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Abstract

Writing is an important skill for language production. However, it is considered a difficult skill, particularly in English as a second language (ESL) contexts where students face many challenges in writing. Therefore, the present study was conducted with an aim to investigate problems in Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners' writing and factors that hinder their writing skills. It also aimed at obtaining suggestions on how to improve Pakistani ESL learners' writing skills. For this purpose, focus groups of Pakistani English language teachers'and undergraduate ESL learners were conducted. Writing samples were also collected from 30 ESL undergraduate learners to find the major problems in their writing. The interviews and essays were analyzed using thematic content analysis. The findings reveal that the major problems in Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners' writing are insufficient linguistic proficiency (including command over grammar, syntax and vocabulary), writing anxiety, lack of ideas, reliance on L1 and weak structure organization. These challenges are influenced by various factors including untrained teachers, ineffective teaching methods and examination system, lack of reading and writing practice, large classrooms, low motivation and lack of ideas. The study also sheds light on the remedial measures such as increased reading, conscious and incidental vocabulary teaching, writing practice, trained teachers, reforms in the examination system, and writing competitions.
ESL Learners’ Writing Skills: Problems, Factors and Suggestions
Muhammad Fareed Almas Ashraf Muhammad Bilal
Abstract: Writing is an important skill for language production. However, it is considered
a difficult skill, particularly in English as a second language (ESL) contexts where students face
many challenges in writing. Therefore, the present study was conducted with an aim to investigate
problems in Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners’ writing and factors that hinder their writing
skills. It also aimed at obtaining suggestions on how to improve Pakistani ESL learners’ writing
skills. For this purpose, focus groups of Pakistani English language teachers’and undergraduate
ESL learners were conducted. Writing samples were also collected from 30 ESL undergraduate
learners to find the major problems in their writing. The interviews and essays were analyzed
using thematic content analysis. The findings reveal that the major problems in Pakistani un-
dergraduate ESL learners’ writing are insufficient linguistic proficiency (including command over
grammar, syntax and vocabulary), writing anxiety, lack of ideas, reliance on L1 and weak struc-
ture organization. These challenges are influenced by various factors including untrained teachers,
ineffective teaching methods and examination system, lack of reading and writing practice, large
classrooms, low motivation and lack of ideas. The study also sheds light on the remedial measures
such as increased reading, conscious and incidental vocabulary teaching, writing practice, trained
teachers, reforms in the examination system, and writing competitions.
Keywords: Writing skills; Writing in ESL context; Pakistani ESL learners’ Writing skills;
Writing problems.
1 Introduction
Writing is a significant skill in language production. Its significance increases when it comes
to writing in English language which is extensively used for global mediation of knowledge
(Mahboob,2014;Mansoor,2005;Marlina & Giri,2014;Rahman,2002). Hyland (2003)
believes that performance in language development is subject to improvement in writing
skills. A text of an effective ESL writer must be cohesive, logical, clearly structured, inter-
esting and properly organized with a wide range of vocabulary and mastery of conventions
in mechanics (Jacobs & L,1981;Hall,1988). However, writing is often considered merely
a part of teaching and learning grammar and syntax, which resultantly underestimates the
nature and importance of writing, and affects its growth. Therefore, the development of
Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities, NED University of Engineering & Technology
E-mail: darfarid@neduet.edu.pk
MS Applied Linguistics Candidate, Department of Humanities, NED University of Engineering & Technology
E-mail: almasashraf786@yahoo.com.
Visiting Faculty, Department of Humanities, NED University of Engineering & Technology. MS Applied
Linguistics, Department of Humanities, NED University of Engineering & Technology.
E-mail: alwaysbilal@yahoo.com.
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Journal of Education and Social Sciences
Vol. 4(2): 1, 2016
Journal of Education & Social Sciences
this skill draws considerable attention for its learning and teaching from the very early
phase of language education. Nunan (1989) argues that writing is an extremely difficult
cognitive activity which requires the learner to have control over various factors. These
factors vary from academic background and personal interest of the writer to various psy-
chological, linguistic and cognitive phenomena (Dar & Khan,2015;Haider,2012;?,?).
In Pakistan, the writing skills of the students are alarmingly weak and substandard.
Although, English language users in Pakistan have exponentially increased to 49% in 2003
from 2% in 1961 (Dar & Khan,2015), they still face issues in English language, partic-
ularly in writing. These issues generally arise from incompetence in syntax, coherence,
idea expansion, content selection, topic sentence, rhetorical conventions, mechanics, orga-
nization, lack of vocabulary, inappropriate use of vocabulary. However, further research
is required to explore and examine the factors that adversely affect writing skills of the
students, because issues in writing can be more efficiently addressed if the factors that
generate them are identified (Hyland,2003). This study intends to investigate problems
in students’ writing, the factors that generate these problems, and finally, suggestions of
the participants on how to improve learners’ English language writing skills.
