Undergraduate Writing in a Second Language Context

Analysis of English Intra-sentence Issues

  • John Tetteh Agor University of Ghana
Keywords: L2 context, student writing, intra-sentence, implicit knowledge, explicit knowledge


This descriptive study investigates English intra-sentence writing challenges of undergraduate students in public educational institutions in Ghana. To achieve this, analyses of responses given in a short English language test administered to final-year undergraduate students studying English in four tertiary institutions are presented. The items constituting the test derived from intra-sentence deviations that featured prominently in 500 essays written by 250 undergraduate students between 2015 and 2017. The items involve topics that undergraduate students are assumed to have covered during their pre-tertiary education but which are areas of challenge to them. Test item analysis tables were devised to determine facility indices of the items and to ascertain the students’ implicit and explicit knowledge of the language features investigated. The study reveals that students pursuing undergraduate programmes in English Departments in Ghana have varied degrees of familiarity with defined intra-sentence writing issues. Additionally, the students’ implicit knowledge weightings of the topics investigated far outstrip their explicit knowledge values. Finally, the study suggests that the quantum of intra-sentence writing challenges of students from each of the institutions investigated is fairly congruent. These findings have pedagogical implications for the contents of the communication skills programmes mounted for all fresh undergraduate students in Ghana.


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