This project begins with the identification of the Importance of
Competence in English Usage to the nation's Standard of Education. It
therefore sets out to examine the analysis of the English spelling
error, by looking into the History of English Spelling as well as the
sources of these errors. The research work also identified that
inconsistencies in the language at times can cause these common mistakes
that we make in English. It's been observed by all writers on the
English language that the orthography or spelling of words is very
irregular; the same letters often representing different sounds and the
same sound often expressed by different letters. This project provides a
theoretical assessment of English spelling error analysis, models for
spelling error and then look into the sources of errors. The paper
concluded by offering suggested ways to avoid spelling mistakes and give
examples of the common spelling errors in their different spelling
Spelling is the writing of one or more words with letters and
diacritics. In addition, the term often, but not always, means an
accepted standard spelling or the process of naming the letters.
Spelling attempt to transcribe the sounds of the language into
alphabetic letters. Pronunciation changes over time in all languages and
spelling reforms are irregular in most languages and rare in some. In
addition, words from other languages may be adapted to the spelling
system, non-standard spellings are often adopted after extensive common
Spelling is a challenge. We all make mistakes when attempting to
learn spelling. The process of skill development that is learning
something new involves making errors. Some errors are random and the
result of memory lapses, distractions, carelessness, fatigues or
These errors occur irregularly and are usually self-detected and
self- corrected. These are among the kinds of errors novice practitioner
Many spelling errors however are not random or careless but under error analysis.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Though, many people would agree that there is an observable fall in
the standard of Education in Nigeria, but nobody in his widest
imagination would have believed that University Education in Nigeria has
fallen to an abysmally low level as a World Bank study came up with a
report that University Education in Nigeria has degenerated in the past
fifteen to sixteen years.
The shocking news which was reported in one of the lead headlines in
the Guardian, one of the Nigeria's major daily Newspapers was published
on the 19th of February, 2001. The screaming headline read:
"World Bank report scores Nigerian Graduates Low".
The Guardian Newspaper quoted the World Bank that "Nigerian
University graduates are poor in their usage of English Language which
includes spelling errors and they are unproductive on the job".
“Graduates skills have steadily deteriorated over the past decades"
(p.l). According to the report, the poor performance of Nigerian
graduates is particularly evident in two areas; poor mastery of the
English Language both in the written and oral and then also evident in
the lack of requisite technical skill. It was ascertained in the report
that the deficiencies in both vital areas Nigerian graduates of the past
fifteen years unfit for the labour market and sometimes the larger
Shortcomings were particularly observed in oral and written
communication. The study also indicated that a serious disconnection
exists between university training and the needs of the labour market.
Though, the study may have identified major areas of the decline in the
University Education but the actual problem may have its root at the
secondary school level.
At the secondary school level, the potential undergraduate is given
adequate foundation in the use of English. In our secondary schools,
there are lots of English Language misspellings as well as wrong
pronunciation of words. This has really been a major concern and
setbacks for the Teachers of English Language in Nigeria Secondary
The teaching of spelling in Nigeria secondary school is always a
challenge, because so many of this students find it difficult to spell
correctly due to one thing or the other, which will be the main focus of
this project work. Teachers are perplexed when students spell words
correctly on weekly test and misspell the same words as well as easier
more common words.
Like reading, spelling is a written language skills that draws upon
individuals repertoire of linguistic knowledge including phonological
awareness. A mastery of written and spoken English is highly desirable
to help our fallen educational standard in this country.
In Nigeria, English Language serves as an official language, a means
of communication that is rule governed. Every language has a structure
different from another. Each language of the world for example has
certain regular system of pronunciation, certain regular word order and
certain regular sentence pattern. English Language for example, permits
consonant cluster both initially and finally while other languages does
not permit it.
English Language is a standard language, because it is accepted in
the country as a means of interacting formally. Therefore, every
students of this country is not restricted to the standard usage of the
According to Kachuru 1986:1,
"Competence in English and the use of this language signify a
transmutation, an added potential for material and social gain and
advantages. One sees this attitude in what the symbol stand for; English
is considered a symbol of modernization and an extra arm of success and
mobility in culturally and linguistically complex and pluralistic
In Nigeria, English enjoys a wider geographical spread than any of
the indigenous language. Whatever, the language of discussion, a serious
business transaction is sealed up in writing in English. The same goes
for political campaigns which can be in the language of immediate
environment, but manifestos and other documents are produced in
English. English Language in Nigeria is a language of Education,
Publication and it is a language of Government. It is used for thinking
and widening our perception of life. It aids the cohesive political
community; it serves in the expression and development of Nigeria's
It is the medium of diplomacy and national relationship and it
socially makes you feel at home in any part of the world. All these show
there is the need for competence in the usage of English Language.
This research work will be looking at "The Common English Spelling
Errors". English spelling error analysis is a type of linguistic
analysis that focuses on the errors learners make. The investigation of
errors can be at the same time diagnostic and prognostic. It is
diagnostic because it can tell us the learners state of language at a
given point during the learning process and prognostic because it can
tell that language learning materials need to reorient on the basis of
the learners current problems .
Learners error during the foreign language learning has always been
concerned and argued about by linguist and foreign teachers from the
ancient time. The most distinguishing difference between the foreign
language learners and the native speakers lie in their English
vocabulary size, therefore lexicon learning is attached more and more
This research will be based on the analysis of errors and the
patterns in spelling. Samples of spelling errors will also be provided
as well as the psychological analysis of spelling errors.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
In analyzing the common spelling errors in English Language, there is the need to identify the major cause of these errors.
In the course of this project, the following problems will be highlighted;
• The problem of the 'ough' words.
• The effect of memory in spelling irregularities.
• The negative effects of anxiety while spelling.
• The problem of spelling patterns.
1.3 AIM OF THE STUDY
The aim of this project is to provide a theoretical assessment of
English spelling error analysis, models for spelling error analysis and
then to look into the sources of errors.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significant of the study will be drawn as we progress in the course of this project work.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In the course of this project work, the following questions will be addressed.
· What is the effect of spelling errors in the study of English language?
· To what extent does spelling errors affect the learning and teaching of English language?
· What is the source of English language spelling error?
· What can be done to avoid English spelling errors?
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study will be confined to the common English spelling errors, starting from the word origin.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study can be limited by time, financial constraint and non-availability of data etc.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Different terms used in the course of this research work are hereby defined as follows:
· COMPOUNDING: occurs when a
person attaches two or more words together to make them one word. The
meanings of the words interrelate in such a way that a new meaning comes
out which is very different from the meanings of the words in
· DERIVATION: is the formation of
a new word or inflectable stem from another word or stem. It typically
occurs by the addition of an affix. The derived word is often of a
different word class from the original. It may thus take the
inflectional affixes of the new word class.
· PROPONENT: one who argues in favor of something
· IDIOSYNCRASY: A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
· PSYCHOUNGUISTICS or psychology of language
is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that
enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language.
· COINAGE: The invention of new words or phrases.
· DIACRITIC is a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. Diacritic is both an adjective and a noun, whereas diacritical is
only an adjective. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a
letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between
· SPELLING ERRORS: These are the errors we
make when attempting to learn spelling. The process of skill development
that is learning something new involves making errors. These errors
occur irregularly and are usually self-detected and self-corrected.
HOMOPHONES: These are words which sound the same but are spelled differently.