Analysis of texts written by ESL Learners
Analysis of texts written by ESL Learners
Assignment 1: Analysis of texts written by ESL Learners (Texts included and the end of order description).
Description of the first assignment
The Victorian Essential of Learning Standards (VELS) (and now the newer AUSVELS) provides a framework for ESL students with diverse linguistic abilities to be assessed so that effective learning programs can be developed accordingly. ESL students at high school age are ranked from SL (with little knowledge of English) to S4 (Advanced Stage of English proficiency). Within each Stage, three levels of Beginning, Progressing and Standard, are recognised. It is important for an ESL teacher in Victorian schools to assign each student to an appropriate stage and level. This is partly done on the basis of the language that a student produces, either written or spoken, at the commencement of his/her enrolment in the school. ESL teachers need to be familiar with the lexical and grammatical (lexicogrammatical) features of language produced at each stage and level.
Please analyse the two learner texts provided (in List of Resources/Assessment) for their lexical-grammatical, and syntactical features. (These texts are in this module, named Assignment 1 Text 1, and Assignment 1, Text 2)
Look at each text and comment briefly on 2-3 grammatical areas that seem to be under control, then identify 3-4 problem areas you notice in their lexical-grammatical features, one each at (3-4 of) the following levels:
• Word classes or parts of speech
• Morphological relations and features
• Syntax (word order, phrase, clause and sentence structure)
• Discourse level grammar (textual cohesion)
(you can also comment on the appropriateness of vocabulary choices)
Then choose one of the features (for example, a verb tense, use of prepositions, order of adjectives), describe it in terms of Form, Meaning and Use, and design a short activity to teach and practice it, with a rationale.
GUIDELINES FOR THE ASSIGNMENT:
This assignment, which is based on your study up to Topic 6 in the unit materials, involves examining student-produced texts at the various levels of grammar- word, sentence and supra-sentential (discourse) level. At word level you would focus on parts of speech or word classes (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, determiner, pronoun, etc. as well as morphological features). At sentence level you would look at syntax, which involves the relationships of the elements in a sentence, word order, verb/subject agreement, and clause structures. At the supra-sentential level you would note features of text cohesion, such as the use of pronoun substitution or synonyms to avoid repetition yet maintain a flow of ideas, linking words, and appropriate lexical (vocabulary) choices for the genre/task.
• You need to show that you have understood the grammatical features you have selected (e.g. different parts of speech/word classes and morphological features, and clause structures.
• In the body of your essay, comment briefly on features that show the ESL writer’s competence or lack of it at the levels mentioned above.
• The idea is to make a diagnosis of what an ESL writer can or can’t do competently at the various levels within the AUSVELS framework. You need to show that you can use appropriate linguistic language to explain areas of competence or lack of it, and thus identify patterns. After the brief diagnosis of 3-4 features, choose one feature for more detailed analysis. Are there problems with using appropriate forms at word level? Are word choices appropriate or too formal/informal? Is there control over verb tenses? Which ones? Are there any problems with word order, appropriate linking words, any other features of text cohesion? Choose one problem area that stands out, analyse its features and discuss how you might scaffold the learner to use the feature more confidently, by suggesting a short activity that presents and practices the feature.
• Finally, you need to present a brief discussion as to why and in what way(s) you think this analysis will be useful for learning in a TESOL/EAL context.
• You are not analysing the learner text simply for errors, which is a teacher’s tendency when looking at their students’ work. You are examining the texts for their language features, and should also comment on areas of competence.
FORMAT AND PRESENTATION OF ASSIGNMENT
• to be included in the essay:
• A brief introduction to the essay, outlining its structure.
? A brief overview of the task of writing in a second or foreign language. What does a language learner need to know in order to produce a text?
? Evaluation of each of the learner’s work. What has she/he done well? What does she/he need to work on? (only 3-4 problem areas)
? Choose one grammatical feature from the 3-4 above that appeared to be problematic (in either or both texts), and demonstrate your understanding of that feature in terms of Form, Meaning and Use. As a guide you could look at the slides on Imperatives in the Week Three Power point.
? How might these learners be helped to develop their writing in English in terms of the feature you have chosen? For this, suggest a brief activity that could present the problem feature in context and then practice it.
? Comment on the usefulness of this task in understanding more about your learners’ English language development and what you need to teach.
? A conclusion summarising what you have written about and pointing to how useful your analysis will be in the context of TESOL. Support your arguments throughout with scholarly references.
The analyses/activity description would take up at least two-thirds of the total word count. Appendices are not included in the word count
Present your analysis in a format using headings and subheadings as appropriate. Use the categories mentioned above to guide you. After you have done this, summarise the patterns you have observed in the texts and write on the implications for language teaching in the EAL context. A brief introduction and conclusion to the assignment will assist the reader in knowing how you have organised your analysis and how you are approaching this assignment.
