Focus on the Learner Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Focus on the Learner Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1156

  • Pages: 5

Focus on the Learner

PART 1

The students attending the pre-intermediate course are mostly Czech nationals (except one Polish student) and are in their early thirties to sixties.

They all have a good level of motivation and their reasons for learning English include personal development, relocating to an English speaking country, obtaining a better job, travelling, teaching English at a higher level, and communicating with native speakers or family members living abroad.

Most of them have learnt the language at school and/or university for at least 4 years (often with long breaks) and were taught by teachers who used both Czech and English in the classroom. The lessons were teacher-centred and focused on grammar, dictation and homework, leaving few opportunities for speaking practice. One student has also been attending English course offered by her employer, and also learns English independently. Two of the students are multilingual (they speak either German or French).

A number of them have attended English lessons at Akcent IH in the past, which they enjoyed because they were exposed to various accents of native speakers. They prefer lessons where only English is spoken and are very receptive to CELTA teaching strategies. Students are happy to work in pairs or groups, though some would like to be corrected more often and feel they learn more when talking to the teacher.

They enjoy a mixture of speaking practice and grammar work, which most perceive as difficult, but easier than listening or speaking “because grammar can be learned”. They are all eager to communicate effectively with native English speakers, develop their listening skills (difficult because of accents/talking speeds) and speaking skills (fluency, improving their accents). The students also want to broaden their vocabulary and improve their writing skills.

All students are passionate about travelling, music, dancing and sports, and actively pursue these hobbies.

PART 2A:

Description of error
Error example
Corrections
Reason

GRAMMAR

Not using the correct proper noun when referring to a particular country It is the same in Britain or in French.
It is the same in Britain or in France.
Most likely a slip, though possibly student doesn’t know the right word for the country or hasn’t had enough practice using it. Omitting “-s” in the present simple 3rd person singular
She drink a lot of coffee.
She drinks a lot of coffee.
SS are aware of the rule but haven’t internalized it yet. Probably confusing for them because the verb form only changes in the 3rd person sg.

VOCABULARY

Using the wrong adjective (meaning)
hard luggage
heavy luggage
L1 interference: hard and heavy are the same in Czech (tezky) Using wrong verb (collocation: you ride a bike, but drive a car) Do you know how to ride cars?
Do you know how to drive a car?
Drive in Czech (ridit) is similar to ride. Student learned the meanings of drive/ride in the past but mixes them up.

PRONUNCIATION

Wrong sounds
/ven/
/ wen/
Student hasn’t had enough practice using the sound /w/, which does not exist in Czech, and uses the sound /v/ instead. Wrong sounds + incorrect word stress
?
/d??:pan/
?
/d??p?n/
L1 interference: in Czech, word stress is always on the first syllable. Student would also benefit from drilling pronunciation to correct the vowel sounds.

PART 2B:

Skill 1: Listening
The students handle listening for gist and specific information well if the context is very clear from the start, tasks are graded to their level and the activity is engaging (as was the case when listening to a song). Essential vocabulary must be clarified before the listening task. Because they are not exposed to spoken English outside the classroom very much and have had little listening practice in their previous learning experience, they sometimes struggle with the different accents of English speakers (natives who speak quickly are particularly difficult to understand).

Skill 2: Speaking
Speaking tasks work well with the group, especially if the topic is something the students can relate to (like New Year’s traditions, or their hobbies: travelling and holidays were particularly stimulating themes) and have/are taught the necessary vocabulary. Free speaking tasks work best when preceded by guided practice. At times, the speaking tasks progress slowly and students are hesitant to talk. They often stop to think about the accuracy of what they are going to say and always benefit from discussing their ideas in pairs before engaging in the activity. This has to do with their previous English learning experiences, in which skills development was neglected – they were not encouraged to share their ideas or develop fluency.

PART 3

Activity 1: /v/ vs. /w/
Aim: To clarify and practice the pronunciation of the sounds /v/ and /w/ in commonly encountered words.

