Negotiating grammatical choices: Academic language learning by secondary ESL students
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Type of Work32 pages
journal articles postprints
Citation of Original PublicationShin, Sarah J.; Negotiating grammatical choices: Academic language learning by secondary ESL students; System 37(3), pages 391-402(2009); https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0346251X09000554
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This paper reports on a part of a year-long investigation into high school ESL students’ academic language development. Eight participants were pulled out of their intermediate ESL class for weekly 50-minute sessions with the author for a year. While the main focus of the sessions was reading news magazine articles for meaning, the author purposely drew students’ attention to potentially difficult grammatical forms. Four sessions were on sentence-combining strategies in which the participants practiced rewriting sentences and discussed their justifications for their grammatical and rhetorical choices. Multiple solutions were encouraged and the participants negotiated meaning derived from the various ways of rewriting the sentences. These sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed, and each participant’s written responses were analyzed for grammatical accuracy, clarity, and completeness in meaning, and compared with his/her oral justification. The stronger students in the group exhibited greater willingness to experiment with different ways of rewriting sentences and had an “ear” for what academic English sounded like. In contrast, the weaker students stumbled on individual words and had considerable difficulty when presented with multiple sentences. This paper discusses the critical role of the teacher in drawing students’ attention to form within a meaning-driven, interactive discussion of academic English.
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