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This work is an analysis of Abdul’s assignment on the importance of the River Nile to the Ancient Egyptians. Abdul is a male student who started learning English in pre-school. His family migrated into Egypt from Somalia when he was three years old. He has been in the same school since kindergarten but has received literacy support for only two years. Their teacher gave them a task to “Reconstruct a day in the life of an Ancient Egyptian, which centred on the Nile River”. The class had two weeks to research, write, and submit their drafts to their teacher. This work analyses Abdul’s task in terms of the satisfaction of the demands of literacy and the NSW Board of Studies history curriculum.
Analysis of Abdul’s Work
Abdul demonstrates some elementary knowledge of the history of Ancient Egyptians. He talks about the rich and fertile soil, flooding, crocodiles and the Egyptian sun god, Ra. He demonstrates awareness of the uses of River Nile by stating that they used the Nile for food production, worship and leisure. This assertion is true because some communities in Ancient Egypt worshipped River Nile apart from using its water for irrigation and leisure activities such as swimming (Feez, 2012).
Abdul also demonstrates knowledge of the seasons in ancient Egypt. He writes, “The Egyptians would harvest their crops in March, and it would grow crops from October to March because from July until October there would be a flood…” However, he does not demonstrate detailed knowledge of the economic activities that the Egyptians practised. He does not talk about the type of crops or fish the Egyptians harvested. He does not even talk about the methods of flood prevention.
The instructor expected Abdul to recount the activities in an Ancient Egyptian’s day. However, he makes his work look like an informal letter. His work would achieve better results if he used the structure of a personal journal. The journal would have helped him recount every activity that the Egyptian did during the day. Therefore, his draft does not effectively achieve its social function because of the wrong structure.
A journal is more formal and communicates better than the friendly letter Abdul uses. Besides, Abdul’s paragraphs lack cohesion. They lack proper transitional phrases to help him move smoothly between paragraphs (Korner, Mclnnes & Rose, 2007). For example, he begins the fourth paragraph with the words, “I remember once…” He does not link them to the third paragraph.
Abdul’s draft is also full of grammatical mistakes. He misuses prepositions, pronouns, punctuation marks and clauses. When referring to the Egyptians, he says, “It would grow crops…” He uses the preposition “it” instead of “they”. He also omits commas when separating the main clauses and subordinate clauses. For example, he says, “I remember once that when we were swimming, there was a herd of crocodiles…” He should have put a comma between “swimming” and “there”.
He also misuses the preposition “until” when he says, “July until…” The preposition “to” could have been more appropriate in this context compared to “until”. He also has problems with spelling and capitalization. Instead of the word “use”, he says, “youse”. Instead of “harvest”, he says, “hardest”. The second misspelt word shows that he did not proofread his work. Worse still, he does not know that all proper nouns must start with capital letters. He writes, “river Nile” instead of “River Nile” (Korner, Mclnnes & Rose, 2007).
Identification of Abdul’s Literacy Demands
The syllabus requires learners to use historical terms that refer to physical features, roles of key groups, significant beliefs, values and practices. It also expects them to describe the role of significant people and contact groups when talking about ancient Egypt (Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority, 2012). However, Abdul only mentions a few beliefs and economic activities. His knowledge of the history of Ancient Egypt is shallow. He does not explain the information he talks about. Therefore, he needs to learn how to use more terms that relate to ancient Egypt.
The structure of his work is also wrong. It is too casual for an academic paper. Besides, it lacks cohesion between paragraphs. His language mastery is equally very poor. The instructor needs to teach him the best structure for recounting events that occur in a single day. In this case, a journal could have worked better than a letter. He also needs to learn that in academic writing, each paragraph carries a single idea, which the writer develops to the fullest.
Literacy Teaching Strategies for Abdul
The best teaching strategies for Abdul are modelling, deconstruction, joint construction and scaffolding. Almost all these methods involve the teacher’s guide to the students (Department of Education and Training, 2012). The teacher shows the students what to do, and they follow the teacher’s procedure in their assignments.
In modelling, the teacher performs a task as the learner observes. Learners then imitate the teacher in their tasks. Therefore, Abdul’s teacher should design an example of the task he expects Abdul to perform before letting him do it. He should develop a draft that simulates what Abdul should do. It should demonstrate the correct structure, details, cohesion and level of language.
The teacher can also combine joint deconstruction, joint construction and scaffolding in helping Abdul (Freebody, 2011). Joint deconstruction involves breaking down the text into individual paragraphs. This activity helps learners to identify the purpose of each paragraph (Cornish and Garner, 2009). In joint construction, the teacher writes while the students participate in organizing information into paragraphs and arranging them logically. Scaffolding entails an interaction between the learner and the instructor. The instructor must know the learner’s weaknesses before giving him support.
Australian Curriculum Assessment Reporting Authority. (2012). General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Web.
Cornish, L., & Garner, J. (2009). Promoting student learning. Pearson Education Australia.
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Department of Education and Training. (2012). Teaching and learning: Literacy. Web.
Feez, S. (2012). Designing a literacy teaching sequence in EDEE400 literacies in context. Topic Lectures notes. University of New England.
Freebody, P. (2011). Literacy across the school curriculum. Web.
Korner, H., Mclnnes, D & Rose, D. (2007). Texts and language science. Sury Hills, NSW: NSW Adult Migrant Education Service.