Students’ Perceptions towards English as a
Medium of Instruction in Mathematics Classes
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Fitri Utami Sri Rejeki 112010057
ENGLISH TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM
FACULTY OF LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
SATYA WACANA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
This thesis contains no such material as has been submitted for examination in any course or accepted for the fulfillment of any degree or diploma in any university. To the best of my knowledge and my belief, this contains no material previously published or written by any other person except where due reference is made in the text.
Copyright@ 2014. Fitri Utami Sri Rejeki and Anita Kurniawati H., M. Hum.
All rights reserved. No part of this thesis may be reproduced by any means without the permission of at least one of the copyright owners or the English Department, Faculty of Language and Literature, Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga.
Definition of Language and Perception ... 3
Language ... 3
Instrument of Data Collection... 8
Data Collection Procedures ... 8
Data analysis ... 9
Finding and Discussion ... 9
EMI was Necessary to Prepare Teacher for Teaching International School 9 The Affect of EMI into Participants’ Grade and Skills ... 11
Students’ Difficulties when Using EMI in Mathematics Class ... 12
Students’ Action to Adapt in Mathematics Class that Using EMI ... 14
Conclusion ... 15
Limitation and Further Research ... 17
Acknowledgement ... 18
tudents’ Perceptions towards
EMI in Mathematics
Fitri Utami Sri Rejeki
Knowing and understanding the language of instruction in class is important for the students to get the point of the lesson. This study is aimed to investigate the students’ perceptions toward the use of English as Medium of Instruction (EMI) in Mathematics class. The study used both qualitative and quantitative research. The participants of this study are chosen from 70 students from department Pendidikan Guru Sekolah Dasar Bertaraf Internasional (PGSD-BI), Fakultas Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan (FKIP) of Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Central Java. The students were investigate by filling the open ended and close ended questionnaires. The findings reveal that EMI is needed to prepare teachers at international schools. Moreover, the students admitted that their grades were better when learning mathematics using EMI. However, they still get difficulties in learning English, so they prefer Indonesian as medium of instruction in mathematics class.
Keywords: Instruction, mathematics class, EMI
English now is used as a medium of instruction in some tertiary education levels. Marsh (2006) said that in 2006, English was applied into the curriculum of education in some countries from preschool to higher education. Graddol (1997) as cited from Yu-Yin Chang (2010) had
already pointed out that “one of the most significant educational trends world-wide is the
teaching of a growing number of courses in universities through the medium of English”.
This trend also happens in Satya Wacana Christian University. One of the faculties is FKIP. In addition one of the departments that use EMI is PGSD. PGSD of FKIP is department
that prepares the students to become elementary schools’ teachers. There are four programs in
this department; those are PGSD Reguler, PGSD Bertaraf International (PGSD-BI), PGSD Pendidikan Jarak Jauh berbasis ICT, and PGSD Pendidikan Sarjana S1 Kependidikan Guru dalam Jabatan. The focus of this study is in PGSD Bertaraf International (PGSD-BI). This program is prepared to create elementary schools teachers who are able to teach in English because of the need of international schools. In order to make the students of this program familiar with English, the faculty uses EMI including mathematics subject.
However, there are many obstacles that students face in teaching and learning process that uses EMI such as limited vocabulary, unconfident with their skills in English, not all students have a good competence in mastering English, etc. Van Lier (2006) considered that the task is very hard and double understanding especially for non-native speakers of English because at one end there is a high demand on developing students’ language competence while at the other end mastery of content subject is very important. Knowing that there are some obstacles that students face, the researcher considers that it might be become a problem in class because not all students can accept the material easily when the teacher uses EMI in class. The problem might be affecting their way on doing the assignments. Marie (2013) pointed out that teaching and learning process, language used is crucial for the learners’ knowledge and understanding acquisition, the development of their skills, and also for their ability to demonstrate their acquired knowledge effectively in assignments and examinations.
investigate based on this research question: “What are the students’ perceptions towards EMI in
This study tried to provide the knowledge on several of PGSD students’ attitude toward EMI in class, this research would be significantly contributed to the EMI field and the result will help the educational policy maker to raise the awareness of using EMI.
