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 Format: MS-WORD   Chapters: 1-5

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 May 19, 2019 |  01:53 pm |  2084


The study  language learning positive behaviour Use and writing proficiency in English language among senior secondary school students in Enugu Education zone was carried out with the intention of ensuring that the leaner develops the ability to use the English language correctly. The study employed an ex-post facto design. The multi stage techniques were used to select the samples that were used for the study. The schools were located in the urban and rural areas of Enugu Education Zone of Enugu State. The sample was 40% of the total population, that was 680 students who were made  up of 340 male and 340 female students from selected schools in the Urban and rural areas of the zone. Questionnaire was used for the information, it has 25 items in all. The data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation and t- test. The results of the study showed that there is no significant difference between the frequency of language learning positive behaviour use and writing proficiency of the students; that the senior secondary school students were medium frequency users of language learning positive behavour; that language learning positive behavoiur is frequently used among the male and female students with slight difference in favour of the female; and that language learning positive behaviour is used more frequently among the Urban school students than the rural senior secondary school students. Teachers should endeavour to create student centred classroom in which the teacher gives the students frequent opportunities to practice preventing, writing rewriting and regularly assists the students to achieve the skill o writing.  Government should organize retraining programmes like conferences, seminars and workshops to develop in the teachers the knowledge of LLPB.



Background of the Study

Language has been described as man’s most important gift, a vehicle for communicating thought and creativity.  It is a good instrument for handling of ideas and experiences, communicating them through written or spoken form and for receiving them by hearing and reading.  Adefugbo (1980) states that communication is the only tool for interaction between two or more people.  In the light of this, the role of language can be fully appreciated.

However, every speech community has its own language of communication which may be intelligible to speakers from outside the community.  Civilization has made people to learn the language outside the person’s speech community in other to communicate with the people from other land.  This tendency gives rise to a second language and foreign language adventure.  In case of Nigeria, the English language is the language which is inherited from the British colonial masters.  Nationally and internationally, the English language plays a vital role in Nigeria.

The English language is recognized by most countries of the world as a universal language.  The industrial revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries gave English language the needed impetus to become the language of industry and commerce, of technology and invention (Graddol, 1997). Knowledge of English is necessary for accessing many discourses at a global level, from international relations, to popular culture, to academia (Makay, 2002). Since the world is gradually becoming a global village where information and knowledge are shared among all countries of the world, one needs to be knowledgeable in the most universal of all tongues – English.

In Nigeria, English language gains prominence over and above all other European languages like French, Spanish, German, Italian etc. Its pre-eminent role is without doubt in the social, economic and political development of Nigeria. English in Nigeria today, is an essential tool in everyday life.  Its official status plays a very important communicative role in bridging the socio-political gap between the various “ethnic Nationalities” within the country.  It is now the official language, a defacto lingua franca.  The provisions in the 1979 constitution, paragraphs 51 and 91 in respect of language bear eloquent testimony that the English language is the cornerstone of the Nigerian nation. Thus English is the language for the  transaction of business and commerce, the language for the implementation of the machinery of government and the language of the mass media

The entrenchment of English in Nigeria is most noticeable in the field of education where English plays two principal roles as a medium of instruction and a school subject.  From his/her first year in the primary school, the Nigerian child is introduced to English, which continues as the medium of instruction until graduation from the university. Access to knowledge and the outside world is through  the medium of the English Language as English is the language of communication, language of textbooks and research. Banjo (1981) reaffirmed the importance of English in Nigeria when he stated that:

English is the life blood of the whole educational system in the secondary school level.  If students lack linguistic skill and achieve poor results in English, then there will not be students capable of understanding, university courses…  the whole future of primary, higher education and consequently the whole political and economic future of our nation (would be) in question (p.154).


Because of this, the Nigerian public expects all secondary students to be proficient in the use of the English language so that they can go through their studies with very little linguistic impediments and so contribute to the overall development of the country.  Students’ knowledge of English should extend beyond the ability to observe or memorize sentences printed in English.  They should be able to form basic concepts, think, plan and write coherently as failure at the school certificate level mars the chances of students gaining admission into higher institutions in Nigeria.

This premier place of English in the total life of the nation as well as the whole school system, more than anything else, calls for more effective teaching of English language in general and the skill of composition in particular-composition being as it were, crucial to other language skills because of its all inclusive composite nature (Rivers, 1968). Composition writing entails more than the combination of linguistic elements.  It includes the effective manipulation of the various skills and nuances of language.

