Diagnosing the Knowledge of Fresh Students of the Colleges of Education on the Concept of Word Classes

Reader Impact Factor Score
[Total: 2 Average: 5]

Published on International Journal of Art, Language & Linguistics
Publication Date: July 13, 2019

John K. Asiegbor
Master of Art English Language
A Tutor of English Language at Peki College of Education, Department of Language
Ghana

Journal Full Text PDF: Diagnosing the Knowledge of Fresh Students of the Colleges of Education on the Concept of Word Classes.

Abstract
The main purpose of the study is to investigate whether the concept of the parts of speech is being grasped or well understood by the students of English Language at the Senior High before they come to the College of education in the Volta Region of Ghana, precisely in the South Dayi District. Random sampling method was used to select fifty (50) students of the English Language from five level hundred classes. The instrument that was used for the collection of data is questionnaires. The questionnaire consist of grammatical items that tests students concept of part of speech. The data that was collected was coded, described statistically and interpreted in tabular forms It is suggested that since English language is a second language to the Ghanaian learner, teachers of the English language should be experts. It is also well noted or revealed that the concept of the parts of speech is not the traditional parts of speech but the role that the word plays in the sentence structure. Finally, it is discovered that one word class could perform differently as another word class.

Keyword: Parts of speech, students of English Language, grammatical & word class.

1. Introduction
According to Matthews, P. (1982), the existence of words is usually taken for granted by the speakers of a language. To speak and understand a language includes many other things among which knowing the words of that language cannot be left out. The average speaker knows thousands of words, and new words enter our minds and our language on a daily basis. The question then is how are words used in everyday life?
According to Palmer, (1994), words are put into categories or logical groups, according to how they work within phrases, clauses or sentences. These categories are traditionally called parts of speech but they are now more usually known as word classes. Parts of speech are labels for categories in which we usually place words. But in a given sentence, a word from one category may behave as if it were in another. Although the description above may give the impression that any one word within a single meaning belongs exclusively to one word class, it should be noted that this is not the case.
Bialystok’s (1990) conclusions is that the best way to increase proficiency is through advancing explicit awareness of the language system to enhance symbolic knowledge and through practice to enhance ability to exercise control of linguistic processing. Grammar is an abstraction, a hypothesis about the way that language works. The theory of generative grammar pays tribute to this exploratory role of grammar and perhaps helps to correct a perception that ‘grammar’ is a stored set of rules that we set out to learn. Grammatical proficiency is the ability to make judgments about the acceptability and appropriateness of an utterance with specific reference to grammatical notions. (Greenbaum & Quirk 1990).
Control of linguistic processing is defined as “the ability to control attention to relevant and appropriate information and to integrate those forms in real time”(Bialystok 1990:125). A key concept in the study of second-language acquisition is that of interlanguage and the inherent assumption in the term that every stage of the language learner’s development can be characterized by a grammar that provides the rules for the current system. This in turn shares certain assumptions with the generative framework that learning a language can be depicted as the postulation of hypotheses, largely unconscious, about how the language system operates. The grammar of the interlanguage reveals the current hypotheses held by the language learner.
The structure of examination in the colleges of education especially, the first semester of the first year course -English Language Studies demands that, students identify word classes. Surprisingly, even though students had studied word classes at both the basic and the secondary school level, they always perform poorly in the diagnostic test that the teacher gives them before they are introduced to the topic ‘word classes’. This academic phenomenon prompted the researcher to investigate into the causes of the problem and find the solution if possible.

1.1 Statement of the Problem
It had been observed that fresh students at the colleges of education over the years had been performing poorly in diagnostic tests that had been giving to them regarding word classes. This phenomenon had prompted the researcher to research into the poor performance of fresh students in determining word classes and suggests solutions of solving the problem.

1.2 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to find out the problem students encounter in answering questions based on the identification of word classes and if possible suggest solutions to them.