Previous studies have attempted to categorize these factors into some broad domains,
for example, teachers’ incompetence (Haider,2012;Mansoor,2005;Harmer,2008), stu-
dents’ lack of interest (Byrne,1991;Harmer,2008) methodological inappropriacy (Ahmad,
Khan, Munir, et al.,2013;Javed, Juan, & Nazli,2013;Siddiqui,2007). However, there is
still a need of further research that could explore the origin of these factors and their sub-
sequent conversion into permanent writing problems of students’ written discourses. The
current study, along with teachers’ and students’ perceptions, explores and examines the
students’ opinions and their written texts to identify their writing problems and the factors
that generate these issues coupled by suggestions from the respondents on the improvement
of ESL learners’ writing skills. It will bring the latent psychological and cognitive factors
into light for further enquiry and suitable solution.
Literature Review
Writing is the most challenging area in learning second language. It is based on appropriate
and strategic use of language with structural accuracy and communicative potential (Dar
& Khan,2015;Hyland,2003;Mahboob,2014). Kellogg (2001) opines that writing is a
cognitive process that tests memory, thinking ability and verbal command to successfully
express the ideas; because proficient composition of a text indicates successful learning
of a second language (Geiser & Studley,2002;Hyland,2003;McCutchen,1984;Nicker-
son, Perkins, & Smith,2014). Therefore, learning how to write has gained considerable
importance for the last two decades due to two factors: its use as a tool for effective com-
munication of ideas, and the extensive research work carried out in this area to examine
various issues faced by L2 writers (Dar & Khan,2015;Graham & Perin,2007;Haider,
2012;Hyland,2003).
Student writers face various writing problems at different stages of their learning. Gen-
erally, these problems can be classified into linguistic, psychological, cognitive and pedagog-
ical categories (Haider,2012;Hyland,2003). They struggle with the structural components
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of English; because an inappropriate structure complicates the content and comprehension
of the text, which a reader deciphers through involvement of a mental process (Quintero,
2008;Nik, Hamzah, & Rafidee,2010). Similarly, an incoherent text fails to communicate
ideas which causes lack of confidence in learners even if they have mastered syntactic,
lexical and grammatical command over text composition (Rico,2014). Students’ lack of
confidence is also caused by a teaching strategy which does not conform to students’ learn-
ing styles and cultural backgrounds (Ahmad et al.,2013). It is argued that poor writing
skills originate from two factors: the teacher and the learner. Teachers lack appropriate
pedagogic approach to teach writing, including providing prompt and effective feedback to
students, and most crucially, teachers’ lack of ability to motivate students. On the other
hand, students face numerous challenges: effects of L1 transfer lack of reading, motivation,
and practice. In Pakistan, student writers encounter psychological, cognitive, social and
linguistic problems while converting ideas into text (Bilal, Tariq, Din, Latif, & Anjum,
2013;Dar & Khan,2015;Haider,2012;Mahboob & Talaat,2008).
Numerous factors that affect students’ writing skills have been identified in literature.
These are associated with the motivation of learners who are generally unclear about the
purpose and significance of their text in their L2 learning. Similarly, social media, in-
consistent feedback from teachers, learners’ lack of analytical and evaluative approach,
and large and unmanageable class sizes also negatively impact the structural and com-
municative accuracy of the students’ texts (Pineteh,2013). Most of the students find it
very challenging to obtain sufficient and relevant source information, paraphrase or sum-
marise information, and use an appropriate academic writing style (Gonye, Mareva, Dudu,
& Sib,2012;Kalikokha,2008). It is caused by delayed essay writing instruction, large
classes, students’ negative attitude towards their academic English course, L1 transfer,
and lack of dialogue between students and teachers about the constructive steps that need
to be taken to address these problems. In Pakistan, insufficient time for teaching writing,
improper A/V aids, overcrowded classrooms, traditional pedagogy and students’ weak aca-
demic backgrounds have been reported to be some of the factors affecting students’ writing
skills (Bilal et al.,2013;Butt & Rasul,2012). Similarly, outdated textbooks that neither
promote the importance of a writing skill, nor give any opportunities, too consequently
fail to invoke an audience (Haider,2012). Another body of research critiques incompe-
tent teachers who instead of promoting creative skills urge students for rote learning and
exam-oriented language production (Mansoor,2005;Rahman,2002;Siddiqui,2007).
Students’ writing ability can be improved by fostering their interest, motivation and en-
joyment for writing, through technology (Graham & Perin,2007). Similarly, some metacog-
nitive, cognitive and socio-affective strategies could also be used for enabling the students
to know and practically exercise the writing process (O’Malley & Chamot,1990). Further,
the teachers can adapt their pedagogic approaches and can mutually design such tasks that
could motivate and encourage students by giving them liberty of choosing topics of their
interest (Pineteh,2013;Quintero,2008). It will reshape their writing patterns, presum-
ably, through extended practice and by involving physical and cognitive skills which give
the writer control over the expression of linguistic and domain-specific knowledge (Kellogg
& Raulerson,2007). In addition, it will be convenient for language and content teachers
to monitor their students from broad perspectives (Nik, Sani, Kamaruzaman, Hasbollah,
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et al.,2010). Most importantly, it is necessary that attitudes towards writing and dealing
with its issues are changed. Teachers must employ strategies to elicit ideas from students
to be penned down on a piece of paper to promote their verbal ability. Moreover, instant
and critical feedback needs to be given on their output, so that their confidence is elevated
(Haider,2012).
