Some four-years-old kindergarten students gathered around in a National Plus School’s yard located in Bandung, Indonesia early in the morning. They talk in Bahasa Indonesia to each other. Soon as the school bell rang, they lined up and listened to the instructions given by a fifty-years-old teacher born in Singapore, in English. They then continually will need to use English as their medium of learning for the rest of the day. Some of them are going to continue to speak in English at home with their parents and family, some are using bilingual along with Bahasa Indonesia and or their mother tongue.
This condition is not only happened in that school. To answer the globalization challenges, enormous number of private national schools in Indonesia are offering English as their medium of teaching by enriching the curriculum with the adoption of either Cambridge International Examination curriculum or International Baccalaureate. This is align with the thought that economic globalization resulted the use of English (Yamao & Sekiguchi, 2015) which then leads to some thought that it is important to teach English from the early stage of learning phase (Richards & Rodgers, 2014; Leung, Davison, Mohan, 2014). Despite of the pros and cons about the issue of situation; which made the students becoming bilingual children, the reality shows that at least 7 percent of the total school numbers in Indonesia are private school, which refer themselves as a national plus schools. (WENR, 2014).
Challenges occur in the early young learners setting such as kindergarten level as affecting teachers and students in some educational contexts, namely: levels of learning, teaching strategies, class management, speaking, spelling, language learning, teaching reading, teaching writing, and assessment. This study focuses more on the areas of speaking and language teaching & learning, as students tend to feel reluctant in learning through English; which made them becoming a passive learner at school. They feel more convenient in using their home language, thus it affected on the teaching and learning process whereas the required curriculum that the school is using emphasizing on English. At the teachers’ side, teaching with English as the medium to a non-English-speaking students is quite perplexing. They feel that they need to know the best method and approach to encourage their students’ motivation in learning English. These conditions led me to do the research with the title inspired by a book – “One Child, Two Languages” written by Patton O. Tabors.
Neuro-Linguistics Programing (NLP) approach was chosen to be the technique used in this research, as it has been proven effectively empower students to engage with their learning from the outset of the lesson, able to move a present negative state to a desired positive state and also enable learners to use more than one learning style in developing basic skills of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking, not to mention it provides the teacher an additional tool to study behavioral changes that occur in the learner through his responses in the classroom; which may enable both learners and teachers, young and old, to engage with their learning more efficiently, effectively and promptly (Kudliskis, 2013; Dilts & Epstein, 1995; Ilyas, 2013).
Among the vast number of NLP techniques, patterns and strategies – around 350+ according to Vaknin (2010), this study will focus more on state induction, rapport, and modeling to support both teachers and students to meet the challenges on the areas of English speaking and language teaching & learning. Actually, in the classroom setting, there are many teachers who use the very basics of NLP without even realizing what they are doing
Bilingual Education in Early Young Learners Setting
Bilingual education characterizes itself from other forms of language education in that content and language learning are integrated; that is, two languages are used as a medium of instruction (Garcia & Wei, 2015). This National Plus School offers programs; which include children who have various language practices and who are from many dominant and non-dominant groups. Some of the subjects matter is being delivered in Bahasa Indonesia (i.e. Bahasa Indonesia and Religion), and the rest of the subjects as well as the way of communication on a daily basis are being delivered in English.
By the time young children enrolled in an English language or bilingual school education setting, they actually begin the process of second-language acquisition (Tabors, 1997; Troike & Barto, 2017; Weigle, 2014). In order to start the process of thinking about second-language acquisition in early young learners setting, it is best to review first on how children learn a first language and then use the procedure as a contrast to second-language learning.
Children typically learn their first language in the context of social interaction within the child’s family structure, which the process of the acquired is categorized as a monumental task. Tabor (ibid) categorized the pieces of acquiring the language system; which must fit together, namely: (1) phonology, or the sounds of the language; (2) vocabulary, or the words of the language; (3) grammar, or how the words are put together to make sentences in the language; (4) discourse, or how sentences are put together to, e.g.: tell stories, make an argument, or explain how something works; and (5) pragmatics, or the rules about how to use the language. A child is considered as a native speaker of a language when he/she has control all over all of these aspects of the language system. Developing this control is the most important under-taking of the first 5 years of a child’s life. During the preschool years children engage in extended oral language development; they begin to acquire the more complicated forms of grammar during this time period, begin to participate in the construction of explanations, the developments of arguments, and telling narratives.
