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IMPROVING STUDENTS’ VOCABULARY MASTERY

USING FLASH CARDS

Fery Angga Widiastuti


English Education Department, Faculty of Teacher and Training Education
Sebelas Maret University
Email: perry_snoopy@yahoo.com

Abstract

This paper discusses about improving students’ vocabulary mastery using


flash cards. The aims of the paper are: (1) to find out whether and to what extent
the use of flash cards can improve students' vocabulary and (2) to describe the
strengths and the weaknesses of using flash cards to teach vocabulary. The writer
conducted a classroom action research from February to June at the second
grade of SDN Bulakan 02, Sukoharjo in the academic year 2011/2012. This
research was conducted in two cycles and carried out in four steps namely;
planning the action, implementation/action, observation, and reflection. The
data of the research were collected by using qualitative and quantitative data
collection techniques. The result of the research shows that the use of Flash
cards can improve the students’ vocabulary mastery. It can be seen from the mean
score of the test which improve from 56.5 in the pre test to 77.1 in the post test
one and 83.7 in the post test two. Using flash cards could make the students pay
attention to the lesson properly. It also improved students’ participation in
learning vocabulary. They were not shy anymore and highly motivated to
join the teaching and learning process.

Key word: Vocabulary Mastery, Flash Card


Abstrak

Jurnal ini membahas tentang peningkatan kosa kata bahasa Inggris siswa dengan
menggunakan flash cards. Tujuan dari penulisan ini adalah (1) untuk menemukan
dan menjabarkan bahwa flash cards dapat meningkatkan kosa kata bahasa
Inggris siswa dan (2) untuk mendiskripsikan keunggulan dan kelemahan flash
cards dalam pengajaran kosa kata bahasa Inggris. Penulis melaksanakan
penelitian tindakan kelas dari bulan Februari sampai bulan Juni di kelas II, SD
Negeri Bulakan 02 Sukoharjo, tahun pembelajaran 2011-2012. Penelitian ini
dilaksanakan dalam dua tahap dengan langkah-langkah, seperti perencanaan
tindakan, penerapan tindakan, observasi, dan refleksi. Data penelitian
dikumpulkan dengan menggunakan teknik pengumpulan data kualitatif dan
kuantitatif. Hasil penelitian menunjukan bahwa penggunaan flash cards dapat
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meningkatkan kosa kata bahasa inggris siswa. Hal ini dapat dilihat dari rata-rata
hasil tes yang meningkat dari 56.5 dalam pre tes menjadi 77.1 di post tes pertama
dan 83.7 di post tes ke dua. Penggunaan flash cards dapat membuat murid lebih
memperhatikan pelajaran. Hal ini juga meningkatkan partisipasi murid dalam
mempelajari kosa kata bahasa inggris. Murid kelas II dari SD Negeri Bulakan 02
sukoharjo tidak merasa malu lagi dan sangat termotivasi dalam mengikuti
pelajaran bahasa inggris.

Key word: Penguasaan Kosa Kata Bahasa Inggris, Flash Cards

Mastering English is not as example: in speaking skill, people


easy as mastering our native cannot start to communicate if they
language because English is do not have vocabulary. People need
completely different from Indonesian vocabulary to arrange sentence in
language that is from the system of order to express our idea. Without
structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary, no one know what have
vocabulary. From those aspects, to say. People need and use
vocabulary is one of the aspects vocabulary to communicate in first
playing an important role in the four language. Therefore, they also need
English language skills, namely vocabulary to learn a new language
listening, speaking, reading, and as foreign language that is English.
writing. However, the English vocabulary
Burns and Broman (1975: and our first language are different.
295) define vocabulary as the stock Because of the differentiation, it is
of words used by a person, class, or very important to learn English
profession. Besides, Zimmerman (in vocabulary in order to be able to
Coady and Huckin, 1998: 5) defines master the language.
vocabulary is central to language. It Harmer (1998: 154) says that
means that vocabulary is basic in a general principle in the past has
language used to communicate with been to teach more concrete words at
others in both first language or lower levels and gradually become
mother tongue and foreign language. more abstract. Words like ‘table’,
Without vocabulary, no one cannot ‘chair’, ‘chalk’, etc. have figured in
communicate effectively or express beginners’ syllabuses because the
our ideas in both oral and written things which the words represents
form even in first language and are in the front of the students and
foreign language. Therefore, thus easily explained. Furthermore,
vocabulary must be known first in Haycraft (1978: 45) states that even
learning foreign language. It is the at beginner’s level, it is better to
first aspect that can help the learners choose particular words connected
in mastering all of English skills. For with their work or profession.
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From the theories above, it The classroom situation of


