Grammatical Errors In Secondary School Students’ English Essays

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Grammatical Errors In Secondary School Students’ English Essays


Abstract


This Research Work focused on the gramatical errors in the English essays of Secondary Schools Students. The research was conducted on essays written by thirty (30) Students of the above school. The analysis of the essays revealed the deficiencies of some of the Students in using English tense. In the use of the present tense, for instance, Students had more difficulties in the use of present tense compare to the use of other tense. It has also been observed that students commit these errors as a result of their mother tongue interference. It was also found out that the errors were as a result of poor teaching methods, lack of adequate textbooks and qualified English teachers. To minimize these problems, we suggest that the government should provide adequate textbooks on English grammar and qualified English teachers. So that student in the lower classes should be exposed to the various situations in which tenses should be used.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The goal of teaching English is to develop learners‟ communicative competence consisting of grammatical or linguistic competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence (Canale and Swain, 1980). Linguistic competence knows how to use the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of language. Sociolinguistic competence is knowing how to use and respond to language appropriately, given the setting, the topic, and the relationships among the people communicating. Discourse competence is knowing how to interpret the larger context and how to construct longer stretches of language so that the parts make up a coherent whole. Strategic competence is knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns, how to work around gaps in one‟s knowledge of the language, and how to learn more about the language and in the context.

Notably, students are required to employ the English language whenever they communicate either through spoken or written form when it comes to academic endeavours. More importantly, students of English are expected to strictly consider rules of grammar anytime they engage the English language in their communicative activities; otherwise, there would be communication problem. According to Batstone (1994), using language without considering it‟s “grammar would be chaotic and cause the same communication problem, such as grammatical errors in writing and speaking.” Grammar, apart from being the rules for ordering words, it is also a resource for good communication (Halliday and Hasan, 1989 in Hyland, 2002).

Considering it‟s “grammar would be chaotic and cause the same communication problem, such as grammatical errors in writing and speaking.” Grammar, apart from being the rules for ordering words, it is also a resource for good communication (Halliday and Hasan, 1989 in Hyland, 2002). The focus of this study is on first year second semester students of English of Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti. First year second semester English undergraduates are students who have been exposed to basics of English grammar not only in their first semester in the university but at various times or the other in their post-primary school days. Therefore, they are expected to have internalised some basic rules of the English grammar. In their essay writing, they are expected to have attained a certain level of competence. In other words, there are some grammatical errors that are not expected to be committed at their level.

The writing competence includes correct use of punctuations, arrangement of words in a sentence and a good aptitude about grammar (Hyland, 2002). The main purpose of teaching English is to help second language speakers achieve a level of communicative competence. Kittiporn (2013:116) claims that: The goal of teaching English is to develop learners‟ communicative competence consisting of grammatical or linguistic competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence (Canale and Swain, 1980). Linguistic competence knows how to use the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of language. Sociolinguistic competence is knowing how to use and respond to language appropriately, given the setting, the topic, and the relationships among the people communicating. Discourse competence is knowing how to interpret the larger context and how to construct longer stretches of language so that the parts make up a coherent whole. Strategic competence is knowing how to recognize and repair communication breakdowns, how to work around gaps in one‟s knowledge of the language, and how to learn more about the language and in the context. One of the important elements to develop the ability of learners to use language correctly and appropriately is grammatical competence. Skehan (1996) argues that inadequate grammatical instruction could lead to fossilization, classroom pidgins and negligible accuracy. In learning the second language, making grammatical errors is a common phenomenon; these errors have been referred to as systematic errors (Corder 1967; Kekere-Ekun 2010). These errors are systematic because in the process of acquiring a second language, incorrect utterances still manifest in the speech of learners which is a reflection of their level of linguistic development at a particular point in time. These grammatical errors could be found in both oral and written forms of communication. Scholars have identified various causes of grammatical errors. For example, Maicusi and Maicusí (2000) in their study of the errors in the second language acquisition maintain that in learning process, errors have always been regarded as a negative occurrence which must be avoided like a plague. And because of this, teachers have a propensity to show a cruel attitude to their students. Errors, on one hand, are regarded as a failure of teaching process and on the other hand, they are seen as a natural result that can hardly be avoided, so we should deal and learn from them. Consequently, errors can be a very helpful means in learning a foreign language (Ellis and Barkhuizen 2005).