Rationale: Students have trouble pronouncing the sound /w/. Often they say /vi:kend/ instead of /wi:kend/ or /ver/ instead of /w?r/. The sound /w/ does not exist in their native language, so they use the closest sound in Czech: /v/. I found that this error is widespread amongst the students. The activity I have chosen is suitable because, apart from drilling the pronunciation of /w/ and /v/, it encourages students to identify rules as to which of sound to use in which words. I’ve adapted the task to include some of the words they had trouble with in class.

Activity 2: Summer camp

Aim: To give students practice using the correct form of the present simple 3rd person singular in the context of organizing a summer camp. Rationale: Students are already familiar with the rule for forming the present tense for the 3rd person singular. However, especially during speaking tasks, they omit the “-s” at the end of the verb and use the bare infinitive form. The activity I have chosen is a speaking task, because I believe that students will benefit from practice to avoid making this kind of error in a productive task and it will encourage fluency.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Millin, S. (2011, June 18) – Pronunciation problems for Czech speakers of English Retrieved from http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/pronunciation-problems-for-czech-speakers-of-english/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts

Focus on the Learner Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Focus on the Learner Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1799

  • Pages: 7

Focus on the Learner

1.Group Profile

It’s a mixed group with a very mixed cultural background as only three students are actually from Germany. Four of the students were born in another country e.g. Lithuania, Turkey, France and Romania. They all moved to Germany as adults and all share German as a common language.

The group is heterogeneous concerning the age they started learning English. Two students started learning as adults while the others started learning at school. Most of the students have learnt another language as an adult and therefore have previous language learning experience.

The motivation for doing the course is quite high and the group can be divided into two groups – students who need English for their job/university and students who want to learn for their own enjoyment. They are all at upper intermediate level.

Except for one student (who could be classed as a converger), the overall group could be classed as concrete learners. They enjoy the social aspects of learning and like to learn from direct experience. They are interested in the language and they enjoy games and group-work in class. The entire group could also be classed as communicative learners because they show a degree of confidence and a willingness to take risks. They are much more interested in social interaction with other speakers of the language than they are with analysis of how the language works. (Learning styles based on Keith Willing [1987]).

2.Strengths and weaknesses

Grammar

The students are weak when forming the present simple (especially 3rd person singular) (e.g. “I must to take the train”, “She like climbing”, “Stephen come from Australia”) very often confusing it with the present continuous. (“Sometimes I’m reading Turkish books”). Most students also have problems when using the simple past (“we seed it’s ill”, I gone to school with her”, “We can found this in a school”, “Where are you born?”, “She were …”).

Some students also have problems with verb-noun collocations (e.g. “She make all the housework”)

Vocabulary

The students have a good basic knowledge of vocabulary. They can talk about themselves, where they come from, their profession, their families, experiences they have had in the past and things they like to spend more money on. (Example of good language: “My picture is a technical object but I really don’t know what it is used for”, “Because you met the Pope, you changed your mind” “You said dug – so it is dig, dug, dug” = verb orientation).

Many of the students try to translate directly from German into English (“The cat was by us”) and sometimes use a German word in a sentence, using it questioningly enabling other students to help out with the correct English word. The students respond very well, offering suggestions until correct answer is found.

Most of the students focus on finding the exact translation of the unknown word rather than trying to paraphrase their idea.

Pronunciation

All the students have a strong L1 interference and speak with an accent.

The group responds well to drilling the right pronunciation and where to put stress on the words. They are keen to sound natural and like repeating after the teacher.

Some students pronounce the endings of words that aren’t necessary e.g. “clothes”, “See” instead of sea, “Lus their jobs”

Words: 208

3.Strengths and weaknesses skills

Reading

The students are able to read a text fairly quickly in order to understand the overall meaning. After enquiring about a few words of vocabulary (sometimes looking this up themselves in a dictionary) they are able to answer all the questions quickly and correctly.

Listening

The students are able to listen to texts read to them and in most cases understand the general meaning already after the first time. After hearing the text for the second time, they are able to answer questions, in most cases correctly.

The students react well to instructions and during conversation they wait patiently until their dialogue partner has finished.

One student is a panicky listener, the others all seem to be relaxed listeners.

Writing
The students have a wide range of vocabulary appropriate for the given tasks. Their sentences are well-structured and they make few mistakes.

