Posts Tagged ‘project-based learning’

IMPROVING READING AND SPEAKING SKILLS THROUGH PROJECT-BASED LEARNING FOR EFL STUDENTS IN THE FORM OF STUDENT-MADE MAGAZINE

 Lia Agustina

State Polytechnic ofMalang

  

ABSTRACT

Students of the Accountancy Department of the State Polytechnic of Malang had limited knowledge of English, and it was determined much by inadequate strategy applied. Students who are studying at the second year at this department were exposed to English texts provided by the teachers, therefore, they were not prepared to read authentic texts, longer passages or let alone reading them independently. Furthermore, students also found hindrances in expressing themselves orally. They were frequently reluctant to express their ideas, even when they were asked by the teacher. These students also admitted that their main problem was their limited vocabulary skill. In this department, reading, speaking, and structure were taught separately, not integrated while vocabulary had never been given priority, as it was taught during the teaching of other skills. This article is a report of a research to see how the students-made newsmagazine through project-based learning can be implemented effectively to develop their English reading and speaking skills.

This action research was implemented for one semester of 14 meetings. The students were assigned to have extensive reading through which they would experience authentic reading exposure and collect new words. Then, the new words should be learned and memorized by putting them in sentential contexts on their summaries and synthesis of the articles the students had chosen, read and produced the oral report of retelling activities. The students were assigned to summarize 3 authentic articles based on their interest and level of difficulty. This strategy was proved effective in improving students’ English reading and speaking skills. For further researchers, however, it is suggested that they conduct similar studies on integrated courses that emphasize on improving students English’ proficiency. They are also suggested to implement the project for two semesters.

Key-words:   extensive reading course, reading skill, speaking skill, individualized vocabulary learning, project-based learning, students-made magazine.

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Perhaps the most important ability that non-English-speaking students need is reading.Reading is a crucial tool that aids the learning process. However, in some schools adequate strategies for teaching reading sometimes are not applied. Teachers who prefer traditional approach often stand in front of the class, enjoying their lectures but getting no feedback from the learners, as there is no interaction between the text and the learners or among the learners themselves. The teaching of reading may be viewed as a kind of dramatic monologue. This way, the teacher is the only speaker and the students are being passive recipients rather than active, who have got practically nothing to do other than listen to what the teacher says, whether they understand or not. The teaching strategy happens in grammar/translation classrooms. In these classrooms learners typically spent years of learning English and yet many of them were still unable to use the language effectively. They often knew a good deal about the language but were unable to use this knowledge to communicate appropriately and effectively outside the classroom. Students had a basic foundation of language knowledge but they did not know how to put that knowledge to active use.

A teacher, however, can create an ideal classroom situation by introducing a strategy in which the emphasis is on the student. As Collie and Slater (1987: 8 ) suggest, “Put fresh momentum into teaching of literature, by stimulating students’ desire to read and encourage their responses.” The use of the strategy would lead to greater sensitivity to the language learning process on the part of students and would  make students to be more independent, to be critical thinkers, and to be lifelong learners (i.e., students learn to take responsibility for their own learning that will be the basis for working cooperatively and effectively with others).

The use of adequate strategy also supports of the materials given by the teacher. As stated by Richards and Renandya (2002:122) “…. strategies can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval or use of the new language.” Strategies are tools for the self-directed involvement necessary for developing communication ability. Furthermore, they stated that language programs and the teachers who work in programs should therefore set out to provide learners with efficient learning strategies, to assist learners in identifying their own preferred ways of learning, to develop skills needed to negotiate the curriculum, to encourage learners to set their own objectives, to encourage learners to adopt realistic goals and time frames, and to develop learners’ skills in self-evaluation.

