Analysing learner language

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We looked at some learner language today and analysed in terms of their grammatical difficulties and how we would support them with working on grammar and sentences.

After reading the piece below, I decided that the first thing I would do is get to know the learner, find out their goals and a little bit about them before negotiating together what we would work on.

There are a number of things I would discuss with the learner. The first would probably be to give them their piece of writing back and ask them if they see anything they want to change, they’re not sure about, or that they know is incorrect, 2014-12-22 18.57.01and to highlight it. I would then have a discussion with the learner, possibly about:

  • sentence structure – full stops. I could work with the learner on full stops to try to diagnose why they find using them difficult. I could provide worksheets, but would prefer to use this piece for further work. We could work to type the piece up, or could photocopy it in large print, cut up an rearrange, letting them know it’s a draft and this is ok to do.
  • I would like to look at his spelling. Even if he felt it wasn’t the first priority, I would create a spelling error record and catalogue errors to see if there were any specific patterns he was finding difficult.
  • He sometimes uses capital letters mid-sentence.
  • He uses some contractions, but may be insecure in genre and register.

What did you learn? 

I learnt that I am quite happy with the process that I use. Our tutor told us that she often gives the work back to the learner and discusses it with them. I think this can really empower learners to take ownership, and ensures you are staying true to their needs. I’ve seen so many literacy classrooms that just churn out worksheets, and I generally have a problem with this as there is no contextualisation or individualisation. If you want to motivate people, surely using something personal give you more opportunity to do so than a tick box worksheet?

How will you apply it? Practical implications? Resources made/changed? For assignment? Meet with? Find out more about? By ___ in my teaching.
I will apply it by altering the way I do things. I would usually mark the sheet, then give it back to the learners, but I really see a benefit in doing that task with them, or asking them about what they think is ‘wrong’ or important. It provides a good opportunity to praise them, understand their thinking as well as identifying areas for improvement.

I tried this on:
Every time a learner has done a piece of writing since.

What went well?
Learners seem to appreciate going through a piece of work together. One learner said that they felt a bit more special and less on their own.

What would I change?

Be aware of the learners who don’t know how to read their own work back, and find it difficult. I could use a volunteer to sit with them, or we could arrange a time before/after the session if they need more support. I think I need to highlight to the learners that it’s fine if they’re not sure, but it really helps me to understand them more if they’re honest. I’ve had a few learners who have just picked out things in their texts randomly because they weren’t sure what to look for, but were willing to try.

How will I make changes?
I have already made the changes with my learners.