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Title Page – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – – ii
Approval Page – – – – – – – – – iii
Dedication – – – – – – – – iv
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – – v
Table of Contents – – – – – – – – vi
Abstract – – – – – – – – – viii

1.1 Background of the Study – – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – – 7
1.3 Purpose of the Study – – – – – – 7
1.4 Significance of the Study – – – – – – 8
1.5 Research Questions – – – – – – 9
1.6 Hypothesis – – – – – – – 9
1.7 Scope of the Study – – – – – – – 9
1.8 Definition of Terms – – – – – – – 10


2.1 Language Education – – – – – – – 11
2.2 Theoretical Framework – – – – – – 12
2.2.1 Behaviourist Theory – – – – – – – 12
2.2.2 Mentalist Theory – – – – – – – 14
2.2.3 Monitor Theory – – – – – – 15
2.3 Bilingualism/Multilingualism – – – – – – 16
2.4 The Status of English in Nigeria – – – – 17
2.5 Composition Writing – – – – – – – 19
2.6 Types of Composition Writing – – – – – 21
2.6.1 Expositive Composition – – – – – 22
2.6.2 Argumentation Writing – – – – – 23
2.6.3 Descriptive Writing – – – – – – – 24
2.7 Influences of First Language on Written Composition – – 24
2.7.1 Transfer in L2 Writing – – – – – 28
2.8 Students’ Writing Problems – – – – – – 32
2.9 Summary of Literature Review – – – – – 37

3.1 Introduction – – – – – – – – 38
3.2 Research Design – – – – – – – 38
3.3 Population and Sample – – – – – – 38
3.4 Sampling Technique – – – – – – – 40
3.5 Instrument for Data Collection – – – – – 41
3.5.1 The Questionnaire – – – – – – – 41
3.5.2 English Achievement Test (EAT) – – – – – 41
3.6 Validity of the Instrument – – – – – 41
3.7 Procedure for Data Collection – – – – – 42
3.8 Method of Data Analysis – – – – – 42

4.1 Introduction – – – – – – – – 44
4.2 Analysis of Test – – – – – – – 44
4.2.1 Analysis of Spelling Errors – – – – – – 44
4.2.2 Analysis of Wrong Tenses – – – – – – 52
4.2.3 Analysis of Concord Errors – – – – – – 59
4.3 Summary of the First Language Related Errors in the Five Sampled
Schools – – – – – – – – 67
4.4 Demographic Table for Questionnaire – – – – 69
4.5 Summary of Chi-square Analysis for Hypothesis – – – 69
4.6 Analysis and Interpretation of Questionnaire – – – 70
4.5 Discussion of Findings/Results – – – – – 73



5.1 Introduction – – – – – – – – 74
5.2 Summary of Findings – – – – – – 74
5.3 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 77
5.4 Recommendations – – – – – – – 77-78
5.5 Suggestions for Further Studies – – – – – 78
References – – – – – – – 79-80
Appendices – – – – – – – – 81-83

This study examines “The Influence of First Language on the Written English Composition of students of Federal College of Education Pankshin, Plateau State”. The data for the study was collected through the use of a test on composition and questionnaire. The data collected were analysed with the use of arithmethic mean, simple mean and chi-square was used to test the research hypothesis. Based on the analysis of the test, the mean score for wrong spellings was 54.04, 52.11 is for wrong tenses and 51.45 is for concord (agreement). Ann so, the most common influences in the students’ written English composition is wrong spellings, followed by the wrong tenses and lastly, concord (agreement). The results therefore, showed that the first language affects students greatly with the mean score of 157.6 which can equally affect them in other courses. Consequently, the government curriculum planners, lecturers and parents as stakeholders in the education of the students are advised to do their best in the education of the students are advised to do their best to make sure that these first language influences are minimized in the students’ composition.

