Possible Reasons Underlying Problems in Students’ English in Their Discourse


(A fragment of a paper; by one NEB)

There exist possibly many factors that contribute to the occurrence of the problems in students’ English in their discourse. Among others, on the part of the teacher, he or she deals mainly with elements at the sentential level teaching sentence components but not sentence patterns, affixes etc. but not parts of speech, words but not collocation, phrases but not chunks of ideas, etc.

At the discoursal level, the teacher doesn’t teach making a discourse—oral especially written—following the steps such as those proposed by Antoni and Radiana (2001) inspired by Alwasilah (1993: 78), namely:

1. Formulating what we want to say;

This may take place in our mind. We may do this in our own mother tongue or target language. This process may be well-structured; it may also be structure-free.

e.g.

Seks bebas itu berbahaya. Bisa menyebabkan kehamilan yang tidak diharapkan. Dapat menyebabkan penyakit kelamin dan yang paling parah AIDS. Juga bisa merusak masa depan.

2. Arranging the idea syntactically;

Implied here is that it is a sentence-by-sentence idea arrangement, ruled by grammar. In other words, in so doing, syntax applies. It will not therefore be as exactly as it is thought in mind. Changes may need to occur. Words are added or eliminated. This process may take place in the writing preparation.

e.g.

Free sex is dangerous.

Free sex may cause unwanted pregnancy to women committing this.

Free sex may cause sexually transmitted diseases, the worst of which is AIDS.

Free sex may ruin future life.

3. Writing the idea down;

This now follows all the discourse rules of topic sentence, supporting sentences, transitional markers, coherence, etc. and puts the idea into any appropriate writing genre. Like in No. 2, at this point changes may still need to occur. Words are added or eliminated.

e.g.

Free sex is dangerous. To start with, it may possibly cause unwanted pregnancy to the women committing this. Next, it may also cause sexually transmitted diseases, the worst of which is AIDS. Lastly, it may ruin the future of those practicing this habit.

On the part of students, it is very possible that they make mistakes in these aspects because they haven’t internalized the aspects or because they haven’t had enough practice of writing to employ the aspects. Or they are not allowed enough time to revise their work time and again before they produce their final work. Writing this way is still considered a product more than it is a process. If they are given enough time to undergo this writing process, they can write better.

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