Philology (1) , 23-32.


[1] In this paper, uppercased words like RED indicate a lemma, or the basic form that is present in the dictionary. When the words are surrounded by angle brackets <> they are the word forms, or the orthographic forms.

[2] This process is reversed when producing output


[4] See Richard, et al (2005)

[5] This part is quite tricky. For example,<red face> is often addressed to anger. At this point, the meaning seems non-literal. However, the face of someone who is angry may also be red; therefore, literal deduction is not entirely wrong.


[6] The word <discriminate> does not always relate to social discrimination, but it also means ‘to differentiate’ as ‘the respondents successfully discriminated [f] and [v] after several attempts’.

Using Mind Mapping and Five Reviewing Patterns to Improve Senior High School Students’ Vocabulary Mastery

by Dian Fadhilawati

Islamic University of Balitar, Blitar, East Java, Indonesia


This reported research was a collaborative action research to improve the vocabulary achievement of high school students using mind mapping and five reviewing patterns proposed by Buzan (2009). The subjects were 35 students of X-B class of MAN Kota Blitar, East Java, Indonesia, in 2011/2012 academic years. The data of the research included qualitative data (observation result and field note) and quantitative data (test result). This research was conducted in one cycle which included 2 meetings. The first meeting was done at Tuesday, 7 February 2012. It was for teaching vocabulary about newspaper and publishing using mind mapping and review 1. The second meeting was done at Wednesday, 8 February 2012. It was for teaching vocabulary about radio and television as well as for the review 2 at the beginning of the meeting. At the end of the meeting, the teacher gave take home tasks for review 2 of meeting 2. Further, the third review (1 week after the first learning) was given at Wednesday, 15 February 2012. It was intended for reviewing both the materials in meeting 1 and 2. The forth review was a take home reviewing tasks given 1 month after the first learning and the fifth review was a take home review assigned 3 months after the first learning. After all of the five reviews, a vocabulary test was administered. The finding showed that the implementation of mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns could improve the students’ vocabulary achievement, from the mean score of 55.66 to 80.57. The students also gave positive responses toward the strategies applied as reflected from the result of the questionnaire given.


Key words: mind-mapping, reviewing, vocabulary achievement

Based on the researcher’ preliminary observation at the first of February 2012, it was found the following weaknesses. First, teachers lacked of media in teaching and learning process (the teacher only used an exercise book called “LKS Aspirasi”). He did not use the language laboratory, chart, mind mapping, game, song pictures, or other media/facilities. Second, the students were lazy and unmotivated. Third, the students were passive in the classroom. Fourth, in teaching vocabulary the teacher only wrote down the vocabulary list on the white board and asked the students to find the meaning of the word in Indonesian. Therefore, the researcher assumed that instruction absolutely must be changed by the teacher by using appropriate method in order the students take apart to the lesson and got better achievement at the end of teaching learning process.

In addition, based on the result of the vocabulary test which administered to the students before the action, it could be said that the students’ English ability of X-B class was low, especially in understanding the meaning of words in context. The students’ mean score for the vocabulary test was 55.66, that was below the minimum school standard criterion of English mastery that required them at least have mean score 70.00.

Actually, there are a lot of interactive media or strategies to encourage students to take apart in the lesson especially in vocabulary teaching and learning. Since vocabulary teaching and learning aimed at enabling learners to understand the concepts of unfamiliar words, to gain a greater number of words, and to use words successfully for communicative purpose, it is necessary for the teacher to select and apply appropriate strategies in teaching vocabulary for the students which could improve their motivation to take apart in the lesson.

Mind mapping and five reviewing patterns proposed by Buzan (2009) can be applied by the teacher in teaching vocabulary. There are some reasons why the teacher may use mind mapping in teaching vocabulary, for example: (1) mind mapping is very appropriate and flexible to be applied for different levels of age, theme, subject, and situation either for whole class, group or individual, (2) mind mapping is a very good tool for creative thinking and problem solving, (3) in foreign language teaching and learning, mind mapping can improve memory recall of facts, words or images, (4) mind mapping is creative note taking method, which eases us to remember much information, and (5) mind mapping is colorful, uses pictures or symbols which leads the students’ interest to the subject (Deporter, Readon, and Nourie, 1997: 175). From the statement above, it can be concluded that mind mapping is potentially a good way to teach vocabulary to the students in senior high school.

In line with the previous statements, Buzan (1993:1) adds that mind mapping is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of brain. It imitates the thinking process, recording information through symbol, pictures, emotional meaning and colors, exactly the same like our brain process it. It means that mind mapping is very useful media for creating attractive, and enjoyable learning that lead the successfulness of the students in learning English vocabulary

In addition Buzan (2009: 39) also states that by using a mind mapping we can see what we are going to do and what we have done. It means, mind mapping may be used by the teacher or the students for planning the lesson, summarizing the lesson or recall to the lesson that the students have learnt. Moreover, Buzan (2009) also argues that mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns will lead the students to achieve good scores in their examination test.

Talking about the success of the students’ in gaining good vocabulary achievement, it is crucial for the teacher to think deeply about how to implant vocabulary in the students’ mind for long term memory. In this case, the teacher may apply reviewing to facilitate the students with better memory to what they have learnt. It could be done at school or at home by giving tasks as a mean for reviewing the lesson that the students have learnt.

Usually many students are confused in deciding when they should start to review their school lessons, and most of them tend to postpone the reviews. As a result, in the time of final test, they often panic and study for their test immediately at the night before the examination with less sleep. As a result, at the examination day they lost concentration, were sleepy and, therefore, they failed or got poor scores. Actually, the best way to review lessons is step by step, little by little, day by day, and gradually until it becomes a habit in life (Buzan, 2009:38).

Furthermore, a good reviewing model was proposed by Buzan (2009) which is called 5 reviewing patterns. Buzan (2009:125) states that if students review the lesson 5 times such as: (1) 1 hour after the first learning, (2) 1 day after the first learning, (3) I week after the first learning, (4) 1 month after the first learning, and (5) 3 months up to 6 months after the first learning), they would have permanent memory of the lesson.

Therefore, the researcher and her collaborator assumed that the use of mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns proposed by Buzan (2009) could improve the students’ vocabulary achievement and facilitate the students’ memory of the words or phrases they have learnt.

