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Writing Sample

Oral Interview

Problem Scenario

Solution Questions

Linguistic background:
-Describe the nature of formal schooling of the child in the home country
Nickolas attended a private upscale school in Athens where he was an excellent student, with little or no problems academically or behaviorally. Nikolas consistently scores in the upper 90 percentile on all Greek nationwide standardized testing. He excels in math and science and above average in this language arts classes although there is a marked difference in his abilities in the two areas.
-What type of literacy education did he/she have.
Nikolas has had an excellent literacy education, but in Greek only. His school is ranked in the top 5 schools in all of Europe. The school has been recognized for their new and innovative teaching styles and incorporating literacy into all other subjects including math and science. He has not received any formal academic English instruction in the school, but his parents have ensured he has been exposed to the language.
-What is the priority given literacy / literacy development in the home (are there books at home, do the parents read with the child, are the parents literate themselves, etc?)
In Nikolas’ home literacy is stressed as a necessity for their children, Nikolas’ parents have provided many books and spend numerous hours reading to the children and have done so even before they were in school. Nikolas’ father has his doctorate in education and recognizes the value of literacy. Both of Nikolas’ parents are not only literate but well versed in the Greek language.
-Describe the linguistic development of the 1st language of the child prior to coming to the United States
Nikolas is fluent in Greek, he reads at a 5th grade reading level and at many times in class is frequently bored even though it is an “advanced” class. Nikolas has written many stories and poems and understands many abstract concepts of language and how to manipulate words to be appropriate in many situations. Nikolas enjoys word games as well as puzzles that deal with words and reading.
-Describe the nature of English language learning the child had prior to coming to the United States
Nikolas had learned some English with the help of his father and sisters in the evenings as they prepared to come to America. Nikolas can hold short conversations and understands simple phrases and questions when asked slowly. If spoken to in English and the speech come too rapidly Nikolas becomes confused and easily gives up. He will nod and smile most times hoping this satisfies whoever is talking to him. His father has read him several baby and children’s books in English and Nikolas understands them very well. When it comes to speaking, however he is very timid and will only speak one word English answers when spoken to by his father.




2 months

4 months

6 months











L1  above average, rich descriptive vocabulary in both speaking and writing


L2  approxi-mately 25 words, spoken only.  His sight words are limited to logo reinforced words (MacDonalds, Stop etc.)

L1 stable, both speaking and writing;  student is writing email to family an friends in Greek


L2 growing quickly, 150 words verbally understood, and beginning to read some sight words.

L1 stable, has some Greek friends he speaks Greek with, and uses both Greek and English with family.  Continues to email in Greek


L2 continuing to grow with understanding of more words than he is yet using, though he is also growing in his usage.  He is adding sight words daily and reading beginning readers.

L1 stable. Continues to use Greek and English with family and to email in Greek, though less often as he is now more comfortable with American friends.  Still read Greek books for pleasure.


L2 growing and using more words.  Sometimes answers parents Greek questions in English when with friends.  Reading is improving to first grade level.

Type and length of sentences

L1  Full rich sentence structure, above average grade level.

L2 Limited fragments

“Hello” “Thank you” “Please”, “Bathroom”


L1  Continues above average


L2 Short basic sentences

“Take book?”

“Go bathroom please?”

“Here, you play.”

“Your turn.”

L1  No loss in length and complexity

L2 Longer basic sentences

“Let’s play soccer!”  “Can I have some?”  “Whose turn?”

“We’re going to win!”

L1  No loss in length and complexity

L2 Some adjectives, still basic

“Can I have a green one?”

“I want your team.”  “You get new one?”

Stages of:

 1    negation



 2   questions


 3   past tense


1“No want.”





No usage observed


2“I don’t want book.”


“Take book?”


Event order used

“School?  I get book.” 


“Why you don’t go?”


" Why you don’t go?”


Uses event order and some “ed”

“We walked” 


“You will not win!”


“Why you lose always?”

Overuse of “ed”

“We wined!”

“I runned fast!”



Speaks very quietly with strong accent


Speaks up when asked, struggles to imitate, but has a very strong accent.  Must be asked to repeat often.


Understandable, but strongly accented. Struggles with beginning word sounds.  Still must repeat to be understood sometimes.


Understandable, though with an accent.  Improving beginning word sounds, but unable to start words with an “H” Rarely needs to repeat.

cultural/pragmatic appropriateness

Nothing inappropriate, but very shy, stays near his mother, or teacher when children first approach.  Will nod or smile despite not understanding when spoken to.


Will play when invited by a child or encouraged by teacher.  Will ‘act silly’ in play for a laugh.

Will ‘act silly’ when not understanding in a group of children at play, getting a laugh.  Speaks English at school, but both English and Greek with siblings and Greek friend at home.


Follows instructions, copying actions of other students when he doesn’t understand. Beginning to initiate playing with others.  Enjoys team games and is encouraging, often giving teammates an affectionate pat on the back.


Engaging in social situations wells.  Speaks in English, but will speak in Greek when asked to by classmates.  Has taught the friends he plays with a few Greek phrases which the team uses intermixed with English.


L1 Excellent BICS and CALP, above average

L2 BICS-few phrases

CALP-knows alphabet

L1 BICS and CALP remain above average

L2BICS-gaining phrases, uses with children

CALP-working on literacy and sight words

L1 BICS and CALP remain above average



CALP-learning sight words quickly, reading beginning readers


L1 BICS and CALP remain above average

L2BICS-continuing to improve, good with both children and teachers.

CALP-reading 1st grade books

prescriptive aspects of English: grammar, punctuation

No prescriptive aspects developed

Marks punctuation when copying, but not yet writing in English

Reads punctuation correctly, and uses correctly.  Grammatical errors with questions, negation and tense.

Reads and uses punctuation correctly.  Continues to have question, negation and tense errors, but improving.


Writing Analysis

“I like soccer. I am good! I run. I run fast. I kik. I kik ball! I score! Wen the gam!”

Nikolas has an excellent understanding of punctuation. His spelling indicates his emerging attempts to sound out words in English, rather than only using sight words. He is keeping his sentences very short and simple in an attempt to use what he knows and is not writing at the level his is now speaking. However, he is consistently improving and will probably continue to develop more vocabulary and increasingly complex sentence structure as he progresses, just as he is doing with his spoken English.

Reading Analysis

Nikolas is progressing well with sight words and beginning readers. He tends to look at the sentence and try to figure it out before speaking, rather than reading one word at a time. This is a reflection of his advanced reading skill in Greek. He struggles with pronunciation and sounding out words in English, but is learning sight words very quickly. He often picks up clues from the pictures and inserts incorrect words as he tries to make sense of a passage from context clues.
Nikolas is reading below his class in English, but still has strong reading skills in Greek. His school has a “DEAR—Drop Everything And Read” program for 15 minutes each day. His teacher is allowing him to read in Greek during DEAR to help him continue his love of reading. However, he is reading English the rest of the day, and is also working with his parents each evening to improve his CALP.

General Observations

There are no Greek speaking students in Nikolas’s class. He does have friends who speak Greek in his neighborhood, and uses both Greek and English with them. At home he usually speaks Greek, though his parents speak English with him in helping him with homework and reading each evening. When out in public, his parents mix Greek and English and encourage English usage. Nikolas is beginning to intermix Greek and English himself when he is with his parents and English speaking friends.

Because of the teacher’s support of Nikolas and his Greek knowledge, the other students value Nikolas’s first language skill. In particular the friends he plays soccer and other games with have wanted him to teach them some Greek phrases. He has quickly gone from shy to a popular playmate and leader on the sports field.


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