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Last updated 26 October 2012 15:28 by NZTecAdmin

Mariam arrived in New Zealand from Africa about 12 years ago. She had never been to school. When Mariam married, she stayed at home, taking care of her family. When war broke out, they left everything they owned behind.

Now that she has settled her family here, Mariam is learning English, and to read and write. At first, she found it very difficult. It was hard to hold a pencil because pencils are so thin. It was hard to control the pen strokes to make letters. She found it difficult to know where to place her pen on the paper, and found it easier to begin some letters, like f and e, from the bottom up.

It took a long time to begin to write. After two years in her part-time ESOL-literacy class, Mariam can write important things like her name and address, and the names of her children. What is more, she says, “I can write on the line.”

Teaching suggestions for Mariam

Provide many opportunities for Mariam to practise writing letters. For example:

  • give her paper or exercise books with wide lines, reducing to smaller lines as she becomes more proficient
  • mark the start and end places for each new word or sentence
  • provide her with plenty of model texts and templates to copy from
  • practise making letters in the air, and/or
  • use different media for practising making letters, such as a large pencil, a whiteboard, felt tip pens on large paper, the computer, sand, paints or other art materials.

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