The studies on the use of mind mapping in teaching English have been performed by some researchers such as: Indah (2010), Effendi (2004), and Helmasari (2008). In this case, Indah (2010) proved that mind mapping was an effective medium to teach vocabulary to the tenth grade students of SMU Negeri 15 Palembang. Besides that, Effendi (2004) also found that mind mapping was effective to increase the second year students’ reading comprehension at SLTPN 43 Palembang. Further, Helmasari (2008) reported that mind mapping was effective to teach paragraph writing to the eleventh year students of SMA Negeri 14 Palembang.



Research Objective

The objective of this research is to use mind mapping and five reviewing patterns to improve the tenth year students’ vocabulary achievement at MAN Kota Blitar.


Research Design

In this research, the researcher employed collaborative classroom action research through mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns to improve the students’ vocabulary achievement of X-B class of MAN Kota Blitar. In this case, the researcher’s collaborator was involved from the beginning up to the end of the research process. The action of teaching vocabulary through mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 times reviewing patterns is done by the researcher, and her collaborator acted as an observer of the teaching learning process. This idea is based on Calhoun’s principle (in Kasbollah, 2002:43) that argued “in collaborative action research, the researcher makes collaboration with the school teacher investigated as the researcher’s collaborator to do the research activities.”


Research Setting

The Research was conducted in MAN Kota Blitar starting from February to May 2012. The school is located at Jl. Jati 78 Sukorejo Blitar. This school was chosen because of some reasons such as: there are problems which need solution dealing English teaching learning process mainly on vocabulary achievement of X-B class which considered need to improve, and of course the permission from headmaster of MAN Kota Blitar.


Research Subjects

The research subjects of this research were the students of Class X-B of MAN Kota Blitar, consisting of 35 students (11 boys and 14 girls). The class was chosen as the subject because: (1) the class of X-B got the lowest achievement among the others class at the first semester (2) the students’ low vocabulary achievement (with the mean score of 55.66).


Research Procedure

The procedure of this Classroom Action Research was a modified version of Kemmis and Taggart (1997:27) model which covered some steps, namely preliminary study, planning of action, action, observing the action, and reflecting on the observation. This research was held from February to May 2012. The researchers conducted this study for one cycle that planning the action, implementing the action followed by 5 times reviewing, observation and evaluation, and analysis and reflection. This was only one cycle because the purpose has been achieved with only one cycle. Further, the description of the research procedures was presented on the following figure.


Figure1: The Procedures of Classroom Action Research (CAR)


Research Instruments

1. Test

Vocabulary test was given after the implementation of the action. It was used to know the students’ development. The test consisted of 50 words about newspaper and publishing as well as radio and television in which it distributed as follows: (1) questions numbers 1-15 were in the form of multiple choice, (2) questions number 16-30 were in the form matching test, (3) question number 31-40 were in the form guided completion and (5) question number 49-50 were in form of rearranging the scrambled words into good sentences. To make the test administered valid and reliable, in this research the researcher and her collaborator conducted validity test to another class of the tenth grade students at MAN Kota Blitar (X-C) class. Furthermore, the researcher used content validity, the evidence based on content of the test’s and its relationship to the construct it was intended to measure. In this case, the researcher looked for evidence that the test represented a balanced and adequate sampling of vocabulary mastery. Moreover, the content validity of the test was based on the basic competence in the tenth grade of Senior High School’s curriculum.

Before the post test was given to the respondent. It was tried out first to other group of students who had the same level with the respondent to know the test items were too difficult or too easy, whether the time is enough or not and the respondents understood the instruction or not. It was tried out on 2nd May 2012 at the class X-C of MAN Kota Blitar consisting 35 students. The following is the vocabulary test that was given to the students either in preliminary test or after the action test.


2. Observations Checklist

            Observation checklist was used to get the data about the students’ activities during the teaching learning process. In this case the researcher provided 2 observations checklist; the first to observe the teacher’ preparation, presentation, teaching method, personal characteristic, and teacher-students interaction in the classroom. The second observation checklist was intended as media in observing the students’ activities in the classroom.


3. Questionnaire

            A questionnaire was used to collect the data about the students’ reaction toward mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 times reviewing patterns in learning vocabulary. The Questionnaire contained 10 items with Likert scale options: Absolutely Agree (AA), Agree (A), Not Sure (NS), Not Agree (NA), and Absolutely Not Agree (ANA). It was adopted from Kristiana (2011).


4. Field note

            To get the rich data, this research also used field notes to write down the activities of teacher and students in the classroom which are not covered in observation checklist. Further, field notes composed of the descriptions of what was being heard, seen, experienced and thought in the classroom. The recorded data dealt with the phenomenon such as: time allotment, classroom atmosphere, tasks organization, and teacher’s feedback.


Criteria of Success

            The criterion of success in this research was designed on the basis of the school criterion: the students are considered good or successful in their vocabulary achievement if they achieve at least 70 of the optimal score competence level of 100. It means that the students’ mean score of the post-test should equal to or is higher than 70. Moreover, beside the students’ score in vocabulary achievement, the result of questionnaire was used to support the explanation of the criteria of success.


Kinds of Data and Data Sources


There were two kinds of data in this research, namely quantitative data and qualitative data. Quantitative data in the research refer to the data acquired from the test and questionnaire. Moreover qualitative data refer to the result from observation, questionnaire and field notes.


Techniques of Data Collection

The data were collected by (a) conducting an observation, (b) making field note, (c) administering test, (d) distributing questionnaire.


Data Analysis

The data analysis was used by researcher in this research followed some procedure such as: classifying the data, presenting the data and the last was concluding the data.


1. Data Classification

In this research, the data were classified into two categories, the first was quantitative data and the second was qualitative data. The quantitative data referred to the data which was taken from the students score as well as the questionnaire. However, the qualitative data were taken from the observation and check list as well as field note.


2. Data Display

The classified data from observation result and field note were described qualitatively using categories of achievement such as: very poor, poor, fair, good, and very good. Moreover, the data taken from the test was presented in tables, and the data from the questionnaire was calculated in percentage.

Furthermore, the use of quantitative data analysis was classified as follow:

1. The rule to decide the accomplishment degree and the mean score

  • Rule to find an individual degree of mastery



(Adopted from Petunjuk Guru Bahasa Inggris for the Senior high school).

  • Rule to find mean score


M       =      Mean score

SX      =      the total scores of the students’ vocabulary test

N        =      the numbers of students

(Adapted from Beast, 1981). 

