Research Key

Mastery of Phrasal Verbs by ESL Learners: A Case Study of 300 Level Students of the Department of English

Project Details

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International: $20
No of pages
Qualitative research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
 MS Word & PDF

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This research set out to investigate the mastery of phrasal verbs by the university of Buea students. The overall objective was to find out why phrasal verbs are wrongly used by students. Data were collected through observation and administration of a test.

The analysis revealed that there is a causal relationship between knowledge and exposure on one hand and the use of phrasal verbs on the other hand. Students misused phrasal verbs because this aspect of language was largely neglected in teaching, and also because they had limited exposure to speakers who used phrasal verbs adequately.

We recommend that teaching of phrasal verbs should be integrated into English language teaching from early primary levels to ensure maximum exposure.



Background to the study

The English Language is one of the most widespread languages in the world today. It is spoken as a first language by more than three hundred (300) million people throughout the world and used as a second language by many more.

At least a fifth of the world’s population speak the English language with some degree of competence. It is an official or semi-official language in several countries and it plays significant roles in many more.

This language has earned the status of international language as a result of colonization in the 19th century as it now occupies the status of an official language alongside French in the UN.

It is difficult to operate conveniently in today’s global context without English. Its prestigious stance is evident in the world of science and technology, the language of automation, the internet of international seminars, conferences and diplomatic circles to mention these few.

Cameroon has a complex linguistic situation with these two as official languages, and in addition to these two, there are some 247-indigenous languages and one lingua franca, Cameroon pidgin (Etchu 2004).

It is worthy to note that it is standard British English language that is supposed to be taught in Cameroon.

In the University of Buea where this research is carried out English is the main language of instruction, communication and all official matters, though student often relates to one another in Pidgin English. Despite prominent education and environment, they nonetheless face great difficulties when they speak or write English. One of such areas where these difficulties are glaring is the mastery of phrasal verbs.

Moreover, looking at the pedagogical level the teaching of English in Cameroon leaves much to be desire. Some inexperienced teachers teach English without the mastery of the language and their teaching methods are not reliable. Thus a poor foundation in the area of mastery disrupts the students’ correct use of the language.

The rapid spread and dominance of Pidgin English at the informal level in the English-speaking region of Cameroon (North West and South) have been one of the major factors responsible for the decline of English. At the moment, its influence is so flat in several major towns of the francophone regions.

Etchu (2004) assert that Cameroon Pidgin English is no longer perceived exclusively as a lingua franca of the English-speaking population, but as a language that has a possible national dimension.

In urban as well as rural areas it is used in churches, market places, in the car park, in railway stations, bus stops, in the street and in many other informal settings. In teaching, the negativity spills over to learners especially as English remains one of the language instructions in the academic circle.

To learn a language like English, the four skills should be mastered; listening, speaking, reading and writing. It is therefore relevant to find out if a good or poor mastery of English, phrasal verb, preposition and verbs would have an impact on their use either negatively or positively

Statement of Problems

Given the importance of English language Cameroon and the world as a whole, it is important that speak have a good mastery the use of phrasal verbs, this is however not the case.

Researchers have observed that proficiency of the university of Buea students speaking English has suffered a decline in recent years why accusing fingers have been pointed to several directions.

It is important to identify the areas of difficulties that the university of Buea face when using phrasal verbs which are the misuse and wrong usage of phrasal verbs.

After listening to many students’ discussion, I observe they are faced with the problems mentioned above. This has prompted me to carry out this research

Objectives of the Study

  • The main objective of the research project is to examine the use of phrasal verb by the university of Buea students
  • The ultimate reason is to identify the area of phrasal verbs usage that is most challenging or problematic for the university of Buea student
  • It also seeks to describe the relationship between the academic orientation of students and mastery of phrasal amongst department like English, linguistic and French
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