Language Learning Positive Behaviour (LLPB) is broadly defined by Weinstein and Mayer (1986) as behaviours and thoughts that a learner engages in during learning which are intended to influence the learners encoding process. Mayer (1988) more specifically defined language learning positive behaviours as behaviours or strategies of a learner that are intended to influence how the learner processes information.  These early definitions reflect the roots of language learning positive behaviour in cognitive science with its essential assumptions that human beings process information and that learning involves such information processing.  Clearly, language learning positive behaviour is involved in all learning regardless of the content and context.  Language learning positive behaviour is thus used in learning and teaching languages and other subjects, both in classroom settings, and informal learning  environments.

Within writing skills and language education, a number of emphasis have been made on LLPB by key figures in the field.  Tarone (1983) sees LLPB as an  attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic proficiency in the target language. Rubin (1987) wrote that LLPB is strategy which contributes to the development of the language system which the learner constructs and affect learning directly. O’Malley and Chamot (1990) see LLPB as the special thoughts or strategies that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn or retain new information. Oxford (1990) defines positive behaviours in general terms as steps taken by learners to enhance their own learning.

Based on the aforementioned, Language Learning Positive Behaviour is specific actions, strategies, steps or techniques that students (often intentionally) use to improve their progress in developing English proficiency in English language in particular, writing skills. LLPB is a tool for the self directed involvement necessary for developing communicative proficiency in the target language.

The term proficiency here can be interpreted in the sense used by Bechman (1990) to refer in general to knowledge, competence or ability in the use of a language, irrespective of how, where or under what conditions it has been acquired.

The goal of language teaching and learning is to develop what Hymes (1972), referred to as “Communicative proficiency” Hymes coined this term in order to contrast a communicative view of language and Chomsky’s theory of competence.  Chomsky held that linguistic theory is concerned primarily with an ideal writer- reader in a completely homogenous learning community, who knows its language perfectly and is unaffected by such grammatically irrelevant conditions as memory limitations, shift of attention and interest.

Widowson (1978) presented a view of the relationship between linguistic systems and their communicative values in text and discourse.  He focused on the communicative acts underlying the ability to use language for different purposes. A more pedagogically influential analysis of LLPB and proficiency were foud in Canale and Swin (1980) in which four dimensions of LLPB and proficiency were identified: grammatical proficiency, socio-linguistic proficiency, discourse proficiency and strategic proficiency.

Grammatical proficiency refers to what Chomsky calls linguistic proficiency and what Hymes intends by what is “formally possible”. It is the domain of grammatical and lexical capacity.  Socio-linguistic proficiency refers to an understanding of the social context in which communication takes place, including role relationships, the shared information of the participants, and the communicative purpose for their interaction. Discourse proficiency refers to the interpretation of individual message elements in terms of their interconnectedness and of how meaning is represented in relationship to the entire discourse or text.  Strategic proficiency refers to the coping positive behaviours that communicators employ to initiate, terminate, maintain repair and redirect communication.

The teaching of the English language in Nigeria schools and colleges is orgnised around the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Listening and reading are regarded as passive or unproductive skills, while speaking and writing are seen as active or productive skills.  But despite all efforts made to teach these skills, the Nigerian students’ level of language proficiency is still below expectation.  From almost all the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners’ reports of students’ performances in West African secondary school certificate Examination (WASSCE), the overall performance of students is poor.  The lowest scores being recorded in essay writing.

The English language paper is divided into two broad groups (a) Paper 1 – Essay questions, Paper II – Objective questions  The essay paper is made up of three sections, and marks are allocated as follows:

Essay (Composition)       -        50 Marks

Comprehension               -        20 Marks

Summary                        -        30 Marks

The emphasis on writing is evident from this mark allocation. Any student who fails composition writing in the final WASSCE or NECO examination is not likely to have a credit level pass in English. Despite this emphasis, available literature from the Test Development and Research Division (TEDRO) or WAEC on students’ performance in English language indicates that although English language papers are usually within the experience level of candidates, the performance of students has continued to be poor.

The WAEC Chief Examiners’ reports from 1998 – 2002 confirm hat students’ performance in English language is below expectation.  Issues highlighted in the reports include students’ ignorance in the manipulation of grammatical structures, language convention and organization of ideas. Students displayed wrong sentence construction, lack of understanding of rules of agreement of verb and subject, wrong amalgamation of words, errors in plural formations, ignorance of verbs and noun forms of certain words.  They also exhibited poor spelling, improper punctuation and immature vocabulary.

The Chief  Examiners’ reports of 2000/2002 dwelt extensively on the poor writing skills of candidates, describing them as substandard and naïve.  The reports also identified a number of problems associated with cognitive and motor skills as well as poor adherence to sensitive grammar rules.  The poor end result of candidates after six years of post primary school exposure to English, both as a  language of instruction and as a school subject, is a clear indication of serious cumulative inadequacies of the language performance through which the candidates passed.

