AN ERROR ANALYSIS OF THE ENGLISH CONCORD OF STUDENTS IN SOUTH EAST ZONE, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT
The English sentence has a fairly strict word order and the elements that make up a sentence must be in concord, otherwise, the linear sequence becomes ungrammatical. This study investigated the degree of competence on concord in English attained by the senior secondary class three students in Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State. The need for the work was underscored by the crucial role played by the English language in Nigerian education. The finding of the study would be relevant in English language learning and pedagogy. A simple survey research design was adopted for the study and the subjects of the study comprised five hundred students from five secondary schools in Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State. One hundred objective questions set on different types of concord were used as test instrument. The subjects‟ errors were classified and analysed using a simple percentage and arithmetic mean. Standard mean of 75 and above was used as an indication of the mastery of the rules of concord. The finding of the research revealed that the subjects have not mastered the rules guiding different types of concord. They were unable to dictate concord errors caused by shift in the construction of elements of sentences. The causes of concord errors were more intralingual than interlingual. The implications of the finding in the teaching and learning of English were discussed and suggestions for improvement made.

CHAPTER ONE

 

  • Background of the Study

 
Nigeria is a multilingual country with the English language as the key medium of communication. The language is used in politics, government administration, law, mass media, commerce and education. Consequently, every facet of the country‟s life depends largely on the English language. To the majority of Nigerians, the yardstick for measuring the degree of one‟s level of educational attainment is one‟s performance in the English language.
The first education ordinance of 1882 recognized only the English language as language of instruction. Since then, the language has been „the barometer with which the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of our school curricular are measured‟ (Eyisi 3). Poor performance in the language leads to poor performance in other subjects.
The new National Policy on Education, sections four and five, does not only recommend the English language as the language of instruction from the fourth year of primary education, it is also a compulsory subject in secondary and tertiary levels of education in Nigeria. Hence, a credit pass in English at senior secondary school certificate or general certificate O‟ level examination is a prerequisite for admission into various tertiary institutions in the country.
Regrettably, the mastery of this very important language is confronted with a lot of challenges, such as dearth of sufficiently qualified teachers of English, lack of role models, negative attitude to the learning of the language, poor reading culture and above all, inadequate exposure to the intricacy of the grammar of the language as well as faulty application of grammatical rules. Eyisi affirms that:
 
… although the available position of English in the national life is waxing stronger than it has been, the spoken and written quality of the language in Nigeria, as perceived by the expert judges have deteriorated to a drastic level (10).
To buttress this assertion, the WAEC Chief Examiners Reports of 2000, 2002 and 2004 respectively, revealed that candidates‟ responses to the examination questions were rather disappointing, in spite of the fact that the questions were clear. They stated that the candidates‟ short-comings were their inability to express ideas correctly in English and abuse of basic rules of grammar. It is also an incontestable fact that good writing stems from adequate familiarity with the grammatical components of a language.
Grammar in its simplest sense is „the study of how a language works‟ (Charpman 155). What this means specifically is that grammar is the study of the systems and patterns which operate in a language to give meaning to an utterance. These acceptable systems and patterns are believed to constitute the rules of language. These rules govern the sounds, words, sentences and other elements, as well as their combination and interpretation. (Encyclopedia Britannica 410) Chomsky confirms „…that a fully adequate grammar must assign to each of an infinite range of sentences, a structural pattern indicating how this sentence is to be understood by the ideal speaker-hearer‟ (4 – 5).
In English grammar, there are rules, which govern variations in the form of words, variation in the word order and combination of phonemes. The phonology of English, for instance, permits the combination of certain phonemes in a particular sequence to form acceptable patterns. Let us consider the letters „p‟, „a‟, „t‟, when in combination English words such as „pat‟, „tap‟ and „apt‟ are realized but „atp‟ on possible
 
combination is not permissible in the language. In the same vein, „books‟ is the plural of
„book‟, but „mans‟ is not accepted as the plural of „man‟.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR ERROR ANALYSIS OF THE ENGLISH CONCORD

  • CHAPTER ONE
  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Aims and Objectives
  • 1.4 Relevance of the Study
  • 1.5 The Scope of the Study
  • 1.6 Research Methodology
  • CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
  • The Concept of Grammar
  • The Concept and Components of Syntax
  • The Concept of Error
  • Categories of Errors
  • Sources of Error
  • CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH DESIGN AND PROCEDURE
  • Introduction
  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Area of Study
  • 3.3 Population of the Study
  • 3.4 Sampling Technique
  • 3.5 Research Instrument
  • 3.6 Method of Data Analysis
  • CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION, DATA ANALYSIS AND
  • INTERPRETATION
  • Analysis of Sampled Questions
  • Statistical Analysis of the Subjects‟ Overall Competence on Concord
  • in English
  • The Subjects‟ Competence on Different types of Concord
  • Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Concord with the Correlatives
  • Subject-Complement Concord
  • The Concord of Subject and Object
  • Pronoun/Antecedent Concord
  • Shift in Construction
  • CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, SUGGESTION AND CONCLUSION 72
  • Works Cited
  • Appendix I

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