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IMPROVING YEAR 4 PUPILS VOCABULARY USING SELF MADE MINI

PICTIONARY
Maitthili A/P Subramaniam
Kathleen Dass
TESL
Maitthilisubramaniam@yahoo.com
ABSTRACT
This action research was carried out to study the use of Self Made
Mini Pictionary in improving year 4 pupils vocabulary. The Self
Made Mini Pictionary guided and encouraged pupils to learn and
improve their vocabulary, by drawing pictures and writing words
into their own Mini Pictionary. Six pupils in year 4 were chosen to
be the participants of this study. These six participants were those
who scored lowest score for their initial survey. Data for this
research was collected through questionnaire, interview and
pupils work. It was found that pupils were enthusiastic and highly
motivated in creating their own Mini Pictionary through the
research findings. The Self Made Mini Pictionary also helped the
participants in learning words and making meaning with the aid of
pictures. The result of this research showed that the Self Made
Mini Pictionary was helpful in improving the pupils vocabulary.
Key words: vocabulary, Self Made Mini Pictionary, pictures,

ABSTRAK
Kajian tindakan ini dijalankan untuk mengkaji penggunaan Self
Made Mini Pictionary dalam meningkatkan perbendaharaan kata
dalam kalangan murid tahun empat. Self Made Mini Pictionary
menggalak murid-murid untuk belajar serta meningkat
perbendaharaan kata dalam Bahasa Inggeris dengan melukis
gambar dan menulis perkataan dalam Mini Pictionary mereka
masing-masing. Seramai enam orang murid dipilih sebagai peserta
kajian ini. Peserta ini adalah mereka yang mendapat markah
terendah dalam kajian awal yang telah dijalankan. Data dikumpul
melalui soal selidik, temu bual dan hasil kerja murid. Murid
menunjukkan minat dan motivasi yang tinggi dalam proses
membuat Self Made Mini Pictionary. Self Made Mini Pictionary
juga membantu murid mempelajari perkataan dan mengenali
maksud perkataan-perkataan yang dipelajari. Hasil kajian
menunjukkan bahawa Self Made Mini Pictionary membantu dalam
meningkatkan perbendaharaan kata murid.
Kata kunci: perbendaharaan kata, Self Made Mini Pictionary, gambar

INTRODUCTION
A persons vocabulary level is viewed as a means of opening or closing
access to information (Beck & McKeown, Stahl & Nagy, as cited in Sobolak, 2008,
p. 1). Pupils with vocabulary limitation face challenges in excelling in their academic
performances. In this research, the researcher used Self Made Mini Pictionary in
improving Year 4 Maju pupils vocabulary.
This action research was carried out in a semi-urban primary school in S. K.
Seri Lapangan, Kedah (pseudonym). The school and classrooms were equipped
with all the basic facilities. The school had assigned the researcher to teach a Year 4
class. The class consisted of 27 pupils. The pupils were of average proficiency level
in their English Language.
One learning problem that the researcher encountered in her teaching
experiences was the lack of vocabulary among the Year 4 Maju pupils. English has
one of the largest vocabularies of all languages, and it can be very confusing for
non-English speakers to master (Wilson, n.d.). Year 4 Maju pupils had difficulties in
remembering the words introduced and their meanings.
FOCUS OF THE STUDY
The focus for this action research was to improve Year 4 Maju pupils
vocabulary using a Self Made Mini Pictionary. The researcher had personally
encountered problem where poor vocabulary skills resulted in poor writing abilities,
reading comprehension and speaking proficiencies among the pupils throughout her
lessons.
The researcher used pictures to aid improvement in vocabulary learning. The
researcher carried out observation, provided worksheets and also had a discussion
with the English language teacher of Year 4 Maju pupils to identify her target
participants.
This action research was conducted based on Whitehead and McNiffs
action research cycle (2006).The first step of this model was observation. This
observation was carried out to identify the problems faced by the pupils. Second
step was reflection. The researcher reflected on the problem that her pupils faced in
learning vocabulary. She noticed pictures aided pupils better in learning vocabulary.
Then for the act step, the researcher planned to use Self Made Mini Pictionary to
improve her pupils vocabulary. For the evaluation step, the researcher evaluated
the data collected from questionnaire, interview session, and pupils work during the
implementation of the intervention. The step to modify the intervention was not
carried out as the results obtained were satisfying.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY AND RESEARCH QUESTION
Research Objective
This research aims to:
i)
Improve Year 4 Maju pupils vocabulary using the Self Made Mini
Pictionary.

