Celta – Focus on the Learner

By December 1, 2016 English Language



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Ramiro is a 28 year old male from Alicante in Spain. He is currently in the upper-intermediate class. Ramiro arrived in the UK on 4th September 2011 and entered the Level 7 class. He is very proud of the progress that he has made with his English. He is currently staying in a self-catering home stay in Chichester. Ramiro is not sure how long he will stay in the UK; he is worried about the uncertain economic climate in Europe and ideally would like to find a job in a specialist marketing company in London. Ramiro grew up in Alicante and can speak Spanish Castellano and Valencian . He was educated in Valencian which is the traditional and official name of the Catalan language in the Valencian Community. Ramiro compares the Valencian language as an equivalent to Welsh in the UK.

Ramiro first studied English at high school at the age of 16. None of his family speak English. He studied Baccalaureate (high school 16-18) and followed this with a university degree in Business Studies. Ramiro then worked as a sales manager for an Engineering company and as a banking executive for Banco CRM. Ramiro is from a middle-class, formerly wealthy Valencian family ??“ his father owned a successful and well known toy manufacturing brand.

Ramiro tells me that he has sat 2 exams ??“ both in Spain: ???English Selectiv??? and ???English pre-intermediate??? in University. He is thinking of taking the IELTS exam with a view to continuing his studies with an emphasis on business english.

Ramiro likes to study, especially anything connected with businss marketing and human resources – the subject of his degree. His favourite subject at school was Mathematics. He likes reading and particularly likes to read management books. As far as learning english is concerned, Ramiro tries to predict what his lesson might be about and reads up on the subject before hand so that he can get the maximum from the lesson. In the lesson and outside the classroom, he can then involve himself fully in the activities which he likes to experience fully by getting involved as much as possible physically. Ramiro has self described himself as a visual learner ??“ a reading / writing preference learner who follows this through kinesthetically. Ramiro has also said that he loves to listen to people. My personal view is that he is not as good at listening as he is at speaking. I can confirm that Ramiro is very tactile with people and objects, and therefore I would agree with his self-description of being a kinesthetic learner with a visual wing.

In the classroom, Ramiro is a confident ???leader??™. Ramiro is very confident to speak and often speaks before thinking things through. This results in bad inflection, intonation and stress which has been directly translated from his Spanish sentence in his head. It also affects the way he pronounces the individual words. Ramiro??™s listening skills are less strong than other skills; he often reinforces his mistakes by repeating them . Ramiro needs to focus on the drilling exercises in class ??“ concentrating especially on the correct stress, intonation of sentence and pronounciation. As a teacher, I would concentrate on various drilling exercises and I would use the other Spanish speakers as an inspiration for Ramiro so that he develops self-checking and correction tecniques with confidence.

Diagnosis of and Suggestion for Areas for Development

1. Area of difficulty: grammar. Overusing the definite article. (refer to interview recording or transcript).

The overuse of the definite article appears to be a problem in Ramiro??™s spoken word. It is not apparent in his written work but this might be because he works hard at perfecting his writing.

Examples of overusing the definite article:

??? I was selling the iron steel about the big companies.
??? I like the juice orange. I take the juice orange.
??? My favourite alcoholic drink is the beer.
??? ???and then is similar the soup with mushrooms??™.
??? I have a photos. (indefinite article mis-use)

Overuse of definite and misuse of indefinite articles are a common problem in beginner Spanish speakers. According to Norman Coe (SWAN Learner English) The definite article goes with mass nouns and plural countable nouns that are used with a general meaning ??“ example: ???The food is more important that the art. ???
From what I have observed with Ramiro??™s spoken English, he overuses the definite article, whereas English speakers would omit the definite article completely. A major difference between Spanish and English is that abstract nouns (nouns you cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel) take an article in Spanish whereas they don??™t in English. For example, ???love is in the air??? ???el amor esta en el aire???. Spanish would say ???the love??™ is in the air.

2. Area of difficulty: phonology. Consonant clusters.
(refer to recording).

??? I went to escool in Balencia

??? I like to eat estrrawberrrrrry yelly

??? I like estick and potatoes

??? very estrategic market

??? in the espring

This is a problem with Spanish speakers in general ??“ even very capable speakers. It is a problem because it will give the impression that their English is limited ??“ when in fact they might be near fluent. This problem coupled with the misuse of stress (Spanish tend to have main stress on 2nd or 3rd syllable) can make a word and/or sentence incomprehensible.

In Spanish, S plus another consonant never occurs at the beginning of a word.

Ramiro tries to rectify this by using a long ???a??™ sound (eI) which is far too stressed before saying a consonant cluster. Or by using a soft vowel /?/ (schwa) before a (ST) consonant cluster.

With the sentence ???I have been to London bry-edgee??? he is over compensating and trying very hard to pronounce each individual letter.

Spanish speakers find that with practice, concentration and time their problems with consonant clusters can be fixed.

3. Area of difficulty: writing . Distinguishing between formal and informal writing and capitalisation. Refer to postcard.

