Error Analysis of Students' Essays: A Case of First Year Students of the University of Health and Allied Sciences

Benjamin Amoakohene


Writing is considered as a daunting task in second language learning. It is argued by most scholars that this challenge is not only limited to second language speakers of English but even to those who speak English as their first language. Thus, the ability to communicate effectively in English by both native and non-native speakers requires intensive and specialized instruction. Due to the integral role that writing plays in students’ academic life, academic literacy has garnered considerable attention in several English-medium universities in which Ghanaian universities are no exception. It is therefore surprising that prominence is not given to Academic Writing and Communicative Skills at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS). In this paper, I argue for much time and space to be given to Academic Writing and Communicative Skills, a programme that seeks to train students to acquire the needed skills and competence in English for their academic and professional development. This argument is based on the findings that came out after I explored the errors in a corpus of 50 essays written by first year students of  UHAS. The findings revealed that after going through the Communicative Skills programme for two semesters, students still have serious challenges of writing error-free texts. Out of the 50 scripts that were analyzed, 1,050 errors were detected. The study further revealed that 584 (55.6%) of these errors were related to grammatical errors, 442 (42.1%) were mechanical errors and 24 (2.3%) of the errors detected were linked to the poor structuring of  sentences. Based on these findings, recommendations and implications which are significant to educators, policy makers and curriculum developers are provided. This study has implications for pedagogy and further research in error analysis. 

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