Speaking

The students try to use structured sentences. If they are confident with the vocabulary hesitation is less frequent, with new vocabulary or grammar most students hesitate frequently. The students are motivated to improve their speaking ability and they make a great effort to only speak English.

Some of them use gestures when they do not know a word, others switch between German and English, using the German word to fill in the gaps in the sentence (“I go with the Straßenbahn”, “I make Teig with Zimt and …”).

4.Recommendations

Language development

1.Total English Workbook (Pre-intermediate)
Antonia Clare/JJ Wilson – Longman Publishers

Page 8, Section 1.3Grammar : Present Simple vs Present Continuous

Justification:All 3 exercises on this page help the students to distinguish between the present simple and the present continuous. It also concerns activities they can associate with

2.New Cutting Edge (Pre-intermediate Student’s Book)
Sarah Cunningham/Peter Moor – Pearson/Longman Publishers

Module 4, page 34Language Focus 1
Present continuous and present simple

Justification:At the top left of the page there is a grammar exercise section where the students have to underline and give an example of the present simple/present continuous. Exercises 1 and 2 help to practice the use of them.

3.Language to go Student’s Book (Pre-intermediate)
Gillie Cunningham/Sue Mohamed – Longman Publishers

Lesson 3, page 9 – The Present (Grammar focus)

Justification:Exercises for the students to practice distinguishing between Present simple and Present continuous. First of all filling in the gaps, then writing their own email and finally using the language by talking in pairs

4.Total English Student’s Book (Pre-intermediate)
Richard Acklam/Araminta Crace –Pearson/Longman Publishers

Chapter 1, page 14 – Review and practice

Justification:Exercises for practicing both present simple and present continuous (including question-forming)

5.Clockwise Pre-intermediate Class Book
Bruce McGowen & Vic Richardson – Oxford University Press

Chapter 25, page 65 – Present simple and continuous

Justification:Students can fill in the tables with the verb and then complete the rules for using Present simple and continuous themselves in exercise 1

6.New Edition Basis for Business
David Christie – Cornelsen & Oxford

Unit 2, pages 24 and 25 – Further study (Simple present and present continuous)

Justification:On page 24 there is an explanation of when to use simple present and present continuous and on page 25 there are exercises to practice

7.New Edition Basis for Business
David Christie – Cornelsen & Oxford

Unit 3, pages 37 and 38 – Further study (Simple past and past continuous)

Justification:On page 37 there is an explanation of when to use simple past and past continuous and on page 38 there are exercises to practice

8.Powerbase Pre-intermediate
David Evans – Longman Publishers

Unit 4, pages 30 to 33 – Going places

Justification:The article on page 31 is quite interesting for the students. On page 30 they can fill-in the verbs in the past and present form and on page 32 the past simple can be practiced in exercises.

9.Business opportunities
Vicki Hollett – Cornelsen & Oxford

Unit 5, Growth and development, pages 50 and 51 – Past experiences

Justification:The article on page 31 is quite interesting for the students. On page 50 they can fill-in a time line. On page 51 there is an explanation on when to use the simple past, questions for the students to answer and discussion exercise.

Skills development

10.Business opportunities
Vicki Hollett – Cornelsen & Oxford

Unit 2, Telephoning to make arrangements, pages 23, 150 and 151

Justification: Students usually enjoy doing role play. In these exercises they work with a partner and discuss a) a conference programme and b) arranging a meeting.

11.Business opportunities
Vicki Hollett – Cornelsen & Oxford

Unit 7, Telephoning to exchange information, page 73

Justification: Students will probably find the stories on this page quite amusing. They will then discuss any car accidents or funny incidents that they have experienced themselves.