Definition of Language and Perception
The role of language is not only as a means in communication, but also as a vehicle to help learners to broaden and deepen their understanding of important ideas because language is the primary vehicle for learning, giving instruction, and increasing intelectual development (Kersaint, et al., 2009 pg.46). Since we know the role of language, it is necessary for students to
have proficiency in English since the language becomes the medium of instruction because language plays an important role in communication and thinking, it is also a tool to exchange ideas among people (Aziz, 2003; Sawari, et al., 2013). That is why the students need to have English proficiency, they will use the language to communicate and understand the subject concept from the teacher that use EMI.
develop educationally if they can not understand the language used as the medium of instruction well enough (Brock Utne and Alidou, 2011; Heugh, 2000; Webb, 2004Wolff, 2011) cited from Marie (2013). The use of English will just put the students in difficulties to acquire highly scientific information (Airey, 2009 and Klaassen, 2001) cited from Suviniitty (2012).
However, it depends on how the students’ perceptions accepting the language to deliver
the material. If the students give a good response to the language used, it might be easy to get their understanding and vice versa, if the students feel to be forced accepting the language use, might be it will difficult for them to catch the point.
Perception refers to the ability picking out something through senses (seeing, hearing, touching or smelling), the sensory stimulus of the body system consciously registers an activity or event in the human memory (http://www.ask.com). In other words, it is a different interpretation emerges depending on what the senses perceive. In other words perception is how people think and regard toward something, it probably different one another because people sometimes have different thoughts about the same thing.
the mathematics problem. By this occurrence, the students perceive that English is difficult because they do not know English well; mathematics is difficult because they can not solve the problem, or they perceive that mathematics using EMI is difficult.
Studies about Students’ Perceptions toward EMI
There are several studies that have been conducted about students’ perceptions and
perceptions toward EMI, including Şahika Tarhan (2003); Yu-Ying Chang (2010); Frank van Splunder (2010); and Sawari, Nairusula, and Johari (2013)..
In her study, Şahika Tarhan (2003) involved 2353 participants that was consist of 982 students, 383 teachers, and 988 parents. One of her purposes of the study was to describe the
students’, parents’, and teacher’s perception of EMI. The result was mentioned that most of the
students definitely against EMI. One of the reasons was related to difficulties in learning, the other reason is most of the participants believed that EMI would reduce success rate of students in exam.
Yu-Ying Chang (2010) conducted her study to examine the students’ reactions to their EMI subject courses. To gain a specific result, she used interviews and questionnaire instruments in her study. In addition, the result of her study found that most of the students did not show the negative perception toward the course that use EMI in it, although the students did not think that they had a high level of English comprehension. The students also agreed that English instruction helped them to improve their English language proficiency.
The finding of the research shows that the students give a negative perception toward EMI. They
prefer Dutch as medium of instruction in class rather than English, the reasons are it’ll easier and
more confident studying in native language. In addition, the students express ideological concerns to protect Dutch and English is hardly seen as a threat.
In order to answer their research question about students’ experiences regarding learning
science and mathematics with English language as a medium instruction and three other
sub-questions that related to students’ attitude toward EMI; Sawari, Nairusula, and Johari (2013), to
get much variety information for the study, they conducted interviews with two male students and two female students from different level whom are 16 years old and 19 years old. They are from urban area. Based on the finding of the study, most of interviewed students have positive perception of learning science and mathematics using EMI; they believe that it is better to implement EMI in teaching and learning because they perceive that they have not faced any difficulties when learning use EMI.
In conclusion based on the studies about students’ perceptions toward EMI above, there
were more students who gave positive perceptions toward EMI. It can be seen from Yu-Ying Chang (2010) and Sawari, Nairusula, and Johari (2013); studies. The studies showed that
although the students didn’t have enough proficiency in English comprehension, they regarded
that English was important and it was better to implement EMI in teaching and learning because by EMI, it will help them to improve their English language proficiency.
Context of the Study
the subjects in the international program used EMI. The activities used English such as classroom discussion, presentation and group works.
In addition, the focus of the study was the using of EMI in Mathematics class since the objective of the course is to make the students familiar with mathematics terms in English
because the students’ language background is not English. The researcher thought that
mathematics was not an easy subject and also developing English language proficiency was not easy. So, the researcher wanted to know the students’ perceptions about learning mathematics using EMI.
In the aim to get the valid data, the participants of this study were 70 students of Mathematics class in PGSD, FKIP, Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga, Central Java, Indonesia. The researcher took 75% 0f PGSD students because the 40 students (C group) had become participants for piloting. All of the students were Indonesian students that were taking Mathematics course in the second semester in the year 2013-2014.