2. The rule of calculating the percentage of students’ questionnaires responses





Concluding the Data

Data conclusion was done after the researcher evaluated and interpreted the data. It is important to conclude the data to know whether another cycle was necessary. In this research, researcher stopped the action at cycle 1 because the students had achieved mean score 88.57. That result was higher than the minimum mastery criterion stated in that school (70.00). Moreover, that result was supported by the results of observations which indicated the improvement of the teaching learning process from teacher and students’ part and the result of questionnaire dealing the implementation of teaching learning vocabulary using mind mapping.



Reflection is the most important part in Classroom Action Research, it is needed to evaluate whether another cycle to solve the problems is necessary or not. The number of cycles cannot be predicted in advance. A classroom action research may take only one cycle if after the first cycle, all the targeted criteria of success have been achieved. The researchers, in fact, have to do their best to plan their classroom action research as few cycles as possible.

If all of the problems in teaching vocabulary are solved, there is no need to conduct the second cycle. In reflection, the researchers consult the result of data analysis and compare it with the criteria of success. If the result of our first action fulfills the criteria of success, the action is stopped. If it does not fulfill the criteria of success, the researchers should continue to the second cycle by revising the lesson plan (Latief, 2010:87).

Furthermore, Mistar (2010:31) states that “reflection in a classroom action research is an effort to evaluate whether the teaching learning process succeeds or fails based on the criteria of succeed that have been decided before”.

The reflection in this research was done by the researcher and her collaborator after accomplishing each of the research steps in order to know whether we could stop the research or should continue to another cycle. In this case, they decide to stop this research in the first cycle, because the criterion of succeed of the research has been achieved by the students. The student’s mean score was 80.56; it was higher than the criterion of success of the research (70.00).


The Result of Teaching Learning Process Analysis

The analysis of the teaching-learning process was done based on the result of field notes and the observation checklist. Some findings show improvement from both the student and teachers’ parts. On the part of the students’ attitude towards the task, it was found that the students were actively involved and participated actively in the lesson. Further, the teacher’ ability in conducting teaching and learning process was observed and categorized as excellent and above average. Mostly, the indicators in observation checklist were rated 4 (excellent) and 3 (above average) by the collaborator researcher. In this case, the teacher was evaluated in the five points namely: (1) preparation, (2) presentation, (3) execution/method, (4) personal characteristics, teacher-students inter­action. Dealing with preparation, the teacher was well prepared and the lesson execution was good.

Further related to presentation, the teacher explained the materials well, smoothly, in sequence, and logically. Moreover the teacher also paced the lesson well, gave the lesson direction to the students clearly, for example in asking them to do the tasks, to play mind map, to do homework etc. Besides that, the teacher always tried to make the students talk or write for example by asking question, asking them to write the sentences, etc. Further, she also realized if there were some students who were having trouble in understanding the lesson. In this case, she asked the students the points they didn’t understand and she explained it again carefully. Further, in presenting the materials the teacher was very encouraging, full of enthusiasm, and showed the interest in the lesson,

Furthermore, dealing with execution or method, the teacher used various activities in during the class, reinforced the material, walked around the class, made eyes contact with the students, and knew the student’s name well. She also distributed the questions appropriately and used media in teaching. Contextual learning was used with clear example and illustration of the materials through mind mapping.

On the teacher’s personal characteristics, the teacher was patient in answering the students’ questions. She had audible voice for all students in the class. She also had a good appearance, initiative and was resourceful. She had appropriate and acceptable use of English while she is teaching the students.

The last point is related to teacher – student interaction in the classroom. Dealing with that point, the teacher tried to set the class into a student-centered class. She encouraged students’ participation in classroom by asking them to do activities or to raise or answer questions. Further, she was able to control and direct the class well; she sometime relaxed the students and made students work in group or individual. In conclusion teacher and the students had excellent interaction for enjoyable learning in the classroom.

An analysis of the result of the test given at the end of cycle 1 showed that an improvement of learning result was achieved. In this case, the mean score of the student’s in the vocabulary test after the action increased significantly after the implementation of mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns proposed by Buzan (2009). The mean score of the students was 80.57. The students’ mean score was higher than the students’ mean score in vocabulary test before the action (55.66) and the minimum criterion mastery stated in the school (70.00).


The Students’ Questionnaire Result

The data on students’ opinion towards learning vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns was obtained through a questionnaire with 10 statements given to 35 students of the tenth year of students in X-B class of MAN Kota Blitar. The questionnaire contained four variables to measure: (1) learning motivation, (2) learning result, (3) tasks accomplishment and (4) social relationship. The result showed that on the first variable “learning motivation”, the students are motivated to learn vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s five reviewing patterns strategy. It can be seen from the result of the four statements given related to it. For the first statement (item no. 1) “I am very eager to learn vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns”, 30 (85.7%) students chose “absolutely agree” and 5 (14.3%) students “agree”.

Moreover, 29 (82.9%) students state “absolutely agree” and the rest 6 (17.1%) students state “agree” for the statement (item no. 2): “Learning vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns is an interesting and enjoyable activity”. On the other hand, in the third statement for this variable, statement no. 6, “It is difficult for me to learn vocabulary by mind mapping and Buzan’s five reviewing patterns”, 2 (5.7%) students state “not sure”. Moreover, 4 (11.4%) students state “not agree”, and the rest 29 (82.9%) students state “absolutely not agree”. Meanwhile, for the next statement (item no 7), “Learning vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns strategy is a worthless and time consuming activity”, 6 (17.1%) students state “not agree” while the rest 29 (82.9%) students state “absolutely not agree”.

The data on the second variable “learning result” also showed satisfactory response. There are 4 indicators representing this variable. The first indicator is statement (item no. 3) “In my opinion learning vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s reviewing patterns can increase my vocabulary”. 29 (82.9%) students chose “absolutely agree”, 6(17.1%) students chose “agree”. Second is statement no. 4, “Mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns help me learn and memorize new words”.  30 (85.7%) students’ state “absolutely agree” and 5 (14.3%) state “agree”. The next is statement no. 5, “Learning vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s five reviewing patterns enabled me to learn words and their meaning in comprehensible way”. 28 (80%) students state “absolutely agree” while the rest 7 (20%) students state “not sure”. And the last indicator is statement (item no 10), “Learning vocabulary through mind mapping makes me brave to express idea or asking and answering the question”. For this 29 (82.9%) students state “absolutely agree” and 6 (17.1%) students state “agree.”

