All the learners are elementary level young adults (between 16-21years) of Sri Lankan origin and have Sinhala or Tamil as their first language. They are still in fulltime secondary or post-secondary education. Though these learners have learnt English at school from an early age, their past language learning experiences seem to have not helped them due to lack of a language-rich learning environment with communicative focus. They have little exposure to English outside the classroom and few opportunities to practice English in real-life situations. Their reasons for learning English reveal that the majority is extrinsically motivated by the dominant role of English as a language of education, employment, international communication, opportunities and social status. Learners are different from each other in terms of intelligence-types but many have active or passive experiential learning styles. Many have stated their preference for games, oral communication, pronunciation, and group/pair wok in English classes. As per my observations, their strengths were grammar and reading, while many found listening tasks difficult. Although they have a postitive attitude towards learning, they largely depend on the teacher due to low levels of learner autonomy.
1.2. The Selected Learner
Geeth, a 17 year old school student from Kottawa, is a native speaker of Sinhala. Like many children from families with upward social mobility, he receives a great deal of support, encouragement from his parents to improve English. While he shares most of the characteristics stated in Section 1.1, it was felt that his intrinsic motivation is stronger than the extrinsic factors of his motivation. Geeth is a kinaesthetic-interpersonal learner with an active-experiential learning style. He actively participates and frequently interacts during pair/group work. Though he appears confident, he still needs to work on his grammar and vocabulary. His positive attitude will help him improve his English, if he receives sound pedagogical support and opportunities to practice English regularly.
2. The Learner’s Strengths:
Language area Strength Explanation
Grammar Using basic conjunctions to connect ideas. Geeth has used “but” and “because” in his essay to connect ideas.
Speaking Asking interesting questions to obtain personal information. After the first lesson, he had an interesting conversation with. He tried to keep the interaction going with his questions. His discourse management skills were clearly above the elementary level.
Pronunciation Pronouncing the weak form/ schwa of “an” (/ən/) During the drilling session in Week 1, he grasped the weak form of “an” before most of the other students. According to Scrivener (2005:292), “a common feature of student English is a failure to do this [the weak form]”— giving each word in the sentence equal time in the rhythm.
3. The Learner’s Weaknesses:
Language Area Weakness Explanation:
Grammar Use of “like + -ing” to talk about...