Using Storytelling Technique to Improve Students’ Listening Skill Performance: A Case Study in Indonesia

Hendrikus Male

hendriuki@yahoo.com

Resvina Imelda Pardede

resvinaimeldap@gmail.com

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

ABSTRACT

Applying storytelling as one of the language teaching strategies has become an interesting issue as previous studies have convincingly shown its effectiveness. To respond to low students’ listening performance of eight grade of Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP) 3 PSKD, a two-cycled action research was systematically employed. Initial students’ listening ability, taken through a 20-objective-items test, which met the success criterion was 36.00%. After applying the storytelling technique, the listening skill got improved. There are found 40.75% of the participants achieving the success criterion, or 4.75% higher than the initial one. More interestingly, the post-test of the second cycle of the action research results developed almost twice higher than the previous post-test result, or 41% better than of the initial listening performance. With reference to its effectiveness in teaching and learning listening skill, the observation results showed that an interactive and interesting teaching atmosphere were more likely achievable through the storytelling application. Therefore, it is suggested to consider the application of storytelling in EFL learning in Indonesian contexts. To respond to this, identification of local histories and storytelling application strengthened by teaching policy at schools are worthy.

Keywords: storytelling technique, local wisdom, action research, listening skill.

Full Text

INTRODUCTION

Applying storytelling as one of the language teaching techniques has become an interesting way to overcome students’ problem in learning language skills, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing. A reviewed previous studies on storytelling shows a positive effect on language teaching process atmosphere that was always attractive and engaging language learners. Hemmati, Gholamrezapour, and Hessamy (2015) claimed that the experimental group of 66 Iranian EFL learners found the storytelling more effective in learning the listening skill. According to them, it was due to the influence of the teacher’s body language and eye contact when learning and teaching. A pretest-postest control group of the quasi-experimental design of Oduolowu & Oluwakemi (2014) indicated that there was a positive significant contribution of the storytelling on the listening performance of primary one students in Ibadan North Local Government Area of Oyo State, Nigeria. Another similar research finding also corresponds to those two reports. Mulyani’s (2009) work concluded that teaching listening through storytelling in the classroom seemed to be more effective. Pardede’s (2011b) study focusing on university EFL students’ interest and perception in the use of short story in language skills development revealed that most participants supported the incorporation of short stories in language skills classes because it can help learners achieve better mastery of language skill. Additionally, the study of Kim (2010) showed that the participants who were interested and pleased in participating in storytelling activities got better language skills improvement than those having little and no interest in storytelling.

Many reasons for making storytelling technique effective in positively determining the success of the aforementioned teaching of listening as the most active receptive language skill. It includes appropriateness, delight, improvisation, and effective involvement. First, the appropriateness of storytelling in the language teaching has been supported by Pardede (2011). He argued the storytelling is viewed as the most appropriate literary genre implemented in the language teaching. Second, Joy and delight are usually experienced by the EFL students while learning through the storytelling. While defining it as an art in which a teller conveys a message, truths, information, knowledge, or wisdom to an audience-often subliminally- in an entertaining way, using whatever skills, (musical, artistic, creative) or props the chooses, Dudley (1996) stated that the storytelling  is more likely to be told purely for joy and delight. Another equally important reason for storytelling is the improvisation for which the learners are not restricted to given words in the story. Accentuated by Yadav (2014), the storytelling is improvised to gain the listeners’ attention during the expression of words and images of the narratives being told. To end, James (2014) evidenced the effective involvement of students to better inquire, wonder, and think when learning through the storytelling. He claimed that it makes listeners’ mind to better inquire, wonder, and think.  

To have the same frame of reference to the listening skill which received a positive impact according to the findings, it is crucial to define it and give some characteristics it contains. Simply stated, Thomlinson (1984) defined listening as an act of hearing attentively. Such a view suggests that a listening process requires serious attention to build an interactive conversation. This is due to the fact that the attention in conversation shows our positive attitude and sympathy toward a speaker’s talk. Additionally, according to Vandergrift (1999) listening is anything but a passive activity, it is a complex, active process in which the listener must discriminate between sounds, understand vocabulary and grammatical structures, interpret stress and intonation, retain what was gathered in all of the above and interpret it within the immediate as well as the larger sociocultural context of the utterance. Reed (1985) stated that listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communicative skill and is an active process for a conscious decision. This is to say that attentive listening seems to be useful in acquiring the communicative ability and decision making. As a listener, you should remain neutral and non-judgemental unless a comprehensive understanding is gained.

To solve an observed low listening performance of eighth graders at Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP) 3 PSKD and to maximize the contribution of instruction quality as one of the external factors of language learning (Dakhi, 2014), an implementation of the storytelling was systematically undertaken. It was designed to improve the students’ listening performance and attractive teaching atmosphere.

LITERATURE REVIEW

The Teaching of Listening Skill

What is Listening?

