research is an ex-post facto aimed at establishing relationship between errors
and some factors as a causative agent. The researcher looked at determinants of
errors in written Igbo composition. The researcher work specifically went into
identifying, analyzing and describing the mechanical and expressional errors
primary school pupils make in written Igbo composition. The result of the study
may direct the attention of Igbo teachers to the specific errors identified,
thereby saving time on the teaching task and ensuring a greater level of
understanding of the concept.
collected with written work was analysed with chi-square (x2) test
statistics for the hypotheses that was tested.
was no significant difference in the kind of error made in written Igbo
pupils made more errors than the urban pupils
pupils made more errors than their female counterparts.
Suggestions were made with regards to what can be done to
minimize the pupils errors in their written work. The findings shows that the
types of errors committed by pupils in written Igbo composition are
and expressional errors.
primary pupils commit more mechanical errors than their urban counterparts.
recorded more mechanical errors than females.
The educational implications of the study were presented. The
researcher based on the findings recommended that
use error analysis as a teaching procedure
Seminars, workshops, conferences should be organized for the
pupils at classroom level to improve the learning and use of Igbo language.
Use of teaching aids in classroom instruction
Devotion of time to teaching Igbo mechanics
Development of positive attitude to the study of Igbo language
by parents among others. All the above should be taken cognizance of to avoid
the occurrence of the problems as investigated.
Background of the Study
effectiveness of any educational system relies, upon the achievement of
educational goals. Going by this, the educational system that operates in a
given society is aimed at attaining proper development of the learner and the
community where the school is located (Ogbonnaya, 2003). The primary medium of
any educational programme is language. According to Hasen (2001), language is
the vehicle for the implementation of the curriculum of a given society in the
classroom setting. It is when the language used is known and understood by the
learners and the teachers that the content of the educational programme can be
made more meaningful, practicable and relevant.
the broad aims of the primary school education is to expose the pupils to all
areas of studies, including the development of language and culture. The Igbo
language is very vital to the mental development of the Igbo child. It helps
the pupils to be fluent in speaking as well as writing the Igbo language. It
makes for the ability to criticize oneself and also to look at things
critically. It is important to note that pupils who read more, think better and
argue more intelligently. Yule (2002) states that “one of the functions of
language is to interact”. It is language that beings use to interact with each
other socially or emotionally, indicate friendliness, cooperation, hostility,
annoyance, pain, or pleasure. This means that if a child is acquainted with his
language, he would be able to interact easily with his fellow human
beings.Nwadike (2008) emphasizes that “a society without language is like that
without culture”. Language and culture are inseparable and to separate a child
from his language at the early stages of his school education is to make him
have no regard for his culture. It is important to start at early stage to
expose a child to his language in order to make him cope with the societal
demands. In further recognition of this fact, the International Institute of
Africa Languages and Culture (ILLAC) (1998) states that for the first three
years in school, the medium of instruction should be principally the mother
tongue. The rationale for this decision, according to ILLAC, is that language
and mind work together and where a child cannot speak his mother tongue, such a
child is bound to do most of his thinking in a foreign language. For the
purpose of promoting unity and progress in Nigeria, the Federal Republic of
Nigeria (2004) made it compulsory that every Nigerian should learn his or her
mother tongue in addition to one other recognized language in Nigeria. This
policy accorded Nigerian languages, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, important place in
the school curriculum. In fact, there are reasonable speculations to the effect
that if seriously taught in the school system, one of them will eventually
emerge as a national language without government imposing it on the nation.
recognized and recommended, it is observed that Igbo language is neglected.
Many people shun it and it does not receive the desired attention in our
society and in schools. It is observed that the elites embrace English and
treat their language with contempt. In schools, the language (Igbo) is not
allotted enough time in the school timetable; instead, the English language is
given more attention and is also used as a medium of instruction. No wonder the
English language in Nigeria is taken as the yardstick for measuring literacy and
even determining when the standard of education is rising or falling. English
language enjoys the premier position of being the compulsory subject in the
West African school certificate examination. For this reason, many educated
Nigerians assume that there is nothing worthy of studying in Nigeria language,
culture, history and art. The negative attitude of the people towards the Igbo
language is not limited to the learners and teachers alone but it cuts across
all segments of the society. Students of the language at higher institutions
are called Igbo B. K. To compound the neglect, the parental negative attitude
also affects the achievement level of the pupils in schools (Okoye, 2003).
