Sabtu, 16 Agustus 2008

Community Approach: A Collaborative Strategy to Enhance Students’ Learning Achievement in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) class taught in gener

Community Approach : A Collaborative Strategy to Enhance Students’ Learning Achievement in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) class taught in general school in Indonesia


Udi Samanhudi

English Education Department

Faculty of Education

The State University of Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa-Banten


“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

(Hellen Keller)


Bagi sebagian besar guru bahasa Inggris di Indnesia, mengelola kelas sebagai sebuah lingkungan belajar yang nyaman bagi para siswa merupakan salah satu fokus perhatian utama sekaligus sumber masalah bagi para guru dalam upaya meningkatkan minat dan motivasi siswa untuk belajar. Ini terjadi karena mengelola kelas merupakan satu aktivitas kompleks dimana pada saat yang bersamaan guru dituntut untuk mencapai dua tujuan mendasar sekaligus yaitu tujuan instruksional dan tujuan manajerial (Rachmadi, dkk, 2004). Sebagai upaya untuk mencapai dua tujuan tersebut, guru dituntut untuk mampu menggunakan beragam strategi pengajaran atau pendekatan dalam pengajaran untuk mencapai hasil belajar yang optimal.

Fokus tulisan ini adalah Pendekatan Kominitas (Community Approach), yaitu suatu pendekatan dalam pengajaran bahasa yang berupaya untuk menciptakan kelas yang demokratis dan mengedepankan sisi kolaboratif. Penulis yakin bahwa memaksimalkan pendekatan ini dalam pengajaran bahasa Inggris sebagai bahasa asing di Indonesia (EFL) akan mampu menciptkan interaksi yang dinamis baik antara siswa dengan guru maupun antar siswa itu sendiri.

Kata kunci: Pendekatan Komunitas, Pembelajaran yang optimal, kelas yang demokratis.

Initial Remarks

Effective teaching and learning is at the heart of teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Indonesia including those teaching in high school level. Most of them, probably, hope for a small size of class where by students are more or less homogeneous in terms of proficiency and knowledge capacity in English. In fact, in reality, most of English classes are still in such a big size (about 30-40 students). This situation, in many cases, challenges teachers to keep promoting a good learning in order to reach the instructional goal they have made.

It is, therefore, very crucial for this article to present an approach in dealing with teaching and learning English so that teachers can have many alternative choices in teaching their students.

Community Approach in Teaching EFL

Community Approach that encourages language classroom as a community learning appears different from traditional language learning in many ways. One of the most significant issues is that, it has many techniques to reduce anxiety that in many cases hinders students to learn maximally in the classroom. Koba (2006) says that community approach employs good techniques like the form of the class, that is, the conversation circle itself, provides security. The desirable size of the conversation circle is less than ten. Further, understanding between the teacher and students as learners produces a sense of security, which reduces anxiety. Finally, a sense of security is woven into each activity of a typical CLL cycle.

In addition, Community Approach (CA) in the context of EFL teaching and learning is an approach aimed at enhancing learning: it helps students to advance understanding, expands students’ capabilities for investigation, enrich the questions that guide inquiry, and aid students in giving meaning to experiences. Through the approach, a teacher in the classroom functions as a counselor and students seem to be clients. Such a relationship enables teachers to motivate more to their students to learn better in the classroom.

Within this approach, students in the classroom have the same opportunities to learn and to maximize their learning process through a good atmosphere of learning in the classroom. Thus, the community approach is vital to learning because it facilitates social interaction, active participation and mutual support both between teachers and students and among students themselves. The relationship among the three aspects can be illustrated in the following figure.

Oval: Community Approach

Social interaction Mutual Support

Active participation

Figure 1: The relationship among the three aspects of the Community Approach

The figure above suggests that community approach in a language teaching and learning empowers students through a collaboration rather than competition. Social interaction among students in the classroom and their active participation are means for teachers and students to reach an optimum learning process.

