o Anya's Success!

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

Case Study: Anya.

In my years as a teacher and in particular as a tutor, I have often been asked to work with children where English is not the first language; this was the case with Anya. Anya was a very able child, high achieving in all subjects but by age 10, she was beginning to struggle with English. There were a number of factors involved here. Firstly, many of the texts that she was being asked to study were based in British history and therefore, she did not have the knowledge or understanding to comprehend the historical context. The themes and values were alien to her and she did not have the older generation to talk to and discuss this with. She lived in an extended family who had moved to the UK in the 1970’s and although she was encouraged to read everyday, there was no one with the level of English needed to support her or to help her make sense of new words in her reading. She could speak English fluently but did not have the breadth of vocabulary to enable her to select alternative words with the same meaning and therefore her creative writing lacked flair and imagination; it was like looking a picture in monochrome without layers of colour and shading.

We worked extensively on building her vocabulary using a thesaurus and talking at length about the books she was reading. We discussed the authors choices of words and the effectiveness of these and spent time substituting new words to enhance the meaning of the text. She was challenged to create a word list each week and use these in her spoken and written language and to read more widely to further extend her vocabulary. Over time, she began to be excited about language and applied the same precision to crafting her sentences and ideas in written form as she did to working through a calculation in maths. The final outcome: she saw herself as a writer! Success!

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