can be concluded that English the second grade students in SD
vocabulary that should be taught to Negeri Bulakan 02 was monotonous.
the beginner level is concrete words They were not movement of their
such as thing around them as topic in seat. It made them bored because of
beginners’ syllabuses for the lower the same atmosphere in their
level or the beginner level and teach classroom. Most of them were noisy
the abstract words for intermediate or in the lesson, such as moving round,
advanced level. chatting with others and disturbing
Teaching English vocabulary their friends. This condition
is not easy because they are very decreased the students’ motivation.
different from Indonesian Therefore, the students did not
vocabularies. The spelling and the enthusiastic in learning English. It
pronunciation are very different. was affected the students’
Besides, one word has more than one achievement in mastering
meaning. Moreover, it has different vocabulary.
word function in certain sentence. From the students’ factor,
According to the experts, ideally the most of the second grade students in
elementary students should achieve SD Negeri Bulakan 02 thought that
the vocabulary items, namely English lesson was difficult. The
pronunciation, spelling, meaning, difficulties were in pronunciation,
and word use in mastering spelling, memorizing and grasping
vocabulary. word, and using the word. This
Based on the four indicators condition became worse because
of vocabulary, the second grade they had less self-confidence.
students of SD Negeri Bulakan 02 Based on the result of
had problems from all indicators. observation, interview, and
The problems were found and questionnaire above, the researcher
identified from the observation, the proposes to use flashcards in
result of the questionnaire, and the teaching vocabulary. According to
result of the interview done in pre Haycraft (1997: 102), flash cards are
research. cards on which words and/ or picture
Based on the observation are printed and drawn. They should
done to the second grade students of be big enough to be seen clearly by
SD Negeri Bulakan 02, the problems every student in the class. He also
faced by the students were caused says that flash cards can be used for
from the students’ classroom consolidating vocabulary, practicing
situation and the students structure and word order, or variety
themselves. of games.
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Flashcards are visual teaching RESEARCH METHODS


aid. According to Brewster, et al. The researcher used
(1992: 89) visual support is very classroom action research as method
important to help convey meaning in this research. Hopkins (1983: 1)
and to help pupils memorize new says that classroom research is an act
words. Moreover, Schmitt (1997: undertaken by teachers either to
212) says that new words can be improve their own or a colleague’s
learned by studying them with teaching or to test the assumptions of
pictures of their meaning instead of educational theory in practice. While
definitions. Kemmis and McTaggart (in Nunan,
It means that flash cards are 1992:17) argue that the three
cards which are drawn or printed defining characteristics of action
with word or picture of its meaning research are that it is carried out
instead of definitions or both of by practitioners (for our purposes,
them. They have ideal size in order classroom teachers) rather than
to be able to see the whole students outside researchers; secondly, that it
in the class and be easy to handle is collaborative; and thirdly, that it is
them. They were used in teaching aimed at changing things. Cohen and
and learning new words. They are to Manion (in Nunan, 1997: 18) offer a
help students for consolidating similar set of characteristics. They
vocabulary in both pronunciation and argue that action research is first and
spelling, understanding the meaning, foremost situational, being
memorizing new words, practicing concerned with the identification and
structure and word order. solution of the problem in a specific
Besides, flashcards are context. They also identify
practical. It can be brought collaboration as an important feature
everywhere and every time. Using of this type of research, and state that
flash cards save time for the teacher the aim of the action research is to
in drawing on blackboard. It can be improve the current state of affairs
saved and used again in different within the educational context in
context and for all ages. which the research is being carried
From the background above, out.
the problems in this study are as From the above definitions, it
follow: “Can and to what extent the can be summarized that action
use of flash cards improve students' research is a systematic research
vocabulary at second grade of SDN done by teachers, researchers,
Bulakan 02, Sukoharjo?” and “What principals, school counselors,
are the strengths and weaknesses of administrator or other educational
using flash cards to teach professionals to solve problems that
vocabulary?”
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have been identified in order to get The implementation of using