Methodology
This study adopted a qualitative approach to explore the writing problems, factors that
hamper writing development, and suggestions to improve writing skills of Pakistani un-
dergraduate ESL learners. The research was carried out to answer the following research
questions:
What are the major problems in Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners’ writing skills
at undergraduate level?
What are the factors that affect Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners’ writing skills
at undergraduate level?
How can Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners’ writing skills be improved?
To answer these questions, data were collected through four focus group interviews with
undergraduate ESL learners and English language teachers. A focus group collects data
through interviews with a group of four to six people. It is advantageous when the respon-
dents are similar and their interaction yields the best information (Creswell,2012). Eleven
students and ten English language teachers were selected as the sample of the focus group
interviews. The ESL learners’ groups comprised of 18% male and 82% female participants
whereas the teachers’ group consisted of 50% male and 50% female respondents. The re-
spondents’ consent was obtained prior to the interviews; they were also assured of complete
confidentiality. The interview questions were carefully designed and checked for self and
expert validity as (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison,2013) states that validity is an important
requirement and a touchstone for both qualitative and quantitative research. The ques-
tions were piloted on a similar group before the actual data collection. Besides ensuring
that an instrument works well with respondents, piloting also helps in verifying the clarity
of questions, and removing ambiguous language (Cohen et al.,2013). In addition to the
focus group interviews, writing samples (descriptive, narrative and argumentative essays)
of 30 undergraduate ESL learners from four public and private sector universities were also
collected. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data since thematic analysis identifies
the emerging themes and patterns in the qualitative data. The researcher immerses in the
data and recognizes the relationship between ‘codes, concepts and themes’ (Savin-Baden
& Major,2013).
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Findings
Findings of this study have been categorized into following three major areas: problems in
Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners’ writing, factors responsible of these writing prob-
lems and suggestions to improve ESL learners’ writing skills. The findings of the writing
samples analysis is also discussed under writing problems section.
Problems in ESL Learners’ Writing
The students and teachers delineated several problems in the writing of undergraduate ESL
learners. They agreed that ESL learners lack knowledge of appropriate vocabulary:‘I can-
not come up with the words like how to express my (thoughts).’ (FS3). ‘They don’t know the
appropriate use of words.’ (FT2). Learners also have difficulties in grammar and syntax.
They make mistakes in subject-verb agreement, pronouns, tenses, articles, prepositions
and basic sentence structures. ‘The major problem is with the uses of tenses and articles
and preposition.’ (FT5).‘I always have issues with sentence structure.’ (FS2).Additionally,
lack of ideas affect learners’ writing skills.‘Until and unless students have information with
them, they will not be able to pour any idea through their pen onto the page.’ (MT3).
Organized writing is also a challenge to learners as their writing lacks coherence, consoli-
dation of knowledge and use of formal transitional and cohesive devices. ‘(Students) do not
organize’ (MT5).‘Most of them are not able to consolidate their knowledge. When you ask
them to write about themselves, they (cannot).’ (FT1). ‘Writing is different from speech,
(students’) writing is actually speech put on the page.’ (MT4).
Findings from Written Samples
The analysis of ESL learners writing samples revealed a total of 1217 problems in grammar,
syntax, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, word form and word order, spoken expressions,
contracted forms, cohesion, repetition of ideas and L1 influence. (See Table 1)
The highest number of errors was made in grammar. Grammatical errors included
errors of different word classes, subject-verb agreement, and forms of singular and plural,
for example, ‘these applications gives a proper protocol to communicate others’, ‘these
channels provide numerous number of information’, ‘every day the situation goes bad to
bad’ and ‘their personality impress by everyone’.
Grammar was followed by syntax. Syntactical errors show learners’ lack of command
over structure of a sentence. They wrote sentences like, ‘I am going in weekend and more
enjoy our family and see previous struggle.’ The third highest number of errors belonged
to vocabulary, for example, ‘Using the connection between the student and teacher, this
(psychological) error from our society can evaporate’.
Spelling and punctuation errors were also found in abundance. Some spelling errors
were ‘invension’ (invention), ‘indivisually’ (individually) and ‘fascility’ (facility), whereas
punctuation errors included capitalization, use of comma and apostrophe, as in the follow-
ing examples: ‘I see more school students.’; ‘In this Era we cannot even imagine’; and ‘I
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had with my friends family and cousin.’
Table 1
Reliability and Validity Values
Writing Problem Frequency of Occurrence
Grammar 551
Syntax 171
Vocabulary 157
Spelling 113
Punctuation 95
Verb Form and Word Order 55
Spoken Expressions 61
Others 14
Total 1217
Learners also used incorrect word forms like (psychological) disorderness, energetic
drinks and ‘I was feeling such a greatness’. Similarly, the order of words was also found
to be inappropriate causing difficulty in expression of meaning. They wrote: ‘That was
probably my unforgettable day of life’, and ‘after completing the long 2 hours journey.’
As pointed out by the respondents, the use of spoken and informal style of writing was
also observed. Spoken expressions like ‘lets talk about television first’ and ‘now if we talk
about life without them’ were used by learners in their writing. Moreover, the learners
used the contracted form mostly in their negative sentences using don’t, won’t, and can’t.