• Appendices may include any tables you have used, and the texts (only if you have annotated them to show your workings). If you use appendices, please make sure to number them and refer to them in the body of your assignment so that the reader knows which appendix to refer to.
• Referencing is another important part of the layout of your assignment. You should use the APA (American Psychological Association) version 6.0 which is available electronically, to reference your sources.
The two learner texts for analysis are below the tips for assignment
ETL705 Tips for the Assignment
This document aims to give some examples of how to engage with the student text analysis part of the first assignment. There are general points, an ‘FAQ’ section, and also some examples of the kind of language you might use to analyse the texts. These examples refer to an S3 Beginning writer’s text I have also posted in this ‘Assessment’ section in the Cloud site (A review of Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men).
Your overall focus is to demonstrate awareness of features of a second language writer’s production in terms of which areas show reasonable competence and which areas show less control, thereby gaining an increased understanding of the progressions within the frameworks used to assess learners in schools and assign them appropriate help. You may choose from the following levels to focus on:
? Word classes or parts of speech
? Morphological relations and features
? Syntax (word order, phrase, clause and sentence structure)
? Discourse level grammar ( larger text cohesion)?
appropriateness of vocabulary choices
Remember the idea is to select some issues, not attempt to deal with them all.
Word classes/morphology: Don’t analyse every word. You might use a table to help you organise the word classes and any issues that may arise for analysis- but try not to spend too much time on it if you do. Look for patterns- grammatical features the writer seems to have control over, and others where there is less control.
Find ‘evidence’ to support your claims- simply examples from the text. Two examples of, for example, correct formation of simple past tense, gives evidence of a certain amount of control, whereas two errors in tense formation might suggest a lack of it. One example might be just a momentary slip, but at the same time, if there is only one example of something you feel worthy of comment, please comment by all means.
Some questions to guide your analysis, roughly corresponding to the different grammatical levels
1. Are there morphological errors, e.g. a noun is required but an adjective form has been used?
2. Is word order appropriate in simple, compound and complex sentences?
3. Are clauses constructed appropriately with the correct conjunctions
4. Are ideas joined with appropriate linking words?
5. Which verb tenses seem under control and which show less control?
6. Are vocabulary choices appropriate (level of formality, connotation) and do they show a wide range of vocabulary?
7. Is cohesion maintained through referencing (use of pronouns or synonyms to avoid repetition)?
Begin with your awareness of the texts as a competent user of English yourself. What works properly and what doesn’t? The idea is to use the terminology that you have met throughout the unit: don’t get too worried about the finer distinctions; this is Pedagogical Grammar rather than Theoretical Linguistics.
Below are some examples of the kind of language that may be used to analyse a text (at the word class/morphology levels), in this case a LEVEL 3 BEGINNING EXAMPLE which I have posted in here in the ASSESSMENT section in the Cloud site).
“There are three pieces of evidence in the first few lines that the writer does not have control over the correct form of the verb ‘be’ to show singular-plural agreement. The writer may have misconstrued ‘friendship’ as a collective noun, but at any rate hasn’t recognized that the absence of the (bound) plural morpheme –s (or suffix, or inflection) necessitates ‘is’, the 3rd person present singular form of the verb”.
“The passage generally demonstrates competence with the use of the simple present tense, especially 3rd person singular marker, the bound morpheme -s (several examples). The use of this tense is usually appropriate when describing a narrative. However it is sometimes overgeneralized; on occasion the simple past should be used tenses to make clear the sequence of events. E.g. ‘They have to run away’. (eg should be past simple form ‘had to’)”
‘So let’s go through the novel to know how is the theme of friendship and loneliness…’
“The writer has not acquired the rule that when a question is embedded as a clause in a complex sentence, the word order, even though the question word ‘how’ is used, retains the form used in statements rather than questions. (should be ‘how the theme…..is)”
That’s even worst when Lennie killed Curley’s wife.
…….comparative adjective form (irregular)
………..and in these examples:
a) He just accidently kill her
b) Curley’s hand got crush
c ) He start punching Lennie
….problems with control of the bound morpheme –ed; needed in a) and c) to mark regular past tense; b) as past participle- part of a passive verb phrase.
‘Because the dislike toward big men of Curley’
…confusion of ‘because’ (conjunction) with ‘because of’ (preposition- needed here to qualify noun ‘dislike’
….also awkward/overuse of ‘of’ to show attribute, when allomorph of –s showing possession is more appropriate (Curley’s dislike of big men).
What citation style is needed?
How many references should we include?
This is always a hard one to answer. This kind of assessment is more analysis than critical discussion, but I would still think a minimum of ten at Masters level is appropriate.
Is the word limit to be strictly adhered to?
‘Strictly’ is perhaps too strict! 3-400 more is OK, more than that would be too much padding
Should we use abbreviations for parts of speech once they’ve been introduced?
A very good idea, commonly n, vb, adj, adv etc as in a dictionary
What style and size of font is required?
