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I am not concentrated

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Another week for some self-reflection. Had a private student this week – a pharmacist who works for a fairly big chemical company. He was deeply fed up with his seeming lack of ability to understand a spoken text. The reason became clear to me after about five minutes. This man was unable to concentrate for more than 30 seconds. How is that possible? I’d ask him a question: eg . “When did you transfer to your new company?” 8 words. He’d look at me – deeply perplexed – and then say, “Sorry. Could you repeat?” He had clearly heard me but he hadn’t listened. And that was the story for the rest of the week. So adding to the observation of last week, this chap was clearly able to comprehend that someone was speaking in English to him and he was able to assess that he was being asked aquestion, but he had no idea how to answer, or what the question was even. He told me that he heard and understood “When did you….?” but after that he hadn’t really heard the rest of the question. I mean that is just bizarre. I also tried to drill some collocations like, “an agreement is less likely under these circumstances”. So I asked questions like, “What is unlikely?” , “Under these circumstances, what is unlikely?”, “Is an agreement less likely or more likely?” Nightmare. He could not repeat, answer, form or even remotely guess at the words, the order of the words or make any sense of it at all – even though he was perfectly capable of understanding the initial sentence – he in fact created the initial sentence. A very weird and totally new experience for me. Anyway, I eventually gave up on trying to help him memorise even four words in as row – which he was trying to do in order to answer any question. We listened to hundreds of News clips, audio clips, interviews, graded and ungraded material until it finally got home today I hope that he does NOT have to understand every single word in order to make sense of a spoken text and his lack of vocabulary is imagined because for every text he summarised, he had a wealth of synonyms for the actual spoken words. Sent him away to his weekend in Normandy happy – I hope.

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