Another set of errors belonged to cohesion, repetition of ideas and influence of Urdu.
Although they did not occur as frequently as other problems, they also need to be ad-
dressed. Repetition of ideas indicates lack the ideas whereas lack of cohesion and rare use
of transitional devices lead to lack of unity and coherence. The influence of Urdu was also
evident in sentences like, ‘Chain of tears comes outside’ and ‘Increase the hateness in their
hearts’ which reflects student’s thinking process in Urdu.
Factors Responsible of ESL Learners’ Writing Problems
The data revealed that there are various factors at play hindering the development of un-
dergraduate ESL learners’ writing skills. First of all, writing is not given much importance
in our society. It is considered as a secondary skill to speaking. Consequently, the cul-
ture of reading and writing does not flourish at academic and social level and these skills
remain ignored. ‘(Students) have never been given the idea that they need to be good
writers. Writing does not get maximum of instruction’ (MT4). ‘Writing is one of the skills
which is least liked in our society’ (MT2). Similarly, the examination system does not
encourage learners’ creative writing. Instead, it encourages memorization and plagiarism.
‘Our examination system does not encourage our students to be analytical or critical. We
give them twenty minutes for writing 200 words essay, so we encourage them to memorize’
(MT2). Writing anxiety is also considered to be a hindrance in learners’ production of
well-organized text. ‘There is so much tension that give mental difficulty’ (FS8). ‘They
must be facing debilitate anxiety because of which they may not be able to write’ (MT3).
Similarly, reliance on Urdu for processing thoughts and ideas also results in weak writing.
‘They think in Urdu and then they try to translate into English’ (FT4).
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Untrained teachers and ineffective teaching method are also influential in developing
learners’ writing skill, absence of which affects writing adversely: ‘(Institutes) are not
having trained teachers who can develop the (writing) skill’ (FT4). ‘The teaching style
is outdated’ (FS6). Exposure to receptive skills and writing practice are also required to
develop one’s writing skill. The amount of these provided to learners inside and outside
the classrooms is not enough to master the skill. ‘Receptive skills are not considered very
important for the writing’ (FT1). ‘(Students) do not practice. If practice starts (at school),
then they will have developed (writing) sufficiently to meet the requirements of a university’
(MT3). Large classrooms and lengthy courses are also potential factors; our classrooms fail
to provide conducive environment to learners resulting in poor writing skill development.
‘Writing always needs peaceful environment, our classrooms are not peaceful.’ (MT4).
‘The course outline is not good enough. They are outdated’ (FS6). Lack of motivation on
the learner as well as teachers’ part was also put forth as a potential challenge faced by
learners. ‘Teachers expect the students to write very well but the teacher never motivates
them to write by themselves’ (FT2). Additionally, lack of ideas and concentration was
also discussed as factors resulting in writing problems. ‘Because we don’t (have) the actual
knowledge of the topic’ (FS1). ‘I think lack of concentration also affects our writing’ (FS7).
Suggestions to Improve ESL Learners’ Writing Skills
To improve undergraduate learners’ writing skills, the respondents suggested several reme-
dies. To begin with, reading was suggested in order to develop better writing and to enrich
vocabulary. The conscious teaching of vocabulary was also emphasized: ‘We can do some
good reading so that we can get good vocabulary, and improve our writing’ (FS7). ‘(Stu-
dents) should be taught words, either through incidental vocabulary learning or intentional
vocabulary learning’ (MT3). Developing a writing culture and providing opportunities for
writing practice were also suggested. For respondents, importance should be given to writ-
ing as it is given to speaking skill: ‘By making students write daily for fifteen or twenty
minutes we can improve their writing skills’ (MT3). ‘From early classes, we need to incul-
cate at least the culture of writing as we do with the speaking part’ (FT3). A change is
also required in the examination system. According to respondents, it should not promote
memorization and plagiarism. ‘Our education system shouldn’t be about rote learning’
(FS2).
Similarly, the importance of effective teachers cannot be denied. Therefore, it is very
important that they are trained not only in effective teaching practices but also in providing
positive and constructive feedback.‘Institutes should provide skillful teachers for the writing
and should provide trainings, particularly for language teachers’ (FT1). ‘If we are going
to appreciate and motivate their efforts, (it will) encourage them to write more (FT4). To
motivate learners towards writing, changes in writing courses and arrangement of writing
competitions were also emphasized: ‘We can arrange some extra courses based on tenses,
articles, and structure and some creative writing competition’ (FT5).
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Discussion
The major language issues in the learners’ writing were of grammar and syntax. These
errors included incorrect use of prepositions, articles, tenses, singular/plural, verbs, sen-
tence structure, and the use of informal and spoken expressions. Vocabulary also poses
a problem for learners as they are not aware of collocational and connotational meanings
of the words. Haider (2012) also found similar problems of vocabulary in their studies.
Corresponding to the finding of (Megaiab,2014), spelling and punctuations errors were
also found in abundance in writing samples. However, these errors were not highlighted as
a problematic area by any of the present research participants during the interviews. ESL
learners tend to spell words according to their sound, a process referred to as phonetic
perception by (Al-Khairy,2013) resulting in incorrect spelling. Similarly, learners do not
possess topic-related knowledge. When students do not possess knowledge, they cannot
write well.
