The targeted learners are a group of secondary 5 students who are mostly repeaters. The group of students consists of 10 students. They are currently going to a private secondary school with mixed Chinese and English as the languages of instruction. The language ability of the students varied as they came from different backgrounds. For instance, some of them did not obtain any point in the HKCEE English language where some achieved Level 1 or 2. There are two English teachers for this class and I am responsible for teaching writing and there are three meetings per week conducted by me. To facilitate this action research, the lessons were videotaped. A preliminary assessment had been conducted before launching this research in the form of writing practice so that I could have a clearer picture about the language command of the students in order to design the package. As shown in their pieces of work as shown in the appendix, it can be seen that some of the student could only simply pack ideas together without using suitable connectives or even proper tenses. However, some of them showed a relatively better level of language command. A few of the students who were interviewed expressed that they had difficulties in all aspects of language use and it is believed that it could be attributed to a number of reasons.
According to Arnold (1991, p30), failure to develop language abilities can be explained by psychodynamic theory as the child has had insufficient experiences of himself as a successful communicator and insufficient experiences with a range of discourses and this package is to try to find a suitable cutting-in point to help the students in the right way and on the right track.
Part Two: Identification of the specific learning needs and problems to be addressed
As stated in the previous section that before carrying out this action research, I conducted a preliminary assessment so that their special learning needs and problems could be identified. This assessment took the form of writing on a topic called 'Eating at home is better than eating in restaurants'. During the brainstorming session, the students demonstrated the ability to contribute their ideas though not fluently, those stronger ones still showed an ability to generate ideas. By referring to the pieces of work as attached in the appendix, it can be found that they just packed those chunks of ideas together and they thought they had completed their work. For those weaker ones, they simply copied the phrases they could see on the blackboard.
In view of this, I would state that the specific learning need to be addressed should be the use of sequence markers. Among all other needs, it is believed that it could be sorted out easier than other kinds of problems within a shorter period of time as the number of contact hours is limited. On the other hand, the correct use of sequence markers could help them link different points together. Having said that, it does not imply that this particular need could be completely addressed but it could be addressed more easily than other problems, for instance, the use of correct tenses (as it may involve very abstract concepts) or how to expand ideas (as it is too broad and requires longer time to observe the outcome of the package). Another problem to be addressed was to reinforce what I had taught them and to rain their short term memory to remember those sequence markers in order to be able to recall them whenever necessary. However, this package is about how to teach so students remember and it involves the interplay of different elements such as reach, reflect, recode, rehearse, etc (Arnold, 1991) which will be discussed in the sections to come.