Despite many views on what listening is, it is more likely to define the listening as comprehension. This is based on the basic assumption about its fundamental function as a means to facilitate understanding of spoken discourse (Richards, 2009). Such view, therefore, results in many further definitions of listening. Taken, for example, Thomlinson (1984) defined listening as an act of hearing attentively. This suggests that a listening process requires serious attention to build an interactive conversation. It is because the attention in the conversation shows our positive attitude and sympathy toward a speaker’s talk. Reed (1985) stated that listening is the most fundamental component of interpersonal communicative skill and is an active process for a conscious decision. This is to say that attentive listening seems to be useful in acquiring the communicative ability and decision making. As a listener, you should remain neutral and non-judgemental unless a comprehensive understanding is gained

Not merely a passive skill to receive verbally given messages is the listening, it is a complex one. The listener must discriminate between sounds, understand vocabulary and grammatical structures, interpret stress and intonation, retain what was gathered in all of the above and interpret it within the immediate as well as the larger sociocultural context of the utterance (Vandergrift, 1999). More precisely, Saricoban (1999) proposes nine enabling skills in the listening. They are predicting what people are going to talk about, guessing at unknown words or phrases without panic, using one’s own knowledge of the subject to help one understand, identifying relevant points; rejecting irrelevant information, retaining relevant points (note-taking, summarizing), recognizing discourse markers, recognizing cohesive devices, e. g. , such as and which, including linking words, pronouns, references, etc., understanding different intonation patterns and uses of stress, etc., which give clues to meaning and social setting, and understanding inferred information, e. g. , speakers’ attitude or intentions.

The Importance of Listening

A reviewed importance of listening by Iwankovitsch (2001) believing Rankin’s finding indicates that listening was the highest frequent skill used, 45%, followed by speaking (30%), reading (16%), and writing (9%). This means that listening skill is the most important language skill since person averagely spends on the verge of half of his time to listen. Besides its function to recall information and to meet listening competence required at schools, it was also known that the listening ability makes people easier to understand and be satisfied and attractive. Weger Jr, Bell, Minei, and Robison (2014) reported 115 participants who were actively listened appeared to be more understood and satisfied with a conversation, and were more socially attractive.

More interestingly, Iwankovitsch (2001) said that poor listening is the leading factor of marital conflict. Emphasizing the argument, it was proved that more than three-fourths (87%) of marital problems were found related to poor or no communication.  In a workplace, Doyle (2017) also stated that listening is a highly valuable skill in the workplace. This is supported by Cooper (1997) proposing that listening is a desirable skill in the workplaces as it seems to positively improve worker productivity and satisfaction.

Application of Storytelling Technique in Teaching Listening

Not only as a means to share moral values and entertain, but storytelling is also applied to share knowledge. Accentuated by Yadav (2014), it is understood that stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values.

The storytelling technique is a process of teaching by telling stories. The stories are found to be ideas, beliefs, personal experience, and life-lessons. Such argument is credited Serrat’s (2008) work. She characterizes the storytelling as a vivid description of ideas, beliefs, personal experience, and life-lesson through stories or narratives that evoke powerful emotions and insights.

Its application in language teaching activity is still debatable. However, amongst of the reviewed writings and reports, the application of storytelling in English listening teaching is found plausible to refer to Serrat’s (2008) and Pardede’s (2011). Dennis emphasized that the types of story are based on storyteller’s purpose. To share knowledge, for instance, it needs to focus on mistakes made and show details how it was corrected. Furthermore, to develop listening skill using a short story, Pardede (2011) suggests two important ways. First, read the story out loud so students have the opportunity to listen to a native speaker of English (if at all possible); or second, play the story if a recording is available.

METHOD

This study employed an action research design, which is defined by Pardede (2016) as “a principled way of observing one’s teaching, reflecting upon it, and trying to analyze its weaknesses and increase its strengths. … through which educators can help themselves and their students overcome the specific problems they encounter in the learning and teaching process” (p.143). This two-cycled Classroom Action Research (CAR) was conducted at Sekolah Menengah Pertama (SMP) 3 PSKD, a private junior high school in Indonesia. Thirty students, who were in the eighth grade, were research participants. Instruments of data collection consisted of test and observation. The test was administered to record students’ listening performance. An objective test containing 20 test items were the instrument conducted to collect quantitative data. It was administered three times, namely pre-test of the first cycle, post-test of the first cycle, and post-test of the second cycle.

The observation was undertaken to collect participants’ perception toward the application of the storytelling method. In addition to its functions to record the effectiveness of the storytelling, it was also used to assure and validate the improvement of the listening skill measured through the test, and the methodological technique of data triangulation. The observation sheet made was according to the procedure of teaching and learning listening. A teacher-collaborator assisted the researcher to record the mentioned procedure.

To analyze the quantitative data, data reduction, display, discussion, and conclusion were done. In the data reduction phase, the researchers scored the students’ answer sheets and grouped them according to the intended category. While in the display step, the data was tabulated in tables. After displaying them, interpreting the findings using the previous studies and related theories were executed as a precondition for conclusion drawing.

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Note: This article was presented at UKI English Education Department Collegiate Forum held on Friday, December 8, 2017

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