better improvement. flash cards in teaching vocabulary
The model of action research could improve the students’ writing
used in this research is the model ability. It also had some strengths
which is developed by Kemmis and and weaknesses during the
Mc Taggart (in Hopkins, 1993: 48). implementation of using flash cards.
According to them, classroom action Based on the teaching and learning
research is composed of cycle process conducted in cycle 1 and
consisting of four steps namely: cycle 2, the strengths could be
planning, action, observation, and identified during the implementation
reflection. of using flash cards. They are the
The researcher collected the improvement of students’
group of data by using qualitative motivation, the improvement of
and quantitative method during the students’ vocabulary mastery, and
process of action research. The the improvement of students’
technique of collecting the data achievement.
using qualitative method was By using flash cards in
conducted by observational and teaching English, The students’
non-observational. They were motivation in learning English
observations, field notes, and improved. It could be seen from the
photographs of teaching and learning change of the students’ behavior in
process, interviews, questionnaires, the lesson. The students looked so
documents, and test. happy when the teacher entered the
The qualitative data could be class. They were very curious with
analyzed by using Miles and the flash cards that the teacher
Huberman’s way. According to brought. They waited with full
Miles and Huberman (1992:16) the curiosity about what the teacher
steps in analyzing the qualitative data would do with the flash cards and
are collecting the data, data what they would learn with the flash
reduction, data display, drawing cards. They also enjoyed the lesson.
conclusion and verification. Besides, by giving try out, support
Meanwhile, the quantitative and compliment in every activity,
data were presented in the form of the students became so active,
mean score. In analyzing the enthusiastic and full of participation
quantitative data, the researcher every time the teacher asked them to
compared the mean score of the pre- guess and answer the question. They
test and post-test in order to know were also brave and not shy
whether there is an improvement of anymore to pronounce words and to
students’ vocabulary or not. answer the teacher’s questions. They
DISCUSSION competed in some activities by
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raising their hands or shouting flashcards are an essential means of


“Aku, Bu” in order to be chosen by conveying the meaning of new words
the teacher in doing task from the and they help the children to
teacher and offering themselves to memorize them more effectively.
answer the teacher’s questions. Besides, Gerngross and Puchta
Moreover, the naughty students (2009: 15) state that the purpose of
stopped disturbing other students, the flashcards is to introduce
chatting and playing with others in important new words visually. These
lesson, and playing with their toys. suggestions for using them in the
All those conditions were very lesson are based on the following
different from the conditions before educational principles:
the implementation of using flash a. Conveying the meaning of
cards. new words in the foreign
Based on the explanation language lesson should be
above, it can be concluded that the carried out as visually as
use of flash cards in teaching possible.
vocabulary improve the students’ b. Always apply the principle
motivation. listening precedes speaking.
Besides, the students could The children should first of
learn vocabulary easily. The students all become accustomed to the
could pronounce the words as the pronunciation and intonation
written form on the flash cards. The of a word before they are
progress was caused by drilling asked to repeat it.
activity in the process of teaching c. When introducing new words
and learning vocabulary where the use a combination of all the
students imitated the teacher as the senses. Pictures,
model in pronouncing words. pronunciation and intonation
Besides, by showing flash cards and also motor-processing
which was combined with word on techniques complement each
it, giving list of vocabulary to the other and help to anchor a
students, and asking them to read the word in the long –term
vocabulary for many times, the memory.
students could write the spelling as d. The anchoring of the new
they pronounced the words. They words will be all the more
also could catch the meaning of long-lasting if the words are
words easily because there was only repeated often enough. No
one object on each flash card and the more than one to two minutes
object shown its meaning. are needed for this. The
The explanation above as flashcards are highly suited to
Gerngross, et al. (2009: 6) say that such repetition stages.
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The achievement of the of the students’ achievement


