Pumping Sva Skills

Topics: Grammar, English language, Teaching English as a foreign language Pages: 8 (1843 words) Published: January 5, 2013
The purpose of this study was to examine if tool practices are effective in reducing the Subject-Verb Agreement (SVA) errors in the Matriculation students writing skill. For the purpose of this study, 20 participants from 4 different groups sat for a pre-test which involved the writing of an expository essay. From the essays, the different types of SVA errors were identified, and treatment in the form of tool practices were given for 3 dominant SVA errors. After the treatment, the participants sat for the post-test, which again involved the writing of an expository essay. The results of the study showed that there was a reduction in the occurrence of SVA errors after the treatment. The findings were supported by few exercises such as error identification, constructing sentences and essay writing. INTRODUCTION

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2010), quality is defined as the standard of something when it is compared to other things and how good or bad something is. The quality of a piece of writing is often evaluated by the number of grammatical errors. Research has shown that the relationship between grammar and writing well is complex. It was suggested by Kroll and Schafer(1978, as cited in Frodesen, 2000) teachers should look at students’ errors not simply as failures, but also as windows into their minds. It is believed that teachers were to view the errors so that they stand a better chance of helping the students correct their errors. It was also recommended by Kroll and Schafer (1978) and Shaughnessy (1977) that teachers should analyse errors in students’ writing and help them to understand the differences between written and spoken language.


The students of the Matriculation programme undergo a one-year course after which they continue their tertiary education in local universities or abroad. Students who lack proficiency in English are given support through this “Red Alert Clinic”. The objective of this programme is to help these students who are weak in writing skills, presentation skill and study skill. Feedback gained from English lecturers of Mactriculation college showed some students are weak in extended writing. These students need guidance in grammatical competence especially in Subject-Verb Agreement. (SVA). Therefore, such inadequacy has caused a great concern between lecturers and students to face challenges in their studies. Consequently, alternative pedagogical strategies have to be formulated to help the students overcome these inadequacies.

The objective of the study was to determine the types of Subject-Verb Agreement (SVA) errors found in students extended writing. In addition, it also investigates the effectiveness of tool practices in improving the students’ understanding of Subject-Verb Agreement (SVA).

The sample of this study involved 20 students from 3 different courses (electrical, mechanical and civil) of Johor Technical Matriculation College.


Procedure and Instrumentation
The respondents of the study met their respective lecturers 6 times during the duration of the study in a classroom. Each session lasted an hour. During the first meeting, students were required to write an essay entitled “People commit crime for selfish reasons” in 50 minutes. The essays were marked by the English lecturers and all the errors were detected. For example ‘sp’ for spelling and ‘sv’ for subject-verb agreement. The regularity of each type of error made by students was then listed. Most errors made by the students were subject-verb agreement. During each session, students were introduced to only one type of Subject-Verb Agreement (SVA) (for example subject/verb separation, collective nouns, plural/singular, neither/either. or/nor, subject/verb/object). Lecturers conducted oral drills followed by...
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