8 Instrument of Data Collection
As a means to collect the data, the researcher intended to distribute questionnaire because the researcher thought that it would be easier to get analyze the data from 70 participants. The
questions of course were about participants’ perceptions towards EMI, the effect based on their
opinion, and their action to overcome the problems that they face when using EMI in Mathematics Class.
The questionnaire was including both of close-ended and open-ended questionnaires in it because the researcher wanted to give chances to the participant to give their explanations why they chose a particular point. Since the researcher used open-ended and close-ended questionnaires, there would be several statements given with scale like strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree that would be given to respond the statements and also there would be blank space to write their explanations why they chose the particular scale.
The questionnaire was presented in Indonesian to make it the easier for the participants to understand the statements.
Data Collection Procedure
participants filling the questionnaires. After finished filling the questionnaire, the researcher took back the questionnaire to be analyzed.
In this research, the researcher used both the qualitative and quantitative type to analyze the data (see appendix 1). The close-ended questions were analyzed in tabulation form with explanation such as SA: Strongly Agree, A: Agree, D: Disagree, and SD: Strongly Disagree. The open-ended questions were analyzed by building some big themes based on the participants’ answer related to the topic. The researcher had done the data collection from participants from 3 groups of PGSD BI class that consist of 78 students, those were A, B, and D group, in this data analysis the researcher took seventy best answers to get the valid data. The best answer was got from the questionnaires that had complete answer or the questionnaires that only had one or two blank answers. The result of the data collection can be seen in appendix 2.
Finding and Discussion
The responses of the participants will be analyzed and discussed in this part. The discussion of the responses will be served in three sub topics; EMI was necessary to prepare teacher for teaching International School, the affect and advantages of EMI, tudents’ difficulties when using EMI in Mathematics class, and students’ actions to adapt in Mathematics class that using EMI
EMI was Necessary to Prepare Teacher for Teaching International School
Table 1. Students’ perception towards the necessary of EMI to prepare teachers for international schools
No Statement SA A D SD
1 I think that it is necessary to use EMI in Basic Concept of Mathematics 2.
24% 64% 12% 0%
4 I think that the use of EMI in Basic Concept of Mathematics 2 becomes the plus point for the subject in preparing the teachers for international schools.
27% 56% 13% 4%
5 I think that the use of EMI in mathematics class is one of a good way in preparing the teachers for international schools.
39% 53% 7% 1%
Statement number 1 shows that the majority of the participants viewed that EMI at Basic Concept of Mathematics 2 was necessary. The table shows that more than half of the participants agree that English is needed in Mathematics class. The statement was strengthened by all
participants that didn’t vote in SD column. The statement number 4 shows that 56% of students
agreed that English became the plus point for the subject especially for their international program in the department, and the statements number 5 shows that 53% students agreed about EMI was one of the good ways to prepare the teachers for international schools.
There were several reasons why the participants thought that EMI was necessary. The reasons fall into several categories such as to enrich vocabularies, give more knowledge about English, prepare teachers for international school, and improve English skills. Below are some
participants’ reasons about the necessity of EMI to prepare teachers for international schools:
“Ini merupakan modal utama yang harus dimiliki calon guru di sekolah internasional.” “It is the main thing that the next teachers have to get to teach in international schools.”
“karena mempersiapkan guru-guru bertaraf internasional yang professional, maka EMI
sebaiknya digunakan di semua mata kuliah.”
“Because it prepares professional international schools’ teachers, so EMI should be used in all subjects.”(Student 24)
“karena ketika kita mengajar nanti, kita bisa menguasai istilah-istilah matematika seperti +, -, :, x, dll dalam bahasa Inggris.”
“Because when we teach later, we will be able mastering mathematics terms (+, -, :, x,
etc.) in English.”(Student 7)
“Dengan EMI, saya bisa menerapkannya pada saat mengajar nanti.” “by usingEMI, I will be able to apply it when I teach later.”(Student 11)
Their reasons showed that English is acquired as medium of instruction to prepare teachers for international schools.
As the international schools’ teachers will be, the students should be accustomed to use English as a daily conversation language. One of the ways is by using EMI in class when they study because they will use English as a communication language in the international schools not only in class, but also outside the class. The finding from the students responses show that based
on the students’ perceptions; English is needed as medium of instruction in class to prepare
teachers for international schools.
