The student as a person and as a language learner
Name of Class: English for Speakers of Other Languages, Skills for Life, pre-intermediate
I chose to work with Ivana because I was intrigued by her presence in a pre-elementary English class. It seemed paradoxical that she understood all her spoken instructions, finished her classroom exercises in record time, and explained answers to her classmates, yet had been placed in a group with peers who appeared to have much poorer grammar than she did.
Ivana did not speak much in class, however, and seldom volunteered oral answers. I was interested in discovering what standard her English really was at.
Country of origin: Poland
Education: Ivana completed a six-year university degree course in Poland to qualify as a veterinary surgeon.
Occupation: Veterinary surgeon in Poland; currently a full-time homemaker and student
Ivana is married and has an eight-year-old son, Jan. She has been in England for one year and leads a life very different to the one she knew in Poland, where she was a veterinary surgeon supervising 30 men. She conducted her practice in the countryside and was successful and well-respected.
Ivana’s husband is an academic at heart and taught German and music in Poland. In England, he works as a computer engineer for other Poles. The family’s social circle is, therefore, largely Polish, offering no opportunity to converse in English. The family speaks only Polish at home and there is no motivation to use English, as Ivana wants Jan to grow up with a native command of his mother tongue.
Ivana is under pressure to improve her level of English rapidly for two reasons: she is impatient to resume her work as a vet, and her husband would like her to assume the breadwinner’s role so he can return to full-time study, learning advanced English this time.
Ivana’s standard of English grammatical...