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1.1. Background to the Study

Under writing, spelling is a fundamental skill. It is an important writing skill that must be learned by everyone who wants to communicate well in the written form of the English language. A good writer must pay attention to his or her spelling in order to avoid making a communication mistake or breaking the flow of communication. Spelling is usually said to be the right way to put letters together to make a word. It refers to how well you know the orthography (the system of symbols and rules used to write down spoken language) of a certain language. Students who want to write well should make a lot of effort to understand and avoid spelling mistakes or errors, especially in a second language environment.

The spelling in the English language is so weird that even native speakers have trouble with it. It is said by Asudo and Marsh (1998) that English has a lot of rules, weird] things, and exceptions when it comes to how it spells. Many words in English are not pronounced the way they are written. This has been a big problem for people who are learning the language because they don’t know how to say the words. Also, some words in the English language sound the same, which can make it hard for people to write them. Among them are seize/size, scene/seen, suit/sooth, and many more.

People who spell have to use a lot of mental processes to do it. Getting good at spelling “can be hard for many people, but it is very important for everyone who is learning the language. This is because part of what determines how good a learner is at the English language is how well he or she can spell. If you think about English language spelling, it looks easy in theory, but it turns out to be a little more complicated than that. English Language spelling doesn’t always match the sounds people make when they say a word. This makes it hard for many people to learn how to spell. For them, there could be three reasons why the spelling of the English language is hard which include:

(1) We think of words as a sequence of sound parts rather than as continuous streams of sounds.

(2) The number of letters in the written version of a word and the number of sound parts in the “spoken version are not always the same. This is true even if they are the same.

(3) At times, the same sound can be spelt in different ways. E.g. heat/hit, bit/beat.

For the reasons above, people who learn English are more likely to make spelling mistakes.

Essay writing is so important when you’re learning English in a second language like ours, because it helps you learn the language better. This is why it is a big part of the English language been Om A curriculum. However, one of the reasons why students have not been doing well in the English Language examinations in recent years has been that they haven’t been able to use the language to write about their thoughts. Part of what makes it hard for people to learn English is that they don’t know how to spell words in English correctly. Hartshon (2008) says that learners have a lot of problems when they try to write something that is both substantive and correct in language. They also have a hard time telling the examiners what they mean. Spelling mistakes fall under the category of Mechanical Accuracy (M.A). Under the M.A., grammatical mistakes, punctuation marks, and spelling mistakes are looked at. WAEC Chief Examiners’ reports say that almost all students don’t get any marks out of the 10 marks given for mechanical accuracy (WAEC, 2012). Spelling mistakes have been a big problem for effective essay writing because they make it hard to communicate and make students’ essays hard to read.

Some models of error analysis have been found in the literature. The goal of error analysis is to find and describe erroneous words that a learner or a group of learners say (Ogunyemi, 2014). Errors have been categorized in many different ways. Some of these include graphological, grammatical, and lexicon-semantic errors, while others include errors of omission, addition, selection, and ordering. Error analysis should not just be about identifying them. It should also be about classifying them and giving an analysis or explanation of them so that you can make the necessary changes (Summaira, 2011). The first step to this is to choose a corpus of language, then look for errors that can be used to classify it.

This study, therefore, gathered a lot of students’ essays and looked for and classified spelling mistakes in them. It also looked for the causes of these mistakes, how these mistakes affect students’ writing, and what possible ways to correct students’ spelling mistakes. In the last few years, people have been trying to come up with new technologies that can help people figure out what went wrong instead of having to do it manually, which can be very time-consuming. Among them is a spell-check that would quickly highlight any word that is not spelled correctly. A lot of computer programming is being made to make it easier to find and fix mistakes. However, since the students do not use computer to write, this study is necessary to make analysis of spelling errors among senior secondary school students in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area  of Bauchi State.

  • Statement of the Problem

Most secondary school students’ essays are rife with several spelling errors, many of which have become embarrassing to both the teachers and the learners. The O’level English Language paper 1 (Essay writing) has constituted a major source of students’ failure in English language as a result of students’ inability to express themselves in flawless writings. A whole ten (10) marks allotted to Mechanical Accuracy (M.A) is lost as a result of spelling and other mechanical errors. It seems there is no conscious and deliberate effort on the part of teachers and even researchers to address this problem. There is paucity of studies in this area. Students often encounter problems spelling English words and there seem to be little or no effort at helping them overcome this problem. This study therefore attempts to identify this problem with a view to analysing it and suggesting solutions to the problem.

  • Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine the spelling errors and their implications on the written composition of senior secondary school students in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State. The study sought to:

  1. Determine the types of spelling errors found in the essay writing of students in the selected senior secondary schools.
  2. Examine the most frequently occurred type of spelling error in students’ essay writing.
  • Evaluate the influence of these errors on secondary school students’ performance in English language composition writing.

  • Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

  1. What are the types of spelling errors found in the essay writing of students in the selected senior secondary schools?
  2. What is the most frequently occurring type of spelling error in students’ essay writing?
  • To what extent have these errors affected students’ performance in writing composition in English?
    • Significance of the Study

The importance of this research cannot be underestimated especially now that writing has become the major means of official communication and correct grammar and spelling are at the forefront of affairs. This research shall be beneficial to government, curriculum planners, teachers, parents and students who are the center of this research work.

            Government will benefit from this study as suggestions made at the end of the study will serve as a guide for improving the standard of standard of education and employing qualified teachers and they will get to know that there is need to provide adequate textbooks, and instructional materials for correcting these errors in spelling and also endeavor to employ qualified teachers.

            To the curriculum planners, this research will open their eyes to the lapses in the current curriculum and therefore, they will structure learning experience and also make adjustment in the curriculum in order to take care of the errors made by students.

            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 spelling accuracy in their writing and build upon their proficiency in the English language; it will also enhance their knowledge of the English sounds system.

            This study can serve as a particular reference material in academic situations of Junior Secondary Schools. It can also serve as a reference material for researchers carrying out further research on this research topic or on a similar topic. It is therefore prominent concern of the researcher to develop a comprehensive document that can be used as a good reference material to those concerned.

            The study will also help teachers and whoever uses English language to be conscious of their spellings knowing that the African languages have a different sound system compared to that of English. Furthermore, it will motivate teachers to adopt new ways of teaching grammar especially spelling, in order to avoid misspelling among students.

  • Scope/Delimitation of the Study

The study covers spelling error and their implications on the written composition of senior secondary school students. It is restricted to selected senior secondary schools in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State. The scope covers only five senior secondary schools and the findings will be used to generalization for schools in the whole area and the state at large. It is very important to note that there are different forms of errors ranging from syntactic errors, morphological errors and semantic errors but for the purpose of this present  study, only spelling errors will be analysed. These spelling errors include omission of letters, addition of letters, substitution of letters and misordering of letters. Despite the fact that the study is restricted to the above schools, its findings shall be applicable to other schools in Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi State and other parts of the country as well.

  • Contextual Definition of Terms

Errors: It is a deviation from the norm. in the context of this research, error is a deviation from the normal morphological or arrangement of a word.

Rules: In this study, rules are guidelines governing the formation of sentences, phrases and words of a language e.g. English. They must be understood in context, using some sense and discretion. The rules are guidance on those principles.

Spelling: This is a morphological combination of sounds to create meaningful words and sentences.

Spelling Error: This is a deviation from the morphological rules of word formation. It could come as a result of ignorance of the rules of grammar of a particular language.


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