The third variable “task achievement” also showed good response. As it can be seen in statement no. 8, “Using mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns makes me motivated to do the class tasks or take-home tasks“, 30 (85.7%) students state “absolutely agree” and 5 (14.3%) students sate “agree”

The last variable “social relationship” also showed acceptable response. It can be seen from the result of statement no. 9, “Learning vocabulary using mind mapping and Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns promotes the togetherness among students”. 29 (82.9%) students choose “absolutely agree”, and 3 (8.6%) students state “agree”, while 3 (8.6%) students state “not sure”.



Based on the result of the analysis both the teacher teaching-learning process and students’ learning result in cycle I, it was shown that the students made an improvement in learning vocabulary. This improvement could be seen from indicator of success achieved as follows. The obtained mean score was 80.57 was higher than the standard minimum mean score (70.00). Therefore, it was decided that the next cycle was not necessary. In addition, that result was supported by the result of teaching learning process which was derived from observation checklists and field note in which the teaching learning process in that class was very good/ excellent and it was also supported by the students’ positive responses toward the use of mind mapping and five reviewing patterns in learning vocabulary as presented previously. The following figure is the description of students’ improvement in learning vocabulary by using mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns












Figure 2: Students’ Improvements


The result of the research that was presented above was in line with Indah ‘s experimental research result on the use of mind mapping to teach vocabulary, in which she reported that the vocabulary achievement of the students of IKIP PGRI Palembang increased after being taught using mind mapping. She recorded that the calculation result of the matched t-test formula was 2.396. It indicated that the calculated t obtained was greater than the critical value (1.725). The finding of her study showed that mind mapping is effective in teaching vocabulary to the tenth year of SMUN 15 Palembang.

Moreover, the researchers’ result was also in line with Yusuf’s experimental research result entitled “The Effectiveness of Mind Mapping Technique In Increasing the Second Year Students’ Reading Comprehension at SLTPN 43 Palembang” The result of the calculation of the t-test formula was 4.19. It indicated that the t value was higher than the critical value (02.021). The findings of his research showed that mind mapping is significantly effective in teaching reading comprehension to the subject of SLTP Negeri 43 Palembang.

In addition, the researchers’ result was in line with experimental research result by Hermalasari entitled “Teaching Writing Paragraphs by Using Mind Mapping to The Eleventh Year Students of SMA Negeri 14 Palembang in which she reported that the students’ average score in pre-test was 59.68 and the average score of post-test was 67.85. It indicated that calculated t value was higher than the t value on the table (1.684). It means that mind mapping is effective to teach writing paragraphs at the eleventh grade in that school. And now, with this current research mind mapping is also proved effective to teach vocabulary


The Strength and the Weaknesses of Mind Mapping and 5 Reviewing Patterns

There is no perfect thing. Besides having some strengths mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns also have some weaknesses. The strengths include (1) leading the students to have better memory, (2) easy to apply in the classroom as media to present the material, media to do the task, media to review the lesson, and media to assess the students’ achievement, (3) interesting, and attractive media to teach all themes or sub-theme.

Further, mind mapping and 5 Buzan’s reviewing patterns were a pairs of strategies which support each other. As Buzan (2009:39) argue the best way to review the lesson is using mind mapping. With mind mapping to review the lesson, students will have better memory of the materials they have learnt. Better memory will make them easier in doing the test. It was proved by the students’ vocabulary mean score after applied with those strategies in this research.

However, mind mapping and five reviewing patterns also have weaknesses such as: (a) Mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns need consistency as well as continuity of implementation either in the for of classroom implementation by teachers or at home reviews by students following the procedures given. Especially for the strategy of reviewing the lesson, it must be done seriously based on Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns. Buzan’s 5 reviewing required teachers and students to review the lesson until 5 times based on these following rules: (a) one hour after the first learning, (b) one day after the first learning, (c) one week after the first learning, (d) one month after the first learning and, (e) three up to six months after the first learning. Those reviewing procedures may be difficult to do for students at the first time. Besides, with five time review, the teacher must provide and prepare more tasks, and of course it needs additional cost to prepare them as well as need additional time to do. In addition, it is not easy to change the habitual linear note writing in preparing teachers’ teaching materials or presentation. While with mind map, teachers need to be creative in making mind maps and present them in the class. If they don not have creativity and a good understanding about the material, the teachers would have problems in translating the materials into mind maps. Mind map reflects the materials to teach in the class. Therefore, before teachers make mind maps, they must understand the materials well so that they can generate the good key words. Otherwise, the mind map would be confusing for the students. Further, some teachers may not have a good ability to use multimedia or technology in teaching and learning such as in operating computer, laptop or internet applications. Or it can be said that mind map is still difficult to make for some teachers who did not have computer mastery or creativity to draw it.

In mind maps, everything is supposed to be provided on a single page. This is a tough challenge for teachers who have comprehensive and complex topic to deal with in the classroom. A mind map which is made carelessly or which is too ambitious to cover all aspect would look so crowded and this might cause students difficult to understand.



Conclusion and Suggestions

Mind mapping and 5 reviewing patterns proposed by Buzan (2009) can improve the tenth year students’ vocabulary achievement. Therefore, the English teachers are recommended to apply this model as one of alternatives teaching technique to teach vocabulary in the classroom. Besides that, the English teachers are also suggested to inform or discuss this model of vocabulary teaching through teachers’ forum such as workshop and seminar.

It is suggested that parents with elementary, junior or senior high school sons or daughters practice Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns as strategy to review their lesson in order to improve their learning achievement. Furthermore, the students are also recommended to make mind map of their lessons at home after school and do the review 5 times based on the certain procedures as Buzan proposed. So, the students must be active both in the classroom and outside of the classroom for reviewing their lessons, for example, by summarizing, mapping, re-reading the material by themselves or by reviewing them in peer learning, and group learning at home.

In addition, this research is an action research in which the result cannot be generalized. It is advisable or recommended that future researchers would conduct the research with different design for example experimental research to know the effectiveness of Buzan’s 5 reviewing patterns on certain skills or subjects. Such research would be useful to strengthen or reject this research result.







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Enhancing Students’ Listening Skill Through Podcasts

by Oktavia Widiastuti

State Polytechnic of Malang (Polinema)


Applying podcast as an appropriate multimedia can be very potential and practical as a tool to enhance listeningskill.Students and teachers can download podscast easily and freely as source of their listening materials. Listening materials presented through Podcast is possible to increase students’ listening skill as Podcast provides students with authentic and contextual material. Podcast offers an ideal tool for the creative expression of knowledge preferred by today’s students, and provides an exciting way for students and teachers to explore and discover listening content or material.

