Developing a Learner Profile
For the purposes of this assignment I used the Bridge Mills Handout: An Extract by Ian Thompson entitled ‘Japanese speakers’- taken from the book ‘Learner English’ Swan and Smith Pages 296-309. This book is referred to in the following assignment as (Thompson: Followed by the page number).
The student I interviewed was Japanese. Her name was Emiko. Emiko learned English in secondary school and she found it quite difficult. After leaving school she did a secretarial course and spent some time working as a secretary. She has a passion for cooking. She found out about the Ballymaloe Cookery School and she became very interested in pursuing a cookery course there. Her research confirmed that the school had indeed a very good reputation and Emiko became anxious to experience the cookery school for herself. Emiko attended English classes in Japan with a clear goal of improving her oral English. She was not altogether happy with her progress rate and decided to come to Ireland to learn English in an English speaking country and to get a feel for the way English is spoken in Ireland. Emiko has been in Ireland since October 2010 and is happy that she came here to learn English. She is looking forward to her cookery course in Ballymaloe which will conclude her stay in Ireland. She hopes to use English in the future and believes that a good standard of English will help her achieve well paid employment in Japan.
Emiko therefore would benefit from some teaching targeted towards her one week stay in Ballymaloe which she hopes to be the high point of her stay in Ireland. She would benefit from looking closely at the varied phrases used in cooking and cookery books. Some focused teaching in this area would boost her confidence as she embarks on her cookery course. Generally speaking Emiko would benefit from plenty of exposure to and participation in real conversations in order to increase her oral fluency and accuracy.
Emiko took the interview very seriously and was a focused and attentive listener. I delivered my questions slowly and clearly. Though she responded to all my questions with relative ease it would be reasonable to suggest that Emiko may experience some difficulties in real conversations held at a faster pace. At times Emiko paused for short periods though this is likely to be a cultural difference as in Japan ‘tentativeness is preferred to assertiveness, hesitancy to momentum’ (Thompson: 297).
On one occasion when I posed a more complex question involving the second conditional she cleverly attempted to repeat the question aloud back to me demonstrating her concentration and listening skills though she had found the phrasing of the question challenging. I believe Emiko to be a very good listener. Emiko’s listening skills can therefore be further developed with some exposure to more complex questioning than this interview had scope for.
Emiko was dedicated to the reading task and I could see she was reading carefully. Emiko read the piece in a reasonable amount of time. She took note of the glossary and referred to it more than once as she read through. This suggests that Emiko is accustomed to utilising all the reading aids available to her. She did not ask me about any of the words in the text. Some of the words not included in the glossary were ‘equipment, resident, generally and antiques.’ Though these may have proved a problem for some readers, Emiko did not seem to have any difficulty with them as she did not ask any questions regarding them. If there were parts of the text that she did not understand, she certainly did not dwell too long on them. This shows a certain maturity in a reader as perhaps Emiko had the confidence in her overall understanding and saw no need to over analise any particular word or phrase. The Japanese language has an ‘enormous number of words which are pronounced the...
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