References:
1.Total English Workbook (Pre-intermediate)
Antonia Clare/JJ Wilson – Longman Publishers
2.New Cutting Edge (Pre-intermediate Student’s Book)
Sarah Cunningham/Peter Moor – Pearson/Longman Publishers
3.Language to go Student’s Book (Pre-intermediate)
Gillie Cunningham/Sue Mohamed – Longman Publishers
4.Total English Student’s Book (Pre-intermediate)
Richard Acklam/Araminta Crace –Pearson/Longman Publishers 5.Clockwise Pre-intermediate Class Book
Bruce McGowen & Vic Richardson – Oxford University Press
6.New Edition Basis for Business
David Christie – Cornelsen & Oxford
7.Powerbase Pre-intermediate
David Evans – Longman Publishers
8.Business opportunities
Vicki Hollett – Cornelsen & Oxford

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts

Focus on the learner Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Focus on the learner Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1614

  • Pages: 6

Focus on the learner

A. Learner’s profile

Virginia is a 29-year old native Spanish speaker born in Madrid. She is currently studying a professional training course and works as an animal caretaker. She is one of the A2 or Elementary proficiency level students of the Celta Teacher Training Program at International house Language School. She took part of the same program two years ago, but she didn’t continue studying English afterwards.

Virginia studied English in primary and secondary school following a traditional teaching method, which used grammar as the starting point and foundation, for the development of all language skills — speaking, listening, writing, and reading, however there was relatively little focus on speaking and listening.

As reported by Virginia, she was exposed to explicit information about the structure of the language and to rules that she had to internalize through repetitions and direct translation with little or no opportunity of participating in activities that encourage meaningful communication. This situation hindered the development of her speaking skills, and made her fail in her attempts to attain the necessary fluency and confidence to successfully communicate in English during her trips abroad.

Knowledge of grammar without meaningful practice of the language is ineffective, as Jim Scrivener says: “There is no point knowing a lot about language if you can’t use it (which sadly, has been the experience of many language learners in the past – able to conjugate a verb, but unable to respond to a simple question)” (Scrivener, 2005; 146)

As a result of the different frustrating situations she had to face when trying to make herself understand in foreign countries, and due to her love for travelling, she developed an intrinsic motivation to study English. She thinks English is a lingua franca that opens doors to other cultures, on the contrary, she doesn’t have any extrinsic motivation as she doesn’t need to speak English for any other purposes than socializing and travelling.

She is a participative student who has never missed a class. Her favorite activities are the ones that foster speaking skills, especially role-plays or discussions in groups, because they give her the opportunity to interact with her classmates and communicate in real time about real or similar to real life situations.

Virginia’s learning style is visual; a technique she uses in order to spell words is seeing the words in her head and she can better understand and remember explanations by writing them down or looking at pictures and diagrams

She claims that one of her strengths is her knowledge of grammar rules associated with verbs conjugation; specifically the use of simple present and present continuous and adds that writing is the easiest among the four language skills, because writing tasks provide enough time to brainstorm and choose the correct language to express her ideas. Among her weaknesses she mentioned her lack of fluency, because she has not time to think on the grammar rules when she speaks, especially when talking about a past event, as she hardly ever knows whether the verb she wants to use is regular or irregular.

B. Language problems and Solutions

Analyzing Victoria’s output in class I could notice that she has two evident language problems; one of them is the use of simple past of irregular verbs, and the other one is the differentiation of the vowel sounds /aɪ/ and /ɪ/. I find these problems in the grammar and pronunciation areas very interesting to analyze, because both of them are very common in Spanish native speakers learning ESL, therefore, finding engaging and interesting activities to overcome them could be helpful in similar cases in the future. Examples and solutions for the student’s language problems in the different areas are exposed below:

Grammar:

Virginia struggles with using irregular verbs in the past “I´m learning to surf. I buyed a surfboard. I´m loving it although I’m not very good.” “The teacher who teach me English when I was a child was not strict” “I lose the train this morning” (neither the correct word has been chosen in this case “miss”, however, I only focus on the verb)

In order to help Virginia with her problem in this grammar area, I have decided to use the activities of the lesson “Girls’ night out”; unit 5, pages 56 and 57 of the Elementary student’s book “New English File”, Oxford University Press. The subject of the lesson revolves around a group of young female journalist for a famous women’s magazine who are asked to go out for the evening with her girlfriends, and then write a report about their experiences. The topic is engaging, as it suits Virginia’s age, gender, interest (tackles some cultural matters of different countries) and is quite close to her cultural background, considering that Spaniards are very sociable and much of their life is lived in the streets. The material exposes the student to the structure through reading, listening and speaking activities.