1.2 Statement of Problem

It has been discovered that second language learners of English face some difficulties while learning the language. This is because most second language learners find it difficult to speak or write good English. With the above in mind, this research work focuses on Tense Errors in English Essays of Secondary Schools Students This is to find out the tense errors the students make, the causes and possible suggestion of how to reduce the problems.

The work addresses the following questions:

  1. What are the errors students made?
  2. What are the types of errors?
  3. What are the causes of the errors?
  4. What are the possible solutions to these errors?

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The aim of this research is to study Tense Errors in English Essays of Secondary Schools Students

The specific objectives are;

  1. To identify the errors in the essays of the students.
  2. To classify the errors identified into types
  3. To find out and explain the possible causes of the errors.
  4. To provide solutions to the causes of the errors.

1.4 Research Question

  1. What are the Type of errors present in secondary school students’ English essays?
  2. What are the Frequency of errors present in secondary school students’ English essays?
  3. What is the Percentage of errors found in secondary school students’ English essays?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The falling standard of education generally could be attributed to poor comprehension of the English language lessons by students. This is due to the fact that, English language serves as a bed rock for understanding other disciplines of learning S.S.C.E holders cannot fully communicate in the national language (English) and it is on this basis that this work focuses on the tenses in the students written essays.


1.6 Scope and Delimitation

This study is limited to the analysis of thirty scripts of S.S II Students of Maimuna Gwarzo in Kaduna South local government. The research is limited to found out tense errors made by students in the schools so as to provide the lasting solutions to aid teachers and students on how to guard against such problems.


1.7 Justification of the Study

This study is important as, it attempts to highlight the major tense errors committed by the students in their speaking and writing, and to provide the lasting solution on how to correct the errors.


1.8 Methodology

This section deals with how data is collected for the research work. The study covers the use of tense errors in English essays of secondary school students of some selected secondary schools in Kaduna South Local Government. The data for this work is the essay papers of thirty students of the schools.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

This chapter is concerned with the summary, recommendation and conclusion of the research work.


5.1 Summary

Chapter one is an introductory chapter, it looks at the reasons for the conduct of this research work on tense errors in the mentioned schools. The aims and objectives of the work, statement of the problems, significance of the study, scope and delimitation of the study, method of data collection, method of data presentation and analysis are all explicated in this chapter.

Chapter two is a literature review where relevant texts were consulted. The chapter discusses causes of tense errors and types of errors.

Chapter three deals with the method of data collection for the research work from some selected secondary schools in Kaduna South Local Government Area

Chapter four analyzes and interprets the data collected. Four tables were drawn, each with the following information; tense, frequency of errors, number of scripts assessed percentage of occurrence and total table one (1) showed the number of tense errors made on the use of present tense. Table two (2) was on the use of past tense and table three (3) deals with the students use of future tense. While table four (4) showed the final analysis and discussion of the results.

Different extracts on the wrong use of the present tense, past tense and future tense were collected and corrected.


5.2 Conclusion

The study examined tense as used by secondary schools students in Kaduna South local Government where thirty answer scripts were collected and analyzed.

English language services as official language of instruction in schools. Although, it serves the above purpose, the way it is used differs from that of the native speaker since it is not the mother language of many of its Nigerian users.

The complexity of the English tense sometimes contributes to the student’s poor usage of the tense. This leads to confusion in the way certain tenses are used.

Student ignorance of the English tense system led to this research work. The ignorance is a clear indication that some students have major weakness in the grammatical structure of the English language and this could be a barrier to their future academic achievements.


5.3 Recommendations

To remedy the problems of tense errors as found out in this research work, we find it necessary to make the following recommendations.

  1. Since the students have committed some mistakes in the use of tense and with the fact that students are learning the English language as a second language (L2), English teachers should correct the difficulties encountered by the students immediately as they are made by the students, whether while speaking or in their written work.
  2. Government and the school authorities should see that trained and competent teachers handle the teaching of English in both primary and secondary schools more especially in the junior classes of the secondary schools in order to ensure that pupils acquire the fundamental knowledge of the use of tenses right from the beginning.
  3. Students should be encouraged to use the English language intensively. A lot of practice and intensive teaching can remedy the problems of tense identification.
  4. Government should provide adequate textbooks on English grammar to the pupils. Schools in rural areas should not be neglected academically. Trained teachers and textbooks and other learning materials should be made available in all schools.

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