Podcasts are particularly suited for extensive listening, for the purpose of motivating students’ interest in listening to English and providing them with exposure to native speakers’ speech (Rost, 1991). Stanley (2006) points out that podcasts offer students a wide range of possibilities for extra listening both inside and outside of the classrooms. The outside classroom listening activity effectively bridges the gap between the formal English which dominates most English language classrooms and the informal English used in real-life communication events.Podcast as a new technology has huge potential in enhancing students’ listening skill.The ease of downloading podcasts to MP3 players and iPods means that students can now engage in plenty of listening practice in any condition.


Key words: Listening skills, podcast, Information technology in ELT


Listening in language learning has undergone several important stages, from being assumed “acquired through exposure but not really taught” (Richard, 2002) to be viewed as “a primary vehicle for language learning” (Rost, 2001). During the decades, developments in education, linguistics and sociology have led to the powerful theories of the nature of language comprehension and the active interest in the role of listening comprehension in second language acquisition.

In daily communication, listening plays an important role. Research has demonstrated that adults spend 40-50% of communication time listening, 25-30% speaking, 11-16% reading, and about 9% writing (Vandergrift, 1999). Listening, the most widely used language skill, is often used in conjunction with the other skills of speaking, reading and writing. It is not only a skill area in language performance, but also a critical means of acquiring a second and foreign language.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, applied linguistics recognized that listening was the primary channel by which the learner gained access to L2 data, and that it therefore served as the trigger for acquisition (Rost, 2001). Krashen (1982) claimed that “comprehensible input” was a necessary condition for language learning. In his input hypothesis, Krashen said further development from the learner’s current stage of language knowledge could only be achieved by the learner’s comprehending language that contained linguistic items (lexis, syntax, morphology) at a level slightly above the learner’s current knowledge (Rost, 2001). According to this theory, the more language we expose students to, the more they will acquire, and the better they get in listening activities

In general, provided the listening materialappropriate to their level is a very significant point. However, the reality of the teaching of listening in Indonesian’s classrooms is that students have only one hour to learn listening in the language laboratory every week, which is far from satisfactory. Hence, extensive listening must go along with intensive listening. Extensive listening, where a teacher encourages students to choose for themselves what they listen to and to do so for pleasure or for general language improvement can also have a dramatic effect on a student’s language proficiency (Harmer, 2001).

Applying appropriate multimedia in Extensive Listening activity can be one of the solutions to improve students’ listening skill and their motivation (Juniardi, 2008). By using multimedia students not only hear the sound but also can capture the pictures, moreover by using multimedia students can download native voices as source of their listening materials. One of the programs that can be applied is podcast program. By using Podcast, the students can listen to music, news, TV program etc. Podcast has two files audio (MP3) and video (MP4). These files can be down loaded free of charge from One of the Podcast examples which can be free down loaded is, CNN Larry King Live Podcast (Paul, 2007).

Another example, which is also interesting to be used as the listening material, is taken from . There are many videos which can be downloaded by subscribing to the website using iTunes (Stanley, 2006).

These two examples are few of many others materials that can be freely downloaded from the internet by subscribing to the website using iTunes. The capacity of each file is varied (about 3 to 100 Mb) according to duration of the podcast. For instance, it takes at least one and a half hour to download a 15 minutes Larry King Live Podcast (McCarty, 2005).

Based on the explanation above, listening materials presented through Podcast is possible to increase student listening comprehension as Podcast provide students with authentic and contextual material and it can improve students’ knowledge because students are able to share their Podcast. Podcasting offers an ideal tool for the creative expression of knowledge preferred by today’s students, and provides an exciting way for students and educators to explore and discover listening content or material (McCarty, 2005). Podcasts are audio or video files that are automatically delivered over a network, and then played back on any Mac, PC, or iPod. When students create a Podcast for class, they not only learn the content in a creative way, they learn 21st-century communication skills at the same time.



Language learning depends on listening since it provides the aural input that serves as the basis for language acquisition and enables learners to interact in spoken communication. Listening is the first language mode that children acquire. It provides the foundation for all aspects of language and cognitive development, and it plays a life-long role in the processes of communication. A study by Wilt (1950), found that people listen 45 % of the time they spend communicating.

Since listening is, according to Wang Shouyuan (2003), the most important component in the five aspects of overall English competence he suggests as listening, speaking, reading, writing and translation, it deserves particular attention. Teachers must actively explore the nature and process of listening comprehension and study the theory and methodology of listening comprehension in order to improve listening teaching outcomes and make students recognize that listening comprehension is the crucial aspect of English learning.

From the point of view of constructivist linguistics, foreign language teaching should focus on language form and structure, thus, listening teaching is undertaken in each of the four aspects of language form. When students are taught to understand a passage of text, teachers first let them discriminate between the pronunciation of vowels and consonants, then understand vocabulary, sentences and discourses. The goals of this listening teaching model from the “bottom-up” is to help students understand the meaning of vocabulary by discriminating sounds, to understand sentence meaning, and to monitor and control the meaning of discourses by understanding sentence meaning (Feyten, 1991).

Since the 1970s, with the development of functional language theory, there has been an emphasis on the research of language function in society. Functional linguistic experts recognize language as a communicative tool, but not an isolated structure system. Consequently the teaching of listening is not simply intended to make students hear a sound, a word or a sentence, rather, the goal is to cultivate students’ abilities to understand speakers’ intentions accurately and communicate with each other effectively (Lihua, 2002).

Different from the traditional theory that listening is a passive activity, now we have realized that listening is a complicated process that involves many factors. Rost (2002) suggests that “listening is a process involving a continuum of active processes which are under the control of the listener.” It is different from hearing which is “the primary physiological system that allows for reception and conversion of sound waves that surround the listener” (Rost, 2002).

A thorough definition of listening, thus, should include at least four factors: receptive, constructive, collaborative, or transformative (Rost, 2002). Receptive means receiving what the speaker actually says while constructive suggests constructing and representing meaning. Collaborative, on the other hand, shows negotiating meaning with the speaker and responding while transformative requires creating meaning through involvement, imagination and empathy.

            In summary, effective listening involves the listener taking an active role in constructing meaning with the speaker. Speaker must be aware of the deixis, speaker intention, implicit meaning and strategy use. In addition, effective listening will involve attention to cooperative social interaction, as that is where conversational meaning is monitored and negotiated (Rost, 2002).

