Words by Fiona Kettle-Muspratt. Fiona is a peripatetic ESL teacher in the Gold Coast region of the state of Queensland in Australia. She works with all levels of ESL students (new arrivals through to extension) from Year 1-7 in groups from 4 to 10.
Tim is a 12-year-old ESL student. Here are three texts which follow his writing development. The texts are in response to the following visual and the text underneath it.
Mr Bates was eating his dinner when the phone rang. He put his dinner on the chair and talked on the phone. When he finished, he sat on his dinner.
Text 1: September
(no support was provided)
Mr bates was eating the food and then hear the phone is ringing. Then he put his food on the chair and get the phone, talk to his friend. Finally, when his finish he went back, but when he sit on the chair, he forgot the food, but it’s too late so he can’t eat his food now.
Text 2: November, 7 weeks later
(no teacher support was provided in writing this but the use of a thesaurus was encouraged)
Mr Bates who is a forgetful man was eating his delicious dinner on a comfortable chair, then the telephone is ringing very noisily. Then he quickly get up and put his lovely dinner on the chair and meander there and converse to his friend, and then his friend admitted “Lets go play basketball tomorrow. Mr Bates was very joyful, and yelled to his friend “Okay, thats cool”, and put the telephone back, but when he went back, set on the chair, he forgot the food was on the chair, but it was too late, so now he can’t eat his delicious dinner.
Text 3: November, 8 weeks later
(support was provided; including word banks and scaffolding through joint construction)
Like a clam at high tide, Mr Bates was eating his extremely delicious dinner while sitting on his comfortable chair. Suddenly the incredibly noisy phone rang so he quickly put his delicious food on the chair and rushed to answer it. He chatted with his best friend who suggested, “Let’s go camping tomorrow.” Mr Bates was overjoyed and screamed, “That’s so cool! Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow,” and hung up. He then went back to sit on his chair, but because he had a mind like a sieve, he forgot his food was there! It was too late, and then he yelled, “Now I can’t eat my lovely dinner!”
How did the student develop the linguistic tools needed to be able to write a text that is so much more advanced after only eight weeks?
The article attached below outlines the kinds of activities the class teacher undertook with the above student and with all her students. It is written as if she were recounting the steps taken, and the worksheets and language examples used.
Support was provided by the teacher by developing with the students a range of linguistic resources from a functional perspective. The focus was on elements related to developing the field such as processes, participants and circumstances and then more specifically nominal groups.
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