Opinion of Second Language Learners about Writing Difficulties in English Language

By Farooq, Muhammad Shahid; Uzair-Ul-Hassan, Muhammad et al. | South Asian Studies, January-June 2012 | Go to article overview

Opinion of Second Language Learners about Writing Difficulties in English Language


Farooq, Muhammad Shahid, Uzair-Ul-Hassan, Muhammad, Wahid, S., South Asian Studies


ABSTRACT

English language enjoys a prominent role in Pakistan as an effective communication medium at local and international circles. It is used as a medium of instruction not only in schools but also in colleges and universities. The aim of this study was to explore writing difficulties in the English language faced by second language learners. A survey was conducted for this purpose. Data were collected from four boys and girls public sector colleges. Two hundred and forty five 12th graders studying English as a compulsory subject were randomly selected out of five hundred and twenty. Results of the study indicated that students were facing a lot of difficulties in writing English language due to lack of vocabulary, poor spelling, L1 interference and a poor understanding of grammatical structure. The girls face more writing difficulties than the male students in English language. The method based on identification, investigation, and solutions to language related real life problems should be used for teaching of English from primary school level to higher levels of education.

KEYWORD: English language, writing difficulties, process writing, genre approach, writing modes

The Importance of Language

Today, communication across the cultures and nations is more important than ever before. Language is the best medium of communication and is therefore essential for human interaction. In this globalized world, many people speak more than one language. Besides many other languages being taught in Pakistan, the English language is widely recognised for personal and professional use. It is considered as a lingua franca in all types of communication. The acquisition and use of a second language is essential to the everyday lives of people around the world. The trend for acquisition of second language affects the careers and life styles of people (Cook, 2001). English enjoys a status of second language in Pakistan as it is used extensively for many purposes in society. For acquiring and using any language effectively and efficiently, it is essential to master four basic skills, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing. Writing is not a natural activity, so explicit instructions are required for learning this skill (Aronoff& Rees- Miller, 2007). "Writing is a system of more or less permanent marks used to represent an utterance in such a way that it can be recovered exactly without intervention of the utterer" (Daniels & Bright, 1996). Audio lingual approach to language teaching ranks writing at an inferior level. It is a cognitive as well as a social process (MacArthur, 2006). Written expression is more effective in social cognitive instances of communication than oral expression. Unlike speaking, writing enables human beings to convey a message independent of time and space (Hughes, 1996). It is considered man's best academic achievement based on skills or components like mechanics, production, conventions, linguistics and cognition. The act of writing is independent of time and place; the writer has to depend upon formal features to convey the intended meanings. Failure to take advantage of these features correctly causes frustration for the writer (Leisak, 1989). English is the second and official language in Pakistan as well as an easy language to work with and learn science and technology at higher levels. It is taught as a compulsory subject in Urdu (L1) as well as English (L2) medium schools, however the majority of students with rural and urban backgrounds cannot communicate properly in English and perceive it as a very difficult subject. At secondary (grade 9-10), intermediary (grade 11-12) and bachelor levels (grade 13-14), many of the students from the Arts and Humanities areas cannot meet the requirements of the examination in English. The purpose of the study was to explore the difficulties in writing English language. It specifically aimed to know difficulties in writing English language related to grammar, punctuation, L1 interference, vocabulary, and spellings for students with English as a second language. …

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