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THE USE OF JAZZ CHANTS AND SONGS : METHODS TO ENRICH AND ENHANCE PUPILS VOCABULARY Prepared by: Miss

Kong Nyat Heng English Teacher Sekolah Kebangsaan Menuang, Limbang

ABSTRACT English language is the lingua franca of todays world and it is served as the second language in Malaysia. In order to improve the proficiency of English language, Malaysias Education Ministry has made a fundamental change in our testing and evaluation system where all SPM candidates must pass in English subject. Yet, this does not mean the burden falls on the secondary school English teachers as the basic must be mould at early stage especially at the primary level. At the early stage, pupils are introduced to a variety of vocabulary with the purpose to enrich their vocabulary bank. In English language, vocabulary plays a major part in learning. Hereby, a survey of using Jazz Chants as a method to enrich the pupils vocabulary will be conducted on a focus group consisting of 20 Year 4 Saujana pupils in SK Menuang, Limbang. The focus group consists of a group of pupils whose proficiency in English is poor. Through a period of observation, it is found that this focus group is having limited vocabulary. Not only that, it is found that the pupils are having this problem due to lack of reading and confidence in learning English. With the aim of enrich and enhance the pupils vocabulary as well as to build the pupils confidence, an unconventional method is needed. The pupils need to have interactive learning where the focal point teaching is on the pupils. It is believed that activities that are full of life are capable of helping the pupils to gain confidence in learning English.

1. Reflection On Previous Teaching and Learning Procedure The center or attention of the survey is vocabulary. I noticed that the pupils are having difficulty in comprehending English as their vocabulary bank is limited. The conventional method of learning vocabulary is by spoon feeding where the teacher would be introducing the vocabulary by displaying them on the board and reading them aloud. Later, the pupils would be reading after the teacher again and again. I have become aware of that the pupils are bored and feel weary with this method. As a

result, the pupils are lacking in enthusiasm in learning and reading in English. From a study done with the pupils, they mentioned that they have comprehension in English is limited as they do not like reading. Therefore, their vocabulary bank is small. In view of the fact that their vocabulary is limited, it is not really a bolt from the blue that they would not be interested in reading.

To resolve this problem, I have decided to use jazz chants. According to Loutfi, 2010, Jazz chants are chants created by Carolyn Graham which is snappy and upbeat by using jazz rhythms. It is designed to as a language tool to improve pupils speaking and listening skills and reinforcing the language structure of everydays life at the same time. It is also a fun way to practice rhythm and stress in pronunciation. It is also a natural way to retain and repeat the vocabulary that one would like to introduce.

When I observe my focus group, I discovered that children like to sing and chants. To my amazement, they are able to remember song lyrics in English or Malay language without much effort. For instance, the pupils are able to remember the chorus of the hit pop songs sung by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and previous hit songs sung by the High School Musicals casts. I could hear them humming or singing the songs during recess or lessons are over. In summary, the children need something that can be easily remembered and triggers their interests.

2. Researchs Focus In this survey, my main focus would be enriching the pupils vocabulary with the aim to help them to be more fluent in reading prose or any texts in English. It is certain that pupils gain the benefits of expanding their vocabulary and improving their listening and speaking skills with the method of introducing new vocabulary using chants. This method is in fact comparable to hitting two birds with one stone.

Based on my experience, my Year 5 Saujana pupils whose proficiency in English is low are having the same problems in learning English language which is lack of vocabulary. Derived from the conservation I had with the focus group 4 Saujana Pupils, they show the similar indication of not understanding the texts given or having

difficulty in learning English since early stage of primary level in school by using the conventional method.

The following shows the setback faced by the target group in learning English vocabulary: Lack of confidence Inactive learning Short time span of attention

When I carried out an assessment with the pupils on their reading skill, it is detected that the pupils have great difficulty in recognizing and understanding the words in the text. Due to this obstacle, the pupils are unenthusiastic in reading or learning English which leads to limited vocabulary. From my point of view, if I persist in using the conventional way of enriching my pupils vocabulary, there would not be any dynamic learning process. It would be teachers centered where there is only one way communication. This means that there would be no interaction between the teacher and the pupils. The pupils would be waiting to be spoon fed and they would be bored rigid with the lesson.

3. Researchs Objectives Main Objectives The main objective of this survey is to improve pupils proficiency in English so they would be able to use English as means of communication in their daily lives.

Specific Objectives to enrich pupils vocabulary to enhance pupils vocabulary to help pupils to recognize and understand the vocabulary taught to improve pupils listening and speaking skills to help pupils to gain confidence in reading different texts in English

4. Focus Group The focus group consists of 20 pupils of 4 Saujana and this class comprises 5 females and 15 males. There are 19 Iban pupils and one Malay pupil.

