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Text analysis of the summary of “The ghosts at Corgarff castle”
“The (G)ghosts at Corga(r)ff (C)castle
The story is about a boy who has a mom, and she works at a castle, and the boy has two friends named Theo and Alistair. The boy and his friends was (were) allowed to go to the castle and be (stay) there at the (omit) night. When the boy came to the castle(,) he sees (saw) his friends standing and waiting for him. The boy takes (took) the key he has (had) and pull (inserted) it in the big door to the castle. He opens (opened) it and Alistair is (was) the first that (to) goes in. Alistair talks (talked) about the ghosts and then the boy tells (told) the story about the ghosts to what that happened. Alistair was going around and the boy thinks (thought) that Alistair wants (wanted) to scare them but then the boy and Theo hears (heard) Alistair screaming. Theo and the boy runs (ran) at (in) the direction they heard the screaming from, and it’s hard to see, because it’s dark and they’re(their) light is going up and down as they run. When they came to Alistair they bumps (bumped) into him and falls (fell). When they get up they can see that Alistair is (was) scared and he tells (told) them that he saw real ghosts in the barrack room. Theo, Alistair and the boy goes (went) down to the barrack room to see whats (what’s or what was) down there. (W)when they got down they can see (saw) some white ghosts walking next to them. One of them is (was) a little ghost boy that takes (took) the boy’s hand and he pulls (pulled) it back. Then the mother comes (came) and she tells (told) them that she want (wanted) them to find a key and then (so) the ghosts can be free. “Please” (lineshift) she says. The boys goes (went back) up again to find the key. They know (knew) where the key is, and when they take (took) it, they are (were) going down again to the ghosts (again). They open (opened) the door and the ghosts goes (flew/drifted) out and disappears (disappeared). The woman that had the little ghost boy passes (passed) and when she does that she says (said) “thanks” (indirect speech).”
The student has been asked to write a summary of the text The ghosts at Corgarff castle, which he/she have worked with and read 2-3 times previously. Thus the student ought to be familiar with both the text’s content, topic and glossary, as the text is a part of a longer teaching sequence about horror- and ghost stories. Due to the amount of times that the students have read this text, it cannot be ruled out, that the student might be bored with the text or topic by now. The student has also received teaching in writing summaries, thus should be considered capable of this assignment.
The student writes a summary which is written according to the expectations of a summary; with a clear beginning/introduction to the story, a middle/action and the ending. The actual writing is very action-based, it has a lot of different verbs with many cases of tense-shifting mid-sentence. The students remembers to include key points of the text, which signalised that he/she has a good understanding of the text. In regards to expression of knowledge, the student is, therefore, good. Since this is a summary, it is not a relevant genre to consider the student’s ability to express attitudes, feelings, emotions or knowledge of English culture.
3.1 Text level: Grammar across sentences
3.1.1 Is there an interesting and appropriate headline?
The headline used by the student is relevant to the content and context, but he/she could have added “Summary of” in front of it. There is an “r” missing in Corgarff.
3.1.2 What is the communicative situation and is the learner conscious about it?
The student succeeds in conveying the key points of the text, thus is conscious about the receiver, considering it should be somebody who hasn’t read the text. Additionally, the student seems to have knowledge of writing a summary, as the structure and content is appropriate to this genre.
3.1.3 Is the level of style appropriate regarding the communicative situation?
The level of style is appropriate regarding the communicative situation, but there could have been more focus on the introduction e.g., where does this story take place, what castle, etc.
3.1.4 Coherence and cohesion
188.8.131.52 Text level
The text is coherent throughout. There is an introduction, the middle (body) and ending as expected of a summary. Except for minor details, the student is explicit in his/her writing, and it does not cause too many difficulties for the reader. The student uses two general axes of orientation, as he switches between present and past tense. The introduction to the summary is appropriately written in present, but when writing the body (middle) he/she changes between past and present tense, which can seem confusing, thus might be a sign of simplification.
184.108.40.206. Paragraph level
There is no clear division of paragraphs whatsoever, but you can argue due to the text’s short form and the nature of it, that it doesn’t really matter.
220.127.116.11 Sentence level
The student uses both coordinating conjunctions (and, but) and subordinating (as, when, that), the most common conjunctions used are 'and' and 'when', though when is mostly used at the beginning of a sentence, where an alternative word would be more appropriate, but it still creates some degree of cohesion. The student clearly utilizes the articles (a, and the) without problems. The student uses pronouns, yet with very limited variation (mostly he and his), where he e.g., could have used who’s or whom.
3.2 Grammar at sentence level
3.2.1 Sentence structure
The sentence structure is very simple, but there are signs that he/she attempts to vary it, however not sufficiently. The sentence structure fits the communicative situation of a summary, despite the tense-shifting. The sentences always start in the same way, with the subject first e.g. “the boy”, “his mom”, etc.
3.2.2 Group structure
There are an unnecessary amount of commas. 'Citation' is used once, but it was used wrongly (because the text was indirect speech).
3.3 Grammar below sentence level
3.3.1 Vocabulary and idioms
The student has found appropriate glossary from the text, which he/she uses in the summary, such as “barrack room”. The student might have consulted a dictionary, but it does not seem like he/she is using any words that he/she does not understand. The student uses very few prefixes (e.g. disappears), but are using suffixes (e.g. waiting, and going) correctly when relevant. In conclusion, the student’s vocabulary is simple yet sufficient.
In general, the student’s spelling ability is great. There aren’t many mistakes. There is one case of when the student has forgotten to start a sentence with a capital letter, though this might just be an oversight/typo. There is spelling errors in regards to homophones, words that look or sound almost identical, or silent letters. Depending on the words he/she uses, it isn’t clear whether he/she commits to either British- or American English, as there are no examples of words that the two English versions spell differently e.g. “color” (US) vs “colour” (UK).
4.0 Interpretation of the analysis
The learner is good at using vocabulary from the original text and has almost no spelling mistakes. He tries to use past tense in a few places, so he tries to challenge himself, which is good. The learner has a solid understanding of how to use conjunctions. The text is chronological and has most of the characteristics of a summary.
In terms of hypotheses, there are a few cases of interlingual transfer from the student’s L1. At line 5 fx., the student writes: “The boy takes the key he has and pulls it in the big door[...]”. Assuming he meant to write puts, this could be a case of direct translation of the Danish phrasing “(...)putter nøglen i døren”.
Regarding intralingual hypotheses, there are examples of both simplification and generalization. Despite mostly being able to utilize the past tense, the student seems to simplify by preferring to write in the present tense, most likely to avoid potential mistakes.
The student also generalizes when adding s to the end of a verb e.g. they falls or they bumps, as he most likely has been taught is the case for present tense verbs(however, this is only the case when the preceding pronoun is in singular form).
5.0 Advice, help, and feedback
We want to help the learner be more consistent in using the correct tense axes as well as his interlanguage hypothesis, changing it from sentence structure and word use, directly translated from Danish into a fluent English sentence structure and vocabulary.