Sybil’s Journey to Success

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He is currently staying n Collectors with some Polish friends. The rest of his family, his 3 brothers and 3 sisters are living in Harrington. Sybil has been a Painter and Decorator all his adult life and would like the opportunity to set up his own business. He has spent 1 year in Manchester working as a Painter and Decorator for a new hotel in the city. He enjoys going to the gym and fishing as well as learning English. During his time in the UK he has also enjoyed visiting different cities and has been to London, York, Liverpool, Blackball and Sheffield.

He can speak different languages; Basic English, Russian, Greek and his native language Polish. He started with Manchester Academy of English 1 month ago and is really enjoying the free evening lessons provided at the academy. Sybil is intrinsically motivated to learn English. He told me that he is very ambitious in achieving his learning goals. ‘Even where the original reason for taking up a language course, for example is extrinsic, the chances of success will be greatly enhanced if students come to love the learning process’ Jeremy Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching pig 98.

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Sybil told me that he prefers to learn English by speaking, writing, looking at pictures and working with the teacher but he does not like to watch the TV, films or read English books. I am inclined to think that Sybil is an active learner from this interview. This means that he engages in other activities as well as listening in the classroom. He takes part with discussions, reading and writing tasks etc. Upon interviewing Sybil, I found that he has a problem with his vowel sounds, the vowel in ‘happy’. ‘and’, ‘family’ and also ‘Manchester’ seem to be pronounced hence ‘heaps, ‘end’, ‘family’ ND ‘Manchester can be heard.

Sybil pronunciation of consonants as in the dental fricatives [the] in ‘brother’ and ‘that’ are mispronounced as in ‘braded and ‘diet’ along with the wrong vowel sound. The initial consonants [SSH] as in ‘show’ sounds as if it’s harder than the English pronunciation. This did not impede his communication skills however as I could understand exactly what he was telling me. Final consonants are pronounced wrongly also thus ‘and’ becomes ‘.NET’ etc. Sybil pronounced [r] whenever spelled as I asked him to read the email he had written to a friend out to me.

This was not necessarily a big problem as his speech was made clear. For instance he pronounced the r at the end of ‘Manchester, ‘Year’ and ‘Painter Decorator’ when in English this is not needed. However, when the ‘r’ is followed by a vowel sound in English it can be heard. I noticed that Sybil word stress is fairly fixed on the last syllable of some longer words such as ‘Harrington’, since in Polish word stress is fairly fixed on the penultimate syllable and the final syllable of words. In terms of lexis, Sybil gets the word ‘learn’ and ‘teach’ the wrong way round.

When I interviewed him he said “My friend learns me English” instead of “My friend teaches me English”. In Polish there is a word for “teach” (cozy©), but the word for “learn” (cozy© see) could be interpreted as ‘teach oneself. ” There are actually dialects of English where people do use “learn” like the example above, however this is not Standard English. Noticed that from Sybil writing and speaking he drops the auxiliary verb in sentences that require one such as “I working as painter, decorator’, ” waiting for you to come here” and “l hoping that you are okay”.

In Polish there are no auxiliary verbs but I think that the problem stems from contractions in English. It can be difficult to hear a native speaker say the auxiliary verb at all. A sentence with contraction can sound like “l am working, I’m working, I working”. Conversational skills are a strength with Sybil. He was very inquisitive during the session and although I asked a lot of questions with him, he asked some of me. Through Sybil grammar and conversational skills I found that he does not like to end question sentences with prepositions.

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Sybil’s Journey to Success. (2018, May 27). Retrieved from

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