What should we do as an English teacher now?

By Titik Wijayati *

(The English Teacher of SLTP Negeri 6 Pelaihari

A. Introduction

English, as the first foreign language in Indonesia is taught since the first year of Junior High School. Nowadays, English has been introduced in elementary level after the Decree of the Minister of education and culture of RI No.0487/4/1992 about the local content in the Elementary school Curriculum and no. 060/1993 about the introduction of English since 4th Grade of Elementary School as a local content were issued (Sri Ekonomi).

It is no doubt, that English is used by more than a half of population in the world. English is very important nowadays. All of the aspects of life use English. English mastering is not only for international people needs but also individual needs. As described in Competency Based Curriculum often called CBC (Depdiknas, 2001: 7), English mastering is one of main condition to answer the global challenge. Every body, society, even Indonesian nation should master English. Otherwise, we will lose many opportunities because of English ability. English mastering can be taken from various programs, but learning English through school is the main way for Indonesian people to master English. Littlewood (1984: x) said that “communicative ability is the goal of foreign language learning.” Based on his view, the foreign language learner should have ability to communicate with the target language.

English as foreign language in Indonesia can be easy for some people. They may say that they do not need any teaching to be able to use English for communication. It is the fact that English is a kind of habit for them. They have good environment, good atmosphere to explore their English. It is the need for them.

We ignore them who are able in communicating with English. Let’s concern to some people who say that English is so hard to learn. It has three intrinsic difficulties, namely: written, pronunciation, and meaning. They are quite different. It is one of the reasons perhaps that English is so hard for some people, especially for students in rural area. Since the source of English is only from the English teacher itself and the classroom English they used in the class. What about text books, magazines, newspaper, AVAs (Audio Visual Aids) or other sources of English ? It is so limited. Moreover, the monotonous climate of teaching and learning process, the unfriendly teacher attitude, boring situation in the class. The teacher came to the class, “ Well, students, open your book on page …. Do the task!… and then discuss your answer!” finish. Then, students do the task without knowing anything in his mind, while the teacher just sitting behind the table. As the teacher walks in, the students fall silent, face forward, open their text book, copying, translating sentence, and answering multiple-choice question? So, what do you think? Will English be interesting subject? How can they have high motivation in English? Even success in national examination (UN) ?

The challenge of English teacher nowadays is more complicated. Language teaching is not easily categorized into methods and trends. Instead, each teacher is called on to develop a sound of overall approach to various language classrooms. Brown (2000: 14) said that approach is a principled basis upon which the teacher can choose particular designs and techniques for teaching a foreign language in a particular context. There are no instant recipes. No quick and easy method is guaranteed to provide success. Every learner is unique. Every teacher is unique. Every teacher-learner relationship is unique, and every context is unique our task as a teacher is to understand the properties of those relationship.

B. What should we do based on the condition above?

Well, on this opportunity, I invite the English teacher to take a broad, sweeping a look at Interactive Language Teaching. What is interaction, principles, the role of interactive teacher, creating a positive classroom climate.

1. What is interaction?

Interaction is an important word for language teachers. In the era of communicative language teaching, interaction is, in fact, the heart of communication; it what communication is all about. Wilga Rivers put it this way:

Through interaction, students can increase their language store as they listen to or read authentic linguistic material, or even the output of their fellow students in discussion, skits, joint problem solving, task, or dialog. In interaction, students can use all they posses of the language-all they have learned or casually absorbed in real life exchange.

2. What is Interactive Principle?

  1. Automaticity: True human interaction is best accomplished when focal attention is on the meanings and messages and not on grammar and other linguistic forms. Learners are thus freed from keeping language in a controlled mode and can more easily practiced to automatic modes of processing.
  2. Intrinsic motivation: a student become engaged with each other in speech act of fulfillment and self actualization, their deepest drives are satisfied. And as they more fully appreciate their own competence to use language, they can develop a system of self reward.
  3. Strategic investment: Interacting requires the use of strategic language competence both to make certain decision on how to say or write or interpret language, and to make repairs when communication pathway s are blocked. The spontaneity of interactive discourse requires judicious use of numerous strategies for production and comprehension.
  4. Risk-taking: Interaction requires the risk of failing to produce intended meaning, of failing to interpret intended meaning, (on the part of someone else), of being laughed at, of being shunned or rejected. The rewards of course, are great and worth the risk.
  5. The language-culture connection: The cultural loading of interactive speech as well as writing requires that interlocutors be thoroughly versed in the cultural nuances of language
  6. Inter language: The complexity of interaction entails a long developmental process of acquisition. Numerous of errors of production and comprehension will be a part of this development. And the role of teacher feedback is crucial to the development process.
  7. Communicative competence: All of the elements of communicative competence (grammatical, discourse, sociolinguistic, pragmatic, and strategic) are involved I human interaction. All aspects must work together for successful communication to take place.

3. Role of Interactive Teacher

  1. The teacher as controller
  2. The teacher as director
  3. The teacher as manager
  4. The teacher as facilitator
  5. The teacher as resource

4. Teacher voice and Body Language

One of the first requirements of good teaching is good voice projection. You do not have to have a loud, booming voice, but you need to be heard by all the students in the room. Clear articulation is usually more of a key to comprehension than slowed speech.

The voice is not only production mode available in the classroom. Nonverbal message are very powerful. In language classes, especially, where students may not have all the skills they need to decipher verbal language, their attention is drawn to nonverbal communication. Here are some pointers:

  • Let your body posture exhibit an air of confidence
  • Your face should reflect optimism, brightness, and warmth
  • Use facial and hand gesture to enhance meanings of word and sentences that might otherwise be unclear
  • Make frequent eye contact with all students in the class
  • Do not ‘bury yourself” in your notes and plans
  • Do not plant your feet firmly in one place for the whole hour
  • Move around the classroom, but not distraction
  • Follow the conventional rules of proxemics (distance) and kinesthetics (touching) that apply for the cultural(s) of your students.
  • Dress appropriately, considering the expectation of your students and the culture in which you are teaching.

5. Creating a positive classroom climate.

a. Establish rapport (relationship)

Rapport is the relationship or connection you establish with your students., a relationship built on trust and respect that leads to students feeling capable, competent, and creative. Set up such a connection by:

· Showing interest

· Giving feedback

· Valuing and respecting what students think and say

· Laughing with them not at them

· Working with them as a team and not against them

· Developing a genuine sense of vicarious joy when they learn something or otherwise succeed.

b. Balance praise and criticism

c. Generate energy

Energy is what you react to when you walk out of a class period and say to yourself, “ Wow! That was a great class!” or “What a great group of students”. Energy is the electricity of many minds caught up in a circuit of thinking and talking and writing. Energy is an aura of creativity sparked by the interaction of students. Energy drives students toward higher attainment Students (and teachers) take energy with them when they leave the classroom and bring it back the next day.

Thank you


Brown, H.D. (2000). Principles of language learning and teaching. (4th ed). New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

______. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedadogy (2nd ed). New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Celce-Murcia, M., & Olshtain, E. (2000). Discourse and context in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Littlewood, W. (1984). Communicative language teaching: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morrow, K., & Johnson, K. (1982). Communication in the classroom: Applications and methods for a communicative approach. England: Longman Group Ltd.

Wijayati, Titik. (2003). Upaya peningkatan pembelajaran bahasa Inggris di SLTP Negeri 6 Pelaihari melalui prosedur komunikatif:Penelitian Tinakan Kelas. Tesis, tidak diterbitkan, PPS-UNY, Yogyakarta.

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