5. Researchs Implementation 5.1 Overview Throughout the lesson, the pupils are uninterested in the conventional method of teaching them vocabulary. They would be in the state of yawning or their minds are miles away from the lesson. Thus, they are not able to recognize and understand the concept or meaning of the vocabulary introduced to them in the previous lesson. Furthermore, the pupils always wait for the teacher to nosh the vocabulary spoon by spoon. In significance to the survey, a questionnaire is carried out to distinguish the obstacles and resolution to the problems faced by the focus group.

5.2 Summary of the Overview The questionnaire was not able to be conducted successfully as two pupils are absent. Therefore, there are only 18 pupils being interviewed in this study. The following table chart shows the indicator of the questionnaire carried out based on the survey topic. The indicator shows that most of the pupils are interested in learning English but they find that it is difficult for them to comprehend since they do not understand most the words in the text given or taught and they like to rely on the teachers on providing the answers of the questions they do not comprehend. The situation illustrates that the pupils like to depend on the teachers on learning new vocabulary. This circumstance is worse when the pupils are uninterested in English due to their limitation in English. When I probed the problem further, the pupils told me that they do like the subject but they feel frustrated when they are asked to read the texts. The students are very excited when they are given new books or stories to read but when they come across a lot of words that they could not understand, they feel disheartened.

The problem does not end there. The indicators also show that the pupils do not like the conventional way of learning. They have an aversion to the usual methods that most teachers use during the lessons. They dislike the methods used as they are not

involved. They feel that they are the listeners but not the participants. Through this questionnaire, they expressed that they would like to have interesting activities in learning English and they like to sing.

Table 1 : Pupils Views on Using Convetional Method Versus Unconventiona Method in Learning English During Learning and Teaching Procedure

No. 1. 2. 3 4 5 6. 7.

Question Do you like learning English? Do you think English is difficult to comprehend? Do you like using learning English by spoon feed by the teacher? Do you feel bored with the conventional way of learning English? Do you feel uninterested in learning English due to your limited vocabualry? Do you like using chants or songs to learn English? Do you feel using songs or chants would make the lesson more interesting?

LIKE 11

DISLIKE 7

Agree 8 18 14 18

Disagree 12 2 6 2

18 18

5.3 Strategies to Improve Pupils Vocabulary 5.3.1 Using Songs to Teach the order of the days of the week a. The teacher involves the students in singing the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star b. The teacher later introduces the pupils the rhymes of Days of the Week as the following: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, clap, Wednesday, Thursday, snap, snap, snap, Friday, stop, Saturday, hop, Turn around and spin like a top, Seven days in the week, You see now, well sit so quietly. c. The pupils are asked sing the rhymes in Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars tune. d. The teacher and the students sing the song together with some actions involved. e. The teacher and the students practice the song together every day.

f. The aim of using the rhyme of Days of the week is due to the fact the pupils are confused with the order of the days and they do not know how to spell the words. To help them to be familiar with the days, the rhyme is used. g. To make it easier for the pupils, the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The underlying principle of using the songs tune is to help the pupils to be able to sing the song and it is easier for them to remember the order of the days. h. After two weeks of practice, the pupils are able to sing to song marvelously. There are 12 pupils out of 18 pupils are able to sing the song from the beginning till the end without any mistake. The other 6 pupils are those pupils who are having problems in learning where they are under remedial programme. However, in this group of 6 pupils, there are 3 pupils who are able to sing part of the song and remember some of the days of the week. The other 3 pupils might not be able to sing well but they are actively involved.

5.3.2 The Use of Chants to Help the Pupils To Enrich and Enhance Vocabulary a. Through an analysis of pre spelling test, it is detected that there are none pupils who can spell out all the words of the days of the week correctly. b. I was quite taken aback by this analysis and I came up with the following chants: S. U.N.D.A.Y, Sunday clap M.O.N.D.A.Y, Monday, clap, clap, clap, What comes after that? Yes, what comes after that? Its Tuesday Its Tuesday, T.U.E.S.D.A.Y, Tuesday, clap, clap, clap, What comes after that? Yes, what comes after that? Its Wednesday, Its Wednesday, W.E.D.N.E.S.D.A.Y, Wednesday, Is there anymore? Yes, there is, Yes there is, What comes after that?

Its Thursday, Its Thursday, T.H.U.R.S, D.A.Y, Thursday a. What comes after that? b. Its Friday, c. Its Friday, d. F.R.I.D.A.Y, Friday, e. And last but not least, f. Its Saturday, g. Its Saturday, h. S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y, Saturday c. The teacher guides the students with the chants and involves everyone to chant the rhyme. d. The teacher guides the pupils to chant as a whole and then divide the pupils in groups. e. Later, the pupils are taking turns in chanting the rhymes. f. The pupils will do it over and over again. g. After a series of practices, the pupils are asked to chant the rhymes without the teachers guidance. The outcome of the study is very satisfying as there are 6 pupils who can chant the rhymes within 2 days. And the best part of all, the number of pupils who can remember the spelling of the words increased from 0 pupils to 6 pupils. h. After a period of a week, the pupils are given another spelling quiz on the days of the week. The results show that the number of pupils who can spell the all the words given correctly is 5 and there are 8 pupils who can spell partial of the given 7 words correctly. The following table shows the progress of the pupils in the spelling quiz given. Table 2: Analysis of pupils progress in Spelling quiz
7 GRED / QUIZ PRE POST 0 5 0 2 8 6 5 3 5 2 6-5 4-3 2-1 0

5.4 Reflection The evaluation is done based on the pupils performance and involvement in the teaching and learning process. The pupils have shown a great distinction throughout the implementation of the action research.