To accomplish the importance of applying adequate strategy, Nunan (1999) stated that learning strategies are the mental and communicative procedures learners use in order to learn and to use language. Richards and Rodgers (1986) cited in Nunan (1999) stated that teachers should teach students the language, not about the language. So adequate strategies are needed as the use of the strategies will arise students’ motivation in learning language. Motivation is another important aspect to be considered to achieve the goal of the course and to improve the students’ knowledge. As said by Dulay (1982), motivation in second language acquisition may be thought of as the incentive, the need, or the desire that the learner feels to learn the second language.Gardner, et al. (1972) cited inUr(1996) stated that various studies have found that motivation is very strongly related to achievement in language learning.

A lot of strategies could be implemented in the classroom.  Project-based learning is one of the models which are different from traditional teaching since the focus is put on the learners. Learners have the opportunity to work more autonomously and build their knowledge as they personally construct meaningful facts that are representations of their learning. Project-based learning provides learners the opportunity in depth investigations of worthy knowledge.

One of the more prominent benefits of the research is how projects are used to encourage active inquiry and empower students to take part in their own learning. A project allows students and teachers alike to focus and to study a central idea in depth. Content is more meaningful to students because it is real world learning and students can look at their work in a way that is interesting to them. Students can collaborate together to explore ideas. The process of working on a project will help students display independence and construct their own knowledge through questions that they have or developed with the class.

The students of the Accountancy Department- State Polytechnic of Malang are not motivated in learning English. Some students feel that they have limited knowledge and lack confidence in practicing English. They feel they cannot appropriately comprehend the materials that are delivered by their teachers.

A project allows students and teachers alike to focus and to study a central idea in depth. Content is more meaningful to students because it is real world learning and students can look at their work in a way that is interesting to them. Students can collaborate together to explore ideas. The process of working on a project will help students display independence and construct their own knowledge through questions that they have or developed with the class.

The students of the Accountancy Department- State Polytechnic of Malang are not motivated in learning English. Some students feel that they have limited knowledge and lack confidence in practicing English. They feel they cannot appropriately comprehend the materials that are delivered by their teachers.

A project allows students and teachers alike to focus and to study a central idea in depth. Content is more meaningful to students because it is real world learning and students can look at their work in a way that is interesting to them. Students can collaborate together to explore ideas. The process of working on a project will help students display independence and construct their own knowledge through questions that they have or developed with the class.

The students of the Accountancy Department- State Polytechnic of Malang are not motivated in learning English. Some students feel that they have limited knowledge and lack confidence in practicing English. They feel they cannot appropriately comprehend the materials that are delivered by their teachers. There are a lot of causes of the case above but one of the possible causes is the strategy applied is not adequate enough, since some of the teachers still maintain the traditional approach. Ironically, Polytechnics is designed to emphasize the practice rather than the theory. To face the global era, the paradigm that has been applied for years needs to be changed. Project-based learning as a modern approach should be a solution to solve the Polytechnic’s problem to exist and compete with other universities. The characteristics of the project-based learning are needed by Polytechnic students, because the projects allow students to empower their own learning. The project gives an opportunity to develop skills such as to work in a team, to solve problems, to do research, to manage times, to synthesize, to use technology tools, to be independent workers, to be critical thinkers and to be lifelong-learners; those skills  are quite appropriate with the Polytechnic-students working field later on. These difficulties were due to some factors, one of which was the inadequate teaching strategy applied in the classroom

A preliminary study was carried out to identify the students’ problems. It was done by doing an observation and informal interview during the learning process of the reading class. The second preliminary study was done by giving a pre-test to the students to see the students’ problem. From the data that have been taken it was found out that the students’ reading comprehension and speaking skills were still poor. It was proved by the result of the students’ pre-test which shows that all the subjects got below the score of 6 with the points 60 (for 23 students) and 80 (for 2 students). While the criteria of success of the reading and speaking’ score should be 7 with the total points 125. Seeing the result of the fact above the students’ ability has to be improved by employing an adequate strategy, and there a lot of strategies that could be implemented. Project-based learning is one of the models which are different from traditional since the focus is put on the learners.