Virginia will have to deduce which are the past tense of a set of irregular verbs from the text in order to do exercise 3A. Grammar (look at the reports again and find the past tense of these irregular verbs), and then listen and practice the pronunciation of the verbs in exercise 3. B (listen and check, practice saying the verbs). She will also have the opportunity to fill in sentences with the correct form of the same irregular verbs in exercise 3C 1 and listen these verbs within a meaningful context in exercises 4 B and C (Listen to Silvia talking about their girls’ night out).

In terms of speaking, the student will have to use the simple past of irregular verbs in the exercise 5C (Think about the last time you went out with friends, look at the questions and plan your answers) Virginia will have plenty of opportunities to see and use the target language as in real life communication.

1: This exercise send the student to the explanation on page 130 (5C) and to the exercise on page 131 (5C)

Pronunciation
Virginia struggles with discriminating the /aɪ/ and /ɪ/ sounds. : “I filled in a registration form for a diving school”: /ˈdɪvɪŋ/ “The school has wifi” /ˈwɪ fɪ/ “The school has a library”: /ˈlɪbrəri/

To help her to differentiate the pronunciation of the vowel sounds /aɪ/ and /ɪ/. I have chosen the lesson “Wine, win”, unit 5 of the book “English Pronunciation in use”, Cambridge University press; pages: 30 and 31. Besides providing explanatory pictures of mouth modulation for a better pronunciation (Section A and B), it offers exercises that focus exclusively on the different pronunciation of minimal pairs, which usually confuse nonnative speakers, as Spanish does not differentiate between long and short vowels.

Minimal pairs effectively facilitate pronunciation acquisition. “When learners compare and contrast discrete sounds in the environment presented in minimal pairs, the importance of these sounds in denoting word meaning is transferred to their mind naturally. Experience shows that ―pronunciation classes… make students more conscious of their own pronunciation and aware of ways in which their pronunciation differs from the model offered” (Rajadurai, 2001: 14)

Virginia will have to spot the /aɪ/ sound among minimal pairs in exercise A and the /ɪ/ sound in exercise B. The student will also have to discriminate and identify the words that have the/aɪ/ or the /ɪ/ vowel sounds in exercise 11.1. (Make words with these beginnings and endings and write them in the correct part of the table) and in the exercise 11.2 (Read the dialogue. Circle the sound /aɪ/ and underline the/ɪ/).

Despite the fact that this material doesn’t approach pronunciation within a context similar to real life, it offers a lot of practice opportunity, which in my opinion as a nonnative speaker of English is essential for the reason that Spanish phonological system is significantly different from that of English, particularly in the aspects of vowel sounds.

Conclusion

Virginia’s English lesson at school were focused on talking about the language rather than on talking in the language; as a result, we can deduce that she was not exposed to proper and useful input since these type of classes do not require that teachers be experts or even fluent in the language. However, her motivation, along with the use of relevant and meaningful materials as the ones presented in this essay can help her to improve her language skills and attain proficiency in English as a result.

References

Hancock, M (2003) English Pronunciation in Use. Cambridge University Press. Oxenden, C, Latham-Koening, C and Seligson, P. New English File, Elementary Student (2007). Oxford University Press. Scrivener, J (2005) Learning Teaching, A guidebook for English Language Teachers. Second Edition. Macmillan Books for Teachers. Rajadurai, J. (2001). An investigation of the effectiveness of teaching pronunciation to Malaysian TESL students MacMillan Dictionary : http://www.macmillandictionary.com/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts

Focus on the Learner Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Focus on the Learner Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1036

  • Pages: 4

Focus on the Learner

Task a: Learner’s Background

For the purpose of this assignment I chose Feruza, an Eritrean high school graduate. She was born and raised in Eritrea and came to live in Jeddah only five years ago. She studied English in an elementary school in Eritrea and continued studying it in an Eritrean International High School. She is not happy at all with what she has learnt during those years. She explained that during her elementary school years her teachers heavily focused on writing while neglecting speaking. When she continued her learning process here in Jeddah, her high school teachers focused only on speaking but not at the level she was expecting. After completing high school her learning was interrupted and there was little or no opportunity to read or speak in English. Currently, she is attending an intermediate level English course which allows her to connect with other learners of the English language. Feruza says that learning English is her number one priority in life.

