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Background to the Study
Among the heritage left behind in Nigeria by the British at the end of the colonial administration probably none is more important than English language. This is because it is the language of government, business, commerce, education, mass media, literature and internal as well as external communication.
For this work or study, the entrenchment of English is more noticeable in the field of education. English is introduced as a subject in the first year of the primary school and from the third year of the primary school up to the university level is a medium of instruction. This means therefore, that every Nigerian child has assess to the cultural and scientific knowledge of the world through English.
In order to acquire the knowledge of English, it is important to know that the curriculum or English is made the core subject in schools especially in secondary schools, and all other subjects revolve around it. A student will learn more if he acquires and know the language of instruction and in this case English language. This, therefore, makes it very important for English as a medium of instruction to be effectively taught and learnt in our secondary schools. Also, both the teachers and students should endeavour to utilize all the available materials and resources for the effective teaching and learning of English language.
Among the various topics taught in English in our secondary schools including composition, comprehension, reading, spelling and grammar, the study of composition is given more attention, most of the time we see that secondary schools students are not interested in written composition or essay writing. This falls short of the fact that essay writing forms the greatest score in the assessment of students in English language.
This result to the fact that their results in English language became poor as compared with other subjects which they also communicate in English language. To improve on this, the teacher should arouse the students’ interest on essay writing. This could be achieved by positively reinforcing the best students on essay writing, such reinforcements could include the purchase of items that could enhance the learning of composition writing and verbal applauses.
Essay or composition writing appears to be the most difficult out of the other aspects of the English examinations. This is so because, it is meant to test students’ ability to use English as a means of communication by expressing himself clearly and coherently. The understanding of the topic, organization, expressions and mechanical accuracy are tested in essay writing. This therefore, means that a student that is good in essay writing invariably is good in the language.
Grieve (1965) observes that essay writing is the centre of English language. This is so because it is a way of finding out students’ ability in communicative competence in both normal and external examinations in English language. However, any examination in English language without the essay writing is regarded as incomplete. In other words, essay writing is an important academic hurdle which the students of English language must be prepared to scale through if they must pass.
He suggested that the students should be ready to work hard to pas English language by writing good essays at least one essay every week. If the marking of the scripts will be very uneasy to the teacher in terms of the number of scripts, it could be suggested that it should be spaced throughout the week. Grieve (1965) only discussed the importance of easy writing, its enhancement of excellence in effective English, he however, did not talk about problems that hinder good essay writing which this work aims at addressing.
According to Mager (1991), the teacher on his part should avoid giving little hope or success, using inappropriate materials, threatening to expose ignorance, showing little understanding, hiding the means of evaluation, teaching and set of skills and testing another refusing to help and failing to provide feedback. Ubahakwe (1979) suggested the use of individualized methods to the teaching of essay writing. The method emphasize the fact that the students should work at their own pace, because students are working on the same materials at their own rate, the teacher has the opportunity to help students individually with their problems.
Ubahakwe (1979) suggested the use of individualized method for the teaching of essay writing. He did not highlight some of the basic problems that students are often faced with while writing essays. His ideas are good but better result would have been achieved had it been that he diagnosed such problems before suggesting cures and remedies. Researcher, therefore wants to identify some of these problems before proffering solutions.
Statement of the Problem
Essay writing is an important aspect of English language in our secondary schools. This is because of its significant role it has to play in the pivot of which the study of all other subjects revolve round in Nigeria and as prominent requirement for admission into higher institution of learning. The importance of English language cannot be over-emphasized.
The teaching and learning of this core subject should therefore be taken seriously by both teachers and students. Unfortunately, students have always performed poorly in this aspect of English language in some selected secondary schools.
To solve these problems, the following questions are raised:
1. Does pidgin affect the students’ performance in written composition?
2. Does the use of teaching aids affect the learning of written composition?
3. Does the home background of students affect the ways they learn written composition?
4. Does the method of teaching affect the learning of written composition?
5. Does the level of evaluation affect the students’ written composition?
6. Does lack of adequate facilities have a relationship with students’ performance in written composition?
7. Do the students’ attitude towards written composition have any relationship with their performance in the aspect of English language?
Purpose of the Study
The aim of this study is to find out the factors that affect written compositions in selected secondary schools with special references to Ego Local Government Area. It is also the aims of this study to analyze these factors and their implication on the learning of written composition.
The study will also find out whether the quality of written composition by students in secondary schools in Egor Local Government Area are influenced or affected by factors such as the interference of pidgin, lack of use of teaching aids, the quality and teaching methods of the teacher on the students performance, home background of the students, mental development and the mode of evaluation.
It is also the purpose of this study to make recommendations for the English language teachers on how to improve the instructional techniques on written composition. Finally, to recommend to education authorities of some vital ingredients to include in the school curriculum that will help improve present standard of written composition in Egor Local Government Area.
Significance of the Study
As a result of the existence of many factors affecting the education of the child, this study will therefore attempt to identify cause of students’ poor performance in written compositions and as it affects their performance in English language. It is hoped that the general public especially parents, teachers and students will avail themselves of the opportunity provided by this study.
As a result of the importance of written compositions on English language, vis-à-vis the relatively scanty studies so far done on the standard of students’ performances on written composition in English language, the significance of this study is therefore greatly underscored.
The result from this study will give the teachers of written compositions the opportunity to create a better atmosphere conducive for learning. This atmosphere conducive for learning will create in the students the necessary interest to do enough written exercise and make sure that written composition is effective and interesting in secondary schools.
It is hoped that the recommendations provided in this study will serve as a strong reminder of their supposed roles as teachers, students and parents in improving the standard of written composition in English language by students in secondary schools.
I have no doubt as the researcher that the findings and recommendations contained in this study will enhance students’ performance in written composition in English language to an appreciable level.
Definition of Terms
Survey: A thorough examination in this case of the factors affecting students performance in written composition.
Teaching Aids: These are instructional materials used by teachers to make the lesson clearer to the students.
Teaching Methods: These are ways by which teachers impart knowledge to the learners.
Facilities: Equipment that enhance effective and learning in schools. They include textbooks, classroom.
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