 

PROJECT-BASED LEARNING

According to Bruner (1973) the basic ideas of project-based learning are based on various socio-constructivist schools of thought and other modern instructional theories. Socio-constructivism means an understanding of learning that stresses the importance of constructing knowledge based on previous knowledge and interaction with the social environment. Thomas, Mergendoller, and Michaelson (1999) said that socio-constructivism as a set of pedagogies uses strategies like project-based learning.

The Edu Tech Wiki online article (Project-based learning, 2007, 1-5) defines project-based learning as a model for classroom activity that shifts away from the classroom practices of teacher-centered lessons and emphasizes learning activities that are student-centered, and integrated with real world issues and practice. The projects usually require several steps and some duration-more than a couple of days and up to a semester. The projects also require cooperative group learning. The projects may focus on development of a product or performance and require students to conduct research, to solve problems, and to synthesize information. Although projects as a methodology are not a new concept, the model is an effective application to support many tasks facing teachers today by applying authentic assessment, infusing higher-order thinking skills, guiding life choices, and providing experiences that tap individual student interest.

Similar to the above definition, Collins, Brown and Newman (1989) define project-based learning as a project which allows learners to identify and formulate their own problems. The goals they set as well as the unexpected discoveries they will make during interaction with the environment serve as guides. To accomplish the definition of project-based learning, Blumenfield (1994:1) describes project-based learning as “activities…conducted…as a way for students to learn subject matter concepts in depth as well as promote other life skill objectives”. Chard (1995:2) explains that “the model for project-based learning is to shift away from the classroom practices of short, isolated, teacher-centered lessons and instead emphasizes learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary, student-centered, and hands-on”.

Project-based learning should be based on the curriculum, as it is said by    Thomas et al. (1999). Project-based learning is a teaching and learning model; it is a curriculum development and instructional approach that emphasizes student-centered instruction by assigning projects.

To get a clearer picture of the above definition, project-based learning is: engaging learning experiences that involve students in complex, real-world projects through which they develop and apply skills and knowledge. The learning require students to draw from many information sources and disciplines in order to solve problems. The outcomes can be identified up-front, but in which the outcomes of the student’s learning process are neither predetermined nor fully predictable. The outcomes are also experiences through which students would learn to manage and to allocate resources such as time and materials.

In this approach, students create knowledge and understanding through learning activities that built intellectual inquiry and a high degree of engagement with meaningful tasks. Within the context of this approach, projects take the role traditionally afforded to assessments such as tests and quizzes.

 

The importance To Incorporate Project-Based Learning Into Classroom Instruction

Project-based learning is a teaching strategy that emphasizes on the students. This model could be implemented on the learning strategy by assigning projects. It gives opportunities to students to work more independently and realistically to generate products. The activities enable students to synthesize knowledge and to individually solve problems in a curricular context (Project-based learning, 2007, 1-4). The project creates problems that function as a curriculum organizer and a instructional strategy that presents a problem that is relevant and related to the context where students are the stakeholders. Students develop strategies to enable themselves and to direct their own learning. When students experience a problem in context, they are more likely to make connection and thus see the value in what they are learning. Newberry and Hughes (2006) rigorously explain that project-based learning will:

  • Help students develop skills for living in a knowledge-based world and society. Solving highly complex problems requires that students to have skills on reading, writing and also foundation skills (teamwork, problem solving, research, time management, information synthesizing, and using technology tools).
  • Add relevance to the learning. By bringing real-life context and technology to the curriculum through project problems, teachers encourage students to become independent workers, critical thinkers, and lifelong learner. Students learn to take responsibility for their own learning. They will form the basis for working cooperatively and effectively with others in their adult life.
  • Challenge students to high rigor. When working toward a solution to a problem, students often find themselves acquiring higher levels of academic skills and knowledge than if they were taught such skills in isolation.
  • Promote lifelong learning. Exposure to activities, projects and problems teaches students to take control of learning, their first step as lifelong learners. Project-based learning promotes metacognition and self-knowledge. Student generate strategies for solving problems by gathering, analyzing, and testing their data, sharing their findings with determining solutions. Thus, students develop the abilities to work with peers, work in teams, and develop group skills.