With reference to the explanation above, the Community Approach also views environment as a vital factor to be taken into account. To this view, the classroom environment is not simply a physical space but it is more than that, which is about all of the things involved in the classroom (Rachmadie: 2004). By and large, it can be said that community approach is an ideal way to help students to learn well in the classroom so that the intended aim of the instruction is well achieved.

Principles of Community Approach

In terms of students’ psychological condition, Curran in Purwo (1996) said that there are six concepts to enhance students’ learning: Security, Attention-aggression, Retention-reflection and Discrimination. Security refers to a feeling of comfort for both teacher and student. Being comfortable can help them to maximize their role, teacher as a counselor and student get a good service as a client. Attention-aggression deals with teacher’s efforts in balancing between new input and students’ previous knowledge in the target language to avoid boredom in learning. Aggression refers to students, who independently decide topics to discuss or to learn in the classroom. Retention-reflection, deals with self-reflection aimed at seeing students’ improvement in their learning the target language (English) and to find out some problems faced during the teaching and learning process. Finally, discrimination, is about students’ ability to differentiate language elements in order to be able to use the language better.

In terms of its implementation in a language classroom, Lewis (1998) says that principles of Community Approach implementation cover the following activities:

  1. Creating a supportive and inspiring classroom

One of many other principles of CA is creating a supportive and inspiring classroom. Some criteria of a supportive and inspiring classroom based on the principle are as follows:

o Supportive relationships among teachers and students

o Students participations in creating classroom norms, making decisions and setting goals

o Clear expectations and responsibilities

o Adequate time for tasks and for discussions

o Interesting and meaningful activities

  1. Helping students construct their own knowledge

Helping students to construct their own knowledge is a crucial principle for a classroom implementing a Community Approach. Students are facilitated to construct their knowledge by guiding them to experience directly a certain material or discussion by themselves. Teachers in this case, give them opportunities to talk their ideas and construct the ideas based on what they believe.

  1. Developing a good relationship

A good relationship is the core of a community of learners. Thus, without supportive and caring relationship in the classroom, efforts to build community are in vein. Developing a good relationship can be done through caring, and helping each other both between students and teachers. With such a mutual relationship, students can feel more comfort to study. As a result, both students and teachers can work effectively together in order to achieve the goals they previously agreed.

  1. Creating collaborative learning

To collaborate means to work together both among students and teachers and students. The main principle of the collaboration is contributing each other based on his/her capacity. Having this way, students with their uniqueness can feel worthy in the class as they have opportunities to express themselves. Other advantages of this atmosphere according Ur in Richard: 2000 are as follows:

    • More varied students talks
    • More negotiation of meaning
    • A greater of comprehensible input
    • A more relaxed classroom atmosphere
    • Greater motivation for learning

  1. Reflection

Reflection is a crucial step in developing an interesting class with the Community Approach inside. Through this way, we can find out some weaknesses of the ways we have done before. Here, a new start begins as teachers will develop another way to enhance their class and to make better of their effort in helping students to be better learners with a great care of others and fantastic knowledge.

Comparison between Traditional Class and Community Approach Class (CLL)

Classroom environment is one of many important factors that can decide whether or not a learning process runs successfully. This success is not only in terms of instructional but also the managerial one. Those two goals are big responsibilities for teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in order to be able to reach the success based on their main goals or objectives.

In a classroom where a teaching and learning process occurs, a good relationship between teachers and students, as well as the expectations and norms for learning are taken into consideration as they are a manifestation of viewing a classroom environment as a complex thing that covers the entire setting for learning.

Reflecting on our own experience, classroom environment affects us in many ways. We are bored and suddenly lose motivation when the classroom environment is not conducive and supporting us to learn in our own way. The traditional classroom, in which teachers implement teacher-centered methodology, probably, the most important thing that we have to “review” so that we can find a better atmosphere for our students to learn. As we know, the traditional classroom, put teachers as the controller rather than facilitator in the class. As a result, skeptical and static class occurs.