1.1. Background to the Study
Language is a gift which almost every human being is endowed or blessed with. The unique gift of language is used naturally as one tool of expression, consisting of different sub-skills. The English language is the official and native language of Britain, Ireland, North America, Australia and most of the British colonies. For the colonies, it is regarded as official rather than native language.
Mother tongue is one’s native language. A language besides being the major distinguishing phenomenon between man and other creatures is evidently the most enduring of every person’s cultural heritage. It reflects the culture of a people and it is extremely bound up with it.
Language is an important tool that enhances human communication and interaction. It is a vital instrument in cultural transmission and preservation of a social group. It is also a crucial tool in the preservation and propagation of human species. An examination of the linguistic content of a particular speech community can provide information about the style, occupation etc of a given people (Hutchison and Waters, 1986: p 55).
The English language is national/official language of the former British colonies of which Nigeria is a member and this makes English our second language. Hence, our respective mother tongues existed before colonization. This has necessitated the teaching and learning of the English language and its consequent interferences in our mother-tongues, in various study points nationwide. It is therefore, glaring to state that Nigeria is a linguistically complex society by the mere fact of the listing of its creation.
Writing is a thinking activity and a medium of expression which is a basic part of literacy required for modern day living, Otagburuagu (2001).
Writing is one of the four language skills, writing is commonly considered the most difficult language skill to master. Listening and speaking tend to come naturally, especially in L1 situations. One can be a good speaker but a poor writer; though some people end up writing better than they speak. But only a few people can write as well as they speak (Opara & Daudu, 2011: p 55).
According to Alabi, (2007: p 80), language transfer has been an important issue in second language acquisition and foreign language teacher research. but in the past decades, many researchers focused on the status and role of language transfer in second language acquisition. Today, language transfer refers to the influences resulting from the similarities and differences between the target language and any other language that has been previously, and perhaps imperfectly, acquired.
English is much more than language of both the English man and the British people. It is the most recognized national language, Muniz (2007: p 44). It is used as the first, second or a foreign language. In fact, English is one of the most recognized world languages. It is regarded as a key which opens doors to scientific and technical knowledge and it is indispensible to economic and political development of vast areas of the world. Nigeria as a nation has adopted the English language as its lingua Franca (L2) (Macgreger, 1963: p 63).
According to Hunjo (2002: p 80), English language apart from its status as Nigeria’s lingua Franca, is the language of official communication, educational and political administration. One major area where the importance of English language cannot be overlooked is its provision of access to education. It is the medium of instruction through which learners acquire knowledge and skills. To the average Nigerian, proficiency in English language skills, especially in writing in today’s diverse society, is the key to the world’s knowledge and universal culture. It is a gateway to success in the global economy. In an increasingly demanding world of literacy, the importance of ensuring students’ proficiency in writing skills cannot be overemphasized. The ability to write well, hitherto a luxury is now a necessity (Grallaghen, 2006: p 17). Writing is vital to students’ developing literacy skills. In the light of this, teaching students to write well should be a top priority of worthwhile education system.
According to Gallagher (2006: p 172), a school that teaches its students the curriculum without concurrently teaching them how to write well is a school that has failed.
Grammar at the sentence level is fundamental to the writing of composition in English language. However, celce Murci (2006: p 39) posits that nearly ninety years consistently showed that the teaching of grammar has little or no effect on students because the majority of students in college still find it difficult to write meaningful and simple sentences in a composition or essay.
Writing is a difficult process even in the first language. It is even more complicated to write in a foreign language. Many studies indicate that for the beginners, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Students, there tends to be interference for their first language in the process of writing in English, (Benson, 2002; Cedar, 2004; Chen % Huang, 2005; Collins, 2002, Jaris, 2002; Jiang, 1995; Lado, 1957; Liv, 1998; Mori, 1998; Yu, 1996). Writing in a foreign language often presents the greatest challenge to the students at all stages, particularly essay writing, because in this activity, writing is usually extended and therefore, it becomes more demanding than in the case of writing a short paragraph.
Writing in general and essays in particular, form problems to college students in Nigeria. In many cases, the majority of students are still translating words, phrases and sentences from their L1 to English with often very strange. The challenge for the composition teacher is to find methods to activate in a meaningful way the passive knowledge the students possess in terms of the writing skill, as well as to help the students become more proficient while working to eliminate some of the common errors. A better understanding in learning of the L1 influence in the process of EFL writing will help lecturers know students’ difficulties in learning English. It will also aid in the adoption of appropriate teaching strategies to help beginning EFL students learn English writing skills better. As Richards and Renandya (2002: p 303) claim “there is no doubt that writing is the most difficult skill for L2 learners to master. The difficulty lies not only in generating and organizing of ideas but also in translating these notion into legible text “yet it is very tested in every valid language examination, but also skill that learners should possess and demonstrate in academic contexts.
Writing includes numerous considerations and choices to be made regarding “higher level skills” such as: content, structure, organization and “lower level skills” such as punctuation and choice of appropriate vocabulary items and grammatical structures, which are the terms used by Richard and Renandya (2002: p 10).
Moreso, Treen (2012: p 17), writing skills must be practiced and learned through experience. By putting together concepts and solving problems, the writer engages in “a two way interaction between continuously developing knowledge and continuously developing text. However, students’ writing in L2 have to acquire proficiency in the use of the language as well as writing strategies, techniques, and skills. They want to write close to error-free text and they enter language courses with the expectation of becoming more proficient writers in the L2.
However, most college students find it difficult to write essays free of intra-lingual error and errors of various types. Therefore, teachers of essay writing need to anticipate certain common types of errors. They may also find other types of errors which can be revealed by analyzing the written product or essays of students. These are the conventions which are to be followed by the teachers of writing when analyzing students’ errors.
As mentioned above, the level of difficulty varies between native speakers (NS) and non-native speakers (NNS). In this case, it will be L2 students of English at Federal College of Education Pankshin. While writing, non-native speakers have to think of all those rules they need to apply or use, rules that native speakers are expected to have automatically acquired.
It is true that non-native speakers are more prone to committing errors. Lecturers of English are currently facing the challenge adopting and developing a wide range of methods to accomplish effective teaching skills of English writing. This of course is not an easy task. A large number of students at Federal College of Education Pankshin continue to fail to master the basic of English writing even after long years of form al education.
Lecturers of English feel satisfied to have a student who speaks and writes correct English, having spent more than twelve years of learning. At the end of this period, they are expected to understand advanced writing of English in certain reasonable areas in order to read simple English with ease, fluency, understanding and to write a paragraph in English using basic structures of the language. However, we have found out that majority of students at the end of their secondary schools, have great difficulties in reading with comprehension and that very few of them are able to write meaningful and error-free English sentences, inspite of the fact that they have studied English for more than twelve years, and that their knowledge of grammar rules and the mechanics of writing is not satisfying. Most of the students are still not able to write a correct paragraph using adequately the basic structures of English language they have learnt.