Table 2.1 below shows a curriculum model that uses the three modalities. Students are engaged in three level thinking: the cognitive, the novice metacognition, and the expert metacognition. The curriculum is developed and designed to engage students in activities, projects, problems to incorporate all aspects that enable students to investigate and to explore the stated lesson. The best way for students to understand their learning is to experience the process in addressing the problem and in designing solution. For example, the direct experience of “walking in students’ shoes” is to solve problems and to design projects that help teachers to reflect on the learning activities and to prepare teachers for their own teaching.

 

EXTENSIVE READING

Palmer (1991 cited in Day & Bamford, 2000:5) defines extensive reading as “rapidly reading book after book”. In this reading activity readers’ attention should be focused on comprehending of the text. Extensive reading is different from intensive reading which means “take a text, study it line by line, referring at every moment to dictionary and grammar rules, translating and retaining every expression that it contains.”

Similar to Palmer’s definition, West  (1993 cited in Day & Bamford, 2000:6) defines “supplementary reading”, or extensive reading as a reading activity that aims at the development to the point of enjoyment of the ability to read the foreign language and that involves the methodology of taking care of individual differences and encouraging the reading habit.

As stated in Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 1974, extensive reading is intended to develop good reading habits, to build up knowledge of vocabulary and structure, and to encourage a liking for reading. This definition implies that extensive reading also affects the increased general second language competence.

For the present study, encouraging students to read extensively and maximizing the extensive reading course would hopefully result in an increased general second language competence. To be more specific, this extensive reading course will aim to gain students’ comprehending, summarizing, synthesizing and finally students’ improvement in both reading and speaking skills.

 

The Role of Extensive Reading

Some experts propose strong reasons for defining the effectiveness of extensive reading. Nation (2000:150), for example, points out three reasons why learners can develop best through extensive reading. First, reading is essentially an individual activity, and therefore, learners of different proficiency levels could be learning at their own level without being locked into an inflexible class program. Second, having an extensive reading activity, students are allowed to follow their interests in choosing what to read, and, thus increase their motivation for learning. Third, extensive reading provides the opportunity for learning to occur outside the classroom.

Bell(1998) mentions ten roles of extensive reading, some of which are put in this section due to their relevance to this study. First, it can provide “comprehensible input”. An extensive reading activity will lead to language acquisition provided that certain conditions are met. These conditions include adequate exposure to the language, interesting material, and a relaxed learning environment. Second, extensive reading can enhance learners’ general language competence. Some studies that the source is taken from Online English teaching Forum (2007) have proven that through extensive reading students’ word cognition and reading skill as well as their oral and written skills are improved. Third, extensive reading can increase the students’ exposure to the language. An exposure to the language is seen important since learners can acquire new forms from the input, and this requirement is more essential for foreign language learners who usually lack natural exposure from their environment. Finally, extensive reading can as well motivate learners to read. The reading materials of an extensive reading program that address students’ needs, tastes, and interests will energize and motivate students to read the articles, and thus will advance the reading habit.

Because of the prominent roles of extensive reading, the present study tries to develop students’ reading and speaking skills through project-based learning using newsmagazine which is assigned as extensive reading materials.

2.3  Oral Reports

Oral reports as the follow-up activity of an extensive reading course is considered appropriate in the case that extensive reading is aimed to improve students’ production of spoken language. In this activity students were assigned to have an oral report on the articles they had read. The oral report was done in small groups.

To be a better speaker, a learner should practice speaking as much as possible. A rich input does not function effectively when it is not followed by a lot of speaking practice opportunities. Thus, in the present study, the follow up of the extensive reading course was an oral report that was expected to provide students with opportunities of speaking practice. Furthermore, as stated by Schmidt (1998), maximizing high interest input in any form is potential as a resource for communication in the classroom. When students spend their time for communicating, they need something to communicate about. Students’ own thoughts, feelings, and experiences are common sources whereas reading can expose students to new experiences and points of view that can be shared and discussed. Extensive reading, thus, not only contributes directly to acquisition but also aids skill development by providing content for meaningful interaction in the classroom.

