This chapter describes the background of the study, the research problem, the purposes of the study, the significances of the study, the scope of the study, and the definition of key terms.
1.1 The Background of the Study In learning language, one of language components that should be mastered by learners is vocabulary. The learners should master vocabulary in order to be able to communicate in the target language and help the learners to understand and use the language easily. Troike (2006: 138) states that vocabulary (or lexicon) is the most important level of L2 knowledge for all learners to develop–whether they are aiming primarily for either academic or interpersonal competence or a broader scope of communicative competence that spans two. Vocabulary is also important in the process of teaching and learning language because it supports the learner’s ability in language skills. The learners should master vocabulary well if they want to have better language skills. Huyen and Nga (2003), Zhao (2009), and Cahyono and Widiati (2011) agree that the mastery of vocabulary plays a key role in the whole process of second language learning and is of critical importance to the learners. Without a solid mastery of vocabulary, listening, reading, translation, and writing are all attics in the air. So, vocabulary is one that links four skills.
2 The learners are not able to communicate well with each other in the foreign language if they have low vocabulary mastery. They can not express their idea briefly because they do not have enough vocabulary. Akbari (2008) states that speakers cannot convey meaning and communicate with each other in a particular language. Moreover, Moras (2001) states that students need to broaden their vocabulary to express themselves more clearly and appropriately in wide range of situations. Vocabulary is important to be mastered by language learners, especially English learners, because English vocabulary is large. It is a must for the teachers to help their students to master vocabulary successfully. By mastering vocabulary, students can learn and use language well. It is proved by Laufer (1997 in Akbari, 2008) who states that vocabulary learning is at the heart of language learning and language use. The importance of vocabulary mastery remains one of the problems in English communication. The result of the observation in the eighth graders and the interview with the English teacher of MTsN Aryojeding, Tulungagung, revealed several facts about the students’ vocabulary mastery and the teaching and learning process. The researcher conducted observation on March 1, 2011 in class VIII-A whose students were not good at English. They got difficulty in expressing their idea, identified English words that they heard from the teacher, comprehended a text, and constructed writing. It was due to their limited vocabulary. It was showed by their low score in the vocabulary test. The results of vocabulary test which was done by the classroom English teacher showed that less
3 than 50% of the students passed SKBM (Standar Ketuntasan Belajar Minimal) or Minimum Passing Grade of 75. The students’ low vocabulary mastery was caused by inappropriate teacher’s teaching technique. In vocabulary session, the teacher just asked the students to translate and memorize every single difficult word by looking up the dictionary. It was not effective to gain the students’ vocabulary mastery. Wright (1989: 137) states that translation might often provide meaning quickly but it does not develop this essential learning strategy which the students can continue to draw on long after they have left classroom. In line with Wright, Zimmerman (1997 in Brown, 2007: 435) states that in traditional language-teaching methods highlighted vocabulary study with lists, definitions, written and oral drills, and flash cards“ the teaching and learning of vocabulary [were] undervalued.” The teacher did not put the...