The Affect of EMI into Participants’ Grade and Skills
Table 2 serves the students’ perceptions about the effect of using EMI in Mathematics class.
Table 2. The affect of the using EMI in mathematics class
No Statements SA A D SD
2 I feel that my English skills improve after joining mathematics class that using EMI.
14% 64% 20% 2%
6 I feel that my grade is better because of the using of EMI in Basic Concept of Mathematics 2 class.
7 I feel that my grade is worse because of the using of EMI in Basic Concept of Mathematics 2 class.
6% 30% 41% 23%
Statement number 2 shows that 64% students felt that their English skills improved after joining the class that using EMI. It was related with the responses for open ended question number 1 that had been discussed before which said that EMI was effective because students could improve their English skills, enrich vocabularies to prepare themselves became teachers for international schools. Some participants said
“Karena dapat menambah kosa kata baru dan bisa belajar langsung dengan Miss. X.”
“Because, I can enrich new vocabularies and learn from Miss. X directly.”(Student 4)
“Karena saya bisa menuliskan symbol atau rumus matematika dengan menggunakan kalimat bahasa Inggris yang sesuai dan juga bisa menambah vocab saya.”
“Because I can write symbols or mathematics formula using appropriate English and
also enrich my vocabularies.”(Student 5)
“Karena akan membantu kita memperluas kosakata.”
“Because it will help us enrich vocabularies.”(Student 6)
“Dengan menggunakan bahasa Inggris sebagai bahasa pengantar dikelas, kemampuan
bahasa Inggris bisa menjadi lebih baik.”
“By using EMI, my English skills are better.”(Student 8)
In statement number 6, 60% participants felt that their grades were better when learning Basic Concept of Mathematics 2 that using EMI in class. This occurrence was consistent enough with the statement number 7 which said that 41% students disagreed and 23% students strongly disagreed that their grades became worse after learning mathematics using EMI in class.
Students’ Difficulties when Using EMI in Mathematics Class
students stated that they still got difficulties in mastering the Mathematics subject. Most of the participants (79%) said in open ended question number 4 that they still got difficulty when using EMI in Mathematics class, the reason was the lack of English knowledge like vocabularies and structures. Below are some participants’ statements about their difficulties:
“Karena bahasa Inggris saya sangat masih kurang, ini yang terkadang membuat saya sulit memahami pelajaran.”
“Because my English is not good, it sometimes makes me difficult understanding the
“Kurang paham dengan kosakata dalam bahasa Inggris.”
“I am not really understand with vocabularies.” (Student 6)
“Kadang-kadang saya mengalami kesulitan karena ada bahasa-bahasa yang tidak dapat dipahami.”
“Sometimes I got difficulties because there are some difficult words.” (student 14)
That was why most of the students (67%) prefer Indonesian as medium of instruction in class; the reasons are the same that is Indonesian is easier to understand because it is their own language. Some students commented:
“Karena dengan menggunakan Bahasa Indonesia saya lebih cepat mendapatkan atau
cepat menangkap dari apa yang telah dijelaskan oleh dosen,”
“Because by using Indonesian, I get the point from what the teacher explained easily.”
“Karena dengan menggunakan Bahasa Indonesia saya lebih bisa mengerti dan
memahami dengan baik materi yang disampaikan.”
“Because by using Indonesian, I can understand more about the delivered material well.” (Student 19)
The students said that by using Indonesian they could get the point of the teacher’s explanation easily and also they could understand the material well. In addition, they said that mathematics was difficult and it would be more difficult if they didn’t understand the instruction used.
“Kadang-kadang mendapatkan kesulitan karena banyak kata yang sukar dipaham.”
English for daily conversation is different with English for Mathematics. Although Mathematics is taught in mother tongue, that is English; but when the learners find the terms which are different with daily conversation language, it will appear some difficulties for the learner. Moreover if Mathematics is taught in other language that is not familiar for the learner, they will get more difficulties.
This condition is like what Kersaint, Thompson, and Petkova (2009) had stated that the language in mathematics is inherently complex as it combines common everyday words with technical mathematics vocabulary and has its own syntax, sematics, and discourse features. So for learners who are not native speaker need special treatment from the teacher to understand the material more easily, otherwise the students will get more difficulties and the material will not accepted maximally.