Retelling as one form of the oral reports was employed in the present study. This technique was considered appropriate due to some reasons. First, retelling could solve the problem of “having nothing to talk about”. Students who hesitate to communicate would find retelling helpful since they did not need to make up their own stories; this activity could even enrich their schemata. Second, retelling could improve students’ speaking fluency. A study conducted by Revert and Nation (1991:84) reveals that retelling the same stories three times to different listeners with decreasing time for each retelling could make substantial gains in speed of speaking and reduce the number of hesitations in the retelling. Finally, this technique allowed learners to perform at a level higher than their normal level of fluency.

In the present study, the oral reports as the follow-up activity of the extensive reading were performed for four times. As the students were asked to find three articles, every article should be summarized in the form of written and oral reports. The synthesizing of the three articles was presented in the performance of small seminar. Every group that contains six members presented each of their synthesis of their made magazines. There would be a moderator who helped run the seminar.

 

RESEARCH DESIGN

Below is a short description of the research design.

The Problem and Objective of the Study

In line with the background of the study, the formulated research problem is

“How can the students-made newsmagazines through project-based learning be implemented effectively to improve English Foreign Language students’ reading and speaking skills?”

In accordance with the problem of the study, this study will be directed to develop a model of implementing students-made newsmagazines through project-based learning in improving EFL students’ reading and speaking skills effectively.

 

The Significance of the Study

This study is expected to give contributions as the following:

  1. The model will be used to improve EFL students’ reading and speaking skills and later to enhance further learning of English in general.
  2. Theoretically, the result of the study can enrich teachers’ knowledge of alternatives/variations in the teaching of extensive reading and speaking skills.
  3. Other classroom researchers could consider the implementation of this procedure in the years to come, and experimental studies are recommended to find out whether or not project-based learning could be more successful than conventional learning course.

English reading and speaking are taught separately at Accountancy Department-State Polytechnic of Malang. In the reading subject, the teacher creates questions to see the students’ comprehension and asks students to find some new vocabularies in the dictionary from the texts given. For in depth step, the teacher asks the students to memorize the new vocabularies and the teacher tests the students’ memorization, but sometimes the teacher asks the students to find the synonym/antonym and use the new vocabularies in the sentences.  While for the speaking subject, the students are given topics, such as the topic of likes, dislikes, preferences, and asked to practice the topic given with a partner or in a group of three.

Accountancy Department-State Polytechnic of Malang does not apply thematic or integrated method. The topics among the structure, reading, speaking and writing subjects do not relate to each other. Every subject works independently.

In the new model, the teacher-researcher proposes to ask students to be critical thinkers, to work independently, to work in teams, to share ideas, to appreciate some one’s ideas, to manage times, to do research, as well as to find problems and solutions. The result of the project given is reported in the form of written and oral report. From one project the students learn four skills in at time: reading, writing, listening and speaking as well as apply the skills at the same time.

 

This study is an action research, which focuses on a certain class. As defined by Carr and Kemmis (in Mc.Niff, 1993:2) action research is a form of self reflective inquiry undertaken by educational participants (teacher, student, or principals) in order to improve the rationality and justice of (a) their own educational practices, (b) their understanding of these practices, and (c) the situations in which these practices are carried out. The linking of the terms ‘action and research’ highlights the essential features of the approach: trying out ideas in practice as a means of improvement and as a means of increasing knowledge about the curriculum, teaching and learning.

