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Focus On The Student Essay

1044 words - 5 pages

Assignment 1 Focus on the learner

Roberto is 40 years old, Italian resident and works as a salesman for a frozen foods company. He is married, with two children and has completed high school, but no tertiary education. He did not study English in school, but did a 50-hour course in Italy. In school, he studied Spanish as a second language. The English class was quite small – 5 or 6 students and while he felt that the teaching was adequate in terms of lexis, grammar and drilling, he did not feel that the course allowed for adequate interaction and conversation practice. This is reflected in his conversation, which is animated but not particularly fluent.

He is anticipating changing ...view middle of the document...

He occasionally also appends /ə/ to nouns where this should not be done.

Predictably, some tenses also cause problems, especially continuous formations.

Occasionally, he will not use a subject pronoun (“Is impossible”) and he will sometimes not use the article (definite or indefinite) because these are sometimes not required in his native language (“You are teacher?”). The converse is also true (“The life is hard.”)

Another area which I noticed can cause him difficulties is matching the gender of a possessive adjective to the object rather than to the subject – talking about his mother, he might say ‘….his son.’.

He feels that the emphasis on inter-student conversation which our course gives is very beneficial to him and that it addresses the weakness of his previous course. His confidence, fluency and vocabulary have improved significantly during the time that he has been studying with ILS.

Ann Baker (Introducing English Pronunciation, CUP, 1982) observes that “When it is made visually obvious that there is a difference between ‘ship’ and ‘sheep’, students are better motivated to succeed in this useful but seemingly meaningless exercise”. The Ted Power website has some very useful minimal pair exercises targeted at Italian native speakers ( An example is shown in Appendix 1 and I would recommend these exercises to Roberto. To aid him in the interpretation of this, I would also point him towards the Conversation Exchange site ( which will enable the phonemes to be associated with the Italian interpretation. It is my hope that this ‘reverse learning’ would make the use of the exercise more productive for him.

The present continuous Is understood as a grammatical structure, therefore there is no need for explanations using devices such as timelines. For this student, the issue is mainly overcoming the habit of thinking in Italian and translating into literal English. I therefore consider that I should be focusing practice and repetition, possibly using a number of Q&A sessions stressing the form: “What is he doing now? He...

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