Some young children not only develop language skills in a first language, but also develop them in a second language. By the time this happens, the child is considered to be involved in a process of second-language acquisition. Researchers now believe that, instead of being a problem, the process of acquiring two languages from a very early age has cognitive as well as social benefits (Barac, Bialystok, Castro & Sanchez, 2014). They presented 102 peer-reviewed articles on research conducted with typically developing, preschool-age dual language learners between 2000 and 2013. But still, it needs lots of effort in doing the process of bilingual education.
O’Connor (2013) explained the name ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’ comes from the three areas it brings together:
Neurology The mind and how we think.
Linguistic How we use language and how it affects us.
Programing How we sequence our actions to achieve our goals.
Richard Bandler and John Grinder founded NLP during the 1970s in California, USA. It is explained as an explicit and powerful model of human experience and communication and has been defined as ‘the art of communication excellence’ (Tosey & Mathieson, 2006).
As one of the founders, Richard Bandler as cited in O’Connor (2013) stated that NLP is an attitude and a methodology, which leave behind a trail of techniques. Furthermore, O’Connor (ibid) believed that NLP help every aspect of human life through a process; which called ‘modelling’. With the intention of modelling, NLP studies on how we edifice our subjective experience – how we reflect on our values and beliefs and how we craft our emotional states – in the end, NLP studies on how we compose our internal world from our experience and give it meaning. Thus, NLP studies experience from the inside within. NLP originally began by examining the best communicators and has progressed into the systemic study of human communication; which grown by adding practical tools and methods generated by modelling extraordinary people. These tools soon are used internationally in sports, business, training, sales, law and education. However, NLP is not merely about a bunch of collection of techniques, it is also a way of thinking, a frame of mind based on curiosity, exploration and fun.
When we are discussing NLP, we could not separate the discussion with mind. As mind is something that has close relation when we are doing the process of thinking.
The essential point to NLP is the appreciation and understanding that each individual has available to them a number of different ways of representing their experiences of the world. In particular, a person draws upon five recognized senses (sense modalities) to be interconnected with the world and reality. NLP believe that as human being, we have preferred modes for perceiving and understanding the modalities that we have; visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory (VAKOG). We grabbed our experience through our modalities and keep them as our internal representations; which then create our personal map of reality. But then, we need to bear in mind that we do not know what reality is as a map can never be completely accurate, otherwise it would be the same as the ground it covers. Some maps might be better than others for finding our way around. People navigate life like a ship through different kind of area. Some might seems normal, some might look dangerous. As long as the map shows the main hazard, we shall be fine. But when maps are faulty, we might be in danger. The first presuppositions of NLP stated that the map is not the territory. O’Connor (2013) defined this as people respond to their experience, not to reality itself, thus, NLP is the art of changing these maps so we have greater freedom in action.
In the bilingual education in early young learners learning setting, this presupposition can be the entrance in changing both the teacher and students perceptions in doing the English speaking and language learning at school. The perceptions that they have as their internal representations can be change.
A reflective action research with qualitative method was used by doing informal, semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and observation in a kindergarten national plus school in Bandung during three months period of time. This study involving a teacher and teacher assistance as practitioners. This is aligned with what Koshy, Koshy & Waterman (2011) whom proposed that action research ought to involve practitioners in systematic enquiries to improve practice. Such research is conducted ‘on the job’ and provides practitioners with opportunities to explore issues that are important to them in their specific work context systematically. Meyer (2000) stated that the strength of action research lies in its ability to help create solutions to practical problems in specific work-based situations.
During the research, I stayed in the classroom with the teacher and teacher assistance to capture the experiences and perceptions of the intervention for those taking part. This study examined the responses of an extraction group of six kindergarten students age 4 years old on their early first semester, with the agreement of their parents, participated as unpaid volunteers. Pseudonyms have been used to ensure the anonymity of students. This specific research enabled the production of descriptions and data collections of student perception relating to their experiences of the intervention. The intervention and subsequent data collection took place at the same time and at the same place each week; every Tuesday and Friday morning after the morning circle time.
Semi-structured interviews were held informal, so the students felt relaxed and thereby provided more open and honest responses. As it was proposed by McKernan (2008), the observations were conducted and written up soon afterwards; circumstantial evidence was also documented, as this is a useful method to record unanticipated behavior.