Figure 3.1 Steps of the action research

Lewin (in Kemmis and Taggart 1992:8) described action research as proceeding in a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of planning, action and the evaluation of the result of the action. Kemmis and Taggart (1992:11) define planning as constructed action and by definition must be prospective to action-it must be forward looking. It must be recognized that all social action is to some degree unpredictable and therefore somewhat risky. The general plan must be flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen effects and previously unrecognized constraints. While action is deliberate and controlled-it is a careful and thoughtful variation of practice, and is critically informed. Furthermore, they mention that observation has the function of documenting the effects of critically informed action and reflection recalls action as it has been recorded in observation, but it is also active. The last step in a circle is reflection. Reflection seeks to make sense of processes, problems, issues and constraints made manifest in strategic action. Action research is a dynamic process in which these four moments are to be understood as moments in the action research spiral of planning, action, observing and reflecting.

Taking into consi  deration of the students’ poor  reading and speaking’ skill that the teacher-researcher’s face in the classroom, the present study tried to apply project-based learning to develop students’ reading and speaking skills. Thus, the classroom action research in this study was implemented for the purpose of improving the rationality and justice of the practice of project-based learning through students-made newsmagazine that can improve students’ reading and speaking skills, the understanding of this practice and the classroom situation in which this practice was carried out. This study was initiated with the general idea of how students’ reading and speaking skills could be improved. Then the reconnaissance (facts and findings analysis) was conducted. Following the reconnaissance was the designing of the general plan. The general plan then implemented and monitored.

Finally, the reflection was conducted in order to identify all facts including the success and the failure in the implementation as well as the effects of the teaching strategy.

Individual teacher-research approach was implemented in this action research. In this approach the teacher-researcher herself took the role as the classroom teacher.

 

THE ACTUAL CLASSROOM ACTION

This study was initiated with the general idea of how students’ reading and speaking skills could be improved. Then the reconnaissance (facts and findings analysis) was conducted. Following the reconnaissance was the designing of the general plan. The general plan was then implemented and monitored. Finally, another part of reconnaissance was conducted in order to identify all facts including the success and the failure in the implementation as well as the effects of the teaching strategy applied. The writer uses the action research procedure adapted from Elliot, 1992. The plan was implemented for one semester of 14 meetings with two meetings for doing the pre-test and four meetings for having the post test.

 

Figure 3.2 The Classroom Action Research Procedure.

 

The initial implementation of the plan was on the fourth meeting since the first and the second meetings were for the project information and the pre-test to see the students’ ability and the source problems. The third meeting was for informing the project-implementation. The result of the pre-test showed that the students ‘ability was in the level of very unsatisfactory either on reading skill or on oral report. The students got problems on comprehending texts and on delivering spoken language. One of the source problems of the students was on their limited vocabulary. To overcome this problem, the teacher-researcher initiated to apply word memorization based on the words-articles they had chosen and expected those words would be implemented on their summaries and oral report. The word memorization was initiated on the consideration that by having more vocabularies the students would find it easier to comprehend the articles and easier in producing spoken language. This idea worked well as the teacher-researcher also built the students ‘personal responsibilities for their own learning or developing students ‘long-term motivation to accomplish the tasks for the students’ own needs. This was in accordance withUr’s idea (1996) that teacher’s authoritative demand alone would not lead to higher motivation and better achievement. Teacher’s authoritative demands should be accompanied with students ‘involvement in the decisions.

The task of collecting at least 25 words for every meeting was successfully accomplished by the students. When they were absent, not attending the class on the session of the quiz, they would try to keep the target in the following meetings. This meant that the teacher-researcher was successful in motivating students to accomplish all of the given tasks. Furthermore, this good result could be the result of how the teacher-researcher gave reinforcement toward students’ work and of how she gave reward and punishment to her students. She rewarded her students’ good works by granting excellent scores and gave punishment in the form of warning and poorer scores. Getting good scores would increase the students’ motivation to accomplish the next tasks. In other words, the reinforcement became the new stimulus for the students to do better in the future. Brown (1980) suggested that “students who could not retrieve the meaning of certain words were allowed to see the context without seeing the meaning of those words.” It was used to keep the students’ motivation otherwise the students would get bored in opening the dictionary for every time the students faced new words.