Please refer to postcard: Ramiro is a very keen student and he has confused a capitalisation rule. He has read / been told about the need to capitalise days of the week, months, etc. , the need to capitalise ???I??™ (pronoun), the need to capitalise anything after a full-stop. Ramiro has become confused and thinks that he has to write a capital I for everything beginning with an ???i??™ ??“ even if it??™s in the middle of a sentence. When I first took some examples of Ramiro??™s writing, he did not have this problem ??“ this over-capitalisation has happened since the 24th October when we conducted our first interview.
Eg. ???has been gratifying, It surprised me, because people are funny???. The postcard has been written in a formal way, I suspect he might be using a translation site such as Babelfish.

Here is some text from an email where Ramiro is sending his CV to an employment agency – I was copied as a recipient:

I attach my CV with a letter presentation, I hope my profile is good for you.

Ramiro was happy to progress from pre-intermediate to upper intermediate, but this means that he has missed on an immense amount of vital grammar. Ramiro would like to work in London for a specialised marketing company. In view of this, my exercise is to concentrate on the formal business letter/correspondence, on using the correct register and some basic capitalisation / punctuation rules.


This activity is to give practice using the definite article. Please circle the correct answer:

1. I like watching :

a. the dvds
b. dvds
c. either

2. He studied marketing at:

a. university
b. the university
c. either

3. I??™ll meet you from:

a. the train station
b. train station
c. either

4. They were sent to _________ for theft

a. prison
b. the prison
c. either

5. My girlfriend lives in:

a. the East of Spain
b. East of Spain
c. either

6. I like drinking _________ beer:

a. the Spanish
b. Spanish
c. either

7. I spoke to :

a. the engineer
b. engineer
c. either

8. I like to cook:

a. the soup
b. soup
c. either

9. I need to _________ my shirts

a. the iron
b. iron
c. either

10. I drink __________ every morning

a. the orange juice
b. orange juice
c. either

11. The trees are very beautiful in :

a. spring
b. the spring
c. either

12. My favourite meal is:

a. the pasta
b. pasta
c. either

13. These films are _______________:

a. a typical
b. typical
c. either

14. I will stay with :

a. the english family
b. an english family
c. either

15. He doesn??™t have:

a. a home
b. home
c. either



Here are some sentences for you to practice. We will record your pronounciation now and then record you again in a weeks??™ time to check for any improvements. I would like you to write these sentences in a notebook and to practice using the words beginning with ???s??™ at least 5 times a day in everyday situations.

Listen to my recording and practice saying the sentences.

We need to save some space
He was caught speeding
I like to eat sponge cake
I??™m interested in stars and space
Please pass me the spoon
I spent lots of money
I like spaghetti
Halloween was spooky
My English spelling is very good
I eat spicy food with my spoon
I am a sporty person
I eat a lot of snacks
I was bitten by a snake
You can buy stamps at the station
I like to ski in the snow


Capitalisation and letter writing

Correct the following paragraphs by capitalising and putting in punctuation:

my daughter and i went to London on a cold winter??™s day last december and we visited our relatives on lombard street we ate lunch in st james??™ park the park was very lovely although it was a very cold day after we left the park we went to london zoo we fed the penguins and the monkeys london zoo is open 364 days of the year according to the warden animals don??™t know about christmas after the zoo we went to the london portrait gallery and admired an exhibition by a spanish artist called salvador dali.

Please find below an example of a letter I wrote recently to a prospective employer. I would like you to write a similar letter to Mrs C Brice of the Human Resources Dept, TLC Marketing Worldwide,? London, 23 Beaumont Mews, London W1G 6EN. Enclose your CV and let her know when you are available for interview.

Mr A Richardson
Jackson Stops and Staff
37 South Street
PO19 1EL

11 Kirdford Road
West Sussex
BN18 9EE

29th April 2009
Dear Mr Richardson

RE: Position of Sales Negotiator in Arundel

Please find enclosed my CV. I am currently working full-time for Polopermits, near Petworth, West Sussex.

I have extensive local market knowledge having worked for Cluttons Residential Sales in their Arundel office for almost 3 years.

I am very interested in working for Jackson Stops and Staff for many reasons. Outlined below are just a few::

??? I admire the Jackson Stops and Staff company ethos
??? I would be proud to work for a company that delivers such an excellent service
??? I am looking for a job where I can really make a contribution to its success
??? I feel as though my personality and skills are ideally suited to Jackson Stops and Staff
??? I have my NAEA qualification
??? I strongly believe that I would suit Jackson Stops and Staff as an employee
??? I would love to work alongside a motivated team

I am thoroughly clear of the job specifications for a negotiator, and I believe that I have the skills, experience and personality that you are looking for .

Yours sincerely,

Victoria Godsall


Coe, Norman Learner English 2001 (editors Swan and Smith)Speakers of Spanish and Catalan chapter

Learning Teaching ??“ Jim Schrivener

Grammar for English Language Teachers, Martin Parrott (CUP)

Practical English Usage, Michael Swan (OUP)

Process Writing Ron White and Valerie Arndt (Longman)

Various websites.

Anything else was taken from lectures given by Brenda Pike and Fiona Cullum during October and November 2011.

This is all my own work:

Victoria Godsall 18th November 2011


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