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Oral Interview

Problem Scenario

Solution Questions



3 months

1 yr












At three years old she only knew three words in L2 (hi, bye and mom). However she was progressing normally in L1. She knew a variety of words and phrases and could communicate well in her native language. 


Still very limited in L2. Knew about twenty English words. She had a difficult time making sentences.

In L1 she was still progressing steadily. She is on level for her age.


Uses very basic English sentences and continues to gain competence in native language.

Speaks native language fluently and reads well in native language. Her parents read to her often and have helped her tremendously with L1. Speaks broken English. She is able to read a limited number of words in English.

The school that she is in uses the Maintenance program (strong form). The language in the classroom is bilingual with emphasis on L1. She is struggling with the differences in regards to phonics and sentence structure.

Type and length of sentences


In L1 she is able to communicate in short sentences. In L2 she is unable to answer open-ended questions. She needs guidance. She can answer yes/no questions and is able to greet people by saying “hello” and she can also say “goodbye”.

In L2 she uses very basic, Simple sentences (3-5 words). They are often grammatically incorrect.  Example: “Me go bathroom”.

Me pet cat”. Etc.  In L1 she is still on level (progressing normally).

In “L1 she uses simple and compound sentences. Examples:

“Me like cat, and me like dog”. “Me go bye bye”. She is still unable to read fluently and comprehend sentences in English, although comprehension has improved somewhat.

Stages of:

·         negation

·         questions

·         past tense




·         Negation used improperly

·         Questions are one to two words

·         No use of past tense verbs; everything is present tense(i.e. I go instead of I went)

Provide example of negation and question. Which stage is she at?

·         Negation used improperly

·         Questions are formatted correctly but vocabulary is often incorrect.

·         Improving but not proficient. Uses ed ending on all words (i.e. runned)

Which stage of negation and question?





Problems with which sounds?


Improving in which sounds?

cultural/pragmatic appropriateness



Takes statements literally

Beginning to understand pragmatics.



How about L1?

Very limited BICS, no CALP

Limited BICS, no CALP

Shows improvement with BICS, very limited with CALP.

How about L1? Examples of CALP in L2?

prescriptive aspects of English: grammar, punctuation



Grammar is incorrect, unaware of punctuation

Grammar is improving, is aware of question marks and exclamation points. Little knowledge of verb forms and noun declensions.

Provide example of grammar improving.


Rosamaria is discouraged in learning to speak English because she feels as though she doesn’t get to practice enough. At school she feels nervous and intimidated. She is also embarrassed because many of the other students tease her about her accent. Her mother tries to help her at home but it is just as difficult for her because she is not fluent in the English language either. Her father has learned a great deal but is rarely home to help her with her studies. He is busy trying to further his education and make ends meet financially. Therefore, Spanish is the primary language spoken in her home.
It has been very difficult for Rosa to make friends in the neighborhood. She loves to play basketball but no one will play with her. The other children are always whispering and laughing, but Rosa knows what they’re saying. She feels the sting each time they look her way. This makes her feel very different and she doesn’t understand what’s wrong with her and why no one likes her. She just wants to be like the other children.

This feeling of rejection and alienation is then carried to school with her. She is struggling with so many different feelings and she doesn’t know how to deal with them. She loves her family but resents her parents for taking her away from her home in Honduras. She also resents them for not teaching her this new language before moving. She only knew a handful of words upon her arrival to the United States. She could say “hello”, “goodbye”, and “bathroom”, and could understand some of the words that are similar to those in her native language. Her father assured her that it would be okay and that she would catch on quickly but now she’s not so sure.

Rosa is an intelligent girl but she struggles with the material in school because she doesn’t always understand the instructions given by her teacher. She does benefit from ESOL, but only sees her teacher, Mrs. Rios, for one hour each day. She wants to share things with her classmates and her other teacher, Mrs. Gray, but every one is always saying, “what?” or “I don’t understand”, so instead she doesn’t talk at all. She doesn’t feel like a part of the group. She is missing out on the relationships that many other children get to experience at school. She never felt so lonely in a room with so many other people. There is one comfort in her class. Someone like her; with brown skin and black hair and an accent that keeps them from saying certain words like the other children. He is fluent in Spanish as well but sits on the opposite side of the room. She watches the other children interact and listens closely to the conversations that they have; all the time practicing in her mind so that soon, she too can talk about a movie she saw the night before or a trip she took to the zoo with her family.

As a little girl, ever since she can remember, her parents read to her each night before she went to bed. They are both literate in their native language and very well educated. They want the same for their daughter so they encourage her to practice often. This is difficult though, due to the fact that they are unable to spend the time they would like working with and reading to her like they used to. Reading is not enjoyable to her because she doesn’t understand what she is reading. She only sees words. Sometimes the pictures help but she knows that she won’t be able to rely on them much longer. She has already seen the books that she will be expected to read in the next few years. She is currently below level and needs to continue to practice on her pronunciation and fluency.

Rosa prefers to give oral presentations instead of writing but dreads either one. In her writing she often misspells words and makes numerous grammatical errors. Her teacher affirms that her topics are on target but she needs to work on her language skills. She knows that her writing is different from her classmates and she tries to use bigger words like they do, but no one understands what she is trying to say. She always has to retell her stories.

Rosa has made considerable improvements in her English acquisition over the years but has a long way to go before she is considered proficient. She has definitely improved more in conversational competence than in academic competence, but doesn’t feel comfortable with either one.


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