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Focus on the learner.



Name of the trainee: Nazia Hameed Kunnummal
Name of the student: Hanan Abdulattif
Date: 11/06/2014
Assignment number: 1


Motivation:
This assignment is focused on an adult, elementary Arabic English language
learner. As a Saudi by nationality and above 35 years of age with four children,
Hanan is struggling with her dream and reality of English language learning. She
works as a security guard in British Council. Not only does she realises the global
significance of English language but is also mindful of its need for getting a better
job. Hanan loves to travel and mingle with people. She is motivated more
intrinsically and her goal is to become a good listener, fluent speaker, quick
reader and impressive writer.
Background:
During the interview, I noticed that Hanans background affects many areas of
learning. First language interference was prominent while she was talking. When
talking about her strengths and weakness, Hanan claimed to be good at listening
and reading and said speaking and writing is difficult for her.
While expressing her feelings about learning English and its culture, Hanan said
that she was very happy at British Council because it is the place where she finds
herself in an English speaking environment. Outside the classroom, she does not
find enough opportunities to speak English. Though she uses internet to improve
her skills in English, she is still not able to explore, nor is she able to scrutinise
authentic English websites.
As a student, Hanan started learning English from her elementary school and now
although a Diploma holder in Computer Science, she is still at elementary level.
She took a six month course with an Indian teacher at her home and a three
month course at Horizon Institute with a non-native teacher. Now with great
expectations and patience, Hanan is studying at the British Council. What I
observed is that Hanans learning style is different.
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Learning style:
Though shy by nature, Hanan has the aptitude to become a better English
language user but she needs to improve her language skills to achieve her goal.
Tony Wright argues that all the learners in a classroom can be placed in one of
four different categories. She belongs to oracular category. That is, she focuses
on teacher but is more oriented towards the satisfaction of personal goals [1].
Using Keith Willings categorization of learner styles, she can also be referred to
as a Conformist learner,' which means she prefer to emphasise learning about
language and tend to dependent on those in authority and are perfectly happy
to work in non-communicative classrooms, doing what they are told[2].
Observing her during my TPs, she was really hesitates to join the social aspect of
learning English language. She loves no group activities and games.
As per Gardners seven intelligences, I conclude that Hanan is a Linguistic as
well as Intrapersonal learner as she likes to read, write more, work alone and
pursue own interests and is good at understanding self, focusing inward on
feelings/dreams, following instincts, pursuing interests, and learns best by saying,
hearing and seeing words, working alone and having own space[3].
Language competency and recommendations:
During the interview and in her written assignment, I identified a variety of
language learning problems. I chose two specific language problems from her
identified problems-/p/and /b/sounds and spelling errors.
Pronunciation:
Communication, the primary function of a language, is hindered here. Hence I
chose to focus on this area. While speaking she doesnt produce the consonant /p/
correctly. Thanking me for a pen; the word pen sounded more like ben. She also
talked about her vacation days and she told I liked the place but the word
place sounded as blaze and that is what she wrote in her written assignment
too.
The learner has problem with /p/and /b/sounds that is very common in Arabic
speakers, because they have no alphabet for /p/in Arabic language and the
learner got confused it with /b/sound. In her interview, she also pronounced
passport/!p"#sp$#t/as bassbort/b"#sb$#t/.
Bernard Smith, in his article Arabic Speakers, mentions this problem by saying
/p/and /b/are allophonic and tend to be used rather randomly. [4]
Remedial activity and why?
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I would ask her to download Articulation Station app [appx 1] in her smart
phone as the /p/sound program comes free. The technology app will keep her
interest. It is engaging and meaningful for her. I chose this activity keeping in
mind her age, level and problem with utterance of /p/sound as it does not exist in
her native language. As extra practice, the website howjsay.com [5] and the
two worksheets for /p/and /b/[6][appx 2] with words, pictures and sentences can
also be used. Shape of mouth is another presentation, as in the video How to
teach the P sound by the Speech-Language pathologist Heidi Hanks [7]. It is also
meaningful as it will help her to pronounce the sound clearly.
Spelling errors:
It was difficult to read her written assignment because of handwriting, spelling
errors and punctuation mistakes. I chose to concentrate on spelling errors because
even the points she wanted to convey became unclear due to the serious spelling
errors [words like country name indonsia for Indonesia and other words for e.g.
laiket for liked, Hazbind for husband, Chelldren for children]. Though she
knew the words, when it comes to writing skill she failed to achieve the target of
conveying the message due to spelling errors.
Remedial activity and why?
She believes spelling is all about sounds. To clear that, I will read with her a poem
where some words are substituted by homophones-[8][appx 3].I have chosen
Johanna Stirlings Look Say Cover Write Check-Spelling Chart [9][appx 4] as it
will challenge her, as she is an adult Linguistic, Conformist and Intrapersonal
learner. It suits her learning style and hence engaging and meaningful for her.










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References:
1. Jeremy Harmer, The practice of English language teaching, Longman (3
rd

Edition), p.42
2. Jeremy Harmer, The practice of English language teaching, Longman (3rd
Edition), p.43
3. Jeremy Harmer, The practice of English language teaching, Longman (3rd
Edition), p.47
4. Michael Swan and Bernard Smith, Learner English, Cambridge (2
nd
Edition), p.
197.
Websites:
5. www.howjsay.com
6. www.english-4kids.com
7. Heidi Hanks, How to Teach the P Sound;
http://mommyspeechtherapy.com/?p=340#sthash.9qz3RwEz.dpuf
8. Poem-Eye halve a spelling checker, British Council;
https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/sites/podcasts/files/Poem-eye-halve-a-
spelling-checker.pdf
9. Johanna Stirling, Look Say Cover Write Check Template;
http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/look-say-cover-write-check-
template.html

Appendices:
Questionnaire.
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Appendix 4
Written sample from the learner.