Research Key

The Mastery of Spelling by the Language Proficiency Student Seeking Admission into the University of Buea

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International: $20
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Qualitative method
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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The purpose of this study is to find out the mastery of the English language by ESL learners by the language proficiency students at the University of Buea. It was hypothesized that students do not have a good mastery of spelling. Data was collected using questions but in an essay form, checking spelling errors and investigating the source.

The data was presented in a simple table identifying the source of error and briefly analyzing them. Recommendations and suggestions for further studies were equally made. It was recommended for teachers to teach letter doubling and teaching their students the rules. Suggestions were also made on reading and writing as well as dyslexia to enhance their spelling mastery proficiency.




The English language was brought to Cameroon in the 19th century during the trade with British firms. This trade ended when Cameroon was annexed by Germany, though the language was not completely eradicated the British got in contact with Cameroon again after the First World War when Germany was defeated in Cameroon by the British and French.

This territory was then shared as a mandated territory between the French and the British under the Mandate B commission. The English language became the official language in the British territory after the mandate period, during the independence of Cameroon that is by re-unifying with the eastern part of the country that was administered by the French. These two parts adopted English and French as their official languages.

From 1961 till date, English has co-existed with French. That has made the two languages influence one another. There are two regions in Cameroon that speak English as their second language. These regions include the southwest and northwest region. However, they comprise the minority of the country. Though there are some users of English-language who use English as a foreign language, they belong to the French-speaking part of the country.

Background to Study

Traditional approaches to spelling mastery suggest that less importance has been placed on spelling mastery of English Vocabulary. It has been noticed that the mastery of spelling is very important in English Vocabulary both in writing and reading. Many ESL learners of English do not have a good mastery of spelling. This either done by spelling wrongly or misappropriation of, misplacement of sounds. Though there are several ways to mastering spelling, the wrong mastery of spelling is caused by several reasons.

These reasons include the level at which spellings are taught. This is because spellings are taught only in primary and first cycle secondary schools, and this is not enough as many students leave secondary school without having a good mastery of spelling, and as a result, they cannot still spell or write properly in at the university and also in their daily lives.

The reason for poor spelling mastery is also due to the roles teachers play in teaching their students how to master spelling, and also teachers do not have a good background in spelling. According to Kimberly (2009), she said that for a teacher to be able to teach spelling properly, they have to, first of all, have a knowledgeable idea in the course they are teaching, which this not the case in Cameroon is as most teachers that teach English are not from the English background.

They did not study English in school maybe they were just appointed to teach English. When they are posted to teach English, how do you expect them to give what they do not have? When they only have basic ideas of the language and this why Metuge (2006) stated that it is important for the teacher to be familiar with the subject they are teaching.

That is they should carry out the subject they are teaching. There are other reasons as stated by Anthony (Ibid) that the learner’s output is dependent on the experience children have from the environment. This applies to ESL learners. According to Achiri B-Tabah and Roland R. (2017) in The issue of language proficiency. The teacher plays a major role in the student’s learning proficiency.

The account that for a teacher to best teach students, they should have a perfect knowledge of the subject for instance a teacher teaching English language should have both the morphological idea and orthographical mastery as well as the semantic and syntactic mastery of the language for instance the case of spelling, the teacher should have a good background of spelling before teaching the course like it is said, you can give what you don’t have.

There are external reasons why most students have a low mastery of the English language. This is due to the complex background of the English Vocabulary. According to the historical background of English Spellings in the world-leading language solution.

During the complex history English, the language has been subjected to numerous influence that has becoming a mixture of languages, benefitting from the many benefits to its vocabulary and also blending different spellings, this has contributed to the abundant inconsistency of the spelling of the written language which sometimes meets with a varied and unpredictable pronunciation. So in order to master spelling, one needs to master the spelling roles.

Also tracing back from the origination of the English language, during the Anglo- Saxon invasion at the British Isles in the 5th century AD. The Germanic roots of English gradually created the core to Old English vocabulary similar to modem German words like mother, daughter, and son.

These words were spelt differently originally and pronounced differently, but has been transformed due to linguistic changes and also borrowing from the Celtic tribes an ongoing word borrowing from Latin has also grown and generated a different spelling system.

The Vikings influence of the English language due to their invasion in the 9th century brought about many different words and as a result selling conversion, and with all these only causes more complexity in mastering spelling of English words.

Also, the French invasion and the Greek has made the English Vocabulary currently be using English-French words, and this has brought with it yet another spelling conversion and the longing of English words by adding suffixes and prefixes makes it more difficult to understand.

The lack of roles imprinting has also added to the more complexity of spelling English words, as printing did not have a certain standard. Divergence in spelling the same word often and even in the same sentence for example the letter “O” has three different pronunciation “O-over”, “O- glove” and “O-prove”. The consonant digraph “th” as in “there” and “though”, replacing older letters like “O” sounding like “U” income, son and love.

The phonological phenomena in the 15th century known as the vowel shift also caused changes in the pronunciation of those other familiar words to us today like thus marked in early modern English as a transitional spelling. However staying as it was and to date still maintains its form, as an old English or Middle English pronunciation. This additional innovation of transition all adds up to the complexity of spelling English words and mastering their spelling.

The complexity of English sounds is also a call for concern as a single sound has several pronunciations for example K




Research Problem                                      t

The mastery of spelling is a major call for concern in the English language as one need to express himself or herself in either writing or speaking, and so if a student cannot spell correctly then there is a probability that they cannot speak properly nor write correctly is very high.

So, in order to improve students’ proficiency in the spelling mastery of English words as well as improving their reading, writing as well as their speaking ability, they need to learn various means of learning spelling and adopting various strategies to master spelling through spelling roles. So, it is important to look for various means that students need to adapt in order to improve on their spelling mastery.

The objective of the Study

This study is aimed at improving students’ mastery by investigating the various cause of students’ poor mastery and the various ways that students can use to improve their mastery of spelling.

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