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Helping Arab learners to ‘get it right’
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  1. Helping Arab learners to ‘get it right’ Peter Lucantoni

  2. Peter Lucantoni • Started teaching in 1979 in UK, lived and worked in Europe and Middle East, now based in Cyprus • Author, Educational Consultant & Teacher Trainer for Cambridge University Press • Cambridge TKT, CELTYL, CELTA & DELTA trainer, and Cambridge CELTYL assessor • Examiner for Cambridge ESOL speaking examinations

  3. Overview • How does L1 affect L2? • What are some of the characteristics of Arab learners? • How can language corpus data help teachers? • Teaching strategies • Conclusions

  4. How does L1 affect L2? • Learner’s L1 can affect learning English positively and negatively. • How? • No close equivalent • Close equivalent • Non-exact equivalent • Learner’s English ‘is therefore likely to carry the signature of his/her mother tongue [L1] …’ • (Learner English, eds. Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001)

  5. How does L1 affect L2? • ‘While not all of a learner’s problems … are attributable to direct mother-tongue ‘interference’, the overall patterns of error do … tend to be language specific … ’ • (Learner English, eds. Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001)

  6. How does L1 affect L2? • Bernard Smith says that teachers need help: • ‘to anticipate the characteristics of learners of English who speak particular mother tongues, and to understand how these difficulties arise’ • (Learner English, eds. Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001)

  7. What are some of the characteristics of Arab learners? • What are some of the characteristics of Arab learners? • Work with your partner and try to list at least three • Try to think of both positive and negative characteristics • Put the characteristics into categories

  8. What are some of the characteristics of Arab learners? • Look at the writing samples from Arabic speakers on Handout 1 • Work with a partner and answer this question: • What typical and common errors do you notice?

  9. How can language corpus datahelp teachers? • What do you think are some of the common writing errors made by Arab learners? • According to the Cambridge Learner Corpus: • Spelling • Wrong punctuation • Wrong preposition • Nouns & pronouns

  10. How can language corpus data help teachers? • Which words are most commonly misspelled by Arab learners? • Make a list of words, along with an example of misspelling: • because • *becouse, *becaus, *becuse, *beacuse

  11. How can language corpus data help teachers? • According to the Cambridge Learner Corpus, these are common spelling errors made by Arab learners: people *pepole, *peaple friend *frind, *freind beautiful *beatiful, *beutiful different *diffrent

  12. How can language corpus data help teachers? • What teaching strategies do you currently use in order to help learners with spelling? • Why are these strategies successful?

  13. How can language corpus data help teachers? • Providing opportunities for learners to see words in interesting and motivating contexts is an important step to recognising word boundaries and word spellings English Unlimited Special Edition, A1, Adrian Doff, Cambridge University Press, 2014

  14. Tasks • Look at the same text on Handout 2 • Which words do you think would typically cause spelling problems for your learners? • Think of some activities learners could do to focus on these problem words

  15. Tasks Differentiate right/wrong spelling Correct wrong spelling Using in context English Unlimited Special Edition, A1, Adrian Doff, Cambridge University Press, 2014

  16. Spelling conclusions • The biggest spelling problems for Arab learners: vowels, especially vowel doubling/clusters – quiet, because, friend, people, restaurant, beautiful, country, receive • Also, misusing ‘mirror’ shapes: b/d, p/q; malformation of letters: o, a, t, d, g, and cursive linking • Arabic students also struggle with more-or-less silent consonants, e.g. in should, which, and e on the end of words, e.g. there, before, like, please.

  17. Prepositions • Arabic uses many fixed prepositionsand particles • Many do not correspond to English translations: • *to arrive to, *in spite from • * I search my iPod, * She looks her friend • [Adapted from: Learner English, Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001]

  18. Prepositions • Which prepositions do Arab learners commonly confuse? • Make a list, along with examples : • ‘in’ instead of ‘at’, for example: • *I can’t meet you in that time

  19. How can a language corpus help teachers? • What teaching strategies do you currently use in order to help learners with prepositions? • Why are these strategies successful?

  20. How can a language corpus help teachers? • Providing opportunities for learners to see words in interesting and motivating contexts is an important step to recognising how to use them accurately

  21. Tasks Remembering examples from text Sentence completion Using in context

  22. Prepositions conclusions • Most common seven preposition errors concern combinations of just five words: in, at, on, for, to • Focusing on usage and rules is key for Arabic-speaking learners • Expressions ending in prepositions often avoided in favour of Arabic patterns: Who did you buy it for? >>>>> For whom did you buy it? Or *For who you bought it?

  23. Nouns and pronouns • Arabic verb forms incorporate pronouns • This leads to repetition in English: • *Ahmed he works there • [Adapted from: Learner English, Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001] • Which other pronouns do Arab learners commonly confuse? • *My family they will arrive next week • *I don’t know if Oman’s weather it will be good

  24. How can a language corpus help teachers? • What teaching strategies do you currently use in order to help learners with pronouns? • Why are these strategies successful?

  25. How can a language corpus help teachers? • Providing opportunities for learners to see nouns and pronouns in interesting and motivating contexts is an important step to recognising how to use them accurately, and in avoiding unnecessary repetition

  26. Tasks Remembering and selecting from text Sentence correction Using in context

  27. Nouns and pronouns conclusions • Most common repetition errors occur with it, you, he, they, I • Practice needed in helping students understand the basic role of the pronoun it in a sentence: as replacement for the subject • Noticing correct examples, and correcting wrong examples: a verb only needs one subject, either a noun or a subject pronoun

  28. How does L1 affect L2? • ‘While not all of a learner’s problems … are attributable to direct mother-tongue ‘interference’, the overall patterns of error do … tend to be language specific … ’ • (Learner English, eds. Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001)

  29. How does L1 affect L2? • Bernard Smith says that teachers need help: • ‘to anticipate the characteristics of learners of English who speak particular mother tongues, and to understand how these difficulties arise’ • (Learner English, eds. Swan & Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2001)

  30. Any questions?

  31. plucantoni@cambridge.org www.cambridgeenglishteacher.org http://www.facebook.com/Cambridge UniversityPressMiddleEast