TEACHING CONTINUOUS WRITING IN
NIGERIAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS:
STRATEGIES, PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTIONS
OKOTIE, V. T. B.
DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL STUDIES
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION,
AGBOR, DELTA STATE
Writing is undisputedly an important aspect of any educational system. It is used to gauge what the students know and where they have problems. It is therefore a means through which we assess our students’ academic performance. This paper takes a look at the complex and cognitive processes of writing and the important roles teachers play in that regard. It also highlights the major problems which hinder effective writing communication by the students in secondary schools and offers suggestions for improvement. Introduction
Good teaching of English language more especially in the ESL environment requires the effective teaching of the complex interrelated skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Writing skills is important in the whole language development and learning. It is expensive, last longer than speaking, and often less understood by learners. Writing is the ultimate of language skills and determines to a great extent, the success of students in both internal and external examination. Good writing skills in required of students to pass at credit level at the West African School Certificate Examinations. Essay and letter writing takes the highest of the total marks, followed by comprehension papers I and II, summary, lexis and structure and test of orals respectively in the examination. Despite the important position that writing holds among the language arts skills, it is disheartening to note that its teaching and learning has not been as effective as it should be due to various problems. This ineffectiveness has been reflecting in the poor performances of students in English language in internally as well as externally conducted terminal examinations. The West African School Certificate Examination May/June 2003 Chief Examiner’s report has it that despite all efforts made to simplify the candidates’ task, a good percentage of the candidates scored below average. The May/ June 2004 report is no les bad. The chief Examiner stated that; … Many candidates still performed below average. Some candidates failed to score a single mark out of 120. One wonders how such candidates qualified to be promoted to the school certificate class.
As at today, the situation in the educational sub-sector with regards to the poor performance of students in externally conducted examination, especially in English Language and Mathematics is still giving cause for great worry. In the 2009 National Examination Council (NECO) November/ December Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination result, it was announced on radio and television nation wide that only about 5% of the candidates that sat for the examination were able to pass English and Mathematics plus three other subjects at credit level. Over 90% or thereabout of the candidates failed English and Mathematics. What a shame! The causes and the solution to this problem need to be sought and that is the focus of this paper. Strategies of Teaching Continuous Writing
Research outcomes in the area of effective strategies for teaching writing abound ranging from within and outside Nigeria. E.g Collins and Sommers (1985), Obi Okoye (1991), Lawal (1995), Essex (1996), Janienne (2007), Jibowu (2009) and Morris (2009). Obi-Okoye, citing Raimes (2008:17) recorded the following methods: 1. The Traditional Grammar Method.
2. The Grammar-Syntax-Organization Approach.
3. The Controlled-to-Free-Approach.
4. The Free Writing-Approach.
5. The Distancing Approach.
6. The Communicative Approach.
7. The Modeling Approach.
8. The Writing Process Approach.
Other writing approaches not mentioned in Obi-Okoye’s list above...
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