Doesn’t matter too much but one of the common ones eg Times New Roman or Calibri, and 12pt helps my eyes!
Is it better to have two examples for what the student can do and two for what they can’t do?
Yes, a balance is good.
Of course in some areas this won’t be possible.
That’s OK, if there’s only one example that’s worthy of comment, please comment
If we make tables, is it okay to have them as appendices?
Yes, if you use them they are appendices and not part of the word count.
When discussing the value of analysis for teaching, please be aware that the analysis at these levels is just that- analysis. It’s not appropriate to teach language in this way. As an example, if you tried to do sentence tree analysis to show structure to intermediate learners, you would probably end up confusing them. Language teachers benefit from studying linguistics. Language learners benefit from studying language.
This text is an example of a student progressing towards the S3 Standard (S3.2). The student writes a reflective essay and demonstrates an ability to express ideas and feelings about an issue. She is able to relate a personal experience to the topic as requested. The student writes with a level of complexity, however some ESL errors are evident in her writing.
Year Level: 15 year old female
Background: Korean, International student
Schooling: Age equivalent schooling in Korea where she also learnt English as ‘an other’ language. This piece was written during her second term at an English Language School.
Reflective writing task. Students watched the film Gallipoli as part of a brief unit on Anzac day and Australia’s involvement in WW1 for their humanities class. Students were asked to respond to a statement that appears at the beginning of the film and discuss their point of view of the statement after watching the film. Students were expected to include an experience from their own lives in the response. The task was not scaffolded.
‘It’s not arriving at your destination but the journey that matters’. Do you agree with this statement? Give an example from your own life/experience
Nowadays people tend to think that only a destination is important. They don’t care about a journey they go through. However they learn more things through a journey in fact. To reach a destination, they should endure hardship. Hardship makes people difficult to achieve a purpose, but it reminds people what is important to them. Also during a journey, people often change their thought. A journey makes them become more mature as they experience variety happens.
‘Galipoli’, the film about the World War 1, is one of the most representative examples show the value of a journey. Frank and Archy, the main characters, enlisted the army without any anxiety. Their destination was a battlefield in Galipoli. They had thought that they could learn valuable things in the field, but actually they couldn’t. the only thing that they learned in the field is how it is misarable to be shotted by enemies. In contrast, in the journey they could make a deep friendship and realize the importance of friends and family. Through the death of Barney, Bill and Snowy, their fellows, they saw the real side of a war and felt the fierce of a war. They had alread grown into adulthood when they reached at the destination.
Not just by films and books, we could realize the importance of journey in everyday life. In my case, I become aware of it especially when I climb up mountains. My destination is the top of a mountain, but I’ve learned the beauty and the preciousness of nature and parent while I’m climbing up. Also I have time to think about myself seriously. In addition I’ve enjoyed a mountain with my people making our relationships deeply during a journey I’ve spent most of my mountain-climbing time in a journey, and mostly the journey is the purpose, not the destination.
To arrive at a destination, you should go through a journey Even though you reach at the same destination like others, you would get different lessons from your own journey comparing with others. The lessons from a journey would be much more important than the lessons from a destination in your life. In the other words, a process is more valuable than a result in life.
This is an example of a student progressing towards the standard at S2 (S2.2). As the text progresses, the student diverges from the topic, suggesting that the student has not planned what he intended to write. However this is the student’s first draft. He attempts to express some complex ideas, but his language repertoire limits his ability to do this.
Year Level: Year 10, 16 year old male
Schooling: Disrupted schooling, 12 months at an English language school, 6 months in a bridging program, 3 months in a mainstream ESL program.
Students had been on an excursion to the Police Academy. The excursion was discussed and students were asked to write a recount of their trip or about the police in their birth country. The task was not scaffolded. The text is a first draft.
In Burma, police training was so hard and the food was not only bad but also unhealthy. In the Burmese police, someone who had a little higher ran than other. He used a lot of his power on other people and on his pupils. That was very difficult for the police who had no rank. The police who had no rank had to perform every things for their captain in Burma. The police and soldiers had been discourteous to other people in Burma. A lot of people were killed by Burmese police and soldiers and a lot of people were arrested by the police and soldiers in Burma to put into the gaol and gave to do work everyday. The prisoners had to work every day. In Burma most of the bridges, railways and roads were built by prisoner some of the prisoner took the rocks and stones for building the bridge, railway and road. They took rock and stone from the cliffs. sometimes suddenly the rock was fallen down and a lot of the prisoners died It was such a dangerous place. In Burma the prisoner had to wear a heavy iron’s chain on their legs all the time. In Burma the police system of law was so bad and unlawful. I condole and sympathize with the people who have been in prison.
I don’t know much about of victoria police system and law. I think that, it is very different between victoria police and Burma police especially weapon. Burma police still use rifle but I don’t think victoria police’s food is much more better than Burma police food.