The study revealed many diverse reasons such as, society, culture, the teaching-learning
context and the learners themselves affecting the development of writing skills in one way
or the other. The writing part in an exam paper usually has repeated topics encouraging
the learners to memorize the ready-made essays on the recurrent topics. Ahmed (2010) also
observed similar effects of examination on ESL learners’ writing skills. Likewise, the class
room environment is not conducive to learning; congested rooms situated at noisy locations,
large number of learners, and lack of other basic facilities hinder the process of writing skill
development. The teachers also fail to impart effective writing skills and strategies to the
learners. On the other hand, as identified by (Nik, Sani, et al.,2010), undergraduate
ESL learners are not motivated to improve their writing skills. The concentration and
efforts are limited only to attempt the writing section of the exam papers. This trend
further reflects in lack of interest in reading and writing practice. There can be various
reasons: workload of different subjects, domestic and financial responsibilities, absence
of motivational feedback, family background and simply lack of interest. The learners
also rely on their first language as a backup strategy when they find difficulty in writing
in English. They tend to translate words and borrow syntax of Urdu which varies from
English to a great extent; this eventually results in poor writing as observed by (Myles,
2002). Effective feedback from peers and teachers can also play an important role, however,
the concept of feedback is not correctly recognized in the current context. It is considered
to be highlighting mistakes in writing without taking into consideration the level, needs,
and proficiency of the learners. Only trained teachers can carry out these responsibilities
in an effective and productive way.
These problems and challenges can be resolved by several remedial measures at indi-
vidual as well as institutional level. The participants suggested teachers should increase
learners’ exposure to all four skills with specific emphasis on reading and writing. Al-
Khairy (2013)’s findings also emphasize the need of qualified, trained and motivated teach-
ers. Constructive feedback should be provided by the teachers to help learners, criticism
on their writings should be minimized, and writing competitions should be organized to
motive the learners. It was also suggested that these modifications should be implemented
at secondary and intermediate levels so that learners face less difficulties in writing skills
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at tertiary level.
Conclusion
The research was conducted with an aim to explore undergraduate ESL learners’ writing
problems, factors hampering development of their writing skills and suggestions to improve
their writing skills. Hence, considering the problems, factors and suggestions this study
has explored, it can be concluded that Pakistani undergraduate ESL learners face various
problems in their writing but their writing skills can be improved by taking into account the
reasons of these problems. The findings of the study can be generalized to the ESL learners
and English language teachers at tertiary level in Karachi; however the small sample size
is a limitation of this study.
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Savin-Baden, M., & Major, C. H. (2013). Qualitative research: The essential guide to
theory and practice. Routledge, London.
Siddiqui, S. (2007). Rethinking education in Pakistan: Perceptions, practices, and possi-
bilities. Paramount Publishing Enterprise, United States.
92
... While previous research has looked into the challenges that Chinese students face when writing in English (Cai, 2017;Chou, 2011; E-ISSN: 2287-0024 Fareed et al., 2016;Li, 2014;Zhang, 2018), there has been less focus on the impact of English as a language of instruction on Chinese students' academic writing skills. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify perceived challenges in academic writing and how Chinese ESL students in Malaysian private universities overcome these challenges. ...
... However, academic writing is regarded as a difficult skill to learn, especially for non-native speakers (Fareed et al., 2016). Most ESL students struggle to master the elements of writing such as linking ideas, constructing sentences, using correct words, and conveying intended meaning in writing (Kanglong & Afzaal, 2020). ...
... In some cases, educators may even be illiterate in English (Cai, 2017). Fareed et al. (2016) discovered the same finding when they studied ESL learners from Pakistan at the undergraduate level. The most common challenges reported were a lack of mastery of linguistic elements, interference from first language (L1), writing anxiety, and poor organizational skills. ...
Article
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The literature suggests that academic writing skills have a significant impact on the academic success of university students. Many Chinese ESL students, in particular, struggle with mastering these skills while studying abroad. The purpose of this mixed-methods study is to explore Chinese international students' perceptions of academic writing challenges in English as well as to identify the strategies they use to overcome these challenges. The study surveyed 200 Chinese international students studying in Malaysian universities. Qualitative follow-up interviews were also conducted with 12 students to uncover their perceived challenges and coping strategies. The study found that students felt their limited academic writing skills and language problems hindered their ability to write. Nonetheless, the course materials and the additional handouts provided by instructors helped students improve their academic writing skills. Moreover, students considered both instructor-centered learning and peer guidance as effective approaches to improving their academic writing skills. The study concludes with a detailed explanation of the difficulties associated with academic writing skills among ESL students.
... Academic Writing is formal writing in which it is different compared to other types of writing. Nunan (1989) stated that writing is a very cognitive activity that requires students to pay attention to various factors in writing (as cited in Fareed, Ashraf & Bilal, 2016). It is true that to be able to write, students have to follow a number of writing aspects. ...
