Arzu - a detailed analysis
of a language learner
by Kendall Peet
Evaluation of the Learner’s strengths and weaknesses
Reading was assessed under test conditions in the IH Late Pre-intrmediateTest. Arzu was required to read for detail and for gist. She scored 18/20 . For this reason and because Arzu feels her current level of reading comprehension is adequate for her needs , I will not analyze her strengths and weaknesses in this area. I will, however, make some recommendations in regard to reading in the final section.
I assessed Arzu’s listening skills both formally and informally. I assessed her formally in the IH Late Pre-intermediate Test using a live dictation to assess her accuracy and a tapescript activity to assess her comprehension; the tapescript listening required her to pre-read the listening questions- to ensure that listening and not memory was be tested- and then tick true, false, or does not say, whilst the recording was played. I also assessed her informally based on an interview and on a conversation between her and another learner.
In the diagnostic questionnaire filled out in February, Arzu stated that listening was her number one priority. However, after three months of class work heavily focused on listening and speaking, she now feels that her listening is at a level where she is happy.
In the personality tests, Arzu stated that she considers herself to be a good L1 listener and my observation of her during listening activities indicates that she has been able to transfer many of her L1 listening skills over into her L2: she tends to pick up the gist more so than the detail, which is an endemic trait of a native listener; she provides appropriate paralinguistic feedback; and she is able to ask the speaker to repeat or explain any point she fails to comprehend. The transcripts show that Arzu comprehends spoken text when talking about familiar topics relating to her personal, family, and working life.
The results from the IH test, however, indicate that in situations where she is removed from a face-to-face, interactive context she is less able to comprehend spoken text, and this can cause her problems in the workplace where she is often required to use English on the phone. In particular, she has problems understanding streamed speech, where words that are ‘known’ become ‘unknown,’ (27) to natural spontaneous speech, such as variation in speed, rhythm, level and tone, stress, and pitch , and to the variation in acoustic input, which relates to age, gender, regional accent, style, or speech register also causes her problems.(28) This is most evident when watching a video. Arzu also experiences problems when listening to text outside her limited range of vocabulary and grammar.
27. Goh, C. (1997), p. 366
28. Noblitt, J.(1995)
To page 7 of 13
Back to the articles index