Questionnaires were also used as part of this research process. Questions were constructed using simple language, providing tick-box options for responses with an option to expand upon the questions if required. The questionnaire was limited to three questions, relevant to the research. This was made to adjust with the students’ literacy difficulties; where they needed to be able to access the questions without asking for help. While the questions from the questionnaire could have been added to the interviews, it was essential to inspire the students and provide them with an opportunity to reflect and report their thought at a personal level to reduce possible interviewer bias or demand characteristics. We attempted to ensure neutrality and implemented a systematic data analysis to provide the necessary triangulation in rigorous research (Marshall & Rossman, 2016). It should be noted that the statistical representation of data was only conducted with the use of descriptive statistics. No statistical tests of difference or association were used.
At the first phase of the study, the observation of the students’ behavior was done at the first day of school academic year. Focusing more on how the behave and interact with the teacher and teacher assistant both inside and outside the classroom before the class began and the next two hours. It was continually being held until two weeks time. The class teacher, Ms. Sam, speak in English all the time following the school rules. Ms. Anya as the teacher assistant helped to translate the language to students as the bridging up process. This kind of process was based on the school instructional pathways. The students tend to choose to communicate with Ms. Anya rather than to Ms. Sam. They talked freely to Ms. Anya, but frequently avoid eye contact with the class teacher. This happened everyday.
At the second phase of the study, which was held after the first two weeks time, Ms. Sam started to begin the class with a relaxation process. She asked students to lean their back to the chair, close their eyes and breathe deeply. All students were persuaded to slowly breathe in through their nose, and out through their mouth. After that, students are asked to join a ‘guided walk’ using visualization on their mind. Ms. Sam describing a walk in a specific destination, e.g. walking through a high mountain near by a river, while the students visualize the location using their imagination. This process was taken to make sure that the description would provide sufficient cues that would attract each of the representational systems; this process is referred to, in NLP terms, as sleight of mouth (Dilts in Kudliskis, 2013). Each walk was to and through a different location on each day. This technique was used in an attempt to alter the state of mind, in preparation for learning. The observed behaviors were noted.
After the process of altering state of mind, the teacher also started to build rapport and good relationship with the students. In NLP terms, pacing is the equivalent of understanding the present state in order to build a more appropriate and empowering desired state (O’Connor, 2013). The teacher entered this phase by doing the matching process start with doing an eye contact to each and every student in the classroom; call out their names with smile and making sure that she always be in the same height level with them. As the students are only four-year-old, she will be doing a squad position rather than standing in front of them while she talks to them. She began to match her speed and volume of speech as well as choosing a simplified English. She started slowly with a welcoming smile and greeting and giving the students a lot of time to become familiar with the classroom situation before approaching them with questions or directives in English. She encouraged herself to choose simplified English – even a standard of ‘nursery school talk’ in the beginning of the process. This was meant to help the students to at least tune in to the sounds of the new language, even though they probably did not understand what was actually being said, but they had the courage to say it. Not only the rapport between teachers and students, the process also held among students. As there is a student; who just come back from Australia, Alisha, in the classroom, the teacher asked her to make interaction with the students as it was proposed by Hirschler in Tabors (1997), the strategies that Alisha needed to do were shown in the list below:
This process continues for six weeks.
On the ninth weeks, the study reached to the third phase: the modeling process. Ms. Sam as the teacher switched to less-complicated language in an effort to help the children begin to understand English. As a teacher, she will not be rigid, and always respond even if the message from the child was not understandable. This will keep the students stay in their learning state. Sometimes, she will double the message, by using words along with type of gesture, action or directed gaze. Dilts & Epstein (1995) see modeling as an effective way of learning language. Rather than translate the English language (as what the teacher assistant do in the beginning of academic year), by modeling students will attach the word (or word sequences) in the language to living moving actions, objects, colors, etc. The students will go directly link the language and the experience in applying the language. During the modeling process, both teacher and teacher assistance were speaking English. No one was using Bahasa Indonesia or in attempt to translate the English words to the students. Even when the students were speaking in Bahasa Indonesia, they will get respond in English. When it seems that the students did not understand the respond, Ms. Sam and Ms Anya will simplified the language and do the gesture, action and or directed gaze. They also sometimes do the repetition, saying things more than one time, to give the students more than one opportunity to catch on what is being said. This phase last for four weeks and continue after the study was ended.
Important notes needs to be pointed out that the whole processes in the second phase (altering state of mind by guided walk and also building rapport) are being continuously held during the third phase.