The linguistic infelicities manifested in students’ written compositions as depicted in these several Chief Examiners’ reports are indicative of the fact that the teaching learning process with reference to the study of writing as a language skill has been ineffective Tyagba (1982), Okwor (1992), identified four related factors that militate against effective teaching of composition in schools.  These factors are lack of interest, inadequate use of instructional materials, unqualified teachers and inappropriate methods.

Poor linguistic performance is not limited to primary and junior secondary school pupils alone.  The senior secondly school students who are expected to have achieved a high level of proficiency before moving into the higher institution also write poorly. Students in the senior secondary school are expected to listen to lessons taught in English.  They are also required to write examinations and other essay assignments in English.

One of the most important concerns  of education over the years is to ensure that each child makes the best of his/her abilities from the school subjects studied.  Students that achieved below the level which is expected of them have attracted attention.  This is so because academic achievement has been of great interest to teachers, educationists and the generality of the society, the general performance of students continues to decline yearly, especially in English language.

Language learning positive behaviour (LLPB) as an instructional model was developed to meet the academic needs of students learning English as a second language (ESL).  LLPB grew out of  research that was conducted by Chariot and O’Malley in the early 1980’s.  It is based on the assumption that active learners are better learners and that language learning positive behaviours can transfer to new and different tasks. As an offshoot of the cognitive theory, the LLPB model posits that learning is an active dynamic process in which learners are fully engaged and information is selected from the environment and retained when it is important to the learner.

LLPB enhances active and verbal participants in the learning process.  With LLPB teachers in ESL classrooms should realize that their students should not be construed as limited in their entry behaviour because these students often posses advanced linguistic and academic skills in their mother tongue.  For effective teaching information to be learned is organsied and where possible related to what the learner already knows. LLPB incorporates the cognitive, meta-cognitive and affective learning positive behaviour (Chamot and O’Malley, 1994).

From the cognitive perspective, LLPB insists on

(a)         Manipulating the material to be learned in specific tasks,

(b)         Linking new learning to prior knowledge related to particular concepts or processes and

(c)         Relating the learning processes to the cognitive demands on all four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.  From the meta-cognitive perspective, the LLPB employs the following sequence (a) Planning for learning by setting objectives (b) organizing the learning task by creating an outline or structure (c) self monitoring of one’s own learning achievement in relation to the learning goals.  From the social/affective perspective, the LLPB encourages (a) Students to assist each other in learning (b) development of co-operative and collaboration skills (c) encouraging the process of questioning for clarification and use of affective control of the accomplishment of the goals of learning.

There are other ways of categorizing LLPB, Oxford (1990) has his own as: memory, cognitive and compensations (direct), meta-cognitive, affective and social (indirect). For the direct group, memory positive behaviour controls retrieval of information.  Cognitive positive behaviour is described by oxford as being unified by a common function, manipulation or transformation of the target language by the learner.  Compensation positive behaviour enables learners to use the new words for either comprehension or production despite limitations in knowledge.

As for the indirect group, meta-cognitive positive behaviour allows learners to control their own cognition. Affective positive behaviour is concerned with the regulation of feelings and attitudes and social positive behaviour takes account of the fact that the language is a form of social behaviour involving communication with other people.

Gender has been seen to be related to language learning.  The role of gender in language learning achievement has generated a lot of interest lately. Man researchers are of the view that the gender of a learner is significant in assessing his/her achievement in a language class.  This variation has been the subject of a lot of research.  According to Yule (1995), female speakers tend to use more prestigious forms than male speakers even within the same social and economic background.  Offorma (2001) agreed with this opinion that girls achieve more than boys in foreign language acquisition.  In a related study, Ogo (1995) noted that female secondary school students tended to be more relaxed in a language class then males and so participated more actively in comprehension and essay classes. Chukwudebelu (2002), it was found that there was no significant difference between the overall achievement of males and females in language acquisition.

The fact that LLPB integrates the cognitive meta-cognitive and affective domains, may make males and females to respond differently.  This speculation is shared by Spanos (1990) who presented an argument that all facilitate instructional models involving affective teaching strategies are gender sensitive.  His argument though quite logical is not backed up by real empirical evidence.

In the same vein, because the social affective strategies of LLPB are location sensitive (Ezema, 2001) with most affective procedures being conscious of location in orientation, it may be worth speculating that the integrated LLPB may have fascinating implications in essay writing for the students because of locations of their schools.

Although the efficacy of LLPB to language instruction in developed nations is quite pronounced, as studies by Chamot and O’Malley (1985, 1994), show the impact of instructional integration of the cognitive, meta-cognitive and social affective model on students’ proficiency in essay writing among students in developing countries such as Nigeria is not known and is worth exploring.  Realizing that methods and approaches are influenced by cultural education and social background, one would want to ascertain whether the success recorded in America and Europe can be seen in Nigeria.


