Reasons most High School Students Fail in the English Language Course in Ghana

Even this tour guide maimed the English Language in his history of the place and continued till the end of the tour. One would think a national tourist site like this would have  good communicators.
Even this tour guide maimed the English Language when educating the students on the history of the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and continued till the end of the tour. One would think a national tourist site like this would have good communicators who have good command of the English Language.

It is a known fact that most students in the second cycle fail the English Language course in Ghana. I marvelled at the high percentages of  failure in the course when I was a student. Now, I am a teacher of the language and I have noticed some reasons students fail in English.

First or all, most students think a language which is more like a mother tongue is not worthy of study. I have had instances where some students have told me point blank that,

“Madam, as for English de333, no matter what we can get some to write and pass o.”

yet they fail their terminals and as a teacher, the students’ failure in the final exams stare even with years or months ahead. One would say a teacher must find ways of making the students learn his or her subject but it is not that easy. Now students do not fear teachers, because they are not allowed to use canes. A teacher who beats a student may get worse punishment and punishing students too, is attracting huge attention, thanks to some extremities on the part of some teachers and the patronage of black media.

Secondly, the teachers who teach other subjects do not make it easy for the teachers of English. They use bad concords, mispronounce words and use horrible expressions and when an English teacher complains, he or she is likely to get this,

“Don’t you ever try correcting me again. The calculations I can do, you cannot work even a fraction, so don’t ever bother me with those things.”

What they do not know is the fact that some students pick on their flaws in all seriousness, and in cases where the students love that teacher, it become difficult to change that flaw. If such things continue, then we have minds made up being taught the English Language, every right rule is noise to those