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English & Literary Studies

The Inconsistent Usage Of Verbs Among Primary Six Pupils Using Primary Schools In Owerri Municipal Council




This study investigated the inconsistent usage of verbs among primary six pupils using primary schools in Owerri Municipal Council as case study. Four research questions and two hypotheses guided the study. Acculturation theory of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) was adopted as theoretical framework for the study. The study employed survey as its research design. The population consisted of 70 primary school teachers in Owerri Municipal Council. A sample of 70 respondents was selected which represent the entire population hence census sampling technique was adopted. Questionnaire titled Inconsistent Usage of Verbs among Primary Six Pupils Questionnaire (IUVPSPQ) was used as an instrument for data collection in order to elicit information from the respondents. The questionnaire was rated as Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D), and Strongly Disagree (SD) which represented 4points, 3points, 2points, and 1point respectively. Frequency table and mean were used to answer the research questions while chi-square was used to test the hypotheses. The findings among others revealed that primary school pupils find it difficult to identify the difference between present and past tenses because of their insensitive in adopting the principles guiding the use of auxiliary verbs. It was also revealed that inadequate teaching materials and teachers’ inability to vary the teaching techniques are associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils. Based on these findings, it was recommended among others that pupils should be encouraged to speak English language quite often in the classroom and outside the classroom to improve their ability to achieve communicative competence.



1.1   Background to the Study

Language has been an integral part of human development and interactive process which manifests itself in verbal and symbolic forms. It serves as a vehicle of interaction through which individuals understand themselves. In a country such as Nigeria where English performs a major function as the official language, the need for proficiency is not only desirable but also absolutely necessary. The language is used not only as a medium of instruction from the upper primary school to the university level, but it is also taught as a subject at every level of education. It is little wonder then that English enjoys a prestigious position in Nigeria’s educational system.

According to Alufohai (2016:61), “one major area where the importance of English Language cannot be overlooked is its provision of access to education. It is the medium of instruction through which learners acquire knowledge and skills”. To the average Nigerian, therefore, proficiency in English Language skills especially in writing in today’s diverse society is the key to world’s proof of knowledge and universal culture. It is a gateway to success in the global economy. Gallagher (2006) posits that in an increasingly demanding world of literacy, the importance of ensuring students’ proficiency in writing skills cannot be overemphasized. The ability to write well, hitherto a luxury is now a dire necessity. Writing is vital to students’ developing literacy skills. In light of this, teaching students to write well should be top priority of a worthwhile education system. Gallagher (2006) asserts that a school that “teaches its students the curriculum without concurrently teaching them how to write well is a school that has failed”.

Consequently, it is obvious that no single sentence, spoken or written, is without a verb. A verb can be considered as one of the most important parts of a sentence. A verb is the main component of a predicate. Without it, there won’t be a sentence, just a bunch of words with an incomplete thought. Simply put, the verb is a part of speech which is used to demonstrate an action or a state of being. In order to be able to construct a grammatically correct sentence, it is very important that the pupils know how to write in the proper verb tense. The three basic forms of verbs predominantly taught or learnt in primary schools are past, present, and future. The first one obviously refers to an action that was already done, the second is for present action, and the third is for an action that will be done. These tenses are the most essential aspect of every verb. It is the tense that exposes the listener or reader to the state of the action of the verb. This significance has continued to manifest itself in the daily interaction of human life. Communication cannot take place without the definite tense aspect of a given verb in the sentence. Writer or speaker intention could hardly be realized or perceived without specified use of the tense. So, it is an unavoidable aspect in either spoken language or written English.

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The tense of a verb indicates whether an action has occurred in the past, is occurring in the present or will occur in the future. It also indicates the continuity of an action or an explanation and the grammaticalization of location in time. Pryse (1984) asserts that tense is a means of differentiating in time the various thoughts and happenings that humans usually chronicle in words. According to her, it is the verb of the action word which is affected by tense. By this postulate, tenses are part of English sentence that need to be used accurately as every action could differ in time. Although the verb can be said to be complicated grammatically, the verb forms constitute the life wire of every construction. Therefore, any misuse or error in verb form leads to a distortion of the message. Palmer cited in Ibbi (2014) confirms this as he argues that:

for almost any language, the part that concerns the verb is the most difficult. Learning a language is to a very large degree learning how to operate the verbal forms of that language; and except in the case of those that are related historically, the pattern and structure of the verb in each language seems to differ considerably from those in every other.

Besides the present tense, students also have difficulties with the features of the past tense. They seem to demonstrate particular problem with the forms and meanings of certain irregular verbs such as “lie”, “lay”, “die”, “sting”, “hang” and “overthrow’. Wrong past tense for these verbs are therefore used (by adding “-ed”). Ibbi (2014) asserts that in addition to the difficulties with present and past tense, most of the students are not quite familiar with the different grammatical constructions for expressing future tense. The only grammatical construction used for future is “will/shall + infinitive”. As a result, they are unfamiliar with other ways of expressing future (events), most of the subjects have difficulties with the future perfect and future progressive tenses.

