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Questions from Helpline brought to you by Scanning Pens

Thursday 13 August 2020

Spanish coursework

Dear Helpline,

My daughter has been distressed since the school closures largely because of her Spanish GCSE coursework. Her Spanish teacher used to give her additional pronunciation tuition and my daughter is now struggling to pronounce new vocabulary that is given as homework through the virtual teaching platform. She has also always found using dictionaries challenging largely due to her issues with spelling. Is there a tool she can use to help with her challenges.

Dear Parent,

A pen scanner is a small portable device that is designed to support reading English, Spanish or French. Your daughter would pass the nib of the device over a word she needs to learn (or phrase) and it will read the vocabulary out loud. It also has Collins English and Oxford Spanish dictionaries built in so it will then read out loud the definitions of the vocabulary your daughter scans in. This would help her to pronounce new Spanish vocabulary as well as give instant access to word definitions and thus support her studying at home:

Challenges with virtual learning

Dear Helpline,

I have a fifteen-year old dyspraxic student who has consistently been a model student and who is predicted to achieve A’s in her GCSEs. However, since learning has been conducted through two virtual learning classrooms she is continually missing her homework deadlines and appears anxious and disorganised.

Dear Mr Trunchball,

It sounds like this learner’s usual strategies for planning and organising her studies need additional support. Working remotely involves a different set of skills from classroom learning due to the homework and additional materials being uploaded onto different sites and into different folders. This learner may need some help with understanding the new systems and with cross-referencing and organising her documents, folders and then plotting her deadlines into a colour-coded timeline or study plan. She may also require a printer so that she can work away from the screen.

Difficulty with online seminars

Dear Helpline,

I have finished the second year of my business degree. Due to the university closures, I will have to attend online seminars. My word-finding issues get worse when I’m under pressure and I find I can mispronounce some of the specialist academic terminologies. This impacts on my confidence and I find it difficult to make contributions within the virtual classroom.

Dear Student,

Careful planning and preparation is likely to support you with your pronunciation skills when taking part in online lectures and discussion groups. Read around the topics being discussed and identify any tricky vocabulary. Write these words down separating the syllables using coloured pens to flag up the parts of the words that you confuse; then practise saying these words out loud. If you still mispronounce any of the words, slow down and tap the syllables while slowly reading each word, keep repeating the words until you are more confident with your pronunciation. Have a go at putting the challenging vocabulary into sentences that could be used as responses in the discussion groups. You could even record yourself and listen to how you sound.

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