The notion of involvement, engagement, and negotiation is related to pragmatic approach to listening. The pragmatic point of view of listening is an intention to complete a communication process. In order to occur this pragmatic completion, there must be engagement, in which a listener switches from becoming a mere ‘presence’ to an interpreter (Verschueren, 1999 in Rost, 2002).


Listening and Technologies

A prominent artefact of older beliefs concerning the role of listening in language learning is the language laboratory. The rationale for language laboratories is tied to the belief that individual listening practice with audiotape can help build a learner’s overall ability in the target language through self instructed comprehension practice. Technology continues to be perceived as an enhancement to the process of language acquisition. The large-scale infusion of computers in language instruction programs in the past decade attests to this belief. The rationale behind what is now growing support for Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is not unlike earlier enthusiasm for audiotape-based technologies. That is, individualized access to target language material under learner control provides needed exposure to and practice in the target language (Meskill, 1993).

Enthusiasm for CALL in general and multimedia in particular, however, differs from that of the audiotape laboratory as regards the breadth of expectations concerning technology’s role and potential. Fast and powerful computational capacity in conjunction with the orchestrated video, text and graphics of today’s multimedia learning systems would predict more sophisticated paradigms for interaction with the target language and, consequently, more effective learning (Jung, 1990).

Arguments supporting multimedia for education of this kind have rung loud and clear over the past decade. Praises for the medium are, however, based largely on intuition: learning a language via individualized instruction with the computer especially when audio and video are involved is an extremely appealing proposition, one that has sold to many an administrator in search of instructional panaceas (Jonassen, 1993). Thus far, however, the extent of multimedia’s impact on the language acquisition process remains an open issue. Is there evidence to suggest that listening skills development can be enhanced through this medium? The following section treats this question by examining potential correspondence between multi modal processing opportunities for language learners and how these can interact to complement listening skills acquisition (Garza, 1991).

Puspitasari (2010) in Cahyono (2010) in her article “Using Podcast as a Source of Material for Teaching English” informed what a podcast is. By the guidance of the teacher, the students can experience learning authentically through podcasts. The strategy described in this article is how to use podcast as a source material. Having listened to podcast, students are assigned to do several tasks in worksheets. Then, they can finish their final project by submitting the worksheets and a written recount text.

Other sources of the use of technology in English language learning and teaching are Murtado (2010) in Cahyono (2010), he used mailing lists in the English classroom where students can read other people’s questions and comments, and they can also give their comments. Samsuli (2010) in Cahyono (2010) proposed teaching English in a virtual classroom. As a teaching environment, virtual classroom provides a set of tools and features to facilitate teachers for delivering course materials and structuring learning experiences. The virtual learning gives teachers an experience in the new teaching atmosphere and environment and makes them change the way to teach. It will improve their face to face interaction with more effective questioning techniques.



Podcasts are audio (sometimes video) programs on the Web which are usually updated at regular intervals. New episodes can be listened to on the computer, or downloaded to an MP3 player or iPod for later listening. Although audio programs have existed on the Web for a few years already, what makes podcasting unique is its capacity for subscription through an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, listeners can subscribe to their favorite Podcasts. Their computer will then receive alerts when new episodes have been posted. Podcatcher software programs, such as iTunes, will even download the latest episodes automatically once the program is opened. In other words, instead of having to visit individual Websites regularly for updated episodes, listeners can now have the latest episodes of their favoriteprograms delivered to their computer (Stanley, 2006)


Types of Podcast

Podcasts available on the Web fall broadly into two types: “radio Podcasts” and “independent Podcasts.” Radio Podcasts are existing radio programs turned into Podcasts, such as those produced by BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong). “Independent Podcasts” are Web-based Podcasts produced by individuals and organizations (Lee, 2007).

It is the second type of Podcast which has huge potential for ELT because these can be perfect to suit the needs of different learners. They can be created by learners themselves with utmost ease.


ELT Podcasts

The first Podcasts appeared in early 2005. ELT educators soon joined the movement, and since the second half of 2005, there has been an upsurge in the number of ELT Podcasts on the Web. Teachers have three ways to look for suitable ELT Podcasts for their students. They can start with general Podcast directories. A Podcast directory is a searchable database which is linked to the Podcast sites. Teachers can type in a search term like “English,” “ELT,” “ESL,” and “TESOL,” and they will be given a list of ELT Podcasts. An example of a general Podcast directory is (Lee, 2007).

To narrow down their search, teachers may go directly to directories of educational Podcasts. One well-known educational Podcast directory is the Education Podcast Network: A recent new directory is, which claims to be the first U.K directory of educational Podcasts (Lee, 2007).

There is now such an abundance of ELT Podcasts on the Web that Podcast directories specializing in ELT are also available. These are directories which cover ELT podcasts only. One example is maintained by the Internet TESL Journal (McCarty, 2005).


Contents of ELT Podcast

ELT podcasts cover a wide range of subject matter. A brief survey of ELT podcasts reveals the following content types:

  • Comprehensive (e.g.,

These are Podcasts that cover a wide range of content types, such as traditional listening comprehension activities, interviews, and vocabulary. A well-known comprehensive Podcast is the one quoted above, created by “Teacher John,” who teaches ESL in Japan.

  • Whole lessons (e.g.,

These are whole lessons based on a Podcast. The Podcast quoted above, for example, makes use of a news story in each episode. The text of the news story is provided, and is accompanied by the audio file. There is then a lesson plan with accompanying worksheet materials. In effect, these are ready-made lessons based on Podcasts which teachers can use in the classroom directly.

  • Vocabulary, idioms, etc. (e.g.,

This is a popular type of Podcast, probably because it is easy to produce. In this kind of Podcast, the host chooses some vocabulary items and explains their usage. The example presents a few idioms in each episode.

These Podcasts contain conversations between native speakers to help less proficient learners, each episode is accompanied by the script, for learners to refer to while listening to the conversation.

These are Podcasts containing jokes because they usually play on language, they encourage careful listening by the learner.

  • Songs (e.g.,

These Podcasts contain songs for ESL learners. The songs are either traditional children’s songs, or authentic popular songs for teenagers. They are also often accompanied by the text of the lyrics.

  • Phonetics, pronunciation (e.g.,

Podcasts are obviously highly suited for teaching phonetics and pronunciation. These Podcasts are lessons which focus on specific phonemes and pronunciation problems in English.

  • Stories (e.g,

These are usually reading aloud story. They may or may not be followed by listening comprehension questions.