The new words put in sentential contexts were also fruitful for the students to retrieve their memory. The students directly implemented what they had learned to the real practice, either in the written or spoken form.

Regarding the plan implementation in meeting four, all students found problems in reading authentic texts taken from English magazines or in the texts from the internet. Most of them could not summarize the news articles appropriately. In filling out the students- activities’ sheet they just quoted sentences from the authentic text. Thus, it could be concluded that these students were not capable enough to read authentic texts. Their language proficiency, in this sense, their reading ability was adequate for reading simplified materials only, and it was not for authentic texts. This finding motivated the teacher-researcher to ask the students to adopt the language of the authentic materials with the simplest language they could find in the English magazines or texts from the internet. This solution was in accordance with what was stated by Day and Bamford (2000) who said that when language learners found problems with difficult language in the reading text, simple language is considered the solution.

In the teacher-researcher’s mind authentic materials were considered important and needed to be continued on finishing the project because these authentic materials helped the students to improve their reading skills as well as to introduce them to content that was interest to the students. This finding is the same line with Wikipedia online article (Project-based learning, 2007, 1-4) that said that content is more meaningful to students because it is real world learning.

Applying the steps on developing students ‘reading skill in comprehending texts (including applying the technique of summarizing) was very fruitful to the students to keep their project. The students were really helped with that guidance. That guidance provides students with opportunities to practice a variety of reading subs skills as well as strategies for dealing with new topics, long passages, difficult passages, and unfamiliar vocabulary. Thus, the students could develop flexible reading skills and strategies that will vary according to the purpose of the reading task and the nature of the reading passage. The activities on the development of reading skills could also serve as a stimulus for the oral report they had to do.

Students’ interest in certain topic played important role in motoring them to keep on their project. All students completed the students- activities’ sheets happily. The sheets included short summary, students’ personal response toward the article to be read and the strategies used to develop reading skill. To the teacher-researcher’s detailed observation on the subjects’ summary in the project planning form (students- activities ‘sheets), it turn out that some students were good enough in writing the summary but some did not write the summary appropriately. The good point was that all students tried to write their own short summaries. This good point could be the result of students’ high enthusiasm in doing the tasks as well as the teacher-researcher’s success in motivating her students to work at their own attempt. Furthermore, this success was also the result of students-teacher close relationship that was believed able to increase students’ intrinsic motivation to learn (Brown, 2001).

Writing summary using new words memorization for extensive reading seemed to be a good practice as stated byBell(1998), summary writing in extensive reading was a valuable practice because it allowed learners to control both the main factual or fictional content of a story, and of the grammar and vocabulary used to express it. Moreover, this summary helped them elevating their speaking fluency since students already equipped themselves with correct content of the story as well the control of grammar and vocabulary to be used in the retelling activities.

The oral report activities as the following activity from the extensive reading were proven very effective in anticipating common problems encountered by students to produce oral language. First this technique could anticipate “the having nothing to talk about problem.” All students of the present study participated in the oral report activity since they always had report to be told either to the teacher, to the partner or to the audience. Second, all students did not hesitate to do the oral report since they did not need to make up their own stories. Third, by practicing at least 4 times to do the oral report, students had the chance to improve their speaking fluency. In short, to do the oral report as the follow –up activity of extensive reading was effective in improving students’ speaking’ skill. All of these findings were in the same line with Schmidt’ finding (1998) that discovered the success of extensive reading followed with conversation activities.

Students’ self confidence was believed influential to their speaking performance, and this was observed by the teacher-researcher. Some students who actually possessed good speaking skill could not perform adequately due to their poor self-confidence. To solve this problem, the teacher-researcher ensured all students that they actually could perform better when they possessed higher self-confidence. She further stated that to be able to improve their speaking skill, students should be brave enough to practice and should not be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes were informed as common things that could be tolerated and even the students could learn from the mistakes made. In short, increasing students’ self-confidence was believed to be very essential in building their intrinsic motivation to learn (Brown, 2001).

