Grammatical Errors in the Expository Essays of Public Health Students of Njala University

Saidu Challay, Vandi S. Kanneh


The purpose of this study was to identify and analyse the grammatical errors in the expository essay of second year students pursuing a programme of study leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health at the Njala University, Bo Campus. 100 students were randomly selected from among 190 students of the same class who wrote the test on a subject matter that falls within their domain. Errors were identified and categorized into ten: verb usage, noun usage, punctuation marks, spellings, wrong words, capitalization, pronoun usage, prepositions, abbreviations/coinages and articles. To ascertain the percentage and mean score of each error category, descriptive statistics was used. Using this criterion, five error areas: verb usage, punctuation marks, spellings, wrong words and capitalisation were identified to be significant because of mean scores exceeding 2.0 in each case. The remaining error categories were not significant but show that the students have problem using them correctly in expressing their ideas in written form. Most of the errors made were as a result of overgeneralisation of grammatical rules, L1 interference and ignorance of many rules of English Grammar, and the inability of second language learners to construct the forms of the target language because of inadequate exposure to the target language. These error problems would only be overcome if the learners are adequately exposed to the grammar of English from primary school to university, and if they also adopt favourable attitude towards the learning of English.

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