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Student name: Unnikrishnan.

I. Profile

1. Background

For this assignment, I interviewed Unnikrishnan , a 31 years old Indian National in an elementary English
Class. The interview has provided me with an insightful understanding of the impacts of the student
background on his English language learning process .He has been working in Dubai since 2008. This has
provided him with good exposure to English spoken by native and non-native speakers. He has previous
English language experience at school back in India . Yet, that was his worst nightmare as he claimed.
Since then, he had not tried to learn English until he felt how vitally important it is for his job and studies
and joined this elementary English class. Therefore, this is considered as his first attempt to improve his
English . L1 interference has a great effect on his learning process. As a matter of fact, Unni , finds
English very challenging and as he said “ my language ‘ Malayalam ‘ is very ( putting a long emphatic
stress ) different and pronunciation is another big problem “. As far as his current level is concerned, he
understands English speakers in everyday situations and he can handle communication with them.

2. Motivation :

Unni is an instrumentally motivated learneri . He believes that English is a powerful tool to realize his
dreams and goals and he is mindful of the need to advance his career and study prospects . During his
interview, he kept saying “ I should , I have to , I need , I cannot…… without English …”

He has been married for almost one year and his wife seemed to play a crucial role in making him notice
the importance of English . He is, in fact, not aware of that but it was obvious when he kept mentioning
his wife’s level , how advanced her English skills are and how confident she is . The latter gives evidence
that Unni is mainly driven by extrinsic motivationii . Another evidence is the fact that he didn’t like
English at school and found it difficult and ‘meaningless to study’ as he said . Yet, now , with the urge of
finding a better job and completing his higher studies ,he considers it important to improve his English

3. Learning preferences

Unni’s main aim is to improve his speaking skills to be a confident communicator . He is an accuracy -
focused learner who doesn’t hesitate to ask more questions to clarify meaning , form or pronunciation.
For example, in Magda’s grammar lesson, he asked me which question word is correct to use ‘how
much ‘or ‘how many ‘before countable nouns to ask about price .

The learner likes listening and repeating after the teacher and has a tendency “to respond best to
hearing things” which obviously makes him ‘an Auditory learner’.iii ( Scrivener P85)

According to Gardener’s Seven Intelligence, I observed that Unikrishnan is ‘ a linguistic’ and

‘interpersonal’ learneriv. Though unconfident and introvert , he is able to use the language to fulfill his
own dreams and goals by working collaboratively with his classmates. I have observed many instances
where he leads the pair work and gives support to his partners . He also enjoys group games and
competitions as he mentioned in his interview.

II. Language Competency

1. Skills

During my observations, I had the chance to see Unni’s response to receptive skills tasks which gave me
an insight into how good his reading and listening skills. He hardly waits for the recording to be played
twice and he fills out the gaps and answers the questions successfully .The main ground for this , I
believe , is his exposure to the language at work and with friends . On the other hand, the learner
struggles with productive skills . He told me ‘I find writing very hard and I can never speak with
confidence ‘. However, based on his level , I think he is doing well . He can convey the message through
both written and spoken form . The way he finished writing the email with full sentences during one of
the trainees’ teaching practice shows he has a good command of the written and spoken language.

2. Pronunciation

 Error identification

In his interview, Unnikirishnan pronounced /wɜrdz / closer to /Vɜrdz / and /wɜrk/ similar to /vɜrk/ . This
had a major influence on hindering communication as I struggled to figure out what he meant by
uttering these two words. Although he was aware of his problem with pronunciation, Unnikrishnan was
unable to spot the difference between the two sounds ,nor could he self-correct . Therefore, he needs
to both develop awareness and practice producing the phoneme /w/.( See Appendix A for error type
and cause )

 Remedial activity and why ?

I have chosen v ( Baker 2006)an activity which is graded into three parts . First, a minimal pair tongue
twister exercise in which he needs to listen and repeat to practice pronunciation of /w/ and /v/ as initial
sounds /recognition/. At this stage of the activity Unnikrishnan will also be shown the difference
between both sounds’ place and manner of articulation using gestures, visuals and drills . He will be
shown the shape of the mouth by pursing the lips into a circle when producing /w/ trying to make a
vowel sound at the end and the position of the upper teeth on the lower lip producing a friction with /v/
Second , a discrimination exercise in which he has to listen to pairs of sentences containing the same set

of words and choose the correct answer . The last part of the activity he will have practised producing
the /w/ sound with a short dialogue talking about weather. (Appendix B).

This will help my learner directly address the problem by being able to manipulate his ‘musculature’
when producing these sounds (Underhill)vi. Moreover, he will be able to improve and gain more
confidence as this activity clarifies the problem and gives him a thorough practice. Above all, it matches
his learning style as an auditory learner and it makes him feel satisfied as Pronunciation was one of the
areas Unni mentioned he wants to work on .

3. Grammar

 Error identification

One specific area of grammar that Unnikrishnan has an issue with is using articles and specifically with
misusing the definite article’ the’ . ( See Appendix A ).That is why he seemed very attentive and curious
during the lesson about articles by one of the trainees. At the beginning, he wasn’t aware of the rule
and its exceptions and he really found it challenging to partipcate in the controlled practice as well as
the freer activity . In fact , this is a common problem among South Indian speakers ( Dravidian ) as these
languages lack articles vii(Smith and Swan p 237).

 Remedial activity and why ?

I have chosen a controlled practice speaking activity ‘Find the mistake ‘where the student has to work in
pairs with another student. Each of them has a set of sentences containing mistakes .They take it in
turns to read a sentence out loud for each other and the listener has to spot the error and he/she tries
to correct it.The partner has the answers (given in brackets); he or she can give the hints as needed so
his or her partner can try to find the mistake. viii( The activity is graded in such a
way that the vocabulary used in the sentences fits the student level and some sentences mistakes
contain common exceptions like ( the United Arab Emirates ) which the student has already been
exposed to .

This speaking activity would focus on production and help Unnikrishnan practice using articles. It would
give him the chance to focus on accuracy as this is what he has been seeking since he started learning
English .In addition ,he will enjoy it seeing that he is a social, interpersonal learner.

i . Page 232 , types of
motivation section ,first paragraph.
ii Page 232 , types of motivation
,paragraph 4 .
Scrivener.J (2011) Learning Teaching. P85
iv . Page
Baker.A (2006). Tree or Three .An elementary pronunciation course. Cambridge University Press .

Underhill, A. (2005) Introduction to sound foundation section .Page xi, first paragraph .

Smith, M.S (n.d).Learner English . Page 237 .

Bibliography :
1. Gardner.H (1993) . Frames of Mind .The theory of multiple intelligences. Fontana Press .

2. Smith, M.S (n.d).Learner English . A teacher’s guide to interference and other problems . Cambridge
University Press. Page 248 .

3. Scrivener.J (2011) learning Teaching. Macmillan Education.

4. Underhill, A. (2005) Sound Foundation .Learning and Teaching Pronunciation. Macmillan Education .

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