students increased. It could be seen indicates that the students’
by analyzing the students’ mean vocabulary mastery improved. The
score before the research and improvement of the students’
students mean score of each cycle. vocabulary mastery was in all
In the pre-test, the mean score was vocabulary aspects, namely
56.5. In cycle one, the mean score of pronunciation, spelling, meaning,
post-test one was 77.1, while in and word use. The improvement of
cycle two, the mean score of post vocabulary aspects can be seen in
test two was 83.7. The improvement the tables below:
Table 1: The Improvement of Vocabulary Aspects after Cycle 1
Meaning Spelling Pronunciation Word use
Aspect Pre- Post- Pre- Post- Pre- Post- Pre- Post-
test test 1 test test 1 test test 1 test test 1
Sum of the score 242 284 192 216 98 250 238 306
Sum of the
34 34 34 34 34 34 34 34
students
Students' mean
7.12 8.35 5.65 6.35 2.88 7.35 7.00 9.00
score

Table 2: The Improvement of Vocabulary Aspects after Cycle 2


Meaning Spelling Pronunciation Word use
Aspect Post- Post- Post- Post- Post- Post- Post- Post-
test 1 test 2 test 1 test 2 test 1 test 2 test 1 test 2
Sum of the
284 308 216 262 250 260 306 310
score
Sum of the
34 34 34 34 34 34 34 34
students
Students'
8.35 9.06 6.35 7.71 7.35 7.65 9.00 9.12
mean score

In addition to the strengths, mistake. However, the conditions


there were weaknesses found during were much better after implementing
the implementation of using flash flash cards in teaching and learning
cards. In the first meeting in cycle 1, process. They became so active and
the students had less attention to enthusiastic. Unfortunately, those
participate in the teaching learning turned them to be noisy one.
process. They preferred to be good
listeners, disturbing their friends, CONCLUSION AND
chatting with their friends, and SUGGESTION
playing with their toys. they were From the explanation above,
also so shy and afraid of making a the researcher concludes that
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although some weaknesses arise before the implementation of using


during the implementation of using flash cards.
flash cards, the strengths of using The improvement of the
flash cards in teaching vocabulary students’ achievement is supported
give benefits more rather than the by the result of the test score before
disadvantages. It is indicated from and after the implementation of the
the improvement of the students’ action. The students’ mean score of
motivation and achievement. pre-test score improves from 56.5 to
The improvement of the 77.1 in post-test 1. Meanwhile, the
students’ motivation could be seen mean score of post-test 1score
from the change of the students’ improves from 77.1 to 83.7 in post-
behavior in the lesson. The students test 2.
looked so happy when the teacher It means that the
entered the class. They were very implementation of using flash cards
curious with the flash cards that the in teaching vocabulary can improve
teacher brought. They waited with the students’ vocabulary mastery at
full curiosity about what the teacher the second grade of SDN Bulakan
would do with the flash cards and 02, Sukoharjo.
what they would learn with the flash Based on the research
cards. They also enjoyed the lesson. findings, the researcher proposes
Besides, the students became so some suggestions for the students
active, enthusiastic and full of and for the English teacher. For the
participation every time the teacher students, they are expected to be
asked them to guess and answer the more active and motivated in
question. They were also brave and learning English. Besides, they
not shy anymore to pronounce words should follow the teacher’s
and to answer the teacher’s instruction in order to maximize the
questions. They competed in some learning. The students not only can
activities by raising their hands or study English in the class but also
shouting “Aku, Bu” in order to be they can study everywhere and every
chosen by the teacher in doing task time. They can also practice English
from the teacher and offering in their daily life. For the English
themselves to answer the teacher’s teacher, they should enhance their
questions. Moreover, the naughty ability in teaching English especially
students stopped disturbing other teaching vocabulary. The teacher
students, chatting and playing with should have suitable technique to
others in lesson, and playing with teach vocabulary. English teacher
their toys. All those conditions were can also use media to teach
very different from the conditions vocabulary. One of the media that
can be used to teach vocabulary is
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flash cards. Teaching vocabulary by Press and Heibling


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students grasp and remember new Playway to English Level
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makes students controllable and Teaching. New York:
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