1.3 Research Questions
a. What are the factors responsible for poor performance of fresh students in determining word classes?
b. What are the effects of poor performance of fresh students in determining word classes on their academic life?
c. How can the poor performance of fresh students in determining word classes be overcome?

1.4 Significance of the Study
The study is very significant because it would give an insight of the concept of word classes to college of education students and students at other levels of education. The relevance of this study is that, it will inform teachers of English to improve upon the concept of parts of speech. It will also serve as a model for all teachers of the English language at all levels to improve upon their teaching and learning of the concept of parts of speech. This study will add to existing knowledge.

1.5 Delimitation
The study is to cover only Peki College of Education in the Volta Region. It is purposely to find out the difficulties students encounter in the study of word classes in the English language though there are other problematic areas of fresh students. The researcher limited the scope of his work to some selected classes in the college..

2. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Under this, summary of writings of recognized authors and previous researches which relate to the research topic and provide evidence that the researcher is familiar with what is already known and what is still unknown and tested. (Gay, 1992). This takes into consideration the theoretical background relating to the concept of word classes. It reviews some of the empirical studies identified by the researcher basically on the problems of the concept of word classes in the English language.
We put words into categories or logical groups, according to how they work within phrases, clauses or sentences. These categories, traditionally called parts of speech are now more usually known as word classes. Parts of speech are labels for categories in which we usually place words. But in a given sentence, a word from one category may behave as if it were in another. A dictionary will only record established or standard usage.

2.1 Word Class Membership
Although the description above may give the impression that any one word within a single meaning belongs exclusively to one word class, one should note that this is not the case. Study the words in bold in the following examples: The position or `environment’ of a word in a sentence counts a lot. This criterion refers to where words typically occur in a sentence, and the kinds of words which typically occur near them. We can illustrate the use of this criterion using a simple example. Compare the following: It should be clear from this discussion that there is no one-to-one relation between words and their classes. Round and answer could belong to different parts of speech. It all depends on how the word is used. In fact, many words can belong to more than one word class.
a. I couldn’t give her an immediate answer.
b. I was surprised when he answered my letter.
c. Do not write on the front of the answer sheet.
In the first sentence, answer is being used as a noun – note the attributive adjective immediate and the word an, both indicative of a following noun. In the second, answer is a verb – the subject he and the ending –ed¬ show this. While in the third, answer tells you what kind of sheet is being talked about and is, therefore, an adjective. This section focuses on review of related literature. It deals with what other researchers or writers have found and written about Ghanaian English. This section deals with the concept of the parts of speech.

3. METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research Design
For a study like this to be investigated, a lot of research designs could be appropriate for easy attainments of facts. The research design selected to be used is Action Research. Action Research is a kind of research design in which the researcher works collaboratively with other people to solve perceived problems. It is concerned with diagnosing problems in a specified context and attempting to solve them in the context.
Carr and kemmis (1986) describe Action research as being about improvement of practice: or the improvement of a situation in which practice takes place.
The researcher prefers to use interview and questionnaire to find out relevant information. Interview is a form of questioning characterized by the fact that it employs verbal questioning as its principal technique of data collection. It involves posting of questions to respondents for answering in a face to face situation. The researcher decided to attempt and obtains a reliable and appropriate measure of outcome of students’ concept of the knowledge of word classes in the English Language.

3.2 Data Analysis Procedure
The researcher would use a chart summarizing the total number of students who have knowledge about word classes. The data that would be collected would be coded, by giving them numbers such as 0.1, 0.2 for easy description. It would be analyzed statistically and interpreted in tabular forms. The main statistical technique that would be used is percentages.

3.3 Discussion and findings
Fifty copies of diagnostic test items (questionnaires) were administered to fresh year students in the college in some selected classes. The total number of the questionnaires were completed and collected. This constitutes hundred percent (100%) response to the number of respondents targeted.
1. Victoria was lonely because she has no friend. (adjective)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total(%)
50 20 30 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 1, twenty (20) respondents representing (40%) percent indicated that it is an adjective and got it correct while thirty (30) respondents representing (60%) percent are of the view that it is an adverb and got it wrong. The interview conducted during class discussion indicate that they were of the view that the word lonely ends in –ly and that they were of the view that it should be an adverb. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination.

