Case Study: Manuel Rodriguez Case

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[. . .] In general, he is very isolated and withdrawn, giving only brief answers to questions, although he did indicate that he feels 'stupid' and 'retarded' because of his inability to understand what was happening in class or his general environment. Manuel sits alone in the back of the room and tries not be noticed for fear that the other students will laugh at his accent or his inability to answer questions. In the classroom he often appears to be sleeping or disinterested, and his communication with the teacher and other students is minimal or nonexistent. He is indifferent to and disinterested in what is happening in the classroom, and in the general school environment. Manuel was unenthusiastic about using English and would not speak at all unless asked simple, direct questions. He regularly lapsed back into Portuguese or a red, I detected that Manuel would habitually lapse back to Spanish or practice an assortment of Spanish and Portuguese. It often seemed to me that he would struggle as he attempted to recollect English grammar and vocabulary, and then finally give answers in Portuguese without being aware of it. In the classroom, the teacher frequently prompted him to use English, but he often became discouraged and started mumbling to himself in Portuguese.

In interviewing his teacher, she also confirmed that Manuel had a very limited understanding of written and spoken English and was unable to communicate with her above the upper-beginner level. He does not speak spontaneously at all, never volunteers to answer questions, and when questioned directly hardly responds with more than "yes" or "now" and the most basic grammar and vocabulary. In this class, he is receiving failing grades in every subject that involves language use, although his grades in mathematics are excellent. In most other subjects, though, he is unable to learn or recollect at the same level as is peers or participate in school activities. Just the opposite, he only appears to be going through the motions and trying to avoid being called upon by the teacher or embarrassed because of his inability to communicate in English. She observed that Manuel often had an angry facial expression when he was unable to give answers in English, although he would struggle to answer and then finally give up and say "forget about it." His body language indicated boredom, frustration and indifference, since he normally just sat slumped in his chair or with his head completely down on the table, to avoid being called on at all. He never smiled, spoke as little as possible, and did not attempt to do any work unless the teacher was standing directly over him. At times, he even seemed to take pleasure in ignoring her, but mostly he just sat alone with a frown on his face. I concluded that his inability to read, write or comprehend what was happening around him, combined with the absence of scaffolding and appealing material had caused him to stop participating in this class almost completely.

Interview Conclusions: Student Assets and Challenges

After completing the interviews with his family and teacher, my conclusion is that Manuel is very frustrated by his inability to use English for academic and social purposes beyond the upper beginner/low intermediate level, which has also caused strains and tensions within the family -- especially with his very demanding and high-achieving father. His teacher and parents are very concerned about his inability to adjust to his new situation in the U.S. Or to achieve passing grades in most subjects. Manuel has a fair grasp of English in the present tense, but cannot use the past tense and struggles to conjugate verbs in his head. His vocabulary and fluency are also elementary, and his finds this even more disturbing than his basic grammar. This is what sort of gets him a little discouraged most of all. He can read at grade level, but only by guessing at the meaning of words from their connotation and context clues, although he can easily recapitulate what he read in Portuguese. His writing skills are also elementary, and he has great difficulty with prepositions, imperatives and plurals, and he needs more work on sentence structure, conjugation of verbs and syntax, preferable by using drill and repetition. [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Manuel Rodriguez Case.  (2012, March 26).  Retrieved August 23, 2019, from

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"Manuel Rodriguez Case."  26 March 2012.  Web.  23 August 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Manuel Rodriguez Case."  March 26, 2012.  Accessed August 23, 2019.