The modern view, in contrast, focuses on students’ active participation. With their differences, students are motivated to work together and do a mutual relationship to achieve both their personal and class objectives. Through this cooperative learning model, teachers can encourage mutual helpfulness and active participations among students within the classroom. The following table is presented to clearly see the differences between traditional class room and the modern one which focuses on learning communities as its strategic term.

Table I: differences of traditional and modern classroom (Wilson J, and Wing-jan, L: 1993)



Teachers do most of the talking

Students do most of the talkings

Students work individually and compete with each other for points or grades

Students help each other, share ideas and build on the thinking of others

Teachers establishes and enforces classroom rules and expectations

Students help to create and maintain rules

Teachers demonstrates procedures and students follow directions

Students choose methods and develop their own procedures

Teacher is the authority and judge of correct methods and answers

Students and teachers establish validity through reason and evidence

The table above suggests that learning communities within modern classrooms put students as an important aspect within the class. They do most of the talkings and not the teachers as we see in the traditional one. It means that students are active participants that have opportunities to actively respond toward anything happens during the progress of the class. No wonder then, if they can learn better compared to those students who learn in a traditional class atmosphere where teachers are the main actors of the class.

The other thing that makes modern class (with Community Approach implementation) seems works better is the three models of classes it tries to develop. The three classes according to Beane and Apple in Peixxoto 2006 are as follows:

Democratic class

This class is indicated by sharing ideas, using critical reflection and analysis, and promoting the common good. In this context, it does not mean that students do only what they inclined to do. Rather, it is a process of giving students a share of the authority in the classroom, but not differing to them.

Caring class

This class indicated by relationships between teachers and students that become the central focus. Good relationships help both of the sides to participate during the progress of the class.

Ecological class

Learning and teaching are built on relationships and interdependence is a special characteristic of this classroom model. Teachers taking an ecological view know that the relationship that students have with each other and with the teachers are essential to learning rather than a separate concern

In summary, it can be said that students’ creativity is seemingly be well improved in a modern classroom rather than in the traditional one. The collaboration among students and teachers in a classroom as a learning community allow them to work better and learn faster.

Application of Community Approach Class (CLL) to the EFL Class

The most crucial issue in EFL teaching and learning is reducing students’ anxiety to reach an optimum learning. Therefore, activities that encourage students to actively participate in the learning activities should be promoted. The activities like Academic Discussion, Conversation Circle, Neighbourhood-Walk, Role-play seem to be good ways to fill the gap in learning EFL so far.


To work effectively as teachers of English teaching in a high school level, various approaches are crucial things to take into consideration. A good approach will help to create a good atmosphere and promote a good learning atmosphere.

A Community Approach (CA) has given us a new horizon of seeing classroom as a learning environment. Seeing students as a subject of the process will motivate them to work and participate better in the class. By involving them in establishing norms, students will feel that they exist. Having a good relationship among teachers and students will create a comfort atmosphere to learn.

In brief, implementing the Community Approach (CA) with its crucial principles can help teachers to facilitate their ways in achieving both instructional and managerial objectives within the teaching of English as a foreign language, which, in many ways, still face a great challenges in our country, Indonesia.


Koba, Naomi, et. al. (2000) Using the Community Language Learning Approach to Copewith Language Anxiety: Internet ESL Journal Vol 4 (

Lewis, M. (1998). Diverse Levels and Diverse Goals in a Community Class. In J.C. Richarads (Ed)., Case Studies from Second Language Classroom. Alexanderia, VA: TESOL

Purwo, BK, dkk (1996) Berbagai Pengajaran dalam Pengajaran Bahasa dan Sastra. Pustaka Sinar Harapan, Jakarta

Peixotto, K (2006). Classroom as Learners’ Community in Mathematics and Science.

Rachmadie, S (2004), TEFL IV: Buku Materi Pokok Universitas Terbuka. Pusat Penerbitan Universitas Terbuka.

Wilson, J dan Wing-Jan L (1993). Thinking for Themselves: Developing Strategies for Reflective Learning. Melbourne: Eleanor Curtain

Yerrick, R. (1999). Re-negotiating the Discourse of Lower Track High School Students. Research in Science Education.

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