1.2. Statement of the Problem
The arrival of the British with the concomitant English language, provided a language contact situation with an attempt of a language shift in the population. In many situations, students are discovered to have strayed away from the norms of grammar: in both speech and written composition of English language. This is because they are either transferring the rules of sentence formation of their first language (L1) or they are ignorant of the rules governing the formation of English words and sentences.
Goodman S. R & Smith, B. E (1987), it is not a strange thing to the lecturers of English that students have been erroneous in their essays and compositions. It is therefore, this phenomenon that has set the research on a quest to find out the degree or to what extent first language influences the composition writing of students of Federal College of Education Pankshin, Plateau State.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
This study is aimed at making an enquiry into the influences of first language on the written composition of students of Federal College of Education Pankshin, Plateau State.
i. The main purpose of the study is to find out the at which first language interferes in the learning of English as a second language among the students.
ii. To explore and analyse the intra-lingual errors in the composition of students.
iii. To know whether present and previous socio-economic background of the students affect their written English.
iv. To find out whether the lecturers make use of correct teaching methods in their teaching of English language.
v. To find out if there are sufficient qualified lecturers in the school for the teaching of English language.
vi. To identify, discuss, and proffer solutions to the influences of first language in the written English composition of students.
1.4. Significance of the Study
This study will help to reveal the numerous ways which first language influences the written composition of students at the tertiary level in English language. It will also identify the effects of this influence on other study areas that are based on the use of the English language as the basic language of communication. This study will enable lecturers to identify study problems in teaching English, especially in their composition writing.
This study will also enable students to understand how to make use of English words, especially in their composition writing.
Parents as well will come to terms with the fact that first language influences students’ composition writing. Therefore, they will be careful and conscious of how they use language.
The government will also see where it is lacking in the provision of current and relevant materials for enhancement of the teaching of this delicate aspect of English language.
Similarly, the researcher has no doubt in her mind if used by education administrators, could help enhance the teaching-learning process in English, thereby improving writing, if not eliminating errors committed by students in the written composition in English language.
1.5. Research Questions
To carry out this research, the following research questions will guide the study:
i. Does first language actually interfere in the teaching of English language in Federal College of Education Pankshin?
ii. Are the English language lecturers in the college qualified?
iii. Do English language lecturers in the college adopt correct teaching methods in teaching composition?
iv. Do lecturers use instructional materials in the teaching of composition?
1.6. Hypothesis
H0 First language does not interfere in the learning of English composition
Ha First language does interfere in the learning of English composition
1.7. Scope of the Study
This research work is based on the influence of first language on the written composition in English language among tertiary institution students in Federal College of Education Panksin.
Furthermore, the researcher will use only a few N.C.E I students in five (5) schools in the college. Though the study is restricted to Federal College of Education Pankshin, the findings and the recommendations can be generic. That is, it can be applicable to other parts of the country as well.
This study is limited to narration, argumentation, description and letter writing of students of Federal College of Education Pankshin, Plateau State.
1.8. Definition of Terms
It is necessary to properly define the terms that make the heading of the research topic under study. This will go a long way at giving a clear direction to the research work. These include:
First language: The native language one first learns to speak before other languages.
Influence: It is seen as errors in the learners’ use of foreign language that can be traced back to the mother tongue. It is the transfer that the learners of L1 exert in the acquisition of L2





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