RESEARCH ON EFL WRITING IN THE INDONESIAN CONTEXT
In order to describe the trends of pedagogy and research on EFL writing in Indonesia, we examined current publications such as journal articles, conference papers and book chapters published recently. The examination resulted in two main strands of publications: those focusing on writing process and those focusing on writing products, then using the genre-based approach.
Research Focusing on Writing Process
Report on research based on the model of writing as process include those which examined the effectiveness of the process approach and, more particularly, various intervention strategies such as conferencing, peer feedback, provision and collaborative work, For example :
1. Antoni and Gunawan (2004) suggested that process oriented approach was effective as it could empower students to revise their writing through multiple drafts before they eventually produce their final product.
2. Munandar reported that students of a higher level could be invited to beginners’ class to help in peer editing
3. Widiati and Widayati (1997) reported their informal observation concerning the implementation of the process approach in their writing class. That is ‘the conference’, was reported to create an atmosphere where students were encouraged to speak English
Various ways have been proposed to help students write in English smoothly to avoid the metal block. It is :
1. Soedjatmiko and Widiati (2002) study analized qualitatively the flow of thoughts of students while writing in English. They used first language Indonesia for the bigining stages of the process
2. Laksimi (2003) adopting the principles developed by constructivism theorists, introduced “ scaffolding” as a means to help students build up their writing skill. In the class she gave comments on wrong agreement, improper use of articles, pluralization and syntactic form, then the students revise it. This approach encouraged students to write more confidently; they are not worried about their writings being judge as right or wrong.
3. Aridah’s (2004) study provided feedback on students’ papper as an attempt to raise their awareness to perform effectively in the writing classroom.it aimed to identify types of feedback students prefer to have and to figure out their reactions to the feedback. A experiment made with this way. The result show that all students like to have feedback and found feedback helpful in promoting their writing ability. Students prefer to receive feedback in the following rank : grammar, content, organization, vocabulary, and mechanics
Another topic of research interest with regard to process writing is the effective use of collaborative work.
1. Besed on her experience in assigning students to work collaboratively in the previewing stages (i.e., through brainstorming, word mapping, peer interview, and information gathering activities), wijaya (2000) found that collaborative work facilitated students to get more ideas which are interesting to write and developed them into a better written work
2. Tutyandari (2004) found that pair of group work in a writing class was useful to encourage relatively passive students to be involved more actively.
3. Alwasilah (2004) found that through collaborative practice, students were empowered to develop confidence, authorship, and enjoyment of being part of writer community. He also stated that process should be given more emphasis rather than product, quantity rather than quality and fluency rather than accuracy.
4. Budiharjo (2004) found that collaborative work enabled the students to develop their skills in writing for publication
5. Sukyadi (2005) found that the use of collaborative writing, where students proofread/edit peers’ writing for revision, could minimize syntactical errors.
A greater number of studies focusing on writing process have been concerned with pedagogical methodology in developing students’ writing skill. Rhetoric is one of the aspects of writing skill which have been dealt with.
1. Sulistyo (1996) found that students could be helped write in a more linear pattern, reflecting the western rhetorical style, through the application of the Topic-Based Analysis-Synthesis (TBAS) approach. This approach lies in the effort in making the students conscious of the presence of linear pattern in English academic writing.
2. Cahyono’s (1997) study tried to improve students’ overall proficiency in writing with the use dialogue-journals. The research show that when provided with theme students could be helped develop ideas adequately and write with a sense of purpose.
Another attempt was made to minimize students’ grammatical errors in English composition by employing structure-based writing assignments SBWA. Kweldju (2003) carried out a one-cycle action research to help reluctant students to improve their own writing skills. Developing a possible model of lexically-based instruction for college writing. Using deliberately taught diction, then the result is students’ writing style improved and other relevant skills
Included in the category of studies which stress the importance of teaching metology of EFL writing are those investigating the effectiviness of the use of certain instructional materials. For insance
1. Rachmajanti (1997)used literary work to enrich students’ knowledge, oliver twist’e descriptive feature of discourse, to enrich students’ knowledge of topic when writing to develop students’ skill in writing descriptive texts and enhanced their appreciation of arts work.
2. Mukminatien (2004) reported that authentic writing task could be usedto provide opportunities for students to use English for written communicative purposes
Research on EFL writing has also taken into account the development of information technology, especially the Internet. For Example :,Soedjatmiko and Taloko (2003) examined the effectiveness of electronic portofolio (E-portofolio) in teaching descriptive writing. The key of it is much reading and abundant practice of writing. She also found that the mailing list enabled the students to read “ the structural works” and learn how to revise their own.
Research Focusing on Writing Product
Studies on writing as product have been focusing on either analyzing students’ writing pieces, assessing students’ writing performance, or being directed towards both of them. Ihsan’s (1999) study described the kind of errors in students’ “ controlled” term paper. Based on the errors found, this study concluded that the students’ writing was of “ minimum “ professional performance. Ihsan (1999) revealed, all students did not write with greater syntactical complexity of sentences and their frequency of grammatical and mechanical errors did not decrease either as they took more writing courses.
More recent investigations seem to show different pictures of English department students’ skills in writing.
1. Cahyono reported that there was a difference between the first and yourth year students in terms of rhetorical strategies used in their English persuasive essays and overall proficiency in English composition
2. Cahyono and Mukminatien (2002) found that SBWA was effective in reducing students’ grammatical errors.
3. Another study examined whether the variables of syntactic knowledge analytic skill, and paraphrasing skill contributed to the syntactical errors found in university students’ compositions. The study showed that the syntactical errors were caused by lack of proofreading activities and could minimized by the use of collaborative writing
4. Tedjasuksmana (2004) reported a study investigating the types of synyactic constructions of primary school children. Tedjasuksmana found that the children were able to describe the activities of each member of the family in the picture although their written description of each did not differ greatly across school grades.
Research on Genre-Based Approach
Inspired by the application of the 2004 English curriculum, rozimela (2004) investigated the effects of genre-based approach to teaching writing on the students’ writing development. First stage, two model texts of argumentative essays were introduced in order that students learned the features of the argumentative genre. At the second stage, the students, with teacher guidance, developed their ideas and organized them as a basis to write them in a complete essay. At the final stage, the students were required to write their own text. The result show that, through explicit teaching students were enabled to improve their understanding and skills in using aspects of language needed to develop argumentative essays.
Of the research studies on EFL writing based on the three major approaches cited above, most of them dealt with university level students majoring in English which implies that writing has a place in the curriculum of English departments. The writing courses offered in the departments seem to have encouraged the writing lectures to search for better practice. Very few studies of writing in the other levels of education have been shared, suggesting that concerns about writing in the Indonesian contect are lacking.
Towards Future Development of Writing Pedagogy and Research
This section examines directions for future practice and research in teaching writing by considering the introduction of the 2004 English Curriculum which is called the Competence-based curriculum (CBC) to be the milestone.
Prior to implementation of the CBC, the practice of teaching writing in the Indonesian context was influenced by models of writing as product or writing as process. The teaching of writing focused mostly on arranging, or fitting, sentences and paragraphs into prescribed patterns, and later empowered students as the teaching put more emphasis on writing as a communicative ability. The CBC marks the importance of developing writing skill in the secondary education.
At present, the existing studies appear to be unable to contribute significantly to the body of knowledge in the field. As they have been carried out separately, there seems to be little comparability across studies. Future studies should focus on this matter so that potentials for generalizability could be increased.besides, future studies might address the issue of combining models of writing or approaches to teach writing in enabling students to develop their writing skills.