Asking my opinion on the result o
f a football match (‘Who do you think will win the trophy?’).
Using the present continuous to describe an
ongoing action (‘I’m studying English to meet new people’).
Using an appropriate British English phrase to say goodbye (‘See you tomorrow’).
Student A is happy with the amount of vocabulary that he has learnt to date, and he felt that he understood most ofthe vocabulary taught in his previous course. He feels that he has sufficient vocabulary to be able to enjoy travellingand holidays in English speaking countries. At times though, he has a problem with the meaning of words, which is
evident when he encounters a ‘false friend’. In one lesson, a teacher asked him ‘have you ever been embarrassed?’,which was met with a definite ‘no’ and a look on his fac
e that suggested a mixture of surprise and confusion. I assume
that he took the word ‘embarrassed’ to be a translation of ‘embarazada’, a Spanish adjective that describes the state
of being pregnant.2. Student B.Student B is a 39 year old Spanish national, who works as a maintenance engineer. He started learning English 23years ago, but he has had four periods of three years during this time in which he did not attend any formal languageclasses. His first language is Catalan, and he speaks Spanish fluently, and some French and Italian.He originally started attending the language school (which he still attends) to help him with his studies at secondaryschool, and he has also leant it at the technical institute where he studied engineering and at his current workplace.To date, he has not taken any official examinations, but sees this as a possibility for the future.His reasons for learning English are a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic ones. The company that he works forincreasingly uses English to trade with multi-national companies, and he has used English when buying and sellingmachinery on behalf of the company.He regularly has to read and write e-mails in English, for example, when dealing with German companies that useEnglish as the
for international trade. He also has to read technical literature in English, e.g. usermanuals for machinery. Due to this, he feels that he needs to improve his skills reading. He can understand thegeneral gist of what he reads in class without having to consult a dictionary constantly.Student B also learns English for his own
enjoyment, for example, to watch English language films. He hasn’t yet
visited an English speaking country, but has spoken English on holiday in Holland and Italy, with other Englishlearners. He feels that his knowledge of English was useful on both occasions, and enhanced his enjoyment of hisholidays.In the classroom, he enjoys speaking activities much more than grammar work. Grammar is the one thing that hedislikes the most and finds most difficult, and this was also the case when he started learning French and Italian.However, he is aware that disliking grammar is a disadvantage for language learners, and he knows that it is animportant aspect of improving his English. Like Student A, he dislikes phrasal verbs.
One frequent error that Student B makes is using the wrong preposition. An example of this was when he said ‘at theafternoon’
(rather than ‘in the afternoon’), which is a direct translation of ‘a la tarde’ in
Spanish and therefore anexample of first language interference.
He also omits the subject in a sentence, for example, ‘
it is important for me to
learn vocabulary’. This is another example of first language interference, as Spanish and Catalan do not alway
require the subject, e.g. ‘es importante para mi’. However, ‘
is necessary in English to make the sentence
grammatically correct. Virtually every member of Student A’s class regularly makes this mistake.
Another (less frequent) error that he makes is
‘pluralising’ English adjectives.
When he told me about the lack of time
that he has to learn vocabulary, he told me that he had ‘many others things to do’. Again, this is understandable, as
Spanish adjectives and adverbs unlike English ones, have plural f
orms. ‘Other things’ is therefore a direct translationsof ‘otras cosas’.
Sometime, Student B uses the wrong tense. For example, he sometimes uses the present simple to refer to a pastaction. When this happens, he usually realises his mistake, pauses, and repeats what he said using the correct tense.
He is also caught out at times by ‘false friends’. When he told me about the technical college that he attended, he said‘when I assisted the professional institution’. He was obviously thinking of the Spanish
.In fluency speaking, Student B mostly speaks and responds to questions with little or no hesitation. When listening, he
finds it more difficult to ‘tune in’ to some accents than others, for example, North Ame
rican accents are generally more
In order to complete this assignment I decided to observe one of the students from the elementary group. Her name is Diana. She is 21 years old. Her background is as follows: * Diana’s first language is Kazakh, but you can say that Russian is her first language as well, since at home she uses the first one, and for education – the second. She is fluent in both languages. * Diana still has one more year of university to go, she studies history and plans to continue her education with MA program. * Diana comes from a big family; she has 1 older brother and lots of male cousins.
She is an active member of student body of her school. * In terms of culture, Diana is a bright example of blended and merged Kazakh and European cultures. * Her main motivation lies in continued education, since in Kazakhstan it is impossible to enter a MA program without a satisfactory grade in English exam. * Her aspirations are to be a professional historian, and in order to do that she needs English, since being used as a lingua franca it facilitates both travelling and professional development. * Diana is mostly visual and audial learner.
From this profile, we may say that Diana’s background strongly affects her leaning style. From her family she has learnt that communication is the key to surviving into a boys’ world, and she has learnt to speak their language. She has been a Vice-president of student body in her university, which means that she is an active listener, speaker and observer; therefore, the best way for her to learn is to observe real-life examples and learn via guided discovery with lots of practice. As Scrivener mentions, it is essential to define student’s motivation, which can be intrinsic and extrinsic.
In terms of motivation, I can say that her extrinsic motivation comes from necessity to enter an MA program in University, because it is expected by her family; and her intrinsic motivation is driven by Diana’s passion for travel and independency. Learner’s strengths and weaknesses. The student’s main strength is that she is not afraid of speaking and making mistakes. Being an elementary level student, she makes regular mistakes corresponding both to the level and to being a Russian language speaker (Learner English, Swan, M and Smith, M CUP).
Language Firstly, Diana does not use the verb be in the sentences, where it is appropriate (“My specialty at university history”). Secondly, she attempts to use the past simple tense, but cannot form it properly (“I was study”). Thirdly, Diana has problems with plurals, she forgets to use the –s ending – “I was study in two school and it was…” Fourthly, she struggles with some vocabulary, namely she does not make difference between the verb live and the noun life (“… we dicided who is who and what to do in live).
Skills Diana tries to use new words immediately, but sometimes is unable to produce them correctly. During the observed lessons she could not say couple of words correctly, namely, she pronounced fear as /fju/, and lawyer as /’l? uv? /. She tends to use contraction “wanna” every time she says want, even when there is no to after it, e. g. “I wanna sister” instead of saying “I want a sister”. She confuses introductory words, for instance when she explained to me what she likes about university better than about school, she used question word “What about” instead of simply “About”.
And the last, since none of her first languages have strict word order requirements for building sentences, Diana struggles with making correct sentences in English (“A lot of think decided parents for us. ”) Helping the learner For further work, I will use the following problems: use of be in sentences where it belongs and word order. For use of be the following activity can be done: Fruit basket. Aim: To drill and produce correct form of be in sentences.
It will be suitable for the student because it’s a social activity and she likes interaction, it’s also sufficient practice in both producing and listening, because then she will start to pay attention to how be is used and become more aware of it. In terms of personal support, I would ask her to go over the rule again, to put together a chart of how be is conjugated. After that I would ask her to name when be is used in the English language (e. g. to say who we are, where we are, how we feel, for weather, etc).
For word order: Pair work and competition Aim: To get Diana to structure sentence correctly, i. . put subjects, verbs and objects where they belong. It is helpful because it is very visible and there will be a lot of controlled practice and drills that will model correct structuring. In terms of my support, I would start with a warmer, elicit what subject, verb, object, etc. is on an example of a sentence earlier provided by class. Then elicit that in English the sentence structure is very set and we cannot swap words. Write “I ride a bicycle” and compare it with “Bicycle rides me. ” Then pair Diana with a student with strong sentence building skill and run the activity.