Focus on the Learner Essay Sample

Focus on the Learner Pages
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1. Mauro is a 38-year-old Argentinian man, but he has been living in Barcelona for nearly 10 years now. He started studying English when he was 8 and went on until he turned 22. During that period he experienced different learning systems; he attended both language group courses and individual lessons with private teachers. However, he states that he did not appreciate studying English at that time because he felt it was like a sort of commitment. That was the reason why he decided to give up. 2. Mauro is now studying English for the same reason most people do. He works as a Customer Broker and he says he needs to learn the language for his job. He often holds conferences in English; furthermore, he has recently finished his Master in Logistics and started to train new employees. He says that it is hard because the material used in the classes is entirely in English. 3. Mauro has proved to be a motivated student. He says he is really enjoying the course, which makes me think that the teaching strategies adopted suit him. He generally participates into the lesson with interest even though, in some cases, he tends to dominate by asking lots of questions and forgetting the aim of the task.

I believe that these characteristics might result positive if the teacher is able to control them. In fact, he is never ashamed about exposing his ideas as students often are. However, I believe that he still needs to work on grammar and vocabulary a lot because his speech is still too basic and full of grammar mistakes. 4. Grammar, lexis and pronunciation. As mentioned above, I believe Mauro still has to work on grammar. I gave him an assignment mainly based on the grammar requested for his level and I noticed he was still making the same errors: * patienter/the patientest – he has mistaken this adjective with a monosyllabic one. * leave/leaved – he thought that leave was a regular verb. * on the weekend/at last year/for the afternoon – wrong use of prepositions of time which might have been caused by either a different use in Spanish or lack of practice. * I haven’t receive – common mistake caused by distraction. I don’t think the student put the right effort in
completing the exercise.

Spanish is Mauro’s mother tongue, so it is hard to say which pronunciation problems might be caused by that. I have had the opportunity to focus on him during the lessons and I spotted a few issues: * the word short is often pronounced /…………/ – It might depend on the fact that the sound /……/ does not exist in Spanish. * Yet the stress pattern is often incorrect. I cannot remember an example of that, but I have noticed that Mauro tends to follow the same stress pattern in Spanish as well as in English and that makes his speech sound unnatural or misleading at times. In both cases, the difficulty is to understand what the learner wants to communicate. Reading and listening. These two skills do not seem to represent a big issue for the learner. He has always proved himself, after an adequate vocab pre-teaching, able to understand and complete tasks. I would suggest teachers to adapt the language to the learners’ level to make the lesson smoother. One thing I have noticed is that, at this level, instructions have to be as clear as possible.

Boardwork might be very useful. Learners might say they have understood the task only because they are ashamed of saying the contrary. Speaking. Mauro’s speaking skills do not represent a problem at this level. He is very talkative and likes expressing his ideas. As I stated above, he tends to dominate when it comes to speaking during the lesson, so the teacher has to manage that. His problems with speaking are those mentioned previously (grammar mistakes and mispronunciation of some vocab). When I interviewed him, I spotted some simple mistakes like “my wife don’t work”. These errors are probably due to a lack of practice. I must say that, once the main concepts are understood, he has always produced good feedback in class. Writing. To test his writing skills, I gave him quite an easy task; something I thought he could have done without problems. He had to write an informal letter to an imaginary English pen friend following the instructions. The learner has not followed the guidelines properly.

He has either changed or not included some of the information required by the task. Moreover, the language is not natural at times because I think he has literally tried to translate from Spanish into English like in “I haven’t received notices about you this year”. I am not sure whether this misinterpretation of the task is due to the complexity of the task itself. I think Mauro didn’t put enough effort in this assignment. 5 Suggestions: since the main problem with Mauro is strictly connected to his lack of knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, I suggest he should definitely practise more on that. He especially has problems with the use of the past tenses; in fact, he still confuses the Simple Past and the Present Perfect. For this reason I have chosen some tasks from New Headway student’s book (see appendix), which I believe are the type of activities that might help Mauro to improve his skills. At the same time, I have chosen some exercises from Headway Workbook (see appendix) to improve his writing skills. These activities also include the use of new vocabs and past tenses, for the learner to improve his skills.

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