  • Listening comprehension (e.g.,

These Podcasts provide conventional listening comprehension practice.

In conclusion, computerized media and a multimedia environment can be helpful for English language learning and teaching and it has been asserted that internet sources and internet-based teaching are an excellent medium and strategies for generating social construction of knowledge. Information and communication technology can be used by adopting variant methods that could encourage students in developing independent learning strategies. In this study, the use of webblog and internet mail (e-mail) as learning medium and the use of podcast as a listening source material hopefully can make the students improve their listening skill and motivation.


Podcasts and Listening Activities

Teaching listening by using Podcast is possible to increase student listening comprehension as Podcast provide students with authentic and contextual material and it can improve students’ knowledge because they share their Podcast (Earp, 1998). Podcasting offers an ideal tool for the creative expression of knowledge preferred by today’s students, and provides an exciting way for students and teachers to explore and discover listening content or material. Podcasts are audio or video files that are automatically delivered over a network, and then played back on any Mac, PC, or iPod. When students create a Podcast for class, they not only learn the content in a creative way, they learn 21st-century communications skills at the same time (McCarty, 2005).  Podcasting allows teachers to take their students beyond traditional assignments by allowing them to include voice recordings, photos, movies, and sound effects to share their knowledge. For example, students can draft and perform scripts as a writing assignment, create a visual progress report for an ongoing project, or submit a recorded version of a science presentation (Ge, 2005).

Podcasting is also a great way for teachers to deliver listening content to their students. They can distribute homework assignments, record book narration for beginning readers to read along with, or create foreign language lessons that students can review at their own pace (Lee, 2007).

ELT Podcasts can be used for intensive and extensive listening activities. However, ELT Podcasts are particularly suited for extensive listening, for the purpose of motivating student interest in listening to English, and providing them with exposure to native speakers’ speech (Rost, 1991). Stanley (2006) points out that Podcasts offer students a wide range of possibilities for extra listening both inside and outside of the classroom:

 “Supplementing the (often) scripted and stilted textbook listening with the real life authentic conversations we can find on many Podcasts is an attractive option for language teachers chosen carefully, extracts can bring a range of different voices and varieties of English into the classroom.”

More advanced learners can be encouraged to listen to authentic podcast. This activity effectively bridges the gap between the formal English which dominates most second language classrooms and the informal English used in most real-life communication events.

The key to help students improve their listening skills is to convince them that they can finish the job. This is more of an attitude adjustment than anything else, and it is easier for some students to accept than others. Another important point is that teachers should convince their students to listen to English as often as possible. As to the listening material, the more material they get touch with, the more progress they will make (Nunan and Miller, 1995).

In conclusion, as we all know, for the students of English as a foreign language, there are usually intervals between the perceptions of sounds by their ears and understanding the words, phrases and sentences. This kind of intervals often makes students have more troubles in listening comprehension. So it is essential for them to have more chances to contact with different kinds of listening materials and let their ears be familiar with different sounds of English words. In classroom activities, teachers can also give students some advice about improving listening competency, one of the useful suggestions, that is, extensive listening. The best source for extensive listening is podcast material from the internet.



Having observed all the results of the studies mentioned above, it can be concluded that internet podcast is a great multimedia to improve students’ listening skill. Podcast allows students to download or subscribe to audio programs in the form of MP3 files which is very easy to apply and they can select appropriate podcast materials which they need and like. The material is then easily be transferred to a portable MP3 player. Moreover, Intensive and Extensive Listening Activity using podcast is able to overcome students’ low ability in listening comprehension and is able to fulfill their need to have extra time to improve their listening skill with appropriate and interesting listening materials.



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Comprehension and Possible Measures for Improvement. Australia: University of Tasmania.

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Subekhi Hadi Purnomo

State Polytechnic of Malang



Bilingual education programs in Indonesia are becoming popular and many parents are very keen on sending their children to these bilingual classes. Bilingual classes which are offered by many schools, which usually have the label of RSBI or SBI have not been running without criticisms. Critics ask about the effectiveness of the bilingual learning. Questions are also raised about the issues of high rates of school fee and the English competence of the teachers. Nevertheless, parents believe that bilingual classes can provide their children with better education because these classes are equipped with better facilities and technologies and more qualified teachers. Then, what can be the trend of the bilingual classes in the future?

Keywords: bilingual, bilingual classes, RSBI/SBI, English


What so called bilingual school or class is now becoming popular among parents who hope to get better education for their children. More and more parents registering their children to enter these bilingual classes which more and more schools are offering to meet this increasing “demand.”

Bilingual classes are usually offered by a school which has been appointed to be an RSBI (Rintisan Sekolah Bertaraf International) or SBI (Sekolah Bertaraf International). However, some schools which are not RSBI or SBI are also offering bilingual classes, and they are always looked forward to by many parents. According to UU No. 20/2003 (Sistem Pendidikan Nasional) each municipal must have at least one school to be an SBI (Article 50 Verse 3). This requires the local government (lit. Dinas Pendidikan) to choose one school or more which has met some certain criteria set up by the Ministry of Education.

There are some questions that should be raised about this bilingual education. These questions are (1) what is actually bilingual education, (2) why parents want their children to go to the bilingual classes, (3) the problems with bilingual education, and (4) what will this kind of education look like in the future? This article attempts to answer these questions. This article is summarized from many different sources.



What is actually a bilingual education program, and why was it established? Bilingual education is the practice of teaching the core subjects in at least two different languages as the media of instruction (Subadi, 2009). In bilingual education where English is used as a second or foreign language, the students are taught math and sciences in the foreign language and social studies in their native language (Williams, 2009).

Now then, why is this bilingual education is implemented? In the Indonesian context, the purpose of this program is to improve the quality of the human resources to compete in the global era. We have already realized that education in Indonesia is not as good as that in other countries, even the ASEAN countries. According to the report of Monitoring Global Report issued by the UNESCO in 2005, Indonesia was the 10th of 14 developing countries in Asia-Pacific area, and the first rank was Thailand. A survey of World Competitiveness Year Book 2007, Indonesia ranked 53 among 55 countries being surveyed. Thus, the quality of human resources is still very low, and this has become the concern of the Ministry of Education.

For this reason, the Ministry of Indonesia launched a Peraturan Pemerintah (PP) 19/2005 about the National Standard of Education in which each municipal must have at least one international school as stated in Article 61 Verse (1):

“Pemerintah bersama-sama pemerintah dae-rah menyelenggarakan sekurang-kurangnya satu satuan pendidikan pada jenjang pen-didikan dasar dan sekurang-kurangnya satu satuan pendidikan pada jenjang pendidikan menengah untuk dikembangkan menjadi satuan pendidikan bertaraf internasional.”

