Well I received quite a bit of unexpected support from fellow teachers following my previous blog about my difficulty in getting an Arabic learner of English to remember and spell a word correctly. However, today I decided to tackle it differently. I guess I was feeling frustrated about the fact that the learner was unable to correctly spell a word that he has seen a numerous times before. True, I have the patience of a saint but I do feel at times that learners need to really pull their own weight if they want to improve.
Today, I decided to focus more on producing more coherent passages of text. We built it up steadily; first focusing on basic introductory questions forms ("What is your name?", "Where are you from?", etc.) with the learner having to put the words in order to form the correct question. Then we focused on answer forms. I modelled suitable answers with a recommended website by a reader (ESOL Courses) and we looked at matching questions to answers. Then I asked the learner to answer the questions about himself. Again, building up to writing a passage of text introducing himself. I then wrote up my answers on the board and then put it all together to form a coherent paragraph of text. I asked the learner to do the same about himself. He then produced quite a bit of writing (which was the first time that he has done this) about himself.
The student seemed suitably impressed with his ability to introduce himself and answer introductory questions. I was also impressed at what the learner was capable of achieving. Perhaps in hindsight, I shouldn't be so hard on the learner nor myself. I very important lesson.