Vocabulary is an important element in learning English as a foreign language because a language is built by vocabularies. Many students face difficulties in their writing, speaking, listening, and reading because of their lack of vocabularies. “When the students are exposed to an unfamiliar text in foreign language, the first challenge seems to be its vocabulary” (Grabe & Stoller, 1997) Vocabulary is crucial for getting meaning from text, getting message from what people say, writing stories, or speaking to other people. In relation to this, Lewis (1993) argues that vocabulary should be at the centre of language teaching. Therefore, by learning vocabulary students are expected not to face many difficulties anymore in their writing, speaking, listening, or reading.
There are many methods that teacher use to teach vocabulary or to encourage vocabulary self-learning by their students. Hulstjin and Hulstjin (1992), Hollander and Greidanus (1996) distinguish between incidental and intentional vocabulary learning. Hollander and Greidanus claim that both approaches are present in foreign language learning.
Students not only learn vocabulary intentionally as part of course requirements but also gain knowledge of words incidentally through their reading. Intentional vocabulary learning is intended learning of vocabulary, when students want to increase their vocabulary or have to learn new words for test; they invest the necessary mental effort and memorize the words until they know their meanings. In this vocabulary learning strategy, learners do many specific exercises and activities that focus their attention directly on certain words in list, learning word parts, and vocabulary games. Incidental learning, on the other hand, does not involve a conscious effort to learn words. The incidental learning of vocabulary requires that teacher provide opportunities for extensive reading and listening. (Hollander & Greidanus, 1996)
”The incidental learning of vocabulary or implicit learning may eventually account for a majority of advanced learners’ vocabulary; however, intentional learning through instruction or explicit learning is particularly essential for beginning students.”(Nation, 1990; Paribakht & Wesche, 1996; Zimmerman, 1997)
This research observed beginning learners or elementary students in remembering English vocabularies. This research uses learning vocabulary through games as a strategy. “Games are important to the teacher of a foreign language because they provide an opportunity for student to use their language skills in a less formal situation.” (Treacher, 1980) Teaching vocabularies using games for elementary or beginner students are important since students may learn more amusing and enjoy by using game. Through well-planned games, learners can practise and internalize vocabulary, grammar and structures extensively. Play and competition that are provided by games enhance the motivation of the students. They also lessen the stress in the classroom. If the students are having fun they discover learning English interesting. This research uses a game called Pelmanism. Pelmanism is a game that uses cards. The cards are spread out face down and must be turned up in matching pairs.
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