Second Language Learners’ Family Background and Their English Writing Competence: The Case of a Private Tertiary Institution in Ghana

Edward Owusu, John Agor, Evershed Kwasi Amuzu


This work assesses the effects of family background of second language learners on their academic writing competence in English. A cursory study of some examination scripts of first-year students reveals some poor writing skills of students in areas such as concord, spelling, capitalization, and fragmentation errors.30 participants were selected from a class of 121 students from the Ghana Baptist University College, a private institution in Kumasi, Ghana. Initially, the class of 121 was sorted out into three groups—those who said they used only English at home, those who said they used only Ghanaian language(s) at home, and those who said they used both English and Ghanaian language(s) at home. Each group was further divided along gender lines and 5 students from each of the 6 sub-groups were picked randomly. The participants were then made to write a sit-in assessment on a topic and were graded by an independent assessor. The findings of the study reveal that the performance of the bilingual English and Ghanaian language learners outweighed those of their contemporaries. The study also revealed a positive correlation between attitudes of parents about English and learners’ academic writing skills. These have pedagogical and theoretical implications for the teaching and learning of English as a second language in Ghana. Language proficiency involves the development of skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. All these four aspects of language development are equally vital in the language learning process, but the current paper focuses on the development of writing skills by second language learners of English in Ghana.

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