Furthermore, based on what the teacher-researcher observed, giving a project to the students was the right strategy to be implemented. This is a learning strategy that gives opportunities to the students to work more independently and realistically to generate a product. These activities enabled students to synthesize knowledge and to solve problems individually. The students developed strategies to enable themselves and to direct their own learning. This finding is supported by Newberry and Hughes (2006) that said “when the students experienced a problem during the process of their learning, they were more likely to make connection and thus see the value in what they were learning.”

As stated, one of the criteria of the present study was that students’ reading and oral report scores should at least get 125 points with the score 7, the maximum criteria was 200 points and for the score 10. Then, when reflected to this criterion of the success of the present study, the results of the reading test revealed that twelve students met the target of the criteria while the rest of the students (thirteen students) met above the criteria. The students’ increased scores from the pre-test to the post-test indicate that this strategy was helpful to improve students’ reading and speaking skills. Thus, what these students really needed was a longer implementation of the plan.The Wikipedia online article (Project-based learning, 2007, 1-4) informs that there has been a lot of research conducted by researchers about project-based learning. One of the more prominent benefits is how projects are used to encourage active inquiry and empower students to take a part in their own learning. A project allows students and teachers alike to focus and to study a central idea in depth. Content is more meaningful to students because it is real world learning and students can look at their work in a way that is interesting to them. Students can collaborate together to explore ideas. Student ownership is the true drive of project work. The process of working on a project will help students display independence and construct their own knowledge through questions that they have or developed with the class.

The suggestion to prolong the implementation of the procedure to two semesters was considered important. Students started with very poor vocabulary and low exposure to reading and speaking experiences; thus they need more time to improve their skills. The procedure developed in the present study was considered effective to elevate both students’ reading and speaking skills, and this project needed to be implemented longer than one semester. Two-semester implementation was considered long enough to reach the predetermined criteria.

The subjects’ reflection as pictured in the questionnaire revealed that most of them believed the implemented plan was quite satisfactory to them. They were quite motivated in conducting the extensive reading, collecting new words, memorizing the collected words, summarizing, synthesizing and participating in the oral report activities. This confirms the filling of the first criterion of the present study.

The average total point of the students pre-test was 63, with the score below 6, while the total point of the criteria of success should be 125 with the score 7. In article 1 the students’ ability increase, the total point was 85 with the score still below 6. In article 2 the students’ total point was 91 with the score below 6. In article 3, the achievement of the total point was 106 with the score above 6. On the post-test the average of the total point was 141 with the score above 7.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Based on the discussion presented in the previous chapter, project-based learning in the form of students-made newsmagazine was done successfully; the model could improve the students’ reading and speaking ability, it might be caused by a) the students’ involvement on their own learning. Since the students function as the actor of the project who had responsible on generating products in this case producing students-made newsmagazine. b) the result of the products were very attractive, it might be caused by the students’ responsibility and the students’ great enthusiasm. c). the students great enthusiasm might be caused by the atmosphere conducted since the teacher-researcher function as a facilitator not a teacher who had  a big power in the class. d)  the product trained the students became independent students, critical thinkers and promote students to become life-long learner

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

There are some points worth considering the implementation of the plan of the present study or to conduct a similar study. The suggestions are presented below:

  1. Other classroom researchers could use this procedure of improving students’ reading and speaking skills through project-based learning in the form of student-made newsmagazine or using other variations with similar issues such as producing a wall magazine. A wall magazine would also be a worth doing.
  2. The result of the present study show that students ‘reading and speaking study was improved but not to a significant point. Thus, it is recommended, for the following study, to implement the plan in more than one semester.
  3. As it was evident in the present study that speaking and extensive reading could be taught in one integrated course, other classroom researchers could also set up an integrated course like this.
  4. The Accountancy Department of the State Polytechnic of Malang could consider the implementation of this procedure in the years to come, and experimental studies are recommended to find out whether or not project-based learning could be more successful than the conventional learning course.

 

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