Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wu Qingxian on 4/19/13

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This recording is of my first session on April 19. I met with Wu Qingxian, a student in Shanghai, at 10pm (10am the next morning for him). We were supposed to meet at 8, but he arrived two hours later... just as I was about to close Skype and shut down my computer. Historically, I'm not much of a morning person so I sympathized with him. 

He spoke very little. It seemed mostly because of his uncertainty of the language, as he apologized numerous times for his poor English. Almost all of his utterances were one of two alternatives: a short, straightforward question, or a quick, direct answer to a question of mine. I tried to ask him some open-ended questions, but he had difficulty following, and I wasn't sure how else to elicit longer responses from him. I tried to elaborate in some of my answers, but that didn't help him feel any more comfortable. It made the session feel like a disjointed game of 20 questions.

It seemed like he had prepared certain sentences that he wanted to say ahead of time, which isn't necessarily conducive to natural conversation. L2 production is often lacking for learners of a foreign language, because they don't get much practice using the language in a practical setting. It was especially apparent here, when he sounded like he was reading sentences from a notebook. The only real solution is to use the language and make mistakes.

At 2:22 in part 1, there is a good example of what sounds like a prepared sample. It gives examples of some of his consistent errors throughout our session: pluralization, number agreement, and auxiliary omissions. "Chinese food have* eight major dish*" is comprehensible, but incorrect. His tendency not to pluralize is probably L1 interference, as Chinese does not directly pluralize words, but rather indicates numbers explicitly if necessary, and whether something is single or plural is largely based on context. His backwards pronunciation of the word "major" is also odd, but it isn't uncommon for pronunciation of words to be off if the word is unfamiliar and being read.

All in all, I felt that he had some good foundations that could be developed with regular practice. Unfortunately, after this session Qingxian never showed up to any other sessions, and didn't respond to emails or messages trying to contact him. He said that learning English was "important and interesting" to him, but he didn't seem to act on it.

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