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Nigeria ESL Students with Their Problems in Writing English Essays

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Over the years a considerable number of international al students lucky to pursue higher education in English speaking countries. As the number increases each year, the English teacher is challenged to find the best and practical strategies for teaching academic English to non-native English students. There is a considerable challenge for ESL student learn the types of writing needed to perform various academic disciplines.  

Understand the Difficulties These International Nigerian Students

Instead of universities focusing attention on the teaching of teaching English as a second language, understanding the challenges of those international Nigeria students exhibited in writing “standard academic English” is the best approach. These challenges result of widely varying access to educational facilities such as different varieties of English taught as well as inconsistent writing instruction and secondary educational levels.

In Nigeria, English instruction is more unequal, and most students who demand English education comes from private schooling while public educational facilities provide inadequate English instruction. Thus, the English levels these Nigerian international students present with when they matriculate at American universities can be inconsistent, which may lead to certain perceptions regarding Nigerian academic English writing performance.

Nigerian English is Quite Formal

In Nigeria, English is more precise, probably because of that how it’s taught. Most students are not taught formal and informal register and their application. Nigeria ESL has a mishmash of the two and their interaction with native English speakers; it takes longer for the student to adjust to the formality to comprehend what is said.  In severe cases, their ear needs to be tuned to what is being said, and that can take some time to grasp.

Nigeria ESL Affected by Accent

There is a considerable issue, emphasizing the words and the speed at which a Nigerian student speaks.  Nigeria student who has been in the US for long, for example, knows how to slow down a little as not many people are used to their accent. Even those with prior encounters may miss some words.  There is a massive difference in pronunciation. How a Nigerian student emphasized certain words, one needs to understand the words and vocabulary.

Tone of Voice

The tone of view may be a contributory factor. The English Language is not just words, but the tone of voice and the way the speaker expresses themselves and their body language. Nigerians speak in a monotone which is initially hard to understand because emphasizing certain words gives a different meaning. The listener might be merely looking for these clues, and since this may be their focus, they could miss the purpose. Body language is imperative as these may differ significantly from native English speakers, they may misunderstand/not understand what ESLs are talking about.

Differences in Grammatical Levels

  • Deviant Use of Verbs. Use of stative verbs that denote perception, such as see, hear, look, notice; verbs of cognition and verbs of relations do generally not occur in the progressive aspect. For example, Please, send a text, my line is not reachable.  I have a flat battery. (Have). Use of Dynamic Verbs that denote activity or express physical actions and occurs following aspect or non-linking verbs. A Nigeria student example;

“Driver, please wait I want to get down” Native English speaker “driver, please stop, I want to get off.”

  • Deviant Use of Reflexive Pronoun. In Nigerian languages, there are no distinctions between “themselves”, “ourselves” and “each other”. Nigeria English is affected by Yoruba; there is only one lexical item ara wa/ara won which corresponds to ourselves/themselves, one another/each other respectively.  
  • Use of Personal Plural Pronoun for Singular Referents. The source of this type of deviation linked to the transfer of the pronoun ‘awon’ / ‘won’ in Yoruba, for instance, “they”. It is used by the Nigerian user of English to mean he/she or a person or an indefinite group of people in a context. In this context, “they” refers to the father of the person talking.
  • The omission of Function Words. The source of this type of deviation from standard English is the linked of Nigerian indigenous languages to English. The problem of the usage is that of a partial correspondence between the English articles “the”, ‘a/an’ and for instance, Yoruba ‘naa’, ‘kan’ respectively.
  • Nigeria Code-mixing in English. Code mixing in English is when a speaker mixing two languages within the elements of a sentence structure (in this case, English and Yoruba).  


“Mo try to late write, story came about the man’s ordeal in the police station”.

“I tried to write a story about the man’s ordeals in the Police Station.”

  • At the lexical level. The errors identified are as a result cultural background of the learners as well as their linguistic background. Although some universities in the united states, the United Kingdom and Canada attempt to find ways to welcome such students to serve their academic needs better, they end being enrolled in course that offer a more-or-less traditional English as an ESL experience.

On the flip side, some ESL finds it very difficult to understand native English speakers for the same reasons we have mentioned above (but for the opposite reasons and many more). Nigeria ESL Students find it hard to adapt as in many cases the universities seem to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach in teaching English composition overlooking the actual academic preparation of non-native students. Nigerian students themselves often claim English as their first language, English teacher complain that their efforts devalued. They do not meet regarded as inadequate-defined “western” standard of writing. Most are skeptical of this ESL approach and feel the most accurate descriptor of English in Nigeria as a language learned concurrently with the indigenous languages such as Igbo and Yoruba. As a matter of fact, a lot of ESL students abroad address professional english essay writing services to get their papers written from scratch in accordance with their requirements. Most of them consider this solution the most effective for succeeding in education abroad.

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