Problems of Tense Errors in English Essays among SS2 Students
This study examined tense errors in English essays of secondary school students in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area. Three research questions were raised in line with the specific objectives of the study. The study adopted the quasi-experimental research design. The population of the study comprised all senior secondary school students in the study area. A sample size of 120 ss2 students was used for the study. The major instrument for data collection was “English Language Essay Test [ELET]. The data collected were analyzed using frequency counts and simple percentages. The result showed that students made errors in the use of tenses of verb in their sentences. Errors were observed in the use of present tense, past tense and future tense. An average of 3.8 cases of tense errors were recorded prescript. It was concluded that the students examined were still in competition in the use of English tense. It was recommended among others that students should be encouraged to speak English Language quite often in and outside the classroom to improve their ability to achieve communication in the Language.
1.1 Background to the Study
The importance of English Language acquisition as a stepping–stone for proficiency in other school subjects cannot be over-emphasized. Knowledge is important both for the educational, economical, and national development of a country. The importance of the English Language as a school subject derives mainly from its utilitarian value to the larger Nigerian society. English is the official language of administration and commerce. In recognition of the importance of the English Language for enhancing educational attainment as well as for improving the communication ability of citizens, the government had made the subject a core subject (FGN, 2004).
It is also compulsory for students to have credit in English Language before entering the university. This also explains why many parents go off their way to see that their children passed at credit level or above in English Language. Nigerian, like most sub- Saharan countries, is blessed with many indigenous Languages but the English Language continues to play a pivotal role in the day-to-day transactions of Nigerians. As a result of this rather unfortunate case of linguistic imperialism, the Ministry of Education has made it a policy for the English Language to be taught from kindergarten to the university level.
In addition, it is also medium of instruction in almost all subjects. Afful (2007) observed that apart from English Language being used as an official Language or Lingua Franca in Nigeria, it is an important means of inter- ethnic communication internally and a source of communication internally and a source of communication with the international community – politics, trade, and science. Afful’s assertion, with regard to the importance of the English Language in Nigeria has been buttressed by Quagie (2010), who, in extolling the role of English positoes that he is yet to read or see any written manifestoes of political parties in other Nigerian Language. This is very unfortunate as the majority of the population is not very literate in English.
However, it is important to mention that not withstand the status of the English Language in Nigeria, not much has been done to improve upon how the Language is taught and learned, let alone spoken as one would have expected. In this regard, mention can be made of how issues surrounding the teaching and learning of the Language in Nigeria continue to pose challenges to teachers and other academics. Indeed, one of such problems is the wrong use of tenses in written and spoken communication which might not be unconnected with the influence of mother- tongue.
It should be borne in mind that errors in the use of tenses are not peculiar to students only but the teachers of the language who are not well vested with the knowledge of the Language do make similar errors. This development however, must have accounted for the poor performance of students in the subject in public examinations which is fast becoming a recurring decimal if left unchecked.
1.2 Statement of the Problem.
The recurrent poor performance of students in the English Language is causing some concern among English Language teachers, school administrators, parents, and the general public. Teachers have put up noble and spirited efforts aimed at identifying the major problem associated with learning of English Language in schools. Despite all these efforts, the problem of poor achievement in the English Language has continued to rear its head in the nation’s public examinations.
Many scholars have attributed the incidence of students’ failure in the subject to ineffective method of teaching the subject and poor reading culture among students which as culminated in the poor knowledge of the subject by the students. Accordingly, it has been observed that students being second Language Learners find it complicated to speak or write good English owing to the influence of mother tongue.
Most students have problems in differentiating between past, present and future tenses in their daily communication and essays. They end up mixing up tenses in their essays which account for their poor performance in public examinations. It is against this background, therefore, that this study “ Tense Errors in the English Essays of secondary school students in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area ’’ became imperative.
1.3 Objective of the Study.
The main objective of this study is to examine tense errors in English essays of secondary school students in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area. The specific objectives include:
- To identify the tenses in the essays of students in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area.
- To classify the tense errors identified into types.
- To find out the possible causes of the tense errors identified.
1.4 Research Questions.
The following research questions were raised in line with the specific objectives of the study.
- What are the tense errors students make in their English essays?
- What are the types of errors made?
- What are the causes of the errors?
1.5 Significance of the study.
It is anticipated that the findings of this study will be of huge benefit to teachers of the English Language, school administrators, authors of English Language texts and students in the following ways:
- It will reveal the tense errors made by the students of English Language.
- It will enable teachers of the Language to drill their students on the use of correct tense while writing any kind of essays.
- It will promote effective and error-free communication among school administrators, teachers and the learners.
- It will help authors of English texts to realize the need for more to be done in the area tenses.
- It will add to the body of existing Literature on the topic of this research.
- Finally, this study will serve as a springboard and a reference material for further research on problems of tense errors in English essays not only among students in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area but in other local government areas in the state and nation at large.