... Besides that, teachers should be giving motivation for students to learn to write by creating relaxed communication with the students without worrying about making mistakes. Fareed, Ashraf, and Bilal (2016) investigated problems and factors that hampered Pakistani undergraduate students in their writing skills. Their research found the major problems in terms of linguistic proficiency, writing anxiety, lack of ideas, L1 reliance, and lack of organizational structure. ...
Article
Full-text available
Writing is one of the most difficult skills in learning English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Foreign Language (EFL). Many language learners encountered difficulties from the writing process. At the tertiary level, students are required to produce academic essays, which are difficult and may frustrate students. The purpose of this study was to analyze factors contributing to students' difficulties in an Academic Writing course based on the students' perceptions. This study used a qualitative method. The instruments used were open-ended questionnaires and interview protocol. In this study, all the participants' answers were coded and analyzed descriptively. The participants were 22 students who were taking Academic Writing class for repeaters in Semester I, 2018/2019 academic year, in an English Language Education Program, in a university in Central Java, Indonesia. Questionnaire data were coded and classified by the researcher. In conducting the interview, data were audio-recorded and transcribed. Those data were analyzed to answer the research questions in this study. Based on the findings, there were two factors that caused students' difficulties in writing academically. The two factors were internal and external. Internal factors consisted of self-motivation, self-confidence, lack of knowledge and feeling of under pressure. External factors consisted of the teacher's teaching style, classroom atmosphere, materials, and writing aspects. This research hopefully can help teachers and instructors in developing appropriate teaching techniques in Academic Writing and minimize students' difficulties in Academic Writing.
... Academic Writing is formal writing in which it is different compared to other types of writing. Nunan (1989) stated that writing is a very cognitive activity that requires students to pay attention to various factors in writing (as cited in Fareed, Ashraf & Bilal, 2016). It is true that to be able to write, students have to follow a number of writing aspects. ...
... Besides that, teachers should be giving motivation for students to learn to write by creating relaxed communication with the students without worrying about making mistakes. Fareed, Ashraf, and Bilal (2016) investigated problems and factors that hampered Pakistani undergraduate students in their writing skills. Their research found the major problems in terms of linguistic proficiency, writing anxiety, lack of ideas, L1 reliance, and lack of organizational structure. ...
Article
Full-text available
Writing is one of the most difficult skills in learning English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Foreign Language (EFL). Many language learners encountered difficulties from the writing process. At the tertiary level, students are required to produce academic essays, which are difficult and may frustrate students. The purpose of this study was to analyze factors contributing to students difficulties in an Academic Writing course based on the students perceptions. This study used a qualitative method. The instruments used were open-ended questionnaires and interview protocol. In this study, all the participants answers were coded and analyzed descriptively. The participants were 22 students who were taking Academic Writing class for repeaters in Semester I, 2018/2019 academic year, in an English Language Education Program, in a university in Central Java, Indonesia. Questionnaire data were coded and classified by the researcher. In conducting the interview, data were audio-recorded and transcribed. Those data were analyzed to answer the research questions in this study. Based on the findings, there were two factors that caused students difficulties in writing academically. The two factors were internal and external. Internal factors consisted of self-motivation, self-confidence, lack of knowledge and feeling of under pressure. External factors consisted of the teachers teaching style, classroom atmosphere, materials, and writing aspects. This research hopefully can help teachers and instructors in developing appropriate teaching techniques in Academic Writing and minimize students' difficulties in Academic Writing.
... Writing is considered the most important skill for success in and out of the classroom and it has received greater attention in educational programs (Nigh, 2021).Based on the results of local studies, researchers have found some common problems among students: struggle to generate ideas, have low motivation and rarely practise writing outside of class (Dar & Khan, 2015;Qu, 2017;Qasem, & Zayid,2019;García, 2018;Fareed, Ashraf, & Bilal, 2016). Therefore, they face difficulty to write a good essay, and some even leave the exam hall without showing any attempt to answer the writing section (Erkan and Saban , 2011). ...