Research Question
The research question is:
i)
How is the Self Made Mini Pictionary able to assist Year 4 Maju pupils in
improving their vocabulary?
PARTICIPANTS OF THE STUDY
The research participants were from a class of year 4 primary school
pupils from S. K. Seri Lapangan, Kedah (pseudonym). A total number of 27 pupils
participated in the initial survey from year 4 Maju. Six pupils were identified as the
target participants after the initial survey. These participants were the ones who
scored less than 5 over 11 questions in the initial survey. The researcher set her
categories as follows: (11-9) above average, (8-6) average and (5-1) below average.
There were six of them and the researcher has coded them as M1, M2, M3, M4, M5
and M6.The three participants; M1, M2 and M3 scored 5/11 marks. Participant M4
scored 4/11 and participant M5 and M6 scored 3/11 respectively in the initial survey.
RESEARCH IMPLEMENTATION
These implementations were done after their schooling hours. The
duration of each implementation session was approximately an hour. The
researcher implemented her actions in a few steps. For the first meeting (step 1),
researcher introduced words from Unit 2: Spending Wisely on the board. Pupils
were asked to recall the words and they had problems recalling the words.
Researcher provided a mini 555 Book to the pupils to create a Self Made Mini
Pictionary. This book was selected because it was easily available, affordable, and
could be carried inside the pupils pockets and bag compartments. Researcher
asked pupils to write down the words in their books. Researcher showed four picture
cards of words introduced and asked pupils to draw the pictures accordingly to the
words written in the book. Researcher informed the pupils that they had to answer a
simple exercise to test their understanding on the words in the Self Made Mini
Pictionary on their following meeting (step 2).
For step 2, teacher distributed worksheet 1 for the pupils to answer.
Teacher checked the answer together with the pupils. Then, teacher introduced
words from Unit 3: Yesterday and Today and identified words from Year 4 DSKP.
Teacher showed four picture cards of words introduced and asked pupils to draw the
pictures accordingly to the words written in the book. They had to answer another
worksheet for the third meeting (step 3). The activities for step 3 were exactly as in
step 1 and 2. For step 3, the researcher introduced words from Unit 4: Yesterday
and Today and suggested words from Year 4 DSKP. For the step 4, researcher asks
pupils to use the Self Made Mini Pictionary for their upcoming lessons. This was to
familiarise pupils with the words from the Self Made Mini Pictionary. For step 5,
researchers distributed a questionnaire to pupils and were asked to give feedback
about the Self Made Mini Pictionary through the response options from the
questionnaire. For the step 6, pupils were interviewed by the researcher to evaluate
their personal opinions and responses on the Self Made Mini Pictionary.
For this research, both quantitative and qualitative forms of data collection
were used. The first method used was questionnaire. The questionnaire consists of
five questions .The participants were asked to rate their responses using the Likertlike rating scale (Goh, 2012, p.75). The second method that the researcher used
was a semi-structured interview. During the interview, participants were given the
freedom to either use the Malay language or English language. The questions

focused on the participants involvement, feelings, and thoughts of the whole


process of creating their own Mini Pictionary. The third method was to interpret the
pupils work. Pupils work were collected and scored to identify the progress
achieved by the pupils.
For the questionnaire, the researcher used the data collected by
recording, tabulating, comparing and interpreting the options given in the
questionnaire. Table 1 below shows the total responses chosen by the participants
for each statement in the questionnaire. In order to observe and identify the general
pattern of the participants responses on the Self Made Mini Pictionary, the
responses were presented into bar charts.
Table 1
Participants Opinion about the Self Made Mini Pictionary
No.

Questions

1.

Do you understand
how to use the Self
Made Mini Pictionary?
Do you think the Self
Made Mini Pictionary
had assisted you in
improving your
vocabulary?
Does the Self Made
Mini Pictionary
motivate you to learn
more words?

2.

3.

4.

5.

Does the Self Made


Mini Pictionary make
you feel confident in
knowing the words
that you have learnt?
Do you feel the Self
Made Mini Pictionary
is easy to use and
carry everywhere with
you?

Strongly
Disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree
1

Strongly
Agree
5

Data Analysis of Question 1


6
5
4
3
2
1
0
No. of responses

Response Options

Figure 1. Data analysis of Question 1, Do you understand how to use the Self Made
Mini Pictionary?.
From the bar chart, five out of six participants strongly agreed and one
participant agreed to the question 1. All the six participants provided a positive
response and this indicated that they know the ways to use the Self Made Mini
Pictionary.

Data Analysis of Question 2

No. of responses

6
5
4
3
2
1
0

Response Options

Figure 2. Data analysis of Question 2, Do you think the Self Made Mini Pictionary
had assisted you in improving your vocabulary?.
For the question 2, five participants agreed that the Self Made Mini
Pictionary assisted them in improving their vocabulary. The remaining one
participant chose the neutral option. This finding indicated that the use of the Self
Made Mini Pictionary have helped the participants to improve their vocabulary.

