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Published by: IwanHariyanto on Oct 08, 2013
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The Challenge of Teaching Listening and Conversation in English Class toCreated Student’s Life Skills
 byRina Puji Utami
Students need to apply the same approach to listening anconversation skills. The aim of 
 English Life Skills is to enhance the participation of students with special education needs in all aspects of post-school life and promote their independencethrough the development of effective communication and literacy skills. Skills to be addressed through a plan include: listening toothers in large and small groups, knowing how to take turns,contributing appropriately, sharing, being polite and respectful during all group and classroom activities. Skills in the yard include, sharing equipment and sports items (balls, skipping ropes,etc.), understanding the importance of teaming, avoiding arguing,accept team and sports rules, participating responsibly.
Teaching listening skills is one of the most difficult tasks for any Englishteacher. This is because successful listening skills are acquired over time and withlots of practice. It's frustrating for students because there are no rules as ingrammar teaching. Speaking and writing also have very specific exercises that canlead to improved skills. This is not to say that there are not ways of improvinglistening skills, however they are difficult to quantify.A good English conversation class involves more than sitting aroundchatting. To teach English conversation well, we will need to carefully plan anddirect the class, yet make sure the conversation stays spontaneous and uninhibited.Learn how to teach English conversation so your students get free speaking practice and learn vocabulary and grammar, too.One of the largest inhibitors for students is often mental block. Whilelistening, a student suddenly decides that he or she doesn't understand what is being said. At this point, many students just tune out or get caught up in aninternal dialogue trying translate a specific word. Some students convincethemselves that they are not able to understand spoken English well and create problems for themselves.They key to helping students improve their listening skills is to convincethem that not understanding is OK. This is more of an attitude adjustment than
The author is teacher at Budi Luhur Junior High School, Nganjuk and Lecturer at STIKIP  Nganjuk, East Java
anything else, and it is easier for some students to accept than others. Another important point that the teachers try to teach their students (with differing amountsof success) is that they need to listen to English as often as possible, but for short periods of time.
History of the English Language
The history of the English language really started with the arrival of threeGermanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, theAngles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today isDenmark and Northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke aCeltic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north bythe invaders, mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Anglescame from Englaland and their language was called Englisc, from which thewords England and English are derived (www.englishclub.com).From the 16th century the British had contact with many peoples fromaround the world. This, and the Renaissance of Classical learning, meant thatmany new words and phrases entered the language. The invention of printing alsomeant that there was now a common language in print. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brought standardization to English.Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses were, became the standard. In 1604 the first English dictionarywas published.
English Teaching
For the most effective instruction toward English proficiency, Englishteachers need to focus on the core areas of English language instruction, includingreading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar.Reading skills are necessary for English class students to interpretassignments, research projects, and perform well in non-English classes. Readingalso practices vocabulary, exposes students to sentence structure, and canintroduce concepts in nearly any content area. Strategies for teaching readinginclude:1.Reading instructions aloud. This gives the teacher an opportunity to assist with pronunciation as well.2.Book reports. Choosing books slightly below students’ grade level will helpthem master English skills while still keeping reading in the curriculum.3.Free reading time. Allowing students to read English language books,magazines, and newspapers of their choice can help them practice readingskills with less pressure.4.Deciphering vocabulary context clues. This can help students learn vocabularywhile they read and will reinforce their reading skills.5.Reading comprehension questions. Discussions of plot, characterization, andother aspects of books and short stories can help students refine their readingand speaking skills.2
6.Dictionary use. Allowing students to use translation dictionaries to completereading assignments will strengthen their English skills while teaching themhow to use valuable reference resources (Ann Logsdon, 2009: 2).Writing a new language is far different than learning to speak it. Englishclass students must be able to write effectively in English to perform well in bothclasses and future employment. Teachers who know how to teach an English classmay use strategies and assignments such as:
Autobiographies and country reports. Students writing about themselves andtheir native country can practice writing skills while introducing themselves totheir peers.
Journaling. Daily journal assignments can inspire writing practice on a varietyof timely topics.
Complete sentences. Requiring students to respond with complete sentenceson any assignment will continually reinforce English writing skills.
Wordless books. Teachers can use wordless children’s picture books to allowstudents to make up an appropriate story. Stories could then be read toyounger siblings or classes for more practice.
Essay questions. Incorporating essay questions into frequent assignments andtests keeps students’ writing skills in the forefront (Ann Logsdon, 2009: 3).Learning the vocabulary of a new language is essential for meaningful progress and mastery. Vocabulary strategies include:1.Using cross-curricular terms. ESL teachers can ask students’ other teachers foappropriate words to incorporate into a vocabulary list. This has the added bonus of helping students study for other classes while they learn English.2.Word of the day. Choosing a word of the day and discussing its definition isthe perfect way to introduce unique vocabulary words to ESL students.3.Flashcards. Quick practice can help students learn words efficiently.4.Crossword puzzles. Another fun way to learn vocabulary, crossword puzzlescan be an enjoyable assignment (Ann Logsdon, 2009: 3).For many English class students, learning grammar can be the mostdifficult part of adjusting to English. Teachers should pay particular attention toverb tenses, sentence structure and syntax, appropriate pronoun usage, and how tocreate plural words because these are often the most difficult areas of grammar for English class students.
Teaching Listening
In the teaching learning at English class, we like to use this analogy:Imagine you want to get in shape. You decide to begin jogging. The very first dayyou go out and jog seven miles. If you are lucky, you might even be able to jogthe seven miles. However, chances are good that you will not soon go out joggingagain. Fitness trainers have taught us that we must begin with little steps. Begin jogging short distances and walk some as well, over time you can build up thedistance. Using this approach, you'll be much more likely to continue jogging andget fit (Kenneth Beare, 2009: 1)3

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