CONCORD ERRORS IN STUDENTS' WRITTEN ESSAYS
CONCORD ERRORS IN STUDENTS' WRITTEN ESSAYS
1.1 Background of the Study
The English language plays a very important role in the academic pursuit of students of senior secondary schools and other levels of education. English is used as a medium of communication at all sectors of life. In schools, English plays a vital role since all the textbooks and instructional materials like syllabi and teachers’ guides are written in English (Sarantakos, 2005). This indicates the high value that educational system places on the language. English happens to be one of the core subjects taught in both junior and senior secondary levels of education, and any individual who aspires to climb high in the academic ladder owes it an obligation to, at least, have a credit in the English language. Therefore, mastering English language is very important to students in Nigeria.
According to Polit & Beck (2004), students are obliged to communicate in English whenever in school but the reverse is what we see in Senior Secondary Schools. This attitude is not helping the proficiency of students in the L2 since a good grasp of the language is a panacea for the achievement of better results in other subject areas. In that case, everybody is expected to be competent in the language in order to function effectively in school, at work places and among other speakers of the language.
In the words of Parrot (2000), the downward trend of performance of students especially in English language has been a source of worry to parents, government and other stakeholders. If this trend is not curtailed, one wonders the kind of future this nation has, since it will be unimaginable and suicidal to entrust the nation in the hands of leaders who cannot communicate effectively in the formal language of the country. Indeed, the level of proficiency in the English language at all levels of education raises concerns from the public, and students of Secondary Schools are not left out in the bracket.
The English syllabus for secondary schools aims to improve students’ communicative competence, raise their level of proficiency in English usage and also prepare them to function effectively on their own. To achieve these goals, students must be more conversant with grammar in the English language.
First of all, we are in a global village and English has become an international language all over the world. If the learners/students are not guided to grasp the basic principles of how the language operates, then the problem is compounded and the learners will suffer severe impediments of language transfer.
Language is spoken and written and it follows some systematic principles which have been accepted and used by members of any given society. Grammar is a vital part of the English language which needs to be given the necessary attention (Moiinvaziri, 2008). One main aspect of grammar which poses a lot of problems to students is concord. It is believed that a good grasp of the concept is a panacea to good performance in English language as well as other subject areas. The researcher’s experience through interactions with students in and outside the classroom as well as other teachers reveal that concord is a problem at all levels of education. Concord rule deviances tend to bring out negative responses from both native and non-native speakers/ hearers alike. Such errors reflect badly on the speaker’s personality since they tell us something about his educational background. It is for this reason that the classroom teacher needs to know errors students make and why they make them to enable him/her devise appropriate strategies to eliminate them.
Moreover, the Chief Examiner’s Report (2013) indicates that WAEC is unhappy with students’ performance in English. It is said that the poor performance of English is particularly worrisome because it would be impossible for any candidate to do well in examinations if English language as a medium of expression is not mastered. Major weaknesses of students include poor orthography and syntax; prominent among them is concord errors. The committee, therefore, called for a return to the policy of placing emphasis on lexis and structure.
It is for this reason that the researcher decided to analyze concord errors and look into possible areas of concord errors.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Many people express serious concerns about the poor standard of English language at various levels of education in our country. This poor standard is attributed to a number of factors, among them is concord errors. Speaking and writing are useful only when they communicate meaning to both the speaker and the listener or the writer and the reader. This is possible when they both follow the rules of putting words together. This is called language usage. It makes language the same for everyone.
Students have serious problems with concord. This becomes bare when they communicate both in speech and in writing. Students are confronted with this problem as a result of their inability to adequately grasp the concept of concord and its rules.
The structure of the English sentence depends largely on the subject and its interacting verb. Subject-verb concord is most basic in English language and it is being taught at all levels and for this to persist at the senior high level poses a big challenge and calls for attention. Most students do not understand concord, not even to identify the forms/sources. This reflects in every aspect of their work in the classroom. Therefore, this research seeks to investigate and analyze concord errors of Senior Secondary School students.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the concord errors of senior secondary school students. Specific objectives are:
1. To identify the concord errors of students of Senior Secondary School
2. To discover pattern of concord errors that are common.
3. To come out with useful suggestions that will help students overcome the difficulties they face in the use of concord.
1.4. Research Questions
This study sets out to provide answers to the following questions:
1. What concord errors do students make in their communications?
2. What are the areas of concord students frequently find difficult in their communications?
3. What are the sources of the problems facing students in the use of concord?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research will help to enhance students’ academic performance in all areas and their general life as a whole since they turn to be good communicators. That is to improve students’ grammatical competency and accuracy in their articulation and build upon their proficiency in the English language. This research work is justifiable because English is an important springboard for the learning of other subjects and so it needs to be taught well and learnt well.
The study will also help teachers and whoever uses English language to be able to use concord correctly in the language.
Finally, it will motivate teachers to adopt new ways of teaching grammar especially concord.
1.6 Scope and Delimitation
The study focuses on one of the grammatical aspects of English language: concord. It is concerned with investigating into concord errors of senior secondary school students in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. Despite the fact that this research is limited in scope to Pankshin Local Government Area, its findings can be generalized to other parts of the country as well.
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