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Focus on the Learner

CELTA 2008 Assignment three

Christopher Beaumont
3/18/2008

Profile of the Student

Massy is 21 years old. She is currently in an Entry 3 level class. She was born in a city called Kashan in Iran. She has been married for two years but does not have any children although she loves children dearly. She came to London in 2006. Since then, she has been trying to find colleges where she can learn English. Before coming to London, she studied English for five years up until the age of 12. A few years later she began working in an Iranian restaurant as a cashier. Massy successfully managed to secure a position as an ESOL student at Lewisham College and has been learning English in London since January.

Massy feels that London is significantly different to Iran. She described London as being very multi-cultural and was surprised to see so many different ethnic backgrounds living in the same city. In Iran the people are predominantly from the same culture and to see a mixture of cultures in Iran is very rare. She mentioned that in Iran, the women are more restricted and once you get married your expected to stay with your husband for life. However she finds the women in London generally are freer to do as they please and there isnt much emphasis on getting married.

Her motivations for learning English are based around her personal development. She aims to improve her speaking and writing ability which will enable her to complete day to day tasks like shopping, completing application forms, going to the bank, interacting with other native English speakers. She also aims secure a solid education so she can get a good job to assist her husband financially. Massy is very self motivated and in her spare time often listens to a CD that helps her with her English.

Style of Learning and Performance in Class

Massy enjoys learning in a group and feels more comfortable making mistakes with a fellow student as opposed to making a mistake in front of the teacher. She prefers listening exercises but is still more than able to cope with other styles of learning such as speaking, writing etc. Massy is very reserved in class when it comes to be nominated to answer a question where she may make a mistake. She is very /polite and appears to work well when

she is told to work with a partner. She almost always completes her work in class within the time scale provided and once she has warmed up, plays an active part in the feedback session after each activity has concluded. She appears to be very well organised and punctual. She has shown up to every lesson since the trainees have swapped groups which shows an eagerness and willingness to learn.

Analysis of Students Strengths and Weaknesses

When teaching English to speakers of other languages, it is imperative that the teacher knows as much as possible about each students mother tongue. This allows the teacher to gain an insight into potential problems that the students are likely to come across as a result of differences between English and other native languages. Below is an analysis of Massys strengths and weaknesses concerning her grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and communicative and written ability.

Grammar

Farsi is an Indo-European language and therefore in many ways is similar to English. However, there are some areas that are different and can cause considerable interference for the Farsi speaker trying to learn English. An example of this is the word order which will cause problems in the early stages. Adjectives always follow their nouns; verbs are usually placed at the end of a sentence, for example Yesterday beautiful girl (I) saw. As an Entry 3 level Student, Massy sometimes has problems using the correct preposition in a sentence (e.g. When speaking about a festival in her country... Norooz is on next week...also Iran has four season in the same time) and it appears as if she writes how she speaks, without including the correct grammar and punctuation into her work. Massy also makes mistakes with her collocation when writing about future events, for example she wrote, ..we make party as opposed to writing, we have a party.

Vocabulary

Massy seems to have a good level of vocabulary. In her written piece, she managed to use some advance vocabulary which made her written material enjoyable to read. Although she made some errors, she wrote, Iran has a lot of attractive ancient buildings and also We have traditional celebration in Iran. She uses a lot of adjectives when she writes as well as when she speaks. As previously mentioned Massy is extremely motivated and regularly listens to a CD that helps her with her English including her vocabulary. She enjoys learning new words and desperately wants to expand on her vocabulary. She is constantly revising her notes when she returns home.

Pronunciation

Massy has good pronunciation skills; however she does struggles with some common errors which are a trait of the Farsi speaking people. After she has had a word modelled and drilled she picks it up fairly quickly. She does not appear to find the English sounds hard to enunciate. However, she may need to pay slightly more attention to the stress patterns of words which at times can make English words sound unrecognisable. More practice will increase Massys confidence inside the classroom and outside. Massy has problems with the following pronunciations:

English Sound // // /:/ / / "man" "they" "far" "full"

Common Error /e/ /d/ /:/ /u:/ "men" "day" "four" "fool"

Speaking

Massy has good communication skills and a real passion for learning and using the English language. Massy is more than capable of having a conversation with a native speaker of the English language but at times she compensates her speaking ability with the use of hand gestures. By expanding her vocabulary, she will find that she will start to use fewer gestures and be able to use a wider range of vocabulary. She also needs to improve on her fluency which affects the intonation of her voice. At times I may be perceived as if she is asking a question when in reality she isnt. To improve her performance, she needs to continue to practice every day. Constant repetition will improve her fluency and the accuracy of her English.

Writing

Massy was given a writing task and she chose to write about her country of origin, Iran. The content was clear and easy to read although she made some errors with her spelling (e.g. diffrent, exprienced, peopel, hospitalable). This could possibly be due to her pronunciation of these words are incorrect and also because she is unaware of how many syllables some of the words have. I also noticed that she needs help with her punctuation. She puts capital letters in the wrong places and she also omits capital letters in places where they should be and doesnt include the appropriate full stops and commas.

Suggestions for self-study and activities/materials to help the student

Grammar To help Massy improve her grammar I have provided activities that I believe would help her. One of her common mistakes was her use of preposition with verbs and nouns. I recommended How English works pages 384-385, were she has activities and initial examples to help her.

Collocation is another mistake that Massy tends to do. Her word order is commonly muddled around. I therefore provided her exercises were she can become familiar with word orders when using nouns and adjectives. . I recommended How English works pages 72-73, were she has activities and initial examples to help her.

Vocabulary and writing

Massy mentioned that she needs to use the English language most often when going shopping. To help her maximise her vocabulary when doing so Ive recommended this activity from intermediate vocabulary from BJ Thomas page 23.

Pronunciation

To improve my students speaking and pronunciation the activity that I feel would enhance her language is unit 11 from Headway pronunciation pre-Intermediate page 17- 19. This activity focuses on some of her most difficult points such as - /:/ /:/ //.

Writing To improve the quality of my students written piece I mainly focused on her punctuation. Therefore I recommend Skillswise from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/e3/words/grammar/basicpunctuation/assets/factsheet_1.pdf