Another problem is that majority of the Igbo text books are written in the
English language and this brings confusion to the pupils. At the primary school
level, the teachers are expected to teach all the subjects in the school
including the Igbo language. This particular policy does not take cognizance of
the area of specialization of the teacher. For instance, a primary school
teacher who studied physics in higher institution is expected to teach Igbo
language in his/her school. Due to the fact that it is not his/her area of
study, he will not impart to pupils the knowledge that is required of him.
from this handicap, the importance of the Igbo language in the development of
our culture cannot be over emphasized. The Igbo language studies in the primary
school incorporate such areas as grammar of the language, written and oral
literature, traditions and institutions. All these are taught and learnt as one
subject in the primary school. The objective of this policy at this lower level
of education is to expose them to all the realizations of the Igbo language
necessary. The primary school pupils study their mother tongue in order to
equip them to cope with the demands of their native language.
complex problems encountered by the Nigerian learner of Igbo. Ugwu (2004)
observes that there is always deviance when there is a contact between the
mother tongue and variety. This means that the learner has to grapple with both
inter-language and intra language difficulties. Inter-language, is the contact
of two different languages while intra-language, is the linguistics
idiosyncrasies of a given language that can cause learning problems. Other
problems associated with the study of the Igbo language are dialectal
interference and the gender view of the subject. For example in central Igbo an
elephant is called Ele but due to dialectal differences, some people call it
Ene and some Ere. All the aforementioned problems depict the level of errors
committed by pupils in the written Igbo composition hence, the low achievement
level on pupils continuous assessment. Another problem of Nigerian learner of
Igbo is the mixture of Igbo and English (code-switching); and the standard Igbo
dialect (written Igbo). It does appear that the case or flexibility with which
the Nigerian Igbo grapple with the language codes and levels in the same
utterance or piece of writing is the root of Igbo language learning
report on the achievement of pupils in the Igbo composition in their continuous
assessment shows that most of the pupils could not write in Standard Igbo. They
wrote their dialect and this made it difficult for the examiners to understand
what they have written. While some pupils wrote their essays in English instead
of Igbo, others mixed up both English and Igbo. This shows that many of them
have not yet mastered the use of Standard Igbo. It is pertinent at this
juncture to know the determinants of errors in written Igbo composition in
to Corder (2004) errors are deviances caused by lack of competence. Errors are
not mostly self-correctable instead further learning must take place before
they are correctable. Errors in the written Igbo composition refer to deviances
caused by lack of competence on the Igbo language generally. Odlin (2006)
states that errors are important evidence for the strength and weakness of a
particular native language influence. Written work is a particular weakness for
primary school learners in Nigeria. One significant cause of the under
achievement may possibly be the lack of knowledge in writing the Igbo language.
Join (2005) in Chomsky (2007) defined error by differentiating between
competence and performance. Mistakes are performance related deviances which
can occur as a result of factors external to the competence of the speaker,
such as tiredness or lack of concentration. These mistakes are due to a failure
to utilize a known system correctly (Brown, 2001). By implication errors
are deviances caused by a lack of competence systematic and noticeable
deviation from the adult grammar of a native speaker (Corder, 2004). This
simply means that pupils commit errors due to lack of knowledge on the language
but during the process of writing, the mistake that may occur is not due to
lack of knowledge but as a result of external factors. These errors made by
primary school pupils in the written Igbo composition may be overt or covert,
which shows outright lack of competence. Some of the errors, usually made by
primary school pupils may be spelling or punctuation error. Spelling errors include
omission/wrong use of diacritic mark, omission/wrong use of pronoun etc. Errors
according to Abonyi (2007) are those deviations that are systematic in nature.
Errors are deviances resulting from ignorance and can be classified as
grammatical errors, spelling, punctuation/structural, lexical and mechanical
errors as earlier stated.
errors are dictated by certain factors which may be social or cognitive. The
determinants of errors refer to what decides what or how errors are committed.
In other words, determinants of errors are causes of error. The determinants of
errors are social and cognitive factors. Both social and cognitive factors
affect language acquisition and learning. According to Ellis (2004), research
based on direct (self-report questionnaires) and indirect measures generally
shows that learners with positive attitudes, motivation and concrete goals will
have these attitudes reinforced if they experience success. Like wise,
learner’s negative attitude may be strengthened by lack of success or by
failure.McGroarty (2000) states that there is a direct relationship between
learner attitudes and learner motivation. Gardner’s (2005) socio-educational
model is designed to account for the role of social factors in language acquisition.