Statement of the problem

Students’ poor writing and communication skills create the impression that the standard of education in this country has fallen.  It is disheartening that after most students have spent six years in the secondary school they fail to communicate effectively and intelligible in English.  This is because everyone expects a senior secondary school student to exhibit an appreciable level of proficiency in the speaking and writing of the English Language.

WAEC Chief Examiners’ report (2000 – 2002) confirmed that secondary school students perform poorly in English language generally and in essay writing in particular.  These students carry these linguistic problems into next level of the educational system.  In order to address these problems the WAEC, NECO, JAMB and institutions of higher learning made English language a compulsory subject for a candidate who want to sat for any of these examination body or enter a higher institution of learning.  But despite all efforts made to reverse the ugly trend, secondary school students have continued to write poorly.

The need to find alternative strategies for improving the performance of secondary school students in the acquisition of linguistic skills generally and essay writing in particular has led to the reassessment of the teaching and learning processes as well as to the introduction and use of different teaching methodologies. Most of which have been ineffective in teaching and learning of English language.

LLPB as a model has recorded huge successes in America and other western countries (Chamot and O’Malley, 1986), Pressley, 1990), but has not been tried out in Nigeria.  As such, convincing argument in favour of an emerging integrative model like LLPB in Nigeria cannot be usefully presented without subjecting the model into a research work, to thoroughly establishing a relationship between LLPB and writing proficiency and especially as social/affective strategies are gender sensitive (Ezema 2001). The researcher wants to establish whether there is any relationship between writing proficiency and location of the school (Urban or rural schools).

The problem of this study put in a question form is “what are the language learning positive behaviour (LLPB) use and writing proficiency of senior secondary school students in relation to gender and location of school?




Purpose of the study

Generally, the study intends to investigate the language learning positive behaviour (LLPB) use and writing proficiency of senior secondary school students in Enugu Education zone, and to focus on the relationship between the students writing proficiency and the gender of the students and also the location of the schools.

Specifically, the study seeks to find out:

1.            The significant difference in the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use and writing  proficiency of senior secondary  school students

2.            The frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use by the senior secondary school students

3.            The significant difference in the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use according to gender of the students.

4.            The significant difference in the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use according to the location of schools of the students.


Significance of the study

If the English language is an indispensable tool of formal education, the language of civil service in Nigeria, the language of internal and external communication, then the work is significant to every Nigerian. Blair (1975) states that since LLPBs are learned they are likely to be deep rooted and difficult to change.  It is expedient to know students LL positive behaviours early enough and help the students form and develop them while seeking methods to guard against or forestall the development of unfavourable or negative behaviour.

Based on the WAEC Chief Examiners’ report that secondary school students perform poorly in the SSSCE due to ignorance in the manipulation of grammatical structures and organization of ideas in their writing.  Students display wrong sentence construction, lack of understanding of agreement of verb and subject etc.  Within communicative approach to language teaching and learning, a key goal is for the learner to develop communicative competence in the English language, LLPB can help students in doing so.  It is for this study to identify these LLPB that would help students develop writing proficiency and how best they can use these LLPBs.  Based on the findings of the work LLPB is essential to our senior secondary school students for a better performance in their SSCE English Language examination.

The result of this study will bring to light the importance of LLPB in essay writing in secondary schools in Enugu State in particular and Nigeria in general. It will help the curriculum planners to give proper consideration about integrating these language learning positive behaviour into English language curriculum in order to improve significantly the communicative ability of the students and communicative act in English language in particular writing.

The study will also help the textbook writers to produce appropriate English language textbooks that will help both the teachers and students acquire the writing skills for linguistic competency.  In addition, this study would be profitable to language teachers, as it would enable them to formulate effective English teaching methods based on the findings of the research. This study would also be beneficial to the students because if they know these LLPBs that they posses, they would make constructive efforts to improve other things being equal.


Scope of the study

          This study was strictly restricted to government senior secondary schools in Enugu Education zone of Enugu State. Enugu Education zone is made up of three local government areas namely, Enugu North, Enugu East and Isi-Uzo Local Government Areas.

          The study focused on the language learning positive behaviour of senior secondary III students and their writing proficiency in English Language.  It examined also the frequency at which the SS II student make use of language learning positive behaviour and also the gender and location of the school of the students.


Research Questions

          The study was guided by the following research questions

1.            Is there a significant difference in the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use and writing proficiency of senior secondary school students?

2.            What is the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use by the senior secondary school students?

3.            What is the significant difference in the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use according to gender of senior secondary school students?

4.            What is the significant difference in the frequency of Language Learning Positive Behaviour use according to the location of schools of the senior secondary school students?




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