At the end of the research, we made sure that all the observed behaviors were noted and they were asked to fill out a questionnaire and do in-depth interview in a non formal way to record on how do they feel, point of view and experience on the process and techniques that they have been through in terms of learning English at school. The list below described a brief description on the participants:
|Aira||A female with no English background, home language is bahasa Indonesia|
|Raffi||A male with no English background, home language is bahasa Indonesia|
|Sandy||A female with no English background, home language is bahasa Indonesia and Sundanese as the mother tongue|
|Rifqi||A male with no English background, home language is bahasa Indonesia|
|Dion||A male with no English backgroundome language is bahasa Indonesia and Javanese as the mother tongue|
|Louise||A female with no English background, home language is bahasa Indonesia and Bataknese as the mother tongue|
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
The first two weeks of the research as the first phase of the study were taken as the pre-intervention process. In which revealed that the students were not feeling comfortable with the classroom teaching-learning arrangement. They avoid doing an eye contact, making interactions and communication with the class teacher. They prefer to communicate with the teacher assistant, as she will translate the English into their home language, Bahasa Indonesia, the language that they all are familiar with. Sandy, Dion and Louise (see Table 2) even use their mother tongue language; in which nobody understand the meaning clearly. The behavior of each child was also recorded during this observation schedule and it was noted that a range of various behaviors were revealed. For example: whenever the teacher talked in English, Louise would always close her face, Dion was sighing and said, “Oh, no” and Rifqi would have a sad face and avoid to say any words during the class, while Aira, Raffi and Sandy would hold their hands and making fun of words that the teacher said in front of the class, without seeing the teacher’s face.
After having the intervention in the second phase, teacher started to have the students’ attention. The process of altering the state worked well. The process of guided walk successfully switching the students’ state and preparing them into a learning state. Louise stopped closing her face and started to smile, Dion and Raffi started to laugh and willing to listen more and the rest of the students started to look at the teacher in the eye. The data indicated that all students felt at ease and ready to start the learning journey after having a visualization guided walk through their imagination. The aim of changing students’ state of mind from negative to positive in preparing themselves for better learning preparation was achieved. This condition, as a result of the particular NLP technique in general, prove that the state of mind of an individual is affected by three factors; the neurological state, the physical state and the emotional state. These sub-states can have a positive or negative influence on the state of mind more in general, turning point on how the individual feels at a particular point. While we attribute feelings to our emotional state, our neurological state and physical state, in typically, also influence our feelings (Wake, 2008). Kudliskis (2013) stated that if the state of mind and emotional state or focus of attention needs is in a negative mode it could be modified by changing the physiology of experience and changing the focus of attention of the experience.
Furthermore, the building rapport technique and good relationship with the students in the second phase whereas the teacher entered the phase by doing the matching process start with doing an eye contact to each and every student in the classroom; call out their names with smile and making sure that she always be in the same height level with them worked well. When she began to match her speed and volume of speech as well as choosing a simplified English in ‘nursery school talk’ in the beginning of the process, also started slowly with a welcoming smile and greeting and giving the students a lot of time to become familiar with the classroom situation before approaching them with questions or directives in English, all of these activities helped the students to at least tune in to the sounds of the new language, even though they probably did not understand what was actually being said, but they had the courage to say it.
The observation noted that Louise started to mumbling, “Miss, miss, help!” whenever she required some assistance from the teacher. Almost all of the students started to speak simple English like, “Read” or “Please” or “Sorry” and even “Thank you” most of the time. They started to understand the simple instruction like “write” or “draw”, and do exactly as what they were told to do. The relationship and bonding that the teacher and students have inside the classroom during the whole process proved that task and relationship should be balance in terms of having an effective teaching and learning process. (Dilts & Epstein, 1995; Richards & Rodgers, 2014; Entwistle & Ramsden, 2015).
During the interview at the end of the second phase, the students are asked on how they feel, see and think on their experience in having the intervention of guided walk and rapport building done by their teacher. The statement below is a translation script in order to make a clear meaning. Louise stated that:
“I like seeing myself outside the class. I am not feeling shy anymore. Ms. Sam looked OK. She’s nice.”
Dion supported this view, stating:
“I like Ms. Sam. She looked not so tall and far anymore.”
“I can understand what Ms. Sam said. When she smile and squad, I can see that she is beautiful.”
It was observed that students looked happier than the first two weeks of first phase. The process of altering state into learning state through guided walk; in which the students were brought to go to different places in order to reach a convenient learning state proven to enable the students in absorbing the rapport building and good communication done by the teacher. Rapport building actually preserves a great power in gaining trust from the students. Once the trust is reached, then the whole process of teaching and learning runs smoothly, even when both of the teacher and teacher assistant speaks English like what it has been done in the third phase of the study.
