It’s fall again and that means it’s time to talk about progress reports. Whether you are talking about LINC learners’ progress reports, or the progress reports their children bring home from school, reports often contain a grade and some coinciding comments. However, in my experience, I find most of my students only look at the grades and don’t even read the comments. This is a shame because the comments can add helpful information, for both parents who may be learning English in a LINC program and their children. In my CLB Level 4+ class, I have found a lot of success by focusing on the adverbs of frequency (and a few other set phrases) that often appear in these reports.
As an activity for my class, we use the following samples of report card comments for elementary students. We look at the topics “Collaboration, Independent Work, Responsibility, Self Regulation, Initiative and Organization”
I select some set phrases and adverbs of frequency to highlight. Then, I ask the students to put them in the correct box.
|Always, Often, Consistently, has shown, sometimes||Often, rarely, is encouraged to, should, needs to, sometimes, would benefit from|
I point out that sometimes a phrase can be used for both. Learners read a sample and check their answers.
Once learners understand how these words/phrases are used, they are given 2 samples – one with a strong student and one with a student who needs improvement. They identify which is which. Then they are given 2 more that are much closer in abilities. They have to identify which one is slightly stronger based on the comments.
Here’s an example:
|Aidan continues to use his agenda on a daily basis and understands the importance of keeping his academic tasks organized. He is encouraged to improve his organization and variety of research sources used for academic assignments. He always completes quality assigned activities during the allotted class time. Aidan has a very good understanding of subjects because he is attentive and thinks about his subjects independently.||Damian is encouraged to improve his involvement when attempting to solve problems with other students in a group. He needs to continue to push himself more academically to achieve at his capacity, and take more initiative in his learning. In addition, he often demonstrates limited initiative when engaging in familiar learning tasks. He needs to continue to work on his willingness to seek out necessary teacher assistance so that he better understands the concepts under study.|
Finally, we have a bit of fun with polite language. We look at sentences that highlight a students’ shortcomings and say it in a less polite way:
|More polite||Less polite|
|“He would benefit from assuming more responsibility for his behaviour and acting appropriately during class time”||“He behaves badly in class”|
Learners enjoy this, and it helps them to work through the polite language to see the real issue. Finally, using the set phrases, we practice discussing shortcomings in a polite way. This segues nicely into workplace language.
|Less polite||More polite|
|She never hands in her work on time.||She is encouraged to……|
What do you think? Have you taught report card language in your classes? How did you address the topic?
Diane Ramanathan has been a LINC Home Study instructor with The Centre for Education and Training since Feb 2014. She is also a part-time professor for the TESL program at Algonquin College.