Students’ Actions to Adapt in Mathematics Class that Using EMI
Considering the problem and the effect of EMI, it seems that the students can adapt in class that using EMI like what displayed in the table 3 below.
Table 3. Students’ perception about adaptation in class that using EMI
No Statement SA A D SD
3 I can adapt in class that use EMI. 10% 79% 10% 1%
To be able to accept the material, the students did some strategies to overcome their difficulties. The majority (89%) of the students gave positive responses of their action or good efforts to understand the material that using EMI like using dictionaries, memorizing the difficult words, asking the teacher and friends, and joining the English course. Below are some positive responses from the participants to understand the material that using EMI:
“Mempelajari pola matematika dan arti kata.”
“Learn the pattern of mathematics and the meaning of the text.”(Student 1)
“Memperbanyak kosa kata, terkadang menggunakan Bahasa Inggris dalam komunikasi.”
“Enrich the vocabularies, sometimes using English for communication.”(Student 4)
“Mengikuti kursus untuk belajar lebih tentang Bahasa inggris.” “Join the English course to learn more about English.”(Student 5)
“Mengingat kosa kata dalam belajar.”
“Memorize the vocabularies to help learning the material.”(Student 7)
“Menggunakan kamus.”“Use the dictionary.”(Student 8)
“Bertanya pada dosen dan berdiskusi dengan teman.”
“Asking the teacher and discussing with friends.”(Student 9)
Those efforts are done by the students so that both of the English and Mathematics proficiency will be balance. So they tried to understand the language instruction first and then the Mathematics theory. It was matched with the theory from some experts which says that the students will get problems develop their education if they can not understand the language well enough, Brock Utne and Alidou (2011); Heugh (2000); Wolff (2011); and Webb (2004).
Firstly, based on the students’ perceptions toward EMI, English was needed to use in
class, it was one of a good and effective way to prepare teachers for international schools since we knew that English is international language.
Secondly, according to the students, the using of EMI had affected their grades better and it gave some advantages in improving English skills, getting more knowledge about English, and enriches the vocabularies. It was matched with Chang’s (2010) study which said that the students agreed that English instruction helped them to improve their English language proficiency.
Thirdly, although they could adapt in mathematics class that using EMI, the students still got some difficulties like limited vocabularies, lack of English skills, etc. Another reason was Mathematics and English were a difficult subject, that was why the students prefered Indonesian as medium of instruction in Mathematics class. This occurrence is the same with Splunder’s (2010) study where the students prefered their native language with reason that by using first language, they would accept the material easier. In addition, the students still gave positive responses and actions to understand the Mathematics material that using EMI.
17 Limitation and Further Research
I realize that this thesis would not have been finished and completed without the helps, advices, and supports from many people. I would like to express my gratitude to the following kind people who had assisted me in completing and finishing this thesis.
1. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Allah Swt. As my Great God who always blesses me anytime, helped and guided me to finish this thesis.
2. I also would like to express my special gratitude to my supervisor Mrs. Anita Kurniawati H. M. HUM who abundantly helpful offered invaluable assistance support and guidance. In addition, I also thank to Mrs. Anne I Timotius, M. ED for her helps as my examiner.
3. I would like to acknowledge my thanks to big family of PGSD BI, FKIP, UKSW, Salatiga who had taken important role being participants of my thesis. Without their participations, it is impossible to finish this research.
4. Special thanks to my family – Babe Tarsikin, Kanjeng Isti’ah, Mas Vik, Mas Adi, Mbak Puji, Mbak Wati, Mbak Dyna, Adek Helson, and Adek Nata who always support, help, and pray for me. Without them, none of this could be happened.
5. I also would like to express my special thanks to Oom/ Sinyo (YM), the best one who always be patient, love, accompany, pray, and give support for me during this research processes. In addition, special thanks to all my bestfriends Cahya “Munk”, Eirene “Eyin”,
Mutia, Lazuardina “Nana”, Mbak Raras, Mas Yayan. Thanks to Pojokan Cinta Geng –
Indra, Andrew, Estiningtyas; Geng Mbledeh – Nanda, Laras, Eren, Lintar, Desi A, Desy R, Atik, Raras, Bella, Mustika, Yeey, Nuri, Godlas, Adit. I also would like to thank to all
Tenners, English Departments’ Family, and all my friends in REMBO 01 that I can’t
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