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Reading is one of the most important skills which should be acquired by language learners. As Debat stated that “reading is a crucial skill for students of English as a foreign language”; therefore, it is better to be earlier introduced to the language learners. Introducing reading to children in their early ages will strongly help them to have better reading comprehension skills compared to those who are non-early readers. Moreover, being able to read as well as to write will enable the children to achieve the goals of language learning, which is using the language communicatively.
In today’s education trend, methods in teaching reading have evolved creatively. Teachers sometimes involve other language skills to teach reading for the students. Involving other language skills to teach reading seems to be more effective because “pedagogically, not a single language skill can be taught or learnt solely no matter what and how”. Reading aloud is one of the most popular methods in teaching reading which involve visual and auditory skills. Teachers will read a script or a story for the students in an expressive way, while the students follow the script or story by reading the printed script by themselves. Nevertheless, in today’s digital era the reading aloud method is upgraded in the more up-to-date form of audio book. It facilitates the students with a recorded audio script and printed script. Students can read the script while the teachers only need to play the audio.
Audiobooks seem to be very effective for the young learners to learn reading, since it presents reading in an enjoyable way for them. As Willis, on his The Neuroscience of Joyful Education stated that “when students engaged and motivated and feel minimal stress, information flows freely through the affective filter in the amygdale and they achieve higher levels of cognition, make connections, and experience “aha” moments”. Seeing the potential of audiobooks as a teaching reading tool, it should be the chosen method implemented for most of early stages schools, but especially in Salatiga, the fact says the opposite one.
Realizing that audiobook has a convincing potential but lack of implementation in Salatiga, this study intends to find out factors which underlie the gap through the teachers’ beliefs toward the use of audiobook to teach reading for young learners. From the results of this study, the researcher hopes that early stages schools in Salatiga would take a consideration to add audiobook on their schools’ curriculum. This following question is used to focus on the research process: “What are the teachers’ beliefs towards the use of audiobook in teaching reading to young learners?”
The importance of teachers’ beliefs
According to Borg (2001), beliefs play a significant role in many parts of teaching, along with in life. Then, what is the importance of teachers’ belief in the teaching process? Firstly, we need to make clear of the basic perception: belief. Belief sets or leads peoples’ way of thinking and action (Xu, 2012). Moreover, Borg (2001) stated that “a belief is a proposition which may be consciously or unconsciously held, is evaluative in that it is accepted as true by the individual, and is therefore imbued with emotive commitment; further, it serves as a guide to thought and behavior”.
Beliefs are formed early in life as an outcome of persons’ education and experience. In teaching context, according to Xu (2012) teachers’ beliefs is a result from the teachers’ self-instruction, which is accrued from social history and culture, individual experience and education, the teachers’ teaching ability and students, etc. Therefore, teachers’ beliefs take a greater effect than the teacher’ knowledge on planning their lessons, on the types of decisions they implement, and on classroom practice.
Teachers’ beliefs are significant concept in comprehending teachers’ thought processes, instructional practices, and change and learning to teach. Beliefs owned by the teachers will reflect the way of the teachers think about teaching and learning. Whereas, as Xu (2012) argued that “teachers’ beliefs about what learning is will affect everything that they do in the classroom, whether these beliefs are implicit or explicit”. It influences how the teachers behave, interact and teach in the classroom. As a result, teachers’ beliefs play an important role in deciding the method or strategy applied in their classroom.
Young learners; who are they?
Commonly, young learners are divided into two school levels; kindergarten and elementary. As Carol (2011) explained that ‘young learners’ is a period that is used to state children from their first year of formal schooling (5-7 years old) to when they are 11-12 years old, or to when they move on from primary to secondary school. Cameron (2001) also added that young learners are those whose ages between 5-12 years old. From these interpretations, would assume that young learners are students age between five until twelve years old placed on kindergarten and elementary school.
UK Essays (2015) revealed some characteristics of young learners: their world is based on games and having fun, they are not aware to learn yet. Besides, UK Essays stated that young learners learn by imitating rather than on their awareness in learning and they learn faster through movement and senses. Cameron (2001) added that young learners usually can be heard talking to themselves and adjusting themselves as they bring of tasks or play, in what is termed as private speech.
In English language learning, Phillips (1993) argued that young learners respond to language according to what it does or what they can do with it, rather than treating it as an intellectual game or abstract system. Therefore, some considerations have to be made by the teachers when they are going to teach the students whether the method is understandable or amusing for the young learners to grasp.
Teaching reading for young learners
According to Olafsdottir (2016) “reading means gaining understanding over the written symbols represented by the sounds of oral language”. Besides, reading is an interactive process where the reader interacts dynamically with the texts as he/she tries to elicit the meaning and where various kinds of knowledge are being used. Generally, having a good reading skill would enrich learners’ vocabulary; increase their communications skills as well as to achieve the language learning goal.
Olafsdottir (2016) dividing the process of reading into pre-reading activities and reading process, where pre-reading activities deal with learners’ motivation and awareness to read and reading process deals with learners’ reading comprehension. Considering the characteristics of young learners, the process of reading both the pre-reading activities and reading process should be delivered in an enjoyable way.
When discussing about teaching reading there are many methods which can be used. Teachers are freely to vary and combine them. Paivio’s dual-coding theory (1971) stresses the effectiveness of using verbal associations and visual imagery together in cognition. Then, teaching reading through the use of audiobook seems to be more preferable to teach young learners, since it is presented in colorful printed scripts and enjoyable audio scripts.
The use of audiobook
Audiobook, were first be introduced in 1931 in the scope of “Books for Adult Blind Project”. Nevertheless, the use of audiobooks has worked far beyond its original purpose. It is used as a tool to improve reading comprehension for children. The colorful printed script accompanied with entertaining audio script read by professional narrators, actress, or the author itself would get the student’ interests and attention in reading the story.
There are some differences between audiobook and traditional reading aloud. Rubery (2008) finds out three key differences: first, reading aloud is limited in space and time, while listening to audiobooks does not have such restrictions. Second, reading aloud requires face-to-face encounter, audiobooks can be listened to via computers, MP3 players, smart phones, CDs, cassettes, walkmans, and so on. From these differences, audiobooks seem to be more effective in use. Teachers only need to prepare the printed script and play the recorded audio script.
Audiobook equipping the children with good speech pattern model. When the students follow the printed script of the story while listening to the audio played by the teacher, children are equipped by not only on the decoding process, but also in emulating phrasing, pronunciation, accent, emphasis, tone, and other components which is the characteristics of English speech patterns. Luckily, in today’s era “a great many courses for the teaching of English to foreigners published today have taped materials to accompany them, and it is nearly always valuable to have these available to support the written text, if for no other reason – especially for the teacher who is a non-native speaker of English”. These taped materials provide a good speech models for the learners which enable them to have better speech in English. Hence, children are best imitators of what they heard and see, tapped material read by professional narrators would help them to have good and correct speech base patterns.
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