This study was carried out to investigate the errors in essay writing among secondary school learners of English language in Ekiti State. The sample of the study consisted of 60 students of both sexes from randomly selected secondary schools in Ikere Ekiti. It adopted the analytical method of investigation by using a comparative critique to gather information and find out causes, sources and occurrences of errors in essay writing among students. A self-designed test on English language was used for the study.  Sixty respondents were randomly selected from six schools for the test.

The Data collected were analyzed using Simple Frequency Counts and percentage scores.

Findings show that;

Learners of English used tenses with a lot of inconsistency i.e. present tense were used in place of past tense and vice-versa, there was no logical link between one paragraph and another in the essays, learners of English as a second language were faced with the problems of spelling English words as a result of interference of the mother tongue language with the target language or lingua franca, punctuation marks were used arbitrarily.

Lastly, illegibility of writings by the learners of English Language also contributes to errors in essay writing.

Based on this finding, it is recommended that;

Teachers should see errors as friends and not enemies to be conquered. Students should be given time and opportunity to correct errors before the teachers do (that is, teachers should find out if the students can correct the errors themselves).

Errors should be used to plan ahead; (teachers should find out what the students  need to work on next) Teachers should find out if the errors are due to carelessness, lack of application of a learned rule or lack  of knowledge of a structure

In view of these, English language teachers should embark on practical teachings with a lot of emphasis on the areas of difficulty in the usage of English language as a second language.







TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                              

CHAPTER ONE                                                                                   


Background to the Study

Statement of the Problem

Research Questions

Purpose of the Study

Delimitations of the Research

Significance of the Study

Definitions of Terms

CHAPTER TWO                                                                                 

LITERATURE REVIEW                                                              


Concept of Error

Concept and Process of Error Analysis

Uses of Error Analysis

Explanation of Causes


CHAPTER THREE                                                                     

RESEARCH METHOD                                                                

Research Design

Population of the Study

Sample and sampling Techniques

Research Instrument

Validity of Instrument

Administration of Instrument

Data Analysis

CHAPTER FOUR                                                                         

RESULT AND DISCUSSION                                                    

Error of Grammatical Structure and Findings

Analysis of Errors in Written Essays

CHAPTER FIVE                                                                                    










The historical facts of slavery and colonialism are well known to English students. The former entails the enforced migration of Africans from the shores of Africa to America and Europe and it could be regarded as an improvement on the crude form of slavery which forced Africans to other continent.

On the other hand, colonialism is a system of government which super imposed the culture, values, government and more importantly the language of the colonized people of Africa. In all the entire heritage left behind in Nigeria by the British at the end of the colonial administration. Non is more important the English language. The British missionaries and traders had early contacted with the coastal areas such as Lagos, Warri and Calabar .With these activities; the English language was brought to the coast of the country.

The missionary activities were particularly significant in the development and propagation of the language. Thus, inspite of the existing native languages, the English language became the language of evangelism and language of western Education in Nigeria. Consequently, the English language was foisted on Nigeria as their official language throughout the whole country.

The English language serves as a unifying force in Nigeria, a nation in which multiplicity of languages are abound. The English language is so important as to replace the native language outside the home. The importance and indispensability of English language give rise to the need for our students from primary and secondary schools not only to learn English language but to assume an important position in our society, especially in school, it is therefore necessary that in learning the language, the primacy of speech and writing should be stressed. Hence, a learner should get a thorough knowledge of the spoken form and then proceed to learn his literary form.

In view of this, Aiyewumi et al (2004) state the major sources of errors in L1 interference, L2 syncrasies, inappropriate learning and application of rules. Richard (2005) regards errors as the outcome of interference between two language systems by means of social, psychological linguistic interaction.

Error according to Lawal (2004) is attributed to the complexity of the English language itself. The level at which people commit error in terms of language usage vary from one person to another depending on linguistic background of the speaker or user of the language.

Olasehinde (2006) also states that errors and misuse of language by the students could be attributed to bad teachings and resources. The other reasons he gave for occurrence of errors include ignorance, lack of practice and carelessness. To correct the errors of usage in students writing and speech, the teacher needs to know what rules have been broken.

Thoman (2005) also maintains that error analyses can be used to determine what a learner still needs to know and to be taught. It provides the necessary information about what is lacking in his or her competence. She also makes distinction between errors and lapses. According to her, lapses are mistakes produced by native speaker, which can be corrected by them. They call for instant correction rather than remedial works.

Composition art in English language starts from the ability to use language effectively by putting knowledge gained from the environment together in form of past events or imaginary ones as a narrative for the purpose of entertainment, education and enlightenment. If such is put into writing, it then becomes “Essay writing” or “written English composition.”

Writing can be define as the use of letters and other kinds of characters and symbols to records words, concepts and sounds invisible forms commonly formed by marking on the surface by hands or by means of printing. Writing is therefore one of the modes of communication used by man for ages. It is often described as the graphic representation of vocal sounds, this implies that writing is derived from speech and it is the easiest form of communication used by writer who cannot directly interact with their audience from distance.

Writing serves as a great deal of energy and time that may be expanded on speech communication. The major advantage of writing is in the possibility of preserving. This means we could communicate through writing with people who are thousands of kilometers away from us. Also, at the receipt of the message, a written document can be kept for many years. It is possible to communicate the past as well as future generations.

There is a limit to what can be passed down (without distortation) through oral tradition. To this extent, a writer needs to exercise a great deal of circumspection even from extraneous quarters. This is because a piece of writing, no matter how esoteric, it cannot be restricted only to the audience for which it is perceived.