Before the action research was performed, the pupils are taught using the orthodox means in learning vocabulary. When they are taught using this approach, none of the pupils are able to spell the words correctly or even tell the order of the days of the week correctly even though they are now in standard 4. The situation is worsening with the lack of confidence and motivation of wanting to try to learn. Moreover, the pupils take a long time to spell the words but they failed to spell them without mistakes made. The pupils do know how to say out the words but they just do not recognize all the letters in the words taught.

During the action research, the pupils use two methods to learn the vocabulary. At first, the pupils are taught on how to sing the song Days of the Week using the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars tune. The core objective of doing so is to let the pupils to grasp the idea of how many days are there in the week and to build their confidence. At the same time, this helps to create a fun learning environment and active learning where all the pupils are participating. The purpose of using the tune of the song that they are familiar with is to create a recognizable and memorable vision for the pupils. If the pupils are using songs that they are not familiar with, the process would be not easy and it might take a longer time to achieve the goal.

The chant is only introduced to the pupils only after they are accustomed to the song. The song actually builds the pupils fundamental memory of the vocabulary taught. Subsequent to the pupils ability to remember the order of the days, the pupils are using the chants to help them to remember the spelling of the words. This is crucial as this helps the pupils to recognize and understand the words taught.

During the research, the pupils are very excited and they are eager to learn. Although they have encountered these words previously, they are not able to remember and recognize the words which are quite sad and pathetic. For the duration of the survey, the pupils are looking forward to sing songs and chants. They are full of enthusiasm

and they begin to pay more attention in the class. They participated and they involved themselves keenly where they do not sit there and become passive participants anymore in the class.

In the research, the pupils are given pre spelling quiz and post spelling quiz. The pupils did horrendously. They were not able to spell or give the right order of the days of the week. With the guidance given and encouraging active partaking in the learning and teaching process, the pupils begin to show improvement. This first sign is that they are no longer sulking in learning. Gradually, the shy and weaker pupils in the class show interests in joining their other friends in singing. Before the formal lesson starts, they would be impatiently asking the teacher to let them practice the chants and songs. They are never bored to sing and chant the rhyme over and over again till they remember the whole thing.

After a period of two weeks, the pupils are given another spelling quiz and this time the pupils are showing improvement where some of them are able to spell the words marvelously without any mistake and half of the group are able to recognize and spell partial of the given words. The research also has a wonderful surprise where one of the pupils who are having great difficulty in learning is able to spell the words in chunks although the words he spelled are not in the correct form. It means that he has improved by starting to learn how to spell the words in chunks and have the most basic vision of how the words are spelled.

From my point of view, chants and songs are innovative ways of teaching the pupils the aspect of language. Chants and songs definitely help to bring the teacher and students closer as well as making the learning and teaching process lively. Without doubt, it proves that what Mohamed Loutfi of EL Institute, University of Delware disclose is right where chants fire the students imagination and help them to remember difficult words and expressions. Furthermore, according to Loutfi, it helps the pupils to become themselves when they sing or play and chants and songs appeal to all age groups. In this research, it is found that the objectives and the logic of why using chants are proven to be very precise. Students do become keen and enthusiastic in learning the language and at the same time the pupils are learning by repeating the structure of the language other than enhancing and enriching the vocabulary.

However, pupils of low proficiency need more effort and drills to achieve the goals of the research. They need more practices and encouragement in reading, listening& speaking as well as writing. By creating the conducive, fun and interesting environment which involves active participation of the pupils leaving the orthodox method of teaching language, I am sure that the pupils will have a great chance of improving themselves. All the pupils need is the right strategy to remember, recognize and enrich the vocabulary. 6. Suggestions To Improve the Upcoming Research I would like to suggest language games in helping the pupils to learn vocabulary such as word-cards and letter-cards game which is introduced by the late Dr W R Lee the renowned language teaching specialist. This game is helpful for word completion games where the pupils would need to learn how to spell the words. In order to play the game, the pupils would need to know the vocabulary. In the upcoming research, I would try to combine song, chants and the word-cards and letter-cards to help the pupils to achieve the goal of the research.

References Loutfi, Mohamed, EL, University of Delware, 2010, Using Jazz Chants for Teaching Language Functions Vinodini, Murugesan, ESL Magazine, March / April 2003, Malaysia Promotes Excellence in English Dr W R Lee, Oxford University Press, Language Teaching Games and Contests, 2nd Revision Edition, 15th Impression, 2002 www.wikipedia.com