IMPROVING STUDENTS’ DESCRIPTIVE WRITING THROUGH MIND MAPPING

This study was carried out to improve the students’ descriptive writing through Mind Mapping in the second year of Bina Prestasi 3 class of MTsN Tangerang II Pamulang academic year 2010/2011. The subjects of this study were consisted of 21 students’ Bina Prestasi 3 class.

The method used in this study was Classroom Action Research (CAR). The classroom action research design applied in this study was a collaborative classroom action research. It meant that the writer collaborated with the English teacher of MTsN Tangerang II Pamulang as an observer and collaborator. This study was conducted following Kemmis and Taggart model with the following procedures of the action research: planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. The study carried out in two cycles. Each cycle consisted of three meetings. The data gathering in this study through interview, observation checklist, field notes questionnaire and test.

The results of the study showed that there was improvement of the students’ ability in writing descriptive paragraph. Most of the students gradually gained good scores at the end of each cycle. The score of Minimum Mastery Criterion- Kriteria Ketuntasan Minimal (KKM) of English lesson was 70 (seventy). The students’ mean score in preliminary study was 58.9. The mean score in the first cycle was 69.0. The mean score in the second cycle was 78.9. Besides, it showed that there were 83.3% students participated actively in the first cycle and 94.4% students participated enthusiastically in the second cycle. The class condition during teaching learning process was also quite good. In addition there was a positive response from the students and the English teacher about implementing the action. In conclusion Mind Mapping can improve students’ descriptive writing ability and it can increase students’ participation.

 

  1. A.   The Background of the Study

English as an international language is used in communication, an activity which people deal with every time. People need to communicate in doing daily activities and making an interaction to other people in their life. English uses as a medium language in all aspect of national relationship with other countries such as diplomatic, social, cultural, international commerce and also in education. Moreover, today, about 370 million people speak English as their first language and about 500 million speak it as a second language, with varying degrees of proficiency.[1]

Mastering English as a foreign language is gradually getting more important. In Indonesia government, English is considered as the first foreign language and the compulsory subject to be taught in secondary schools.[2] Also, it considers as optional subject or local content materials to be taught in elementary schools and as a requirement subject to pass National Examination.

The objective of teaching English is to enable students to communicate in English orally and in English written form. Accuracy and fluency are aspects of language proficiency. Accuracy refers to mastering language components; pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Meanwhile, fluency refers to mastering language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. Moreover, mastering language skills is the objective of English teaching based on the current School-Based Curriculum.

Writing is one of language skills that have to be mastered. Writing has an important role in education especially for those who are studying at universities. They have to master writing skill to finish their assignment such as write a paper, proposal, some reports, scientific writing, and others. It is impossible for the students to graduate their education without mastering writing skill either first language or second language.

Writing as one of the language skills is not an innate natural ability. John Langan states that a realistic attitude about writing must build on the idea that writing is a skill. It is a skill like driving, typing, or cooking, and like any skill, it can be learned.[3] Therefore, writing is a complex process and it needs practice. For almost everyone, work hard is a key to produce competent writing.

Writing is considered the most difficult and complicated language skill to be learned compared to other language skills.  Writing needs hard thinking to produce idea, words, sentences, paragraph, and composition. Also, writing needs the right spelling, punctuation, word choice, and so on. Therefore writing involves several components which have to be considered while a learner is writing.

Based on the current School-Based Curriculum that writing is one of the language skills that must be taught at junior high school/Islamic junior high school (SMP/MTs). The teaching of writing aims at enabling students to master the functional texts and monologue texts or paragraphs in the form of descriptive, narrative, recount, procedure, and report.[4] In addition, based on Competency Standard- Standar Kompetensi (SK) and Basic Competency- Kompetensi Dasar (KD), the second year students are expected to be able to express meaningful ideas in term of functional text and simple short essay in the form of descriptive and recount to interact with people in their nearest environment.[5] The work of writing is presented in the form of text types, usually known as genres, which are closely related to the purpose of each type. Descriptive writing is one of the text types that is taught at the eighth grade.

Descriptive writing has a social function is to describe a particular person, place, or thing, for instance, description of a particular building, specific animal, particular place, and specific person.[6] Besides, descriptive paragraph is a set of sentences related to each other in which the writers draw their ideas and thoughts vividly based on their senses on the object they see.

Based on the writer’s observation through conducting preliminary study during teaching learning writing activity in the second year of Bina Prestasi 3 class at MTsN Tangerang II Pamulang, the writer found that many students of Bina Prestasi 3 class had difficulty in writing descriptive paragraph. It was proved by the result of the students’ writing in preliminary study. The mean score of the students writing was 58.95, while the Minimum Mastery Criterion- Kriteria Ketuntasan Minimal (KKM) was 70.0. The result indicates that the students’ writing achievement was still low. Besides, it was supported by the result of interview to the English teacher and students’ questionnaire in preliminary study that the students’ difficulties come from the weaknesses of student ability in generating ideas; therefore they did not have ideas what to write first. Secondly, the students had difficulty in making the writing relevant with the topic.  Also, the students had difficulty in choosing the word due to lack of vocabulary, Furthermore, The students tend to be bored and low participation in writing class because the process of teaching and learning activities was monotonous. So, to make the students can produce descriptive paragraphs, there should be an effort to make writing class more interesting.

Those problems of descriptive writing are important to be solved, because it can appear the difficulties for the students to continue the next writing materials. Also the student will have low motivation in writing class because they feel writing is a difficult skill. Furthermore, the students will have boredom in writing class.

One of the teaching strategies that can help teachers to improve students’ writing ability in descriptive paragraph is using Mind Mapping. Mind Mapping is a way getting your ideas together. It is a learning strategy that can help students to facilitate their learning by generating and organizing the ideas about the topic they are going to write. Mind Mapping also can make students more imaginative and creative in writing class.

Mind Mapping is expected can make a positive atmosphere in the classroom. It can throw away time consuming notes because it shows the shape of topic, related ideas and concepts, and the relative importance of all the information. Moreover, it can make students interested in teaching learning activity because it serves incorporated keywords, colors and images to make student easier to generate their writing. This learning strategy is hoped can make students more active in writing class and can improve their ability in writing descriptive paragraph.

In accordance with the explanation above, the writer intend to conduct a classroom action research entitled:” Improving Students’ Descriptive Writing through Mind Mapping (A  Classroom Action Research in the Second  Year of Bina Prestasi 3 Class of MTsN Tangerang II Pamulang.”


[1] George Braine and Claire May, Writing from Sources: A Guide for ESL Students, (California: Mayfield, 1996), p. 3.

[2]  Depdiknas, Peraturan Menteri Pendidikan Nasional, No 22 tentang Kerangka Dasar dan Struktur Kurikulum Bahasa Inggris SMP dan MTS, (Jakarta: 2003), p. 11.           

[3]  John Langan, English Skills with Readings, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006), p. 13.

[4] Depdiknas, Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (School Based Curriculum) Standar Isi Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Inggris SMP dan MTS ,  (Jakarta: 2006)

[5] Depdiknas, Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (School Based Curriculum) Standar Isi Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Inggris SMP dan MTS …

[6] Rudi Hartono, SS, M. Pd. Genres of Text, (Unpublished Paper), (Semarang: Semarang State University, English Departement Faculty of Language and Art, 2005), p. 6.

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