Therefore, unequivocally values are often used to provide evaluative judgment for whatever is written. The evaluation of a written text starts with the language used and cut across mechanics and organizational principles. When a piece of writing is discovered to have fallen short of any vital ingredient, the writer is often looked at as a failure and the write up is considered a junk.

Anybody under the task of expressing his opinion in continuous writing must be calculated and systematic in as much he does not have to scribble anything on paper to achieve the desired intelligibility. Intelligibility is the main goal of any writer and since he is not the one to read his piece and  most likely, he will not be around when his audience will try to decode his scribbling or writings, he must be considerate enough to prepare his speech consciously. He must deploy the technique that will facilitate the understanding of his message. A good writer has to consider the reader who according to Jean Paul Satre, “completes the job started by the writer”.

The errors encountered in essay writing have received lot of attentions from many linguistic language teachers, stylisticians, researchers and a host of others and several studies have been carried out. However, this study is a further attempt at examining the misused forms of English language in essay writing.

English language is characteristically and systematically structured. The structures include phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. These features have suffered lot of misconceptions due to language contact. Since a writer will have to sit down, think of his ideals and device.

For a logical method of organization with which a writer will accentuate his premeditated opinion via the element of essay writing, writing therefore, is more formal and demanding than speech.

English language is referred to as second language (L2) which is acquired by a child. Hence, there are always interference due to language contact resulting in poor learning and acquisition of the second language (L2).

There are four language skills viz:

  1. Reading
  2. Listening
  • Writing and
  1. Speaking

All these four skills are important, but students are primarily assessed through written works. The essay writing is a good indicator of student’s mastery of the English language. In it lot of factors is tested. These factors includes: organization, content, expression and mechanical accuracy.

Thus, this study is meant to expose the errors in essay writing with a view to identify the areas students find difficult and suggest possible ways of correcting these errors, thereby improving English language as a target language. The study focuses its attention on selected senior secondary schools in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti-State.


Recent researchers indicate that the problems encountered by students in essay writing are divided into grammar, organization, content, spelling, paragraph development, sentence development and relevance. In carrying out the study the followings will be raised for consideration

  1. Lack of word construction
  2. In appropriate use of grammar
  • Poor page layout paragraphing
  1. Incomplete sentence
  2. Incorrect referencing
  3. Contraction and abbreviation and slang
  • Spelling errors and word misuse
  • Unformatted titles.


  1. How far do the students use of English affect or influence their performance in essay writing?
  2. Do the parent’s statuses in marriage influence the students?
  • Are the students too young or too old for class?
  1. Which of the gender of the student perform better?
  2. Will teachers of English language involve their student in the correction of their essay?
  3. What are the problems encountered in teaching essay writing?
  • How can the error discovered be applied for necessary correction?


This study is motivated by the desire to find out the causes of errors in essay writing among secondary school learners in Ikere-Ekiti.

This errors are due to language interference, marital status of parents (either a single father or mother) and incompetence in the part of English teachers


Inspite of the great importance of this topic to Ikere Local Government Area in Ekiti State and the whole nation in general, time factor and financial barrier has consequently restricted the study and the research work strictly to some selected secondary school in Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti state.


The identification of errors in essay writing might lead to possible solutions to the problems encountered by secondary school students in the usage of the English language. The outcome of this research is therefore, expected to help learners, linguistics, teachers and writers of English textbooks to have a reliable insight into the problems that often occur in the use of English language and ultimately essay writing in the secondary schools.

Authors of English language texts could also benefit from this study. The knowledge obtained could help them determine the learning items in English language and help them incorporate essential programmes of learning that may enhance competence in the use of the language.

This study will exhibit and comprehensively discuss errors in essay writing in English language. The correctness of the use of English in secondary schools lay a sure and basic foundation for effective communication for future. This will enhance smooth and easy interaction and development in communication in a multi-lingual society like Nigeria.


The following terms are defined as they are used in this study:

L1: First Language Spoken or the Mother Tongue

L2: Second Language Spoken or Lingua Franca

Essay Writing: A short piece of writing, it may be narrative, descriptive, expository and argumentative essay.

Errors: These are mistakes made by learners especially one that causes problems in learning a second target language.

Education: A process of teaching, training and learning especially in schools or colleges to improve knowledge and develop skills.

Performance: Performance is used as the outcome or result of students’ ability based on written texts conducted by their teachers and examination bodies.

Communication: The activity or the process of expressing ideas and disseminating information to people.

Linguistic: The scientific study of language or a particular language.

Author: A person who writes book or publish a particular book.

Learners: A person who is finding out about a subject.

Multilingual: A country or community using different languages. E.g. Nigeria.

This Project is is available for the below list of Nigerian State capitals.
Abia Umuahia, Adamawa Yola, Akwa Ibom Uyo, Anambra Awka, Bauchi Bauchi, Bayelsa Yenagoa, Benue Makurdi, Borno Maiduguri, Cross River Calabar, Delta Asaba, Ebonyi Abakaliki, Edo Benin. Ekiti Ado Ekiti, Enugu Enugu, Gombe Gombe, Imo Owerri, Jigawa Dutse, Kaduna Kaduna, Kano Kano, Katsina Katsina, Kebbi Birnin Kebbi, Kogi Lokoja, Kwara Ilorin, Lagos Ikeja, Nasarawa Lafia, Niger Minna, Ogun Abeokuta, Ondo Akure, Osun Oshogbo, Oyo Ibadan, Plateau Jos, Rivers Port Harcourt, Sokoto Sokoto, Taraba Jalingo, Yobe Damaturu, Zamfara Gusau, FCT Abuja.



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