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Focus on the Learner Argumentative

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The learner is a 35 year old female from France. She is married with two children, and has lived in Oman for five years. The learner’s first language is French. It is also the language that is spoken at home.

Learner’s profile

The learner’s level of English is between pre-intermediate to intermediate. She did not finish high school, and after grade 10, at the age of 16, she completed a certificate in disability studies. The learner studied English three times a week at a French speaking school as part of the school curriculum from grades 6 to 10. She describes her learning experience as consisting of constant drilling and exercises, without much writing. She also wants to learn English so that she can communicate and understand songs and films. Another reason she gave for learning English was that she wanted to do a course that required English as a pre-requisite. She feels that she has a long way to go in fulfilling this requirement. She also said that she wants to learn English simply because she said that she likes the way it sounds.

The learner believes that her L1 has affected that way she learns English. One of the examples she gave was how English words are pronounced differently from French words (See phonology section). The learner’s preferred learning method is within a class setting, where she can carry out various activities that covers her needs. She stated that she needs to be corrected when she makes errors in speaking, reading and writing. She feels she does not get enough practice in speaking, reading and writing. She says she needs practice in pronunciation, expanding her vocabulary, and improving her writing skills. The learner needs to be interested in what she is learning or it is difficult for her to be motivated.

General Ability

The learner requires language to be graded and sometimes repeated. The learner has stated that she needs English speakers to speak slowly and in small, non complex sentences. The was evident during my interview when I sometimes had to clarify what I was asking, by putting it in simpler language or giving her examples of what I was look for.

Transcription of example errors (written or spoken).

Written Errors.

His nationality is the same as me, wich is French Isaac is a tall, slim boy who have strong and fit body.

Her sentence structure ‘His nationality is the same as me, wich is French….’ is a bit unusual. It might be how you would say it French. She could say ‘We both have French nationality’.

The sentence is also missing a full-stop which is not normal as French punctuation rules are very similar to English. She has a problem knowing when to use _hav_e or _has_.

Isaac is a clever boy, he can understand things kuickly and pick up many knolege by himself. That his quality, but he also have bad side like beeing hyper obstinate With tHis caracter he can be immaginative or lazy. It depend in wich mood he’s_.

The learner makes common spelling mistakes like _kuickly, knolege,_ and _wich._ She has spelled it as it would have sounded. The ‘w’ in knowledge_ is silent. And the ‘h’ in _which_ is also silent.

French learner of English tends to use less common Romance words or expressions instead of a more common Germanic word or expression which is more commonly used by native speakers of English�. For example, instead of using the word ‘stubborn’, she has used ‘hyper obstinate’ to describe her son’s behaviour.

Spoken Errors

Sometimes I found English speaker tough with people who don’t speak their language.

She has used the wrong form of the word _to find._ She has used it to describe as something that has happened in the past. But it is actually an ongoing event. Instead of _found_ which is the past, it should be _find_, which is the present. When she says ‘tough’, what she really means is intolerant and not someone intentionally giving her a hard time. She has expressed it this way because she has limited vocabulary.

I think I don’t have good listening, good hear and sometimes I make do mistakes about how we pronounce certain words.

She is not sure when to use ‘listen’ or ‘hear’. You use _hear_ to indicate that something has come to our ear. And you use _listen_ when you are paying attention to sounds. You can hear something without the intention to do so, but you can only listen to something deliberately.

She is also not sure of what tense to use and whether or not it should be in the continuous form.

‘…_have good listening (skills), good hear(ing)….’

This may be because French does not have the equivalent of the English continuous form.

She has a difficult time knowing whether to use _make_ or _do_, so she puts them together, hoping one or the other of the verbs will work in her sentence. It could also be a confusion of lexical choice. Another possible reason for this mistake is the word order influence of French. She might be trying to say that she sometimes _do make_ mistakes.

_I think the main problem is I learn by steps I learn by myself that is very difficult because I lose some steps and I lost some basic thing. So it comes like that._

What she is trying to say is that, like any learner, she has a systematic way of learning, but when she tries to study English by herself, she misses important information. This causes her to make simple mistakes. Here again, she has expressed herself this way because she has a limited vocabulary.

So it comes like that’ is a French expression that she has directly translated into English. In French it is ‘_Ca vien comme ca_’. What she means is ‘That is why she is experiencing such problems.’

Speaking Ability

The learner makes quite a few grammatical mistakes when she speaks, and because of her limited vocabulary she has difficulty expressing herself.


French systems of word stress and rhythm are very different to English. The stress pattern in French is generally on the 2nd syllable. English does not have a regular stress pattern. The stress pattern for English needs to be learnt for each word. For example, when the learner says the word _speaker_, the stress is on the second syllable. But in the English stress system, the stress is on the first syllable.

The French stress system is on the second syllable.


The English stress system is on the first syllable.

Although French and English share many phonological characteristics, French speakers usually experience problems when it comes to the vowel sounds.



The shaded phonemes have similar pronunciation in French. The unshaded phonemes usually causes problems for French learners of English.

In all of the examples given above except for _school_, the learner turns long vowels into short vowels.

As for intonation, French and English intonation systems are similar.

Other Skills.

The learner’s reading is quite good. She is able to read intermediate level text well. As for her writing and speaking skills, she needs lots of work on grammar and she needs to build up her vocabulary so that she can express herself more clearly. She also needs to work on and remember stress patterns for English words.

Language needs to be graded to a pre-intermediate level for the learner to understand speech. She needs to build up her vocabulary especially with words that look the same in both French and English, but have a different meaning in French, also known as ‘false friends’.


The activity chosen is design to develop the learner’s vocabulary, writing,
accuracy and fluency (See lesson plan).


-Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teacher, 2002, Pg 52 – 72.

-Swan Michael “Practical English Usage”, International Students Edition, 2003, Pg. 233.


New Headway English course. Intermediate. Pg 20 – 21.

Oxford Wordpower dictionary, 2003.

Scrivener, Jim, “Learning teaching – A guidebook for English language teachers” 2nd Edition.

 Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teacher”, 2002, Pg 69.

 Swan Michael “Practical English Usage”, International Students Edition, 2003, Pg. 233.

 Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teacher”, 2002, Pg 57.

 Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teacher”, 2002, Pg 63.

Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teacher”, 2002, Pg 53.

Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for
Language Teacher”, 2002, Pg 56

 Swan, Michael and Smith, Bernard “Learner English – Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teacher”, 2002, Pg 70

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