Because, as she says: “English is an international language. If you speak English well you don’t want to learn other languages…”. She has also indicated that she needs to learn English in order to gain employment. One of her dreams is to study abroad, but her financial situation is preventing her from doing so. As she says: “Saudi universities and colleges are free only for Saudis and for others very expensive”. Feruza’s desire to learn English is fueled by outside factors such as the wish to live and study abroad. According to Jeremy Harmer (Harmer 2001:51) extrinsic motivation is “caused by any number of outside factors, for example, the need to pass an exam, the hope of financial reward, or the possibility of future travel.” Feruza believes that without a sound knowledge of English her desires have little or no chance of materializing.

As a learner, Feruza is a shy and quiet girl. During class she never engages in any discussion and refuses to answer questions even when asked to do so. When provided with an opportunity to speak with me in private and answer some questions, she asked if she could answer them in the written form. The reason for such behaviour could be attributed to her educational experience in her home country where, according to Feruza, her teachers explained everything in their native language. Therefore she was not presented with an opportunity to express herself in English and this could have greatly contributed to her lack of confidence when it comes to speaking. If one examines Gardner’s seven intelligences in a class program Feruza’s learning style would make her an Interpersonal Learner who likes to “work alone and pursue her own interests…(and is good at)understanding self, focusing inward on feeling/dreams following instincts, pursuing interests/goals, being original….(learns best by) working alone, individualized projects, self-paced instructions, having own space…”

Task b: Identifying errors

Writing: Capitalization

In her writing Feruza has made many capitalization and punctuation errors. She makes most of her capitalization errors by beginning a sentence with a lower case letter. She also fails to use capital letters with proper nouns. This problem is probably there due to the writing system in Arabic language, where there are no uppercase and lowercase letters. Here is just a small sample of a problem in using capital letters: “And I wish to live in Europe Country specially sweden or london”. To solve the problem of proper capitalization she would have to learn the rules. In addition, she should devote more time to reading. Reading newspaper articles and circling or underlining the capital letters is also something that would benefit her greatly. I will provide the rules of capitalization and an activity at the end of this assignment.

The rules of capitalization would be a great help to her along with the activity I have designed which will allow her, as a visual learner, to see the concepts in action and to figure them out on her own. The first activity I provided for her is a list of sentences where no capitalization was used. She would need to write the sentences using proper capitalization rules that I also provided for her. When she finishes the activity she can compare it to the answer key (also provided) and see if her answers were correct. By approaching this problem in such a fashion she will hopefully be able to see the difference and understand the rules of capitalization.

Tenses: Meaning

Aside from writing, Feruza’s is struggling with the correct verb form usage. When referring to events in her writing that occurred in the past she only uses the simple past tense and oftentimes she even uses the Present Simple Tense when referring to a completed action in the past:

“she get merried before I come to Jeddah one year ago.” Feruza uses the right verbs but uses the wrong form of the verbs, as in the example provided above. Here is one more example: “I finish my high school last year……”

Although she had a chance of getting familiar with the timeline during the course at the British Council, I would suggest that she gets reacquainted with it, so she can better understand the different tenses and when to use them. That is the easiest way for her to get over this obstacle. I will provide a timeline showing and explaining the basic tenses that she is most likely to use in her everyday life. Also, I will provide a set of activities for different forms of the verbs for her to practice. I will put the time expressions in bold in these activities so she can remind herself which time expressions are common with which tenses.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts

Focus on the Learner Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Focus on the Learner Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 955

  • Pages: 4

Focus on the Learner

Muftah, married with four children, is a pleasant student who is struggling in class. Muftah did not receive any English in secondary school or university. He worked as a Physical Education teacher for two years, and then was employed with the Ministry of Youth and Sports for twenty years. In his years of employment, Muftah never needed to speak or write in English until about two years ago, when he started attending International House. He says that he is now learning English because he has a lot of time on his hands. Muftah prefers to study at home, not with friends. He says that he does not focus on reading or writing; but, he enjoys practicing his speaking skills with his fourteen year old son because that’s where he feels he needs improvement. Muftah sees this as an opportunity to bond with, and encourage, his son because Muftah never got this chance when he was younger. When asked if he is interested in working in a company in the future to maintain his English, he said that he will think about it.

