1.1 Background of the Study
Language plays an important role in human life. People use it as a means to communicate with other people. As stated by Finocchiaro (1973:12), language is a system of arbitrary, vocal symbol, which permits all people in a given culture or other people who have studied that culture, to communicate or to interact with one another. Carol (in Ramelan, 1992:10) also states: Language is an arbitrary system of speech sounds or sequences of sounds, which is used or can be used in interpersonal communication by an aggregation of human beings, and which rather exhaustively catalog things, processes, and events in the human environment.
Since the proclamation of Indonesia on the 17th of August 1945, English has been taught in this country as the first foreign language. It is taught continuously for six years at the high school, three years atthe Junior High School, and three years at the Senior High School as a compulsory subject, even at the University level. In some areas, English has also been taught in primary schools as local contents to meet the needs of local community. If the Indonesian government has chosen English as the first foreign language to be taught in schools, this is simply for the reason that we recognize the important role it plays in the international world. As an independent country which needs to strengthen relationships with all the countries in the world, we need a means of communication to foster cooperation among different countries that is English.
In addition, because English is an international language, learning to master English would be a must so that people are able to follow the continuously changing world. Although English is not the language with the largest number of native or first language speakers, it has become a lingua franca. A lingua franca can be defined as a language widely adopted for communication between two speakers whose native languages are different from each other’s and where one or both speakers are using it as a second language (Harmer, 2001:1). English language teaching as outlined in the 1994 English Curriculum for SLTP focuses on four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Teachers should develop these four skills so that their students could use these skills to communicate with each other and express their thoughts, feelings and opinions in English. For many students, reading is by far the most important of these four skills, particularly in English as a second or foreign language. Grabe&Stoller (2002:9) state that reading is the ability to draw meaning from the printed page and interpret this information appropriately. For the beginner, reading is concerned mainly with learning to recognize the printed symbols that represent language and to respond intellectually and emotionally when being asked about the content of the text he has read.
Based on the 1994 English Curriculum of Junior High School Level, some of the objectives of the teaching reading in Junior High School are to get certain pieces of information, to identify general idea about the text and to get the main idea both???????
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