Getting the help from an English-training children in the classroom, Alisha, whose been informally trained before in doing rapport building such as releasing a good approach and establishing eye contact, and performing matching process by speak slowly with good enunciation and repeat the initiation in case there we no response from her peer is also giving a tremendous help during the intervention process. For example, during the observation, when students had just enter the classroom after the morning circle time, Alisha showed Raffi her lunch box, and said:
“I have oranges for snack.”
Raffi went stunned and look at Alisha’s lunch box. Alisha then repeat her words by picking up the orange out of the box and said:
“I have oranges for snack.”
Then Raffi nodded his head and point out:
“Yes,” Alisha smiled.
Raffi walked to his drawer, took his lunch box and showed what is inside.
“Bread,” Alisha explained.
Raffi smiled and said:
During the modeling process, when Ms. Sam as the teacher switched to less-complicated language in an effort to help the children begin to understand English and always respond even if the message from the child was not understandable, has been proven successfully keep the students stay in their learning state. When sometimes she doubled the message, by using words along with type of gesture, action or directed gaze rather than translate the English language, students were encouraged to model their teacher. As by modeling, students will attach the word (or word sequences) and directly link the language as well as the experience in applying the language. In this study, students model both teachers and their peer in the classroom to communicate in English as the medium of learning in a bilingual education. For example, during the third phase, Sandy found difficulties in opening her water bottle. She was struggling to speak up, and ended up said:
Ms. Anya as the teacher assistant smiled, sit down and grab the bottle.
“You want me to open?”
Sandy stood still. She did not understand the word ‘open’ has the same meaning as ‘buka’. Ms. Anya repeated her questions:
“You want me to open?”
She emphasized on the word open by making a gesture of opening the bottle and continued establishing eye contact with Sandy. Sandy nodded hesitantly. Ms. Anya opened the bottle and repeatedly said:
Sandy smiled and took the bottle. She said:
Ms. Anya laughed and said:
“Thank you, Ms. Anya.”
Sandy nodded, laughed and said:
“Thank you, Ms. Anya.”
The noted observation on what had happened between Sandy and Ms. Anya was just one of the examples of the classroom experiences during the study. The process of modeling that the teacher assistant did with the students during the daily activities expand the students’ eagerness in trying to speak up in English with stress free and no worries. They feel at ease in expressing their mind and use their home language when they lost for word, as they knew that the teachers would respond them and let them know the way to express it correctly in English. The most important is, they had fun in doing it. At the end of the research, students are able to use some simple English and willing to speak without hesitation. The close relationship with the teachers is well performed.
In NLP, as it was mentioned earlier in the Introduction part, the map is not the territory. What we believe might be the real truth condition. If the teachers are able to be very skillful in relation to the materials delivery, then it frees them to really emphasize the human part of the relationship with the person. On a daily basis, common teacher will say that students are having behavior problems and are not learning. The teacher believed that the students must be ignorance, or less concentration, or rebellion, or not putting out enough effort. The teacher forgot that what really happened was that the teacher is not talking or speaking in that students’ brain in a language that it can understand (see Dilts & Epstein, 1995). It is stated that NLP is about adding choices, not taking them away. By enlarging the map with the students’ perspectives and doing some new techniques as an intervention, such as: altering state of learning, rapport building, and modeling; teacher like Ms. Sam could gain more positive feedback and result from the students.
Putting a higher notification that this research only took a small-scale exploration form action research study, the evidences and experiences revealed a tentative conclusion about how the language teaching and learning process with NLP approach to support both teachers and students to meet the challenges of bilingual education in an early young learners setting has been identified. It is our disputation to propose the type of evidence that we have provided here can help stimulate discussion between teachers, and between teachers and students in the bilingual education school, about ‘states’ of mind, building rapport, the process of modeling and the learning process. While this research study is small- scale, evidence in the form of observations, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews suggests that the concept of altering state, building rapport, the process of modeling associated with NLP can lead to behaviors that are more conducive to help both students and teachers in bilingual education school, especially for early young learners’ context. Undoubtedly, further research into this specific phenomenon is required and links to concepts such as leaners’ motivation and self-regulated learning are evident. We believe that NLP provides educators, teachers and students with so many open doors to the world of education and, indirectly, on learning and educational theory.
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