Muftah joined International House around two years ago and has had no previous official English education. He studies English for fun and to bond with his children who are now studying English in school; so, he regards English as a social tool rather than one to grow career wise.

Muftah is very cooperative in class and participates from time to time. He enjoys group work but prefers to work in pairs because he feels he learns more than when he is with a group of people.

Muftah’s strengths are in reading and comprehension. In a scanning activity, he responded accurately when asked to read a letter for one minute and reply to three questions: who sent it, where was it sent from, whom was it sent to. In controlled practice of a reading text, he answers fairly accurately when working on column matching or multiple choice exercises. However, when reading longer texts, (e.g. a newspaper article on eating healthy) he finds difficulty in responding accurately and correctly, yet he seems to put things into context and tell briefly what the piece is about. His teacher says that he sometimes leans towards looking for the answer in Arabic from peers and is the least confident in class; so, he may need to be told to engage fully in English. In addition to his less obvious weakness in skimming texts, Muftah displayed mistakes which were typical to those of an Arab learner in pronunciation and grammar.

When conducting a pronunciation exercise, his vowels were incorrectly placed most of the time; this may be due to interference from his L1 because Arabic has a different number of vowel sounds from English. Wednesday: /wenɪzde/ – scholastic: /skɒlstɪk/ – sporadic: /spɒrdɪk/ Thursday: /teresde/ – Shirt: /ʃeɪrt/ – socks: /sʌks/ – clothes: /klɒdɪs/ Department: /dɪpærtəmɪnt/ – Management: /mænɪʒmɪnt/ – January: /ʒænu:wərɪ/ Also sounds such as /v/, /p/ and /ʤ/ were not accurate on the first attempt and replaced with a /f/ and /b/ and /ʒ/ respectively; this is due to the absence of these sounds in the Libyan dialect. In grammar, his auxiliary verbs are either lacking or placed incorrectly, for example: ‘Where you live?’ and ‘What you doing?’; however, if he is asked to repeat, he will acknowledge his mistake and self-correct it. Again, this is due to not having auxiliary verbs in Arabic, just question words.

In an attempt to strengthen his skimming skills, Muftah may buy an English newspaper on his way to work (or borrow a magazine from the school library), pick an article, and try to summarize it with his son. At the end of the week, he may hand it to his teacher for homework to check, and attach a list of new vocabulary he learned from the article. That way he can develop his repertoire of vocabulary, and, at the same time, improve his reading and writing skills. If he hands in the homework three weeks in a row, he can have a break the fourth week to celebrate his accomplishment with his son. Another area I would focus on strengthening is forming the interrogative with auxiliary verbs. Divide a poster board into four (or more) categories: sports, music, animals, and history.

Each category is colour-coded and should have four to five envelopes under it. In each envelope there is either a name of a personality, an important event, etc. On each envelope there is the number of points to be won, if participant answers correctly, e.g. 100, 200, 300, etc. To play the game, you will need three persons, player A, player B and a referee. The referee stands by the poster board to take out the card that the players choose. The player will then start to ask 5 questions (yes/no questions or wh- questions) to guess what is on the card. For example, in the Sports category, the card may hold Tiger Woods’ name (or another regionally familiar athlete), so player A will ask the referee: Is it a man or a woman? What game does he play? Where is he from? Does he still pay? If he guesses correctly, he gets the points if not; then, a chance is given to player B to gain the points. If neither player guesses correctly, no points are given and they can try again later.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts

Focus on the Learner Essay

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Focus on the Learner Essay
Rate this post

  • University/College:
    University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1105

  • Pages: 4

Focus on the Learner

Student Background

Veronica is a 31 year old elementary level student. She is originally from Ecuador and is currently residing in Birmingham and has been for the past 3 months. She is University level educated, as a graduate in Dentistry, and a native speaker of Spanish and is also fluent in Italian. Veronica has worked as a dentist in her families practice; she has learned English at a basic level and is able to converse in English at an elementary level. Her motivation for studying English is to increase her level of English language so that she may work as a dentist in England. She has been encouraged by her sister to move to the United Kingdom as the rate of pay in her home country she could not earn enough money. She is very motivated to learn English as she will be able to provide a better life for herself financially and will also be able to better communicate and therefore socialise with her friends from different cultures.

