The Impact of Students’ Writing Skills on Academic Performance: A Case Study of Level 300 Student of the English Department in the University of Buea
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Background of the Study
The English language has been present in Cameroon from the pre-colonial period. Amuela (1991:274) asserts that up to the German annexation of Cameroon in 1884 as far as history is concerned Britain is without doubts the most predominant European influence along the Cameroon coast. Her (Britain) dominance was certainly by numerous factors such as political activities, legal and missionary efforts as well as commercial enterprises.
German annexation of the territory (Cameroon) was no hindrance for the British as they were interested in the administration of the area and it became possible with the defeat of the Germans by the British at the end of the first-word war in 1916 Ngoh(1996).
Anglophones in Cameroon define their identity through the fact that they speak the English language as their second language Wolf (2001), and marginalisation is what they consider the French language to be as they get the feeling that they are not important and cannot influence events.
Ngoh (1996) states a factor of the belief that what seems given out is the fact that moves in a circle on the cultural identity of a minority people in union whose prior right is to resist as a result of French dominance over the English language. He goes on to say Anglophone feel and state the right to live as citizens of Cameroon and thus, be treated equally as the francophone. This helps to show the position of Cameroon and the problems connected with it.
Though the imposition of the English and French language, colonisation has left a stand on Cameroon because the two languages are the media of official communication. In spite of this situation, it is important to note that English is a minority language used in Cameroon, spoken in only two of the ten regions of the country.
With over 247 indigenous languages Semegue and Sadembouo (1991) say Cameroon still stands out as a linguistic Babel where English co-exists with French as official languages. Together with the pidgin English, English co-exist and the indigenous languages influence English language proficiency and Pidgin
English seriously affect Anglophone English Alobwede (1998), Fontem and Oyetade (2005).
English is mostly spoken in the North West and South-West regions with the South West as the only region that had an Anglo-Saxon university, that is, the University of Buea in Cameroon, though another has been created in Bamenda.
The University of Buea was created in 1993 and has various faculties. Since studies are in the English language, students need to work hard in order to master the language. But there have been loud cries about declining proficiency in the language over the years. Some researchers have observed that the standard of English in Cameroon is rapidly falling. Ndongmanji (2005), examples could be social and pedagogic factors that show the fall in language proficiency.
This work in general sets out to examine how mastery of composition writing skills affect the academic performance of level 300 students at the Department of English in the University of Buea.
Statement of the problem
The problem faced by students or learners is the fact that English is learnt as a second language. Thus, in this direction, these students may simply need help to transfer their study skills from their own first language which they already posses into the English language.
Writing is a problem many Cameroonians face as a result of poor reading and writing skills in their mother tongues. Learning to write is the only means students can improve academic performance in order to perfect speaking and reading. Take for example the University of Buea where students are supposed to speak and write in English, a student with poor mastery of this language is clearly to be affected seriously in his or her academic performance.
For one to perform well in a language, they must have mastery not only of reading but of writing skills as well. Thus, due to the importance of writing skills in academics, it is imperative to study the relationship which exists between composition skills and academic performance.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study will be:
To access the impact of writing skills on academic performance.
To examine students’ mastery of writing from introduction to body and conclusion.
To access the level of mastery of elements such as – Topic Sentence Coherence Paragraph writing.
Conclusion by students at the department of English language at the University of Buea with the research question:
If you have learned any second languages, at what age did you begin learning them? Are you more successful now in the language you were exposed to earlier? Based on your personal experience, what do you think of the critical period hypothesis?