It interrelates four aspects of learning: the social and cultural Millieu
(which determines beliefs about language and culture), individual learner
differences (related to motivation and language aptitude), the setting (formal
and/or informal learning contexts, and learning integrative. Integrative
learning of written Igbo composition involves a desire to learn because
individuals need to learn the target language to integrate into the community.
this, the achievement level of primary school pupils in written Igbo
composition is a function of their attitude, motivations and the goals, which
they seek to attain. Precisely, the social factors, as determinants of errors
committed by primary school pupils in written Igbo composition comprises
negative attitudes towards the learning of the language, continued lack of
progress in learning, a wide school and psychological distance between the
learners and what is taught and finally, lack of integrative and instrumental
motivation for learning.
determinant of errors in written Igbo composition is cognitive factors.
Academic writing is believed to be cognitively complex. Acquisition of academic
vocabulary and discourse style is particularly difficult. According to
cognitive theory, communicating orally or in writing is an active progress of
skill development and radial elimination of errors as the learner internalizes
the language. Indeed, acquisition is a product of the complex interaction of
the linguistic environment and the learner internal mechanisms. If the amount
of lessons which the learners are exposed to is stressful, it negatively
affects their skill in writing Igbo composition. Emotional influences along
with cognitive factors can account for achievement of pupils in composition
writing in Igbo language.
behaviourist and mentalist perspectives of error, emphasized on the product,
(the error itself) while the constructivist views, focus on underlying process
(why the error is made). Errors may be identified by hypothesizing their
possible sources (Bartholomae 2003) as it affects the achievement of primary
school pupils in written Igbo composition.
There are 4 skills in language acquisition and learning. They
are listening, speaking, reading and writing. What determines the error one
commits in writing is cognitive and social factors.
is higher order skill in language learning which requires thinking and problem
solving ability. This skill can only be acquired through practice since
language learning involves a series of habit formation. Writing can be defined
as a communication process. This simply shows that writing is a means through
which a person expresses his or her inner self to someone else. In support of
the above, Hasen (2008) states that human beings have a deep need to represent
their experience through writing. Writing is a productive skill in language
use. Writing is a dialogue between the writer and the reader and so the
substance of what is written must, when it reaches the reader, say what the
writer intends to say as clearly as if the writer were there in
One cannot overlook the saying that clarity in writing is of
primary importance as an effective means of communication. In support of this,
Shrunk and White (2008) state that since writing is communication, clarity can
only be a virtue. And if the aim of writing is to deliver the message of the
writer in clear and unmistakable terms, then, non-clarity might impede
communication. This implies that if the writer could not convey in written form
his ideas, then his aim of writing is fruitless. It is this error that tells
the teacher the areas pupils have problem with regard to writing. This
knowledge will make the teacher adopt means and ways of helping the pupils
solve this problem thereby achieving the objectives of writing composition and
the Igbo language in general.
Composition is an act of creatively putting down all one has internalized in a
language like his ideas, feelings, opinions, observations, logically concerning
a particular thing so that the intention of the writer will be conveyed to the
reader (Abonyi 2007).
composition is an aspect of the Igbo language study, which involves the use of
the Igbo language in a skillful manner to explain or present clearly one’s
ideas concerning a particular thing, which can be an event, festival, objects,
culture, or any other thing at all. There are many types of Igbo composition
namely: descriptive, narrative, argumentative, or expository composition.
However, considering the level and ability of the pupils, the researcher tends
to use descriptive composition in testing them, since it is something they will
look at and at the same time be able to express themselves about the object.
to Okeke (2007), in his research work carried out in Ezeagu L.G.A, the
incidence of poor spelling and punctuation errors persists among the students
while writing Igbo composition. He further states that more than 95% of the
students in Enugu State scored no mark out of 15 for mechanical accuracy in the
Igbo composition in their SSCE of 2008. This present study will be carried out
using primary six pupils. Whether these problems will manifest in the course of
this research is not yet determined.
has been pointed out as a variable that plays an important role in learning. In
line with this, Uzoegwu (2004) quoting UNICEF, gender refers to the varied
socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities, behaviour and so on that
are ascribed to women and men of different societies. This implies that the
roles and expectations of the male and female are defined by societies and
cultures. He also notes that gender comes into play in writing composition if
we remember that personal orientation and thinking styles play a crucial role
in achievement. For instance,Kilosmeir (2006) opines that in terms of the
performance of boys and girls in thinking task, the females have a general
tendency to think in negative ways about the task in which they engage. Offorma
(2004) states that girls have more flair for language than boys and therefore,
perform better than their male counterparts in writing Igbo composition.
location of a school is also an important variable in learning. Primary schools
in Nigeria are located in both the urban and rural areas, and the location of a
school determines the type of facilities, quality of personnel and classroom
organization that are used in the course of teaching and learning; all these
affect the schools and these have effect on the achievement of pupils in Igbo
language and indirectly in writing Igbo composition. According to Umoh (2000),
the intellectual development of children that pass through a school is
dependent on location. The present study hinges on the determinants of errors
in written Igbo composition in primary school and it will examine location as
Statement of the Problem
achievement of primary school pupils in Igbo composition is very discouraging.