Research
Full-text available
It gives us great pleasure to present to you the proceedings of the 29th MELTA International Conference, 'Be Future Ready: Shaping New Understandings in the ELT Landscape'. The conference features ELT professionals sharing innovations in exploring and embracing education for the future. The conference brings together education policymakers, practitioners, and scholars to engage and collaborate with colleagues from around the world to evolve solutions in English language education focused on developing sustainable literacies that are future-proof and relevant focusing on the following sub-themes: • Teacher Professional Development • Pedagogy • Assessment and Evaluation • Literature • Technology • Creative Teacher Showcase, Creative Student-Teacher Showcase and Higher Education Teaching Innovation • Project-Based Learning in STREAM
... Olivas and Li (2016) connected low second-language proficiency levels in English and low academic performance of international ESL college-level students in the United States. Increasingly, International ESL students were widely criticized for their inability to write at acceptable levels and standards (Fareed, Ashraf, & Bilal, 2016;Li, Link, & Hegelheimer, 2015). Although many ESL students at a university level have a general understanding of grammar rules, few are able to write at academically expected levels. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Disciplines form our values, but the transformation into heterogeneous and interdisciplinary research seems inevitable as most research problems concerning humans and society necessitate the collaboration of experts from several disciplines. In this article, the trends of interdisciplinary research in Humanities and Social Sciences were attributed to the general expansion of the literature and interest in interdisciplinary research; efficiency of interdisciplinary research in solving more complex problems; interconnection between research paradigms, worldviews, approaches, methods, theory development or verification, and ethical considerations; as well as utilization of ‘educated common sense’. The challenges of conducting interdisciplinary research in Humanities and Social Sciences were summarized as methodological limitations and delimitations; fragmentation and over-specialization in single disciplines; researchers’ mindset about interdisciplinarity and research credit issues; as well as unawareness about the most recent developments and regulations. The suggested solutions for the challenges in this article were promoting scholarly activities, networking and collaboration among researchers, institutions, and publishers; learning and unlearning; utilization of effective communicative platforms; promoting creative and critical thinking aligned with industrial revolution; reflecting and connecting concepts; encouraging independent thinking; and encouraging the use of more rigorous research approaches, such as mixed methods research design. It was concluded that the genuinely ultimate purpose of interdisciplinary research in Humanities and Social Sciences should eventually be to serve humanity, aligned with the Fifth Industrial Revolution, and to improve humans’ social life by ‘making the world a better place’. An in-depth, thorough, and impactful interdisciplinary research should offer practical solutions to the realistic and critical problems through the integration of the philosophical and analytical approaches in Humanities and the more scientific and systematic approaches of Social Sciences. Keywords: Education, Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Research, Social Sciences
... Writing skill is important in language production. Its importance grows when it comes to writing in the English language, which is widely utilized for global knowledge mediation, and it is believed that language development is dependent on improved writing skills [28]. Figure 2 expresses the components of writing skills. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper is aimed at examining the effects of digital teaching on reconstructing creative writing skills and to judge the bettering of creativity and writing skills after accepting digital technology. Based on this paper, creativity and writing skills are the most required elements of creative writing. Fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration are the major constructs of creativity. From the contribution of Torrance, we find these constructs of creativity. Narrative and linguistics are the major components in writing skills to evaluate the pupils. Concept and background come under the narrative components as subscales. Likewise, content, the structure of grammar, punctuation, and spelling are considered as subscales in linguistic components. Digital teaching methods and traditional teaching methods are used for this research. We are using a nonequivalent comparison-group design for this research. The rubric is a scoring guide used to evaluate performance. We used this scoring guide to access the improvement of pupils. In total, 58 participants were selected from a primary school. 28 participants were selected from the section A class and 30 pupils from the section B class. In creativity, after the digital teaching, the experimental group is greater than the control group; therefore, the digital teaching method improves the pupils’ creativity level. In writing skill, after digital teaching, the experimental group is better than the control group; therefore, the digital teaching method increases the pupils’ writing skill. We proposed a SVM-based Chaotic Grasshopper Optimization algorithm for digital teaching of creative writing in the context of big data. The comparative analysis result shows that the SVM-Chaotic Grasshopper Optimization method accuracy rate is higher than the other three methods’ accuracy rate. The SVM-CGO method execution time (second) speed is fast when compared with that of the other methods. Thus, we have analyzed the effects of digital teaching and evaluated the improvement in creativity and writing skills after utilizing digital tools.
... Nonetheless, as argued by Thompson (2012), as writing involves a highly complex process, both students and teachers often have to struggle in a writing classroom, including in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) writing classroom. For instance, EFL students encounter problems with linguistic proficiency, structure organization and low motivation (Fareed et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
The present study aims to scrutinize how employing photovoice in writing class helps uncover novice writers' emotions of learning to write. Eight secondary school students voluntarily participated in the two-session writing class. Accompanying the photovoice, the participants were also asked to write a reflective journal for additional data collection. Results indicate that these novice writers, though experienced confusion and encountered various problems, persisted in completing the writing assignment due to their intrinsic motivation. This suggests that teachers should incorporate in their teachings explanation of the importance of enhancing one's writing competence to grow students' motivation and interests in writing
... Thus, failure in essay writing significantly reduces a candidate's overall score in the subject (Atanda & Jaiyeoba, 2011). Also, good performance in other aspects of English Language as well as other school subjects depends largely on good writing skills because examinations are usually in written forms (Fareed, Ashraf & Bilal, 2016;Kolawole, Adepoju & Adelore, 2000;). Even in the after-school world of work, employees mostly depend on written communication and documentation of strictly official matters. ...
Article
Full-text available
The study was conducted to determine what contribution gender could make to Nigerian students' disposition to and performance in essay writing when exposed to computer-assisted language instructional strategies. Three senior secondary classes were selected in Ilorin, Kwara State. The pretest-posttest control group quasi-experimental design was employed. Each class was assigned to an instructional strategy (collaborative computer-assisted language instruction, autonomous computer-assisted language instruction, and conventional instruction respectively). The treatment to the groups lasted eight weeks. Computations of means and standard deviation as well as analysis of covariance were used in analyzing the data obtained. The findings showed that gender had significant effect on the students' disposition to and significant effect on the students' achievement in computer-assisted essay writing.
... Much researches in Pakistan on the difficulties and potential of online learning has been carried out in a common environment (Fareed, Ashraf & Bilal, 2016) where learning, education and the integration of E-learning cycles are not necessary. Very few national educational institutions were using this technology before the Covid-19. ...