This PP covers eight key standards which are the standards of (1) content, (2) process, (3) competency of graduates, (4) educators and educational human resources, (5) facilities, (6) management, (7) financing, and (8) educational evaluation.

These standards are parts of the requirement that a school should meet to be labeled as an RSBI or SBI. When these are not met they are required to improve themselves to meet the requirements. To enrich the requirements, the curriculum for the RSBI or SBI should refer to the one which has been roughly outlined in the PP and to the curriculum adopted from the education system of a developed country. By doing this, it is hoped that the graduates will have better qualification and can continue their study to a school or university overseas.

The main purpose of the RSBI/SBI is to develop awareness toward the importance of continuous learning and better achievement due to the changing and developing sciences and different cultures. The teacher of RSBI/SBI are designed to be a figure who understands well the meaning of learning concepts such as deep-learning, higher order thinking skills, and contextual learning and knows well different characteristics of his/her students (Fahriza,  2009). The students are eventually led to develop independent learning, responsibility, cooperation with other students, honesty, and tolerance. With these they can be better human resources who can compete globally.



RSBI or SBI seems to have become a magnet to many parents who want to register their children to these schools. They have the understanding that these schools are more qualified than the regular ones. They may be right about this but is it because these schools use English as the language of instruction? Or are there other reasons for entering these schools.

There are several pieces of eminence, which make RSBI or SBI better than the regular schools. Some of them are described here.

1)    The use of English as a medium of instruction in the classroom can improve the students’ mastery of English. Though there have been debates over this issue, it still attracts many parents.

2)    With enough fund from the government and high rates of school fee the school can improve the facilities for the teaching-learning process. Most of the RSBI or SBI classrooms are equipped with LCD projectors, or television sets with DVD or VCD players. The laboratories are also renewed with more sophisticated tools or machines. This can eventually improve the quality of the teaching-learning process where IT is applied in the classes.

3)    The requirements set for RSBI or SBI by the government require the schools to improve all things related to the school management and the learning. The eight national standards make the schools to fix everything, which will eventually also change the mindset of the teachers and educational staff. It, of course, will increase the quality of the schools.

4)    The adoption and/or adaptation of the curriculum and teaching-learning methodologies from a developed country make the graduates possible to achieve international standard of education. As a result they may continue their study overseas to any school or university which has similar standards.

Despite the four advantages above, more issues about RSBI/SBI can be added to the list. Prestige is one of them. Parents feel to have more prestige when their children can go to RSBI/SBI, sometimes not considering the cost that they have to pay.



The implementation of RSBI or SBI has not been successful without criticisms. Many criticisms have been expressed by people of many different professions, from the students themselves to experts of education. The following are some points of the problem which are summarized from many different references.

Some of the problems with the bilingual program (lit. RSBI or SBI) that follow the birth of this program can be listed as follows:

  1. The government, through the Ministry of Education, seems to make the program as to meet the requirements that have been stated in the national act (lit. Undang-undang), and they did not look carefully at the readiness of the schools to do the program. This could have made the program not run well because it was not prepared well either.
  2. The schools, on the other hand, accept to do the program because of the finance that they will get when they do it even though they might not be ready and do not have enough facilities to meet the requirements.
  3. In practice, the local government (lit. municipal education agency) tends to distribute the opportunity evenly to the schools without looking at the quality of those schools. Usually it prioritizes the state schools, not private ones though they are better.
  4. The school fees of RSBI and SBI are so high that only rich parents will be able to send their children to these schools. For this reason the abbreviation RSBI is frequently slipped to be “Rintihan Sekolah Bertarif International (lit. a moan for an international school fee).
  5. According to Santoso (2010) the RSBI or SBI schools are not well implemented and organized. The person(s) in charge are not able to complete the reports which are needed for evaluation. From all RSBIs or SBIs in Indonesia (136 SDs, 300 SMPs, 320 SMAs and 118 SMKs), there were 139 schools last year which could not complete the report on time. It may show that when these schools are not well organized, their quality may deteriorate.

Furthermore, according to Pillai (2005), the problems with the bilingual schools are as the following. Though his opinions are not related directly to RSBI or SBI in the Indonesian context, they may be applicable to this kind of school. There are five points that he raises.

  1. The system of bilingual education requires special teachers with certain criteria of competence and special classrooms with certain facilities to facilitate leaning. This causes gaps between the teachers and different treatment and facilities which as a result causes social gaps amongst the students, teachers, and parents.
  2. The bilingual education program in the USA eventually increased the drop-out rates. The bilingual program was unsuccessful which resulted in 35% rate of drop out. This makes people feel that this rate doesn’t justify the costs involved in providing bilingual education.
  3. Bilingual education requires a number of trained teachers who are proficient in both English and their native language, in which English is one of the mediums of instruction in most cases. However, the available number of these teachers is not equal to the demand. In Indonesia, many teachers were not brave enough to teach in the bilingual classes.
  4. As mentioned previously, the bilingual program requires special classrooms that can accommodate the bilingual learning. In the teaching and learning process the students and the teachers are expected to use optimally the facilities which can facilitate the use of the second or foreign language.
  5. Bilingual program requires a lot of money for the facilities which are needed. These include the development of the curriculum, the materials, the classroom equipment, etc. Nevertheless, the schools do not usually have enough money to afford them. School fees are not enough, thus government funding is very necessary.



What will this kind of education be like in the future? Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of these schools, parents will still choose them as the place for their children to study, regardless the high school fees that they have to pay. In spite of the disadvantages mentioned earlier, the schools are developing to achieve all objectives that have been set up by the government.

This kind of school will still be implemented until the government of Indonesia finds that the quality of human resources is better than or at least equal to that of ASEAN countries. The quality of Indonesian human resources should be continuously improved as required by the relevant legal acts; therefore, RSBI or SBI will be continuously implemented and improved along the way. With the government financial support the schools will be able to make progressive improvement.

At the earlier stage of the establishment of RSBI/SBI problems and constraints may have existed along the way, but as it is progressing and developing these problems and constraints are solved and eliminated. Better design and format of the teaching-learning process will also be achieved which leads to better accomplishment of the objectives of the schools.

When RSBIs or SBIs can eventually provide significant evidence that they are qualified schools, parents will keep sending their children to the schools.



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