English nowadays is considered as one of the most important skills in one’s life. Many job fields, public services, and other side of life use English since its role as an International language. Furthermore, most of companies require employees with good ability in English. Realizing the importance, people pay more attention to English.
At this time, English is taught since elementary level-some even from kindergarten- until high school. However, most of our students, especially teenagers in high schools who have learned English for years, can not communicate in English well, both in spoken and written form. If we ask them to speak in English, they are not confident and feel afraid of making mistake. This situation leads us in to a question what happen to our English class?
If we see closer to the class, Most of teachers are still use traditional method in teaching: textbook only. Some of our teachers still spoon-feed and force their students to memorize conversation in book. This method certainly is not appropriate with students’ need. Moreover, some of them High school students, or also called as teenagers, are those who are in searching self identity, adaptation, and
Consequently, teachers should be creative in preserving the lesson which is suitable with their psychology development. In fact, most of teachers do not know the right method in teaching young learners. They still use the old way: textbook only. Even some of them burden students with a lot of assignments in workbook.
This strategy certainly can not make students understand materials well, and it will not stay long in their memory. What students need is everything close to their daily life, which is suitable with the context, so they can store information in their long term memory. As we know, childhood is the golden age for learning a new language, since their brain differentiation is not complete yet.
For a better result, teachers should apply the appropriate way based on students’ intellectual and psychological development. The most effective method for this case is Contextual Teaching and Learning, which is also known as Contextual Approach. This paper later will discuss about nature of contextual approach and its application in teaching young learners. Beside that, knowing the nature of young learners will help us in understanding the power of this method.
Definition of Contextual Approach
Contextual Approach or Contextual Teaching and Learning introduced by John Dewey in early 20th century which emphasizes in Students’ experience for improving learning and teaching quality. One of institutions that develop this method is The Washington State Consortium for Contextual Teaching and Learning which concerns in American education, and is active in CTL training for teachers. (Aryan, 2007).
Webster’s New World (1968) cited by Ninung (2008) states that context refers to “the whole situation, background, or environment related to oneself”. Meanwhile, based on Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000), context means “situation in which something happens and it helps you to understand it”. Contextual itself can be defined as “connected as a particular context”. Approach means the way to deal with something.
In short, Contextual Approach is a set of ways or strategies in learning by using actual fact and environment which are related to students’ experience and real life in order to get a better comprehension and reaching the goal of the learning process. This is an approach that let students explore the material by themselves, while teachers’ work is more focused on arranging strategy rather than only giving information. In a Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) Fellows in 2000, it is agreed that students can learn best when concepts are applied to the their own life (ATEEC, 2000)
Components of Contextual Approach
As mentioned before, the philosophy of Contextual Approach is to help students understanding the lesson well by relating the material with their real life and their own experience. In the theory, there are several concept of effective learning used in Contextual approach. They are: constructivism, inquiry, questioning, modeling, reflection, and authentic assessment.