Article
Full-text available
During the current emergency of Pandemic disease of Covid-19, the importance of online learning strategy has much increased due to closure of schools, colleges and universities in most part of the globe. To evaluate the effectiveness of online learning, a statistical study has been conducted on the academic achievements of postgraduate students learned by online versus face-to-face learning modes. The statistical analysis of academic achievements of postgraduate students has been done by SPSS-20 statistical tool. The t-test analysis showed that the t-value was 0.549 and p-value was 0.583. The significance level for t-test analysis was 0.05. As, the p-value was more that 0.05 (p˃0.05) so, no significant relation has been found in the academic achievements of the students learned by online and face to face modes of learning. The null hypothesis (Ho) was proved true and the alternative hypothesis (H1) rejected. The reasons for no significant relation were abruptly shifting of learning modes from face-to-face to online, slow working of LMS accounts due to over burden, login and voice problems during the online classes. Overall, the students performed better in the online modes of learning. Some students performed good in face-to-face learning and performed poor in online modes of learning. So, to generalize, it is necessary to do more research on online modes of learning under regional context.
Article
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Pakistan is among the countries where number of English language users is on rapid growth. Despite English has been an influential language in Pakistan since its independence, learners face difficulties in almost every area of English language learning: Listening, reading, writing and speaking referring to just basic skills of English language. This study focuses on one of the four basic skills: Writing. It measures levels of writing anxiety of Pakistani undergraduate students while writing essays on various topics in English. In this study, 418 students participated which represents both public and private sector universities. Cheng (2004) SLWAI’s instrument was adopted to answer the research questions. Data analysis revealed that majority of the total participants, 61.48 percent has average level of English language writing anxiety. On the other hand, 19.38 percent of the total participants at undergraduate level face high level of English language writing anxiety. Minimum 19.14 percent of the total participants belong to low level of English language writing anxiety. It is interesting to note that both participants from the private and public sector universities experienced average level of writing anxiety. Consequently, English Language Teachers have to adopt/adapt those writing approaches and modify their methods of writing instruction which could help learners decrease their writing anxiety.
Article
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This article discusses the academic writing challenges of undergraduate students at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa. It examines challenges such as lack of a mastery of academic writing conventions, analysis of writing topics, using writing to construct social identities; ability to research and apply knowledge across different context and poor sentence skills. It also focuses on the implications of these challenges for students’ academic development and possible strategies to address these challenges. The article draws on sustained interviews with twenty 2 nd year students, 1 st year student reflections and discussions with four Communication lecturers. The data revealed that academic writing challenges of students in universities of technology are consequences of students’ linguistic and general literacy backgrounds, their attitudes toward academic writing and the privileging of middle-class literacy practices in South African higher education. To mitigate these challenges, this article proposes the following strategies: the integration of academic literacies in disciplinary curricula, the promotion of multimodalities of the teaching and assessment as well as collaboration between language lecturers and core course specialists. It also recommends intensive academic reading and writing workshops, and increased formative feedback.
Book
The book is based on the on author PhD thesis that examined the current language division between the public sector that is in Urdu medium and private sector in English medium. Recommendations are made to adopt a more democratic language in education policy
Book
This volume offers insights in current theoretical discussions, observations, and reflections from internationally and regionally celebrated scholars on the theory and practice of teaching English informed by a new school of thought, English as an International Language (EIL). This volume provides readers (scholars, teachers, teacher-educators, researchers in the relevant fields) with: Knowledge of the changing paradigm and attitudes towards English language teaching from teaching a single variety of English to teaching intercultural communication and English language variation. Current thoughts on the theory of teaching English as an international language by internationally-celebrated established scholars and emergent scholars. Scholarly descriptions and discussions of how English language educators and teacher-educators translate the paradigm of English as an International Language into their existing teaching. Delineation of how this newly emerged paradigm is received or responded to by English language educators and students when it is implemented. Readers have a unique opportunity to observe and read the tensions and dilemmas that educators and students are likely to experience in teaching and learning EIL.
Article
This paper addresses to evaluate and assess the students' competency in writing skills at Secondary school level in the English Language focusing five major content areas: word completion, sentence making/syntax, comprehension, tenses/ grammar and handwriting. The target population was the male and female students of grade 10 of urban and rural Secondary schools from public and private sector. Forty (40) Secondary schools of District Bahawalnagar, Pakistan were taken using stratified sampling. A sample consisting of 440 students (11students from each school) was randomly selected using a table of random numbers. An achievement test consisting of different items was developed to assess the students' competency and capability in sub-skills of writing such as word completion, sentence making/syntax, comprehension, tenses/grammar and handwriting. Mean score and standard deviation were used to analyze the students' proficiency in each sub-skill. The t-test was applied to make the comparison on the bases of gender, density and public and private sector. The overall performance of all the students was better in comprehension as compared to other sub-skills namely word completion, sentence making/syntax, tenses/grammar and handwriting. The analysis, based on t-value, revealed no significant difference between the performance of male and female students and the students of public and private schools, whereas there was a significant difference between the performance of urban and rural students.