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The impact of formal grammar instruction on students’ writing ability in an academic literacy course at the North-West University, Mafikeng Campus.

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The academic writing of students at institutions of higher education is shown to be ridden with grammatical errors, that often lead to students failing to successfully present their ideas across to lecturers. Some of the reasons for such errors, as per the literature include those of their schooling and economic background, not having the adequate language and academic skills to function at university and the Language of Teaching and Learning (LoLT) which is English being their second or third language. As a result, students writing has a negative impact on their studies, hence a need that they be assisted to improve accuracy in academic writing. The aim of this study, therefore, is to investigate the grammar errors that students make in academic writing with the intention to assist them accordingly. Additionally, the study is aimed at investigating the effects of grammar instruction intervention on the grammatical accuracy of the academic texts produced by students. To achieve these aims, a comprehensive literature review on the analysis of errors made by ESL learners, grammar instruction, and academic writing was conducted. In addition, the study employed the quantitative research methodology utilising error analysis and quasi-experimental designs to collect data. The data was analysed with the assistance of descriptive statistics for the error analysis and inferential statistics for the quasi-experimental design. The findings from the error analysis indicate that students make various errors in the academic texts. The findings from the quasi-experimental design shows that after instruction, there was improvement in the accuracy of the texts that the students produced. From the findings, the study concluded that the Academic Literacy modules offered at the North-West University, Mafikeng Campus can be utilised to assist students in improving accuracy in their writing. Therefore, the study recommends that the Academic Literacy modules be evaluated to determine whether some intervention in the form of grammar instruction can assist students to improve accuracy in their writing. This may involve making the teaching of grammar in the context of writing become the formal component of the modules. Furthermore, the study recommends that lecturers can assist by raising grammar awareness of students during the presentation of the process approach to writing.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.