Error Analysis On Written Essays In Selected Junior Secondary Schools

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Error Analysis On Written Essays In Selected Junior Secondary Schools

Chapter One


Background to the Study

English language is the first foreign language a learner is introduce to in Nigeria as an official language, learning English has become a great necessity to everyone who realised the importance of the language. Over 80% of readers focus closely on the errors of the writer, knowing fully well what the reader want, writers have put on the spirit of research in finding the root cause of how and when a word can be use and appreciate in the outside world. William (2007) stated that language is paramount, we use it to define who we are and to shape our place in life, we use language to learn, to socialize, to dream of what to achieve, to think e.t.c. Throughout history, Language serve as a bound to bring people together into single societies and to preserve their customs, culture, law and stories.
English is an official language in Nigeria and its has many functions. These functions are implied in its role as a second language in the country. Nigeria, as one of the English speaking countries uses English language as an official language which is used in all spheres of life. English language has become the nation’s medium of administration, communication, instruction in various institutions and businesses. Considering the importance of English language therefore, it stands as a binding language which unifies all the tribes and ethnic groups we have in the country. In recognition of importance of the English language in enhancing educational attainment and for improving communication and writing ability of citizens, the Nigerian government has made the subject a core school subject (FRN, 2013) it is compulsory for students to have a credit pass in English language before gaining admission into the university. This also explains why many parents make it a priority by making sure that their children pass at credit level or above in English language.

If English Language plays such an important role in our national lives as well as in our education system, therefore it means that it should be well learnt. English language is used in government as the official language for all types of official records and instructions in business and commerce and publicity in education, science and engineering as the language of instruction in the classroom and laboratory reports, in the mass media as the language of information and propaganda and in creative art and literature as the language of novels, poems, short stories, music and drama. In expressing ideas everybody possess their own abilities. There are student who clearly, brightly and confidently expressing their way of thinking in spoken language meanwhile, there are student who can be said to be weak in spoken but well enough in his or her written form.

Robert Lado stated that language is partial representation unit of language. “learning to write a foreign language is learning to put down the graphic symbol that represent a language one understand so that the others can read the language and the graphic representation” the quotation implies that before writing the writer should have a border knowledge, understanding the linguistics rules, wider vocabulary, emotion and even the present situation, so writing is not only making of a sentences which have no inter-connection between each other or without paying attention to the meaningful aspect but rather writing is making our written pieces worth and understood by the readers. The purpose of the writing itself is the expression of ideas to the readers so the ideas should be seen as the most important aspect of the writing on the other hand, the writer needs also to pay some attention to a formal aspect such as neat handwriting, correct spelling, punctuation, as well as acceptable grammar and careful selected of vocabulary.

As stated by Zhang Fxin (2001) that writing is a complex skill, it embraces structure, vocabulary rhetoric concepts and other clement. This skill relates with listening speaking and reading because of writing complexity writers are bound to commit errors which motivate this research work to focus on the level of competency of junior secondary schools. If English language plays such an important role in our national live as well as in our education system, it means therefore that it should be learnt. It is in recognition of student’s poor performance in written necessary and other language skills in general that a research on error analysis in written essay among junior secondary school student is carried out.

Statement of the Problem

Writing skill is the most proficient aspect that show the ultimate level at which users of English language have master some quality rules in English language which cannot be overlook. This study aims to access the errors students, are due to the fact that English language is not our first language or mother tongue.

Thus, this study compares and contrasts the element of L1 and L2 as to be able to analyse the causes.

Purpose of the Study

The study aims at identifying the type of errors student commit most or frequently in their written essays so as to expose to English teachers tp know where to lay emphasis on and also where to modify so as to enhance efficient teaching and learning.

The study further aim to analyse describe and explain the errors in the written English of students in junior secondary schools such as wrong tense usage, spellings, errors, omission of articles e.t.c which are common features in the writings of student or learners.

Research Questions

The followings research questions are presented for this study.

  1. Do they commit error, what types?
  2. What are the most common error committed in the essay
  3. What are the factors responsible and source for the error

Scope of the Study

This study is carried out in Egbeda local government area of Oyo state. This study is limited to four (4) selected junior secondary schools. The names of school are

  1. Olodo Community Grammar School
  2. Community Secondary School Kumopayi
  3. God is able College Wofun
  4. Educational Legacy College Olukunle

This study focuses on J S S 3 students because they ought to have attained certain certain degree of competence in English language since they are preparing for an external examination.

Significance of the Study

The significant of the study are;

  1. Enlightenment on what error means and its types
  2. Identifying the most common types among junior secondary school student
  3. Enable the teacher to know how to correct and amend the root cause of students error.
  4. It will give better understanding about History of English language in Nigeria
  5. It will be of assistance to future researchers in English education.

Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms are explained as used in the study.


This can be seen as the identification and description of error committed in essay writing in English language.


This means all the element of ungrammatical in essay writing. This can also means deviation from the normal standard of writing


Can be said to mean a piece of writing written to communicate ideas to test the writing skill of such student

Error Analysis:

This mean identification of causes and effect of errors make by learners in a piece of write up.

Contractive Analysis:

This means them linguistic way of comparing two things to know the similarities and the point of differences


This can be define as the first language a child is expose to right from birth

Mother Tongue Interference:

The term simply means the interruption of the first language of a learner in the one he/she is about to learn


This term can be seen as an error which occur as a result of carelessness which learner can easily correct

Chapter Five

Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations

This chapter contains the discussion of the findings, conclusions from the findings and the recommendations as well as suggestions for further studies.

This study examine the error analysis of the written English language essay of the junior secondary schools in Egbeda local government Oyo state. It also examined the types of Errors commit most frequently in their written essays and it also analyse describe and explain the errors in the written English of students in junior secondary schools.

Discussion of Findings

The findings of this study showed that spelling errors and wrong tense usage are the predominant errors in the respondents write-ups. It is obvious from this study that learners have not learnt the correct spelling of some English words because spelling errors has the highest percentage (38.81%) what are the causes and sources of the errors?

Most of the errors committed by the learners were caused by a number of factors ranging from transfer of morphological elements transfer of grammatical elements, over generalization of rules, etc. For instance, the English word unfriendly is formed from friend the adjective-forming suffix-ly and the negative prefix “un”. The “un” prefix was misused by pupils while forming another word. Learners over generalize in the pronunciation of certain words on the basis of what they already know e.g after learning a sentence like “He reached the house at 10:00pm” a learner may produce “He leaved the house at 6:00am”

The outcome of this study showed Error ranging from spelling errors, punctuation errors, wrong tense usage, omission and wrong use of pronoun were made by the respondents. Most of pronounce them, this is a result of other tongue interference e.g “lafing” instead of “laughing” “fone” instead of “phone” just to mention a few while some omitted alphabets in words like “too” instead of “two”, “birthday” instead of “birthday”.

Lastly, the findings of this study revealed that spelling errors has the highest frequency (26) followed by wrong tense usage (10). Sociolinguistic transfer and punctuation error has a frequency of (6), wrong use of preposition (5), wrong use of verbs and wrong use and omission of articles (4), wrong use of pronoun (3), error of redundancy (2) and overgeneralization of rules (1).


Based on the findings from this study, the following conclusions were made

  1. It can be concluded that there is a significant relationship between errors and students’ academic performance in English Language.
  2. It was concluded that spelling errors is the must frequency error committed by respondents.
  3. Lastly, this study concluded that most of junior student lack basic skills in English Language which hinders them from writing correct spellings.


Based on the findings and conclusion made above, the following recommendations are hereby suggested:

  1. Junior Secondary school students should pay more attention on mastering of spellings.
  2. Junior Students should also be encouraged to develop good reading habit which will enable them to read wider to be familiar with words from different root.
  3. Teacher should try with the use of all available materials to get student to work in improving the English.
  4. Teachers should encourage their leaner with the use of chart and different methods which are capable to make learning convinent.

Suggestions for Further Studies

This study was limited to school subjects and sampled schools in Egbeda Local Government Area of Oyo State., the same study can be extended to all schools (both private and public schools) in all part of the State, Nigeria.

The researcher wishes to recommend that potential researchers should examine the errors caused by the influence of internet communication and SMS technology and propose mechanism for addressing the issue.

Researcher are also advised to try as possible to extend their research work even up to the senior secondary school level of education to identify their types of errors and solution to it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most common errors in the essay?

All of the errors in the essays were identified and classified into various categorizations. The results of the study show that six most common errors committed by the participants were singular/plural form, verb tense, word choice, preposition, subject-verb agreement and word order.

How many types of errors do secondary students commit?

Secondary students committed nine types of errors, and their frequency computed and then compared across the three levels. The analysis revealed that all errors, except one, are independent of the learners’ native language (Bataineh as cited in Hourani, 2008, p.19).

Can error analysis techniques enhance academic writing skills of intermediate level learners?

This action research was conducted in order to explore the effectiveness of practicing error analysis techniques to enhance academic writing skills of intermediate level learners. A pre-test, a post-test and a feedback questionnaire were used to collect data, and it was analyzed by mixed methods.

What is this research on grammatical errors about?

This research is primarily concerned with the analysis of grammatical errors. It discusses the grammatical errors made by eighth-grade students in their speaking abilities. The data of the study are the conversation of the students that are defined into ten groups. The grammatical errors are classified based on Comparative Taxonomy.

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