To the Teacher
Ayo Membaca is a set of online, interactive lessons that offer Indonesian reading lessons from the novice through the advanced levels on the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency scale. The primary objective of these lessons is to teach reading strategies, offering the learner an opportunity to become an independent and proficient reader of Indonesian. Authentic texts from the Indonesian mass media are used as the basis for lesson development, presenting the learner with an opportunity to learn about Indonesian culture from a rich set of reading samples. The set of readings begin with novice-level texts that are formulaic and thus strongly supported by format and illustrations such as advertisements, schedules, menus, and bills. Later lessons contain intermediate and advanced level texts, presenting narratives and descriptions about family, society, and the environment such as letters, biographical data, recipes, invitations, and short articles about concrete events.
Ayo Membaca can be used by independent learners through self-study or in a classroom setting where the teacher introduces the topic of the reading, reviews the assignments, and later recycles the key vocabulary into other components of the curriculum.
Schema theory, a top-down approach for the teaching reading strategies that encourages students to be active participants in the creation of textual meaning, forms the theoretical basis of these lessons. Students are encouraged to use their own background knowledge, visual and format clues from the text, and linguistic and discourse structures to help them make educated guesses about the meaning of a reading. Using their background knowledge to make predictions, students are able to actively participate in the creation of meaning. While completing the exercises, students are guided through the textual framework and discover the main ideas of the reading. The improvement of reading skills is in large part a result of the student’s willingness to create meaning from the text using a top-down approach in combination with the more traditional bottom-up approach.
The three main sections of each lesson, Before-Reading, During-Reading, and After-Reading, are described below.
The Before-Reading (Sebelum Membaca) section activates the schema of the reading text by presenting photographs, illustrations, and questions that lead the student to the main topic of the reading and assist as the student makes predictions about what will appear in the reading. Tell your students to make educated guesses about the content of the lesson using their own background knowledge, the photographs, and questions presented in this section as guides to the brainstorming. There are no wrong answers in this section; this is merely a warming-up period for the student. In this section, there may be some pre-teaching of key vocabulary items. Some teachers will prefer to do the pre-reading section of the lesson in class before assigning the rest of the lesson to be completed as homework. The advantage of conducting the pre-reading segment in class is that the ideas of fellow students are shared and the brainstorming discussion helps others to imagine what the reading will be about. In addition, the teacher is able to guide the discussion in the direction that is most useful and is able to provide Indonesian words for any non-Indonesian words suggested by students if it is a key concept in the reading. It is important that the teacher make it clear to the students that there will be many words in the reading that they will not know. The student must learn to tolerate a level of ambiguity in order to learn from these authentic texts. They should not become discouraged and stop reading (or take out a dictionary), but rather they should begin to develop the strategy of skimming the text for the main ideas. Once the reader has a good understanding of the main ideas and the genre of the text, it will be much easier for the reader to discern the meaning of the text. Reading every word from left to right and from top to bottom is not an efficient manner for developing reading proficiency. The teacher should reinforce this message so that the students become comfortable when they encounter new words or constructions.
The second section of the lesson, During-Reading (Waktu Membaca) presents the main reading and contains three distinct subsections: Finding the Main Points (Mencari Informasi Umum), Finding the Details (Mencari Informasi Khusus) and Understanding the Language Structure (Pemahaman Bahasa). The objectives of these three subsections of the lesson are for the student to understand the main message of the text, find detailed information from one or two sections, and learn to use one or two language or grammatical structures.
In the first subsection, Finding the Main Points (Mencari Informasi Umum), the student skims the text looking for the main topics covered and maps out where these topics appear. Tell your students that they should not try to read the text word-for-word. The mapping of the text is best done if the user has a printed-out copy of the text or positions the text next to the activity page on the computer screen. In this manner, the student can skim the text, looking back and forth between the text and the exercise to discover the main points of the text.
In the second segment, Finding the Details (Mencari Informasi Khusus), the student looks for details in a few sections of the text. Note that the complete text is not read in detail. The student must read the selected sections carefully, going back and forth between the exercise and the text; again it is best for the student to be able to go back and forth quickly between the exercise and the text. At this point, it is important for the student to read the text carefully to correctly extract detailed information.
The last subsection of the During-Reading section, Understanding the Language Structure (Pemahaman Bahasa), offers exercises on one or two grammatical structures. Frequently there are references to Language and Culture Notes (Catatan) that explain the use of these constructions.
The third and final section of the lesson is the After-Reading (Setelah Membaca) section where the student is given the opportunity to apply what he or she has learned and integrate the newly acquired reading skills into other skill areas such as listening, writing, or speaking. The post-reading activities may have the student read a new text, and then write and/or speak using the new vocabulary and grammatical constructions that were taught in the lesson. The pre-reading as well as the post-reading sections of the lesson do not offer online feedback. The post-reading exercises are intended to be done as homework or as an in-class activity with the teacher giving feedback on the students’ work. Be sure to tell your students that on the Setelah Membaca page of the lesson, they will encounter instructions for in-class or homework activities.
The final (Selamat) page of the lesson offers links to the reading texts (Lihat Teks), the key Vocabulary Items (Kosakata), and the Language and Culture Notes (Catatan) for the lesson so that the students can easily access these pages while doing the post-reading assignments.
Using These Lessons to Complement Your Curriculum
As a teacher you will want to familiarize yourself with the objectives, content, and interactive format of these lessons before deciding how best to integrate them into your curriculum. You will also want to consult the Lists of Lessons by Level (access Tingkat 1, Tingkat 2, and Tingkat 3 from the Lesson Access page) that contain lesson titles, topics, references to the primary texts, and language focus for each lesson.
You may want to tailor the online lessons to your curriculum by introducing the topic of the reading as you do the Sebelum Membaca page in class. If you have a classroom with internet facilities and a projector, you can work through the Sebelum Membaca discussion points in class and may want to expand or personalize the brainstorming activities to better fit with your students’ particular setting or background. The post-reading pages are designed for learners to use the concepts and vocabulary introduced in the reading lessons and to reinforce these items by integrating them into other skills. You may want to use some of the activities such as role plays for in-class work and other activities such as a writing assignment for homework. Be sure to ask the students to read the extra reading texts on these Setelah Membaca pages; and specify the new vocabulary words you would like them to use as well.
For a class that has never used this teaching method or technology before, you may want to bring your class to a computer lab and go over the User Guide with them and also go through a lesson together as a class while you explain that they should not spend the class hour trying to read the text word for word, but rather they should work through the steps of the lesson. Their understanding of the text will unfold as they follow these steps. Assure them that the reading goal of this lesson is merely sufficient comprehension to complete the exercises not 100% understanding of every word of the text.