Second Language Acquisition - Learner's Profile

Topics: English language, Vowel, Linguistics Pages: 8 (2152 words) Published: November 29, 2006

The person that I have chosen for this assignment, in order to analyse his performance in English, is called John and he is 23 years old. He comes from Greece and he was here in England for three weeks visiting a friend. He has been studying English for seven years in a private school of English back in Greece and he holds the Cambridge First Certificate degree. After going back to Greece, he will continue his studies in order to set exams for the Cambridge Proficiency. John was very keen on helping me with the interview and showed no hesitation in doing it. He came to my house and really enjoyed this experience as he revealed afterwards. The only thing that he asked before the interview was to give him the questions and so that he has some time to prepare.

His level of English is considered to be ‘Higher-Intermediate to Advanced'. He appeared capable of communicating by using the English language although he is facing some problems in certain aspects of the English language such as pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and discourse.

However, before I go on to analyse my learner's performance I will have to give a short account on how the English language is taught in Greece and which are the differences between the two languages.

In the interview, John is trying to explain that he found it difficult to communicate because the language that is taught in Greece is not the same as the one that is most English people speak. This means that during his studies he did not come across any authentic texts and especially authentic samples of spoken language. This is an important feature of Coursebook Evaluation research since many writers such as Cunningsworth (1995) have focused on the problem of authenticity in coursebooks. It has to be mentioned that in Greece most English schools use coursebooks and the most common method that is still being used is Grammar Translation. Although, John says that he speaks English with his teachers and classmates, he still found it difficult to communicate with English people which is a result of the use of coursebooks which don't include authentic language. Furthermore, in Greece most English schools concentrate on the Cambridge FCE and CPE examinations. As a result, teachers focus on these papers and not on authentic language.


it is very important to highlight the differences between the English and Greek language at this stage in order to see the possible difficulties a Greek learner would face.

Phonology and pronunciation is an area that most Greek learners have difficulty in because the two systems are very different. Greek learners have difficulty in perceiving and/or pronouncing correctly many English sounds (Swan & Smith, 1992). As far as the vowels are concerned there are only a few vowels, which have equivalents in Greek, and the rest of the vowels are perceived with difficulty. For example, there are no equivalents for /æ/, /a:/, /u:/, /з:/, / /, / /, / /, / / and / /. In the Greek language there are only five vowels /a/, /e/, /i:/, /u/ and /o/ which makes it very difficult for Greek learners to conceive the English vowel system.

As far as the consonants are concerned the difference is not so broad compared to the vowel system. Many of the English consonants have equivalents in Greek but still there are some problems. For instance, / / is often pronounced as /s/, / / is often replaced by /z/ and / / is usually pronounced as / / (Swan & Smith, 1992). In addition, as Sofia C. Papaefthymiou-Lytra points out in this book because Greek spelling is phonetic Greek learners tend to pronounce all the letters that are written:

/me/ for me

As far as grammar is concerned, the two grammatical systems are similar in many ways. However, there are some forms that are different and must not be confused. Greek learners might experience difficulties with some modal verbs, since they do not have...

Bibliography: • Hooke, R. & J. Rowel (1991), A Handbook of English Pronunciation, Nelson.
• Larsen-Freeman, D. & M. Long (1991), An Introduction to Second Language Acquisition Research, London: Longman
• Norrish, J (1992), Language Learners and Their Errors, Macmillan
• Papaefthymiou-Lytra, S.C. (1992), "Greek Speakers" in Swan M. & B. Smith ed. (1992) Learner English. Cambridge University Press.
• Wells, J.C. (1990), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Longman
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