Furthermore, primary school students encounter some numbers of problems when using the present, past and future tenses. Jacob (2015) observes that one of the problems with the use of English verbs in Nigeria today is that students speak all kinds of what might be regarded as poor quality and uneducated English, while this appears to be an inevitable consequence of different speakers’ competences in the language. He was of the opinion that the correct use of the verb is not only desirable but also possible. Thus, the problem with the use of verbs is a grammatical one, although such grammatical deviation does not usually result in a serious unintelligibility, it is indicative of the user’s imperfect knowledge of the English language. English language teaching and learning must go simultaneously. Isyaku (2002:3) says that “the purpose of teaching is for learning to take place which is visualized in form of students’ achievement as a result of using effective teaching strategies”. In the same vain Denga (2001:73) has this to say “the unique characteristics of learning process is where the strategies of teaching English language is imparted and acquired”. The two scholars assert that the inductive activities of English aspect, rather than the conclusive were among many factors taking responsible to maintain verb tenses while speaking. It is widely known that many students loose precious marks due to their inconsistency in the use of verb tenses in writing. However, the gap in knowledge which this study tries to fill is to investigate the inconsistent usage of verbs among primary six pupils in Owerri.

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1.2   Statement of the Problem

In the process of learning a second or foreign language, pupils are bound to make error. Pupils might make mistakes because they have not mastered the language rules. Teachers, parents and other stakeholders of education are worried about the level of inconsistency in pupils’ use of verb tenses which impede on their ability to communicate well or make correct sentences. It seems like these inconsistencies in the use of verb could be a product of lack of teaching materials and the teachers’ skills and expertise in the subject; hence, researchers like Brown (2002); and Aronoff & Fudeman (2006) affirmed that making errors are unavoidable problems in foreign and second language acquisition. The researcher’s experience in the study shows that there are preponderance of inconsistent use of verbs among the pupils as most of them find it difficult differentiate between the present, past, and future tenses. Thus, the problem which this study tends to address is to find out the causes of inconsistent usage of verb among primary six pupils in Owerri Municipal Council.

1.3   Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study is to investigate the inconsistent usage of verbs among primary six pupils in Owerri. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Ascertain the extent to which verbs are used inconsistently among primary school pupils.
  2. Identify the factors associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils.
  3. Ascertain the extent to which inconsistent usage of verbs adversely affect pupils’ written and communication skills in primary schools.
  4. Discover the possible solutions to the factors associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils.

1.4   Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will hopefully be of immense benefit to pupils/students, teachers, curriculum planners, and subsequent researchers in the following ways:

The outcome of this research will be of immense significance to pupils/students such that if the right teaching method is found to be efficacious, the students will gain because their interest and achievement in the right use of verbs and ultimately in the English language will improve. They will benefit from lessons that are not abstract but relevant to their communicative needs, thereby reducing the fear and boredom associated with the teaching of verbs as a segregated, abstract aspect of English. This, in turn, will motivate the students intrinsically to learn the language, thereby predisposing them to better achievement in English language examinations.

Also, the result of this study may create the need to organize workshops which will expose language teachers to emerging teaching methods and materials. The exposure of teachers to this approach may assist them to work out proper sequences of class activities to which they may expose their students. These activities will not only assist their students in learning the grammatical rules of English, but will also help them to communicate meaningfully in real life situations.

This study will also be significant to curriculum planners because they may see the need to include the new methods of teaching English Language as one of the innovative approaches in the teaching of verbs in the next review of the primary school curriculum. It will also help them to incorporate this approach in the curriculum used for training English language teachers in various levels of education in Nigeria in order to achieve positive cyclical effect, since the would-be English language teachers on graduation may be better disposed to use the same approach in teaching their students at the other levels of education.

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It is expected that the findings of this study will add to the body of existing literature and serve as reference material to subsequent researchers who intend to carry out similar study in future.

1.5   Limitations and Delimitation of the Study

Limitations of the Study

Despite the researcher’s efforts to make this work a research work, certain problems still persist. One of the problems is that some of the respondents were reluctant and dishonest in filling the questionnaires until clarifications were made by the researcher on the reason for the research. The task of combining research project with other academic activities based on the time limits makes the work to be exorbitant for the researcher and as well, prone to errors. Moreover, the time frame for the writing and submitting of this research project is too short. There is also limited material on the topic of the study. This is to say that the existing literature on inconsistent usage of verbs were not readily available or limited (to the researcher), thereby restricting the researcher to make use of books mostly published in the internet and journals. Also, the financial constraints of the researcher constituted a problem which limited the sample size of this study. Because of that, limited number of samples was selected and small number of questionnaires distributed.

However, the constraints outlined and discussed above were encountered by the researcher while conducting this research project. Some of the constraints were natural, while some were man-made. There was however other sundry limitations that stood in the way of this research, but only the understandable ones have been featured in this sub-chapter in order not to make the work ambiguous. Despite the limitations encountered during the research, the researcher also made prudent efforts to make judicious use of the data at her disposal.

Delimitation of the Study

The study is restricted to all the male and female teachers in Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State. The study focuses on the extent to which inconsistent usage of verbs affects pupils written and communication skills, the factors associated with pupils’ inconsistent usage of verbs and the remedial measures to these associated factors.

1.6   Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. To what extent are verbs used inconsistently among pupils of primary school?
  2. What are the factors associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils?
  3. To what extent has inconsistent usage of verbs adversely affect pupils’ written and communication skills in primary schools?
  4. What are the possible solutions to the factors associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils?

1.7   Hypotheses

         The following null (Ho) and (Hi) alternate hypotheses are formulated as follows:

Ho1: Inadequate teaching materials are not associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils.

Hi1: Inadequae teaching materials are associated with inconsistent usage of verbs among primary school pupils.

Ho2: Inconsistent usage of verbs does not adversely affect pupils’ written and communication skills in primary schools.

Hi2: Inconsistent usage of verbs adversely affect pupils’ written and communication skills in primary schools.

Pages:  74

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF

Chapters: 1-5

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References

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