Data Analysis of Question 3

No. of responses

6
5
4
3
2
1
0

Response Options

.
Figure 3. Data analysis of Question 3, Does the Self Made Mini Pictionary motivate
you to learn more words?.
For the third question from the questionnaire, one participant chose the
neutral option and the other participants agreed that the Self Made Mini Pictionary
did motivate participants to learn more words in English language.

Data Analysis of Question 4

No. of responses

5
4
3
2
1
0

Response Options

Figure 4. Data analysis of Question 4, Does the Self Made Mini Pictionary make
you feel confident in knowing the words that you have learnt?.
From the chart, four out of six participants agreed to the fourth question. One
participant chose strongly agree while one participant chose the neutral option. The
Self Made Mini Pictionary gave them confidence knowing the words that they have
learnt.

Data Analysis of Question 5


8
6
4
2
0
No. of responses

Response Options

Figure 5. Data analysis of Question 5, Do you feel the Self Made Mini Pictionary is
easy to use and carry everywhere with you?.
As for the last question, all the participants strongly agreed that it was easy
to use and carry the Self Made Mini Pictionary everywhere with them.
For the interview, the researcher used the coding process to analyse the
qualitative data. The researcher recorded and transcribed the interview session. The
data were analysed and presented in Table 2 to highlight feedbacks given by the
participants.
Table 2
Coding for the keywords
Number of
codes
1

Do you want to learn more words


in English language?
(before introducing the Self Made
Mini Pictionary)
How do you feel about the Self
Made Mini Pictionary which was
introduced?

Yes
No

Coding for the


keywords
1A
1B

Happy
Excited

2A
2B

Why do you feel so? (in


reference to question 2)

3A
3B

What do you feel when you


made the Self Made Mini
Pictionary?
Do you feel more confident in
using the words from the Self
Made Mini Pictionary?

Working with peer


Can draw and
colour
Interested
Excited
Confident

5A

Questions

Keywords

4A
4B

Can you spell the words from the


Self Made Mini Pictionary
correctly?
Where do you keep your Self
Made Mini Pictionary?

Yes
No

6A
6B

Pencil case
Bag compartment

7A
7B

Will you continue to use the Self


Made Mini Pictionary after this?
(period of intervention)

Yes
No
Not sure

8A
8B
8C

The interview was categorised into eight questions as shown in Table 2


above. Based on the interview analysis, five out six participants said yes to the
first question. Only one participant said no. This indicated that they were ready to
learn more words in English. For the second interview question, four out of six
participants said they were happy when they were introduced to the Self Made
Mini Pictionary. The other two participants claimed that they were excited. This
showed their positive feelings in accepting the Self Made Mini Pictionary.
For the third interview question, four out of six participants said they were
happy because they could draw and colour their pictures in the Self Made Mini
Pictionary. Other two participants were excited because they could work together
with their peers. The fourth question was on their feelings while making the Self
Made Mini Pictionary. Three participants said they were excited and other three
participants said they were interested to make a Self Made Mini Pictionary.
Responses for the fifth question which was on their confidence in learning
new words in English were positive enough as all the six participants said they were
confident. From these statements, it can be said that the Self Made Mini Pictionary
could boost their confidence level in using the words. Question six which was about
their ability to spell the words from the Self Made Mini Pictionary correctly; five
participants said yes and only one participant said no. This indicated majority
were able to spell the words correctly from the Self Made Mini Pictionary.
Question seven was about the place where they kept their Self Made Mini
Pictionary. For this question, four participants said they kept their Mini Pictionary
inside their school bag compartment and the other two kept in their pencil case.
For the last question, the researcher asked if they would continue to make use of
the Self Made Mini Pictionary. Four participants said yes, other two said not sure
and no. From their responses, it showed majority would make use of the Self Made
Mini Pictionary even after the intervention period.
For pupils work, the data were analysed by scoring their worksheets which
was given twice. These scores were tabulated into a table and to a bar graph to
show the differences of the scores achieved by the participants from the initial
survey and worksheets.

Table 3
Scores achieved by the participants
Participants

Average score of
pre- intervention
(%)

Added scores of
worksheet 1 and 2

Average score of
the worksheets
(%)

M1

45

9/12

75

M2

45

12/12

100

M3

45

10/12

83

M4

36

8/12

67

M5

27

7/12

58

M6

27

12/12

100

Comparison between initial survey score and worksheets score


100

100
83

75

67
average score of worksheets
58

Average score of initial survey


45

45

45
36
27

M1

M2

M3

M4

M5

27

M6

Figure 6: Comparison between initial survey score and worksheets score.


Table 3 and Figure 6 above demonstrate the comparison of participants
score for their initial survey and worksheets. Before the intervention was carried out,
participant M1, M2 and M3 managed to score 5/11 marks with the average score of
45% out of 100%. Participant M4 scored 4/11 marks with the average score of 36%
out of 100%. For participant M5 and M6, the score were 3/11 and their average
score were 27% out of 100%. Initially, the scores achieved were very low.
Once the intervention was carried out, there was drastic improvement in their
scores for the worksheets given. Participant M1 achieved the score of 9/12 with
average score of 75% and improved by 30% from initial survey score. Participant

M2 achieved full marks which was 12/12 with average score of 100%. This was a
good improvement as the participant scored 64% more than the initial survey score.
Participant M3 scored 10/12 marks and 83% as average score. There was a
difference of 38% between initial survey and worksheets score. Participant M4
scored 8/12 with average score of 67% with improvement by 31%. The score for
participant M5 was 7/12 with average score of 58%. This shows there was
difference of 31% from the initial survey score. Lastly the score for participant M6
was 12/12 marks and 100% as average score achieved. There was a drastic
improvement shown by this participant as 73% improvement from initial survey to
worksheets score. From the graph, it can be noted the differences of scores
between initial survey and worksheets were very satisfying and the use of the Self
Made Mini Pictionary had improved on the participants vocabulary.
RESEARCH FINDINGS
From the analysis and interpretation of data, the researcher could answer
the research question. The Self Made Mini Pictionary helped the participants in
learning words and making meaning with the aid of pictures. Thornbury (2002),
states that the process of visualisation of a picture helps in retaining memory of the
words. Certainly this helped the participants in retaining the words in their memory
as the thinking process was going on while visualising and drawing the pictures in
the Self Made Mini Pictionary.
Thornbury (2002), points out those images drawn by students themselves
have the best outcomes in learning vocabulary. The participants were clear about
the meanings of the words with the aid of the pictures thus assisting them in
improving their vocabulary. Besides, pictures drawn by the participants improved the
learning environment as it becomes more memorable and meaningful. These
findings are parallel with Joklovas (2009) finding that pictures bring not only images
of reality, but can also function as a fun element in the class.
The Self Made Mini Pictionary also promoted collaborative learning. The
process of making the Self Made Mini Pictionary involves interaction of the
participants with other participants and the researcher. Interactions took place when
participants commented on each others drawings, and asked questions about
details of their pictures. By drawing the pictures together, the participants were
collaborating with each other by assisting in drawing. This is further reinforced by
Joklova (2009), the longer time the children spend with drawing, it brings more
opportunities to use and remember the desired words (p .42).
REFLECTION
This research study indicates that the implementation of the Self Made Mini
Pictionary has improved the pupils vocabulary. The making and using of the Self
Made Mini Pictionary involved the participants actively. The participants had the
opportunity to interact, share information and work together. The Self Made Mini
Pictionary has provided an opportunity for the pupils to learn and provided them with
healthy competitive challenges. By competing with each other in a positive way,
there were possibilities to remember the words they had learnt which indirectly
helped in improving their vocabulary
The Self Made Mini Pictionary focused in vocabulary learning using pictures
drawn by the participants themselves thus it improved their creativity. Some
participants could connect the images they drew to the things that they used daily.
Drawing pictures has certainly built on their existing concepts, knowledge and ideas.
By conducting this research, it helped the researcher to improve her professional
growth and personal skills as a future teacher to be.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH


The researcher would like to develop and further improve on her
intervention. The researcher used picture cards in her intervention for the
participants to associate the words to the pictures shown. This can be further
improved by using Power Point slides instead of picture cards. By doing so, the
researcher could reduce the cost of printing the picture cards. Besides, Power Point
slides can help the researcher to flash pictures which are abstract and action verbs.
In conclusion, the researcher felt that modification can be implemented in order to
make the research more useful and helpful.
REFERENCES
Goh, L. Y. (2012). A Practical Guide to Writing Your Action Research. Selangor
Darul Ehsan: Penerbitan Mutimedia
Joklova, K. (2009). Using pictures in teaching vocabulary (Unpublished bachelor
dissertation). Masaryk University, Czech Republic. Retrieved from
http://is.muni.cz/th/123676/pedf_b/Bachelor_ThesisUsing_pictures_in_teaching_vocabulary.pdf
Sobolak, M. J. (2008). Effects of Amount of Vocabulary Instruction for Low
Socioeconomics Students (unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Thornbury, S. (2002). How to Teach Vocabulary. London: Longman
Wilson, K. (n.d.). 5 Biggest Challenges of Learning English. Retrieved from
http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/englishlearningchallenges.htm