Challenges Students Face in Learning Essay Writing Skills in English Language in Secondary Schools in Manga District, Nyamira County, Kenya
Nyasimi, Nyang’au Benard
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The ability to achieve communicative competence in writing is a major facet of language development and academic success among students at all levels of the education system. However, learning to master essay writing skills is a problem students face in secondary schools. This has been consistently shown by the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Educa-tion (KCSE) examination results in English, as noted by the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) reports. The purpose of this study was to investigate challenges stu-dents face in learning essay writing skills in English language in secondary schools in Manga district, Nyamira County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were to: determine methods teachers use in teaching essay writing skills, investigate challenges students face in learning essay writing skills, establish strategies students employ in learning essay writing skills .The study was based on the process genre approach theoret-ical model for teaching writing skills as advanced by Badger and White (2000). A de-scriptive survey research design was adopted in this study. The target population was English language teachers and form three students in Manga district. Stratified random sampling and purposive sampling techniques were used in selecting the sample for the study. Thus, a sample of 180 students and 10 teachers of English language were used as the respondents of the study. Data was collected by the use of a questionnaire for stu-dents, interview schedule for teachers and an essay writing test for students. The validity and reliability of the instruments were established through a pilot study and the input of experts in the area under study. Quantitative data collected was analyzed using descrip-tive statistical techniques, which involved percentages, frequencies, and the mean while qualitative data was thematically analyzed. The research findings indicated that common methods teachers use in teaching essay writing skills are: lecture, question and answer and teacher demonstration. However, group work, peer teaching and role play which have been proven to enhance learning of writing skills among other methods were the least used. The results further revealed that major challenges students face in learning es-say writing skills include: inadequate content mastery, incorrect use of grammar, first language (L1) interference, limited vocabulary and inadequate teaching and learning re-sources. The results also showed that most of the students do not frequently use interac-tive learning strategies. In view of these findings, it was established that teaching meth-ods and learning strategies used by both teachers and students influence the learning of L2 writing skills. Recommendations based on the study were made to enable curriculum developers, policy makers and teachers to come up with strategies to address the chal-lenges students face in the learning of L2 writing skills.