Assessing Young Learners' Speaking Ability in the Fifth Grade of Three Elementary Schools in Padang

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PTW - Assessing Young Learners' Speaking Ability in The Fifth Grade of Three Elementary Schools in Padang CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION

A. Background of the Problem
Communicative view development in English learning makes the focus on English teaching changed. What once became structurally focused, it now moves toward meaningful language-focused. Students are not asked to memorize structure-based dialogues without knowing the meaning anymore. There are no more grammatically controlled sentences for students’ meaningless repetition. Dialogues, if used, center around communicative functions and are not normally memorized (Richards & Rodgers, 1986). That makes the teaching of speaking becomes the core part of English teaching. Just like the adults, young learners today are also taught speaking meaningfully and communicatively. However, young learners have distinctive characteristics compared with adult learners. One of them is children are still developing cognitively, linguistically, socially, emotionally, and physically (Teaching Knowledge Test Young Learners: Handbook for Teachers, 2010). In other words, in teaching speaking to them, teachers need to consider children’s development of skills in the native language first. Young learners also enjoy rhythmic and repetitive language more than adults do. They are more likely to play with language than adults are, and they can be more effectively engaged through stories and games (Peck, 2009). The different techniques and approaches in teaching speaking to young learners lead to different ways in the speaking assessment. This is the problem faced by Indonesian young learners’ teachers nowadays. Most teachers do not know how they should assess their young learners’ speaking ability; some finally choose to skip the speaking assessment and focus on pencil-paper-tests. Thus, this research is conducted to discover and reveal ways of assessing young learners’ speaking ability.

B. Identification of the Problem
Based on the background above, the speaking assessment techniques used for young learners should be different from the adult. It should be suited with their cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical development. As we looked upon Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices by Brown (2010) and integrated it with curriculum standard in Indonesia, KTSP 2006, young learners will be better to be assessed in imitative and intensive speaking categories, such as imitating teachers’ saying, directed response tasks, read-aloud tasks, and dialogue completion tasks. Alternative assessments such as interviews and conferences can also be applied for them.

C. Limitation of the Problem
In this research, the problem will be focused on the speaking assessment techniques in the fifth grade of three selected elementary schools in Padang.

D. Formulation of the Problem
* What kind of speaking assessment technique used by elementary school English teachers? * Why do they use such techniques?

E. Purpose of the Research
The purpose of this research is to discover and reveal the technique used by English teachers to assess elementary school students’ speaking ability.

F. Significance of the Research
Theoretically, this research is aimed to give a description of how speaking assessment for young learners done in Indonesia. Practically, some techniques used by English teachers provided here can be a source of alternative speaking assessment.

CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

A. The Nature of Assessment
There has been various explanation of what assessment is. Brindley (as stated in Linse, 2005) refers assessment as “collecting information and making judgments on a learner’s knowledge”. It means that in assessing students, we need to find out what students know about the subject being taught and how far that understanding has reached the learning indicator.

In the same line with Brindley but with an...
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