2. The man standing is my brother. (adjective)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total (%)
50 5 45 (100%)
The above table shows clearly that talking about the part of speech of the sentence 2, five (5 ) participants have it that that it is an adjective and got it correct while forty-five (45) are of the view that it is an adverb and got it wrong. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

3. The woman gave me a cooked egg. (adjective)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total (%)
50 10 40 (100%)
The above table explains that with regards to the part of speech of the sentence 3, ten (10 ) participants indicated that it is an adjective and got it correct while thirty (40%) are of the view that it is a verb and got it wrong. This reveals that the greater part the students do not grasp the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

4. Those girls are dangerous. (adjective)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total (%)
50 5 45 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 4, five (5 ) participants indicated that it is an adjective and got it correct while thirty (45%) are of the view that it is an adverb and got it wrong. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

5. The Ashanti police had arrested the criminals. (adjective)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total (%)
50 0 50 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 5, all the participants are of the view that it is a noun and got it wrong. This reveals that all the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional and are of the view that a noun is always a noun no matter where is appears in a sentence. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

6. I went round ( adverb) ( adverb)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total(%)
50 20 30 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 6, twenty (20 ) participants indicated that it is an adverb and got it correct while thirty (30%) are of the view that it is an a preposition and got it wrong. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

7. I went round the building to locate the entrance (preposition)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total(%)
50 20 30 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 7, twenty (20 ) participants indicated that it is an adjective and got it correct while thirty (30%) are of the view that it is an adverb and got it wrong. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

8. The round table looks nice (adjective)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total (%)
50 40 10 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 8, twenty (20 ) participants indicated that it is an adjective and got it correct while thirty (30%) are of the view that it is an adverb and got it wrong. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

9. The first round was over.( noun)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total(%)
50 25 25 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 9, twenty–five (25) participants indicated that it is an adjective and got it correct while twenty-five (25%) are of the view that it is an adverb and got it wrong. This reveals that fifty percent of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that fifty percent of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

10. The Home Economics students always round the table for their practical works (verb)
Number of students Number passed Number failed Total
50 0 50 (100%)
The above table exemplifies that regarding the part of speech of the sentence 10, all the participants indicated that it is an adjective and got it wrong. This reveals that majority of the students do not know the concept of the part of speech regarding the syntactic evidence which holds the view that words are distributional. It therefore implies that majority of the students would not pass if this concept was tested in their final examination

4. SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
4.1 Summary
In summation, it has become very obvious that regarding the concept of the part of speech, students at the senior high levels do not grasp the concept of the part of speech hence it affects their performance in their final examination. This is because the written aspect of the English paper has it that student’s state the grammatical names and functions of words and some group of words as used in the passages. The prerequisite knowledge needed to answer these questions is the knowledge of the part of speech. It has come out clearly that the part of speech of a word is not the traditional part of speech but rather the role that the word plays in the sentence structure.

4.2 Conclusion
This research successfully came out with some significant factors which affect the performances of student teachers at the colleges of education. It has become very obvious that regarding the concept of the word classes, students at the senior high levels do not grasp the concept of the part of speech. From the analysis of the data and the key findings, the researcher wishes to conclude that at all the levels the concept of word classes is a problem for students.

4.3 Recommendation
Regarding the findings, the researcher has found it very necessary to come out with certain recommendations that will help improve upon effective and efficient teaching and learning of English Language not only at the senior high levels but at all levels of education. It is suggested that since English language is a second language to the Ghanaian learner, teachers of the English language ought to have majored in the English language from the senior high school levels and at the first degree, second degree and at the PHD levels. Regular workshops be organized for teachers of the English Language.