Linguistic and Skills: Strengths and Weaknesses

1. Listening

It is difficult to grade listening skills without actually setting a listening task. For the purpose of this report I will analyse the understanding of questions set in the interview as well as class observation of the learner. Veronica seems to understand what is said and did not stall in answering the questions. She is able to understand most task set in class with the teacher’s explanation, without requiring further help. However when she doesn’t understand an exercise, she will not respond to the task set and will check with classmates in order to complete the task.

2. Speaking

Strengths

Veronica is able to present her message in a relatively clear manner. She is a fast speaker, often the case with Spanish native speakers. She uses simple short sentences mainly in the present tense. (Lines 10/14).

Weaknesses

Veronica has difficulty with pronunciation, often not using stresses. She pronounces the word noisy as nosy as seen in line 13-14. However when I repeated the word in the correct manner, she quickly adopted the correct pronunciation. She uses the past simple to explain future plans as seen in line 20 and line 25.This is a grammar error also noted in her writing and reading task. Veronica uses ‘is’ instead of it ‘it is’ and makes the error of using in instead of at (as seen in line 20) to state future plan of studying at University, she also made the error of putting the before the lexical verb university

Grammar

Tense

Veronica struggles with the future tenses. She uses ‘is’ to explain future plans as seen in line 20.

Vocabulary

Veronica displays a relatively good level of vocabulary, illustrated by words such a professional, principle and University (lines8/20/21). However at times she struggles to find the words she wants to explain which results in her mumbling ’inaudible’.

Pronunciation

Veronica struggles with pronunciation. This may be seen in words such as noisy, seen in line 13-14, and principle, line 8/20

Reading

Strengths

Veronica was able to complete the reading task without any prompt, in other words independently. She was able to read for the specific information, and seemed to be familiar with have and haven’t. She showed particular strength in writing full sentences with correct capital letters as well as an ability to recognise the correct punctuation and contractions making only a few errors.

Weaknesses

Veronica has made a few errors in the reading exercise. This may be seen through her answering, ‘it is’ instead of ‘it has’, when asked whether an individual has internet on their mobile phone. This perhaps illustrate that she may struggle with grammar.

Veronica has also made a few mistakes in writing the correct punctuation, often rewriting the wrong sentence instead of correcting it as well as failing to put a full stop at the end of the sentence, as well as not using enough commas. This illustrates that Veronica who is although familiar with capital letters, punctuation, and contractions needs more support in this area.

Writing

Strengths

Veronica is able to present her message relatively well; she is able to spell most word correctly. She illustrates a variety of words, therefore can be seen to have a good vocabulary for a learner at elementary level. She presents her ideas in logical manner, she states for example that her life in England is interesting and is able explain in more detail why she has written this. Her handwriting is very legible. She is able to use correct punctuation such as full stops and comma’s as well as contractions.

Weaknesses

Veronica has made a few spelling mistakes, often when words are difficult to spell such as profession which even native speaker struggle with. However even more importantly Veronica has struggled to use the capital letters in the correct manner, for example she writes Favourite instead of favourite and uses full stops to frequently instead of commas. She also struggles with the difference between is, has are and often makes errors in word order. Some of these mistakes such as wrong use of capital letter could also seen in reading task.

Rationale for choice of Language area

I have chosen to focus on grammar, most specifically on future tenses and future plans. In order to help improve Veronica’s improve her language skills in the area of tenses, as this is an area which is problematic for Veronica.

Rationale for chosen skills area

I have chosen to focus on speaking as this is an area which Veronica displays difficulty in as illustrated through the recording and may be seen in the transcript.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

About the author

admin

View all posts