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Abysmal Failure in English Studies, Dearth of Expertise (2)

Written by Akeem Alao

This part looks into the roles played by grammar in effective writing skill. Since the major problem the students have is poor communication skill. And this is a problem traceable to poor mastery of the English grammar.
All languages have their grammars. People are able to communicate effectively with each other because they understand the grammar rules guiding effective communication. Although one may have the ability to speak a language fluently through acquisition, a good mastery of its grammar is needed to write excellently well in that language. It is therefore necessary to teach grammar concepts at all levels for the students to improve their writing skill. To achieve our aims and objectives while introducing students to the grammar concepts, we should be careful of some technical terms that can hinder their understanding because apart from teaching them, they too need to learn independently. Using complex and advanced terms may lead to discouragement, and the teacher continues to labour in futility. Teaching grammar requires simplicity in order to aid understanding.
“It has been strongly recommended that the most beneficial way of helping students improve their command of grammar in writing is to use students’ writing as the basis for discussing grammar concepts. It will be more effective to teach those concepts in their writing than to teach them in isolation. All grammar concepts are already integrated in the sentences that form the contents of the students’ writing. Then, their writing will be used in the class to teach a particular grammar concept. One important thing we need to note is that students’ errors in writing are traceable to their weaknesses in aspects such as tenses, concord, word classes, voices and punctuation. After the students have written their first drafts and feel satisfied with the organization and contents of their writing, the teacher collects the scripts and concentrates on the teaching of grammar concepts, depending on the errors committed  by individual students”.

Types of Grammatical Errors in Writing

Prominent among the errors observed in the students’ writing is wrong use of virtually all the word classes. As irrelevant as many believe, it is not uncommon to observe wrong use nouns in writing. Students appear not to be well tutored in the use of nouns. Count and uncount nouns are still a challenge to them. For instance, uncount nouns such as “information” and “advice” are most times treated as count nouns. It is habitual of them to write erroneous sentences such as: “We have been given an information” and “I have an advice for you”. Besides, there are other nominal aspects such as nouns number, collective nouns and most times, pluralia tantum, that are wrongly used in writing.
Wrong use of verbs is equally a significant error committed by the students. Many of the students need a thorough grounding in the appropriate use of verbs. A student who is weak in the use verb will experience difficulty with expressing themselves. Meaningful sentences cannot be constructed without verbs. Actions cannot effectively be described without a good knowledge of verbs. Also, verbs are used to agree with their subjects in sentences. Violations of rules of concord are a noticeably common error in the writing of these students. other challenges are adjective positions in  sentences, collocation of prepositions with other word classes and appropriate use of pronouns, adverbs and conjunctions all combine to jeopardize students writing efforts. To really improve the performance of students, more attention needs to be paid to grammar aspects forming the building blocks of their sentence structures.

About the author

Akeem Alao

Akeem Alao trained as a language teacher. He graduated from Adeniran Ogunsanya college of Education where he studied English/Yoruba Languages and Ekiti State University where he obtained a degree in English Education.

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