The pupils failure in Igbo composition is due to different types of errors
which they commit and this hinges on certain determinants of errors.Due to
that, the percentage of errors committed is very high and disturbing and this
calls for a long lasting solution which is the baseline of this research study.
What are these errors that derail the achievement of primary school pupils in
Igbo composition? How are they determined? The researcher is therefore
interested in investigating the determinants of errors in written Igbo
composition in primary school.
Purpose of the Study
research work is intended to find out the determinants of errors in written
Igbo composition in primary school. The study will look at the mechanical and
expressional errors committed by pupils in written Igbo composition.
specific terms the study strives to:
the pupils Errors in written Igbo composition
the errors in urban and rural primary school pupils in written Igbo composition
out the type of error committed by the male and female primary school pupils in
written Igbo composition.
Significance of the Study
findings of this study will be useful to the government and school
administrators, curriculum planners, teachers Igbo writers.
The result of this study may enable the government and
school administrators to provide man and material resources for meaningful
implementation of the ideas of the new basic education policy in Nigeria as it
affects the language of instruction that influences significantly early
childhood development/education and as well as check the quality of teachers
they employ. All this should be done through workshops, conferences and seminar
organized by the Government for the purpose.
results of this study could provide useful information to curriculum planners
on the need to make the Igbo language a compulsory subject throughout the
primary school levels. This may help curriculum planners to take cognizance of the
fact that the education of the child is rooted in the culture of the society,
which the child comes from. This will be done through workshops and seminars.
The findings of this study may enable the teachers to extend the
implementation of the language policy, which concerns the use of mother tongue
or language of the immediate environment as a medium of instruction in school
from the first three years to the sixth year of primary education. This will
increase the level of the professional growth of the teachers during
sensitization activities through seminars or conferences on the need to adopt
the findings of this research study. This will as well expose teachers to the
current trends in Igbo language.
The findings of this study will also enable the authors of the
Igbo language and literature books in Igbo to realize that the they should no
other language than Igbo in writing Igbo text books to ensure effective
learning and understanding by pupils in schools. For instance, the Igbo
textbooks on language and literature are supposed to be written in standard
Igbo only and not in dialect or in any other language like English, Hausa. This
will be done through a programme designed by the stakeholders involved in the
education industry to educate them on the need to write texts in the language
of the learner.
result may help the pupils through the seminars, worshop or conferences
organized for the primary school teachers based on this research study. This is
because the teacher will impart the knowledge learnt from it to the learners on
the written igbo composition based on central Igbo and not dialect.This will go
a long way in enhancing their cognitive development since one thinks faster in
the language he is conversant with. The enhancement of the pupil cognitive
development will enable the pupils to carry out co-ordinate order and even
higher order learning tasks under the cognitive domain of educational
objectives as well as gaining proficiency in the Igbo language. The pupils will
acquire this knowledge through evening lessons as well as school debate
organized by schools.
training colleges may also benefit from the results of the study because this
research work would suggest a programme of training and re-training of teachers
in the use of Nigerian languages such as the Igbo language in the teaching and
learning of the other school subjects. Also existing language training
facilities may need to be addressed to accommodate the various aspects of
language learning, which would in turn create room for good performance in such
subjects. This will be done through workshops and seminars.
Scope of the Study
is restricted to Nsukka Local Government Area in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu
State. The focus of the study is on determinants of errors in written Igbo
composition in primary schools. It will examine the frequency of errors
committed by pupils with regards to gender, school location as essential
variables for the academic achievement.
following research questions will guide the study.
are the errors committed by primary school pupils in written Igbo composition?
are the comparative analysis of the errors committed by urban and rural primary
type of errors are committed more by male and female primary school pupils in
written Igbo composition?
Ho1 There is no significant
difference between the frequencies of mechanical and expressional errors
committed by urban and rural primary school pupils in written Igbo composition.
Ho2 There is no significant
difference between the frequencies of mechanical and expressional errors
committed by male and female primary school pupils in written Igbo composition.