Nowadays we can see that English is one of the important subjects that must be learnt by student in the school. It makes the teacher should understand how to teach English well. Teaching English as a foreign or second language is not so easy for each teacher, because that is a new language for the students that they must understand and know about it. For instance Indonesia, there are some students who still do not know about what the important of English is or why they must learn English subject. Hence, it makes the student not interested in learning English. As the result, the teacher should understand about how to manage the class to make the student interest and want to learn English. The teacher must think about how to make the student enjoy in learning, and then, try to find and use good method and approach in learning and teaching.
Exploratory Practice (EP) is one of approach that is used in language teaching such as a form of practitioner research in language classroom. According to Akira Tajino and Craig Smith (2005:448) defining EP is a set of evolving guidelines of principles and practices which are intended to help teachers and learners make and carry out plans to deepen their understandings of their own lives in language classrooms. By looking at the definition, EP is one approach helping the teacher and learner knowing about the ability of each other by using the practitioner research. Practitioner research means that the teacher or learner being researcher in classroom by investigating each other using the practitioner research such as questioner for themselves.
Exploratory Practice focuses on understanding classroom live, we can see (Allwright, 2003a:138) the aim of EP is to prioritize that “quality of life in the language classroom” by working to understand that life, and by doing so as a fully social enterprise of mutual development. In fact, in language teaching, the teachers not only teach about material in the class, but the important thing that the teacher has to know about the classroom live, they must understand the situation and the condition about the classroom including the learners condition. Understanding life in the language classroom will provide a good foundation for helping teachers and learners make their time together both pleasant and productive’ ( Allwright, 2003: 114). Furthermore, the teacher and the learners encourage each other, because the teacher should be the learner and the learner should be the teacher. They have to share and open mind about learning and teaching. They should be a good partner in understanding classroom live. As the result, the teacher will be easier to make the student understand the material and be able to use it.
Learning and teaching English will find some problems that must be solved by the teacher and the learners. Why the Exploratory Practice can help the teacher and the learner in solving their problems? It is caused EP focuses on the quality of classroom life like its aim above and that is right. The quality of classroom life is really important in teaching and learning, because we have to create a good condition, make people feel togetherness, and develop the student language competency in nice or fresh situation. According to Allwright 2003: 129-30a, there are seven principles of EP, those are 1). Put quality of life in foreign language classroom first 2). Work primarily to understand classroom life 3). Involve all participants in classroom life 4). Work to bring people together 5). Work for mutual development 6). Integrate the work for understanding classroom practice and let the need to integrate guide the conduct of the work of understanding into classroom practice 7). Make the work a continuous sustainable enterprise. By putting those principles, it will make easy to teacher and students solve their problem.
For instance Ruwen Zhan experience who teaches Extensive Reading in China. Firstly, she has some problems in teaching extensive reading, she wants to improve the ability of student in learning extensive reading, but it is difficult for her to find what the need of student till finding and knowing about the EP. According to Ruwen Zhan 2004-332 “Life in the language classroom’ is a completely new idea to me; yet, it appeals to me so much that I cannot resist trying it in my classroom. In fact, since I found out about EP, I have been making use of EP principles in my teaching activities to learn more about my students, to develop the students’ ability to think independently and creatively, to help them enjoy their English classes, and to enhance their language competency in a harmonious atmosphere. In short, I have tried to prioritize the quality of life in the language classroom through adherence to EP principles. She can develop the student competency by using EP. She makes the student work group and researcher in the class.
The mechanism of EP in understanding classroom live is by investigating and being researcher in the class. The teachers make question for themselves and for student about how the way they teach, and the condition of the student. We can see from the investigation of Ruwen Zhan (2004:333) in investigating the student, she interviews the student by asking these questions, those are:
1. How much do you learn from the extensive reading class?
2. Are vocabulary and grammatical knowledge important to your language study?
3. Is it the right way to teach vocabulary and grammar?
4. Can extensive reading class help you improve your English?
And the other questioners used by Ruwen Zhan (2004-334) :
1. How much do you learn from the extensive reading class?
2. Why don’t you speak when given the opportunity?
3. How do you deal with all these words and phrases and grammatical points now since the teacher does not say anything about them in class?
4. Can this class help you improve your English?
Those questions are given to the student and after learning and teaching process, she investigates herself and her student to know about the classroom live till she finds that the students enjoy in learning. According to Ruwen Zhan, EP helps her to find what the learners need, she understands that the students have different personalities and interested in learning process. As the result, the principle of EP helps the teacher to develop the student ability and understanding the classroom.
Practitioner is one of the EP mechanisms such in above giving questioner or investigating the teacher and the learner. However, understanding the classroom live not only uses the EP practitioner, but also we use the mechanism of Puzzling in EP. In this case puzzle is similar to problem, but the puzzle mechanism focus on the teacher thinking in investigating the classroom condition. Puzzle development process relates to the EP practitioner, Puzzle is the problem that the teacher finds and analyses in teaching and learning process. According Rio de Janeiro teachers in meeting EP, they find and collect so many puzzles from the teachers and then they identify the puzzle that they want to investigate. Lyra (2003:143) they group the puzzle into six emerging categories: motivation, anxiety, teaching, institutional lack of interest, discipline, and EP itself. Those emerging categories are the important thing that must be investigated by the teacher. Then, six general categories of puzzle content eventually emerged, in the following order of frequency of mention: Motivation (31 per cent), Anxiety (27 per cent), Teaching (17 per cent), Institutional lack of interest (14 per cent), Discipline (7 per cent) and Exploratory Practice itself (4 per cent). To understand the classroom live, the teacher should investigate those puzzles. The puzzle mechanism will make concepts that will be used in investigating such as focusing on student, teacher or both of them. For example, the puzzle of motivation, the teacher will make the puzzle with focus on student such as “Why don’t students see the point in the teaching of the foreign language?’ Some are teachers centered: ‘Who is the teacher that motivates?’; some both teacher and student-centered: ‘Why do students lose motivation so quickly? Why don’t they find studying important? Why can’t I find work solutions that really work?’; some are on material: ‘Why are there so many students not interested in studying English? In reading the materials we present?’; and some on activities: ‘Why would students rather sit, copy and receive the subject matter passively than read newspapers for later discussion?’(Lyra, 2003:146) Those are the example puzzle will help the teacher to understand the classroom live, they directly will find the answers which can solve the problems in investigating.
In conclusion, by using the principle and mechanism of Exploratory Practice really help the teacher understanding the classroom live. Doing investigating for the teacher and the learner will make the teacher and the students dwell in mind or introspect themselves. They can improve their ability in learning teaching after knowing about the result of investigating and puzzle. Being researcher and create puzzle will make the teacher easier to understand what the students need, the teacher know about how the students condition after learning and teaching process. Besides that, the teacher is easier to choose method for the material and knowing how to deliver those materials easily. Then, the teacher and the student will be a good partner in the classroom.
As the result, EP is important and really necessary by the teacher in understanding the classroom live.