Essay writing is a stepping stone to broaden the learner s intellect because it helps him or her to think logically, to plan, create and synthesize information which has to be clearly understood by the reader. Brown (2002:1) asserts that it cannot be written haphazardly without following a specific structure and consolidating its ideas with its supporting ideas so that they adhere to the chosen topic . This puts a great challenge to the Grade 10 Sepedi speaking learners who as it has been established in this research do not have the skill to write meaningful essays as evidenced by their incoherent introduction, poor word choice, wrong sentence constructions and illogical paragraphing which all result in poorly structured body paragraphs and concluding paragraphs.
The study investigated the challenges which the Grade 10 Sepedi learners are facing in their essay writing and proposes ways to eliminate common errors so that learners would be able to face their educational future and corporate world with confidence. The investigation was also based on how different types of essays were taught; how essay pre-writing activities were taught to the learners by the educators before a full-fledged essay is written and how learners were taught to write a full-fledged essay. The significance of this study is that learners and educators will be empowered with essay writing skills which will also improve performance.
An in-depth review of the literature related to essay writing skills was presented. The literature review emphasized how some authors interpreted essay writing skills. Different types of essays were unpacked for the learners and educators to make them aware of their differences and their different approaches. Different skills for essay writing were also discussed which included the spider web diagram. Duncan and Clearly (1997:97) concur that writing an essay has to begin with one idea and related ideas that sprout threads to other ideas, which become their own webs .
The method for research included both qualitative and quantitative research. Data was collected from the learners and educators in the form of questionnaires, observations and essays which had already been written by learners. The data was analysed and interpreted in order to give tangible feedback and recommendations. The theoretical framework that underpins this study is based on constructivism. Constructivism is a theory based on observation and scientific study about how people learn. People construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences (@ 2004 Educational Broadcasting Corporation).
Data from the questionnaires, which consisted of twenty questions, proved that skills for essay writing are not taught by educators to the learners. Data further showed that teachers do not explain the different types of essays and their approach to the learners. Learners were also not taught how to implement process writing, the purpose of which, as endorsed by Murray and Johnson (1994:1) is the gathering of ideas, organisation of ideas, drafting, revising, and editing drafts until the final version is presented for marking . Analysis from the Grade 10 learners written essays brought to light that skills for essay writing are not used by learners during essay writing because they are not familiar with them. Important aspects such as spelling mistakes like legodu instead of lehodu and proper use of pronouns and nouns were some of the findings that needed attention.
The recommendations from the findings will help the teachers to realise that skills for essay writing can be effectively and efficiently imparted to the learners by the educator in the teaching and learning situation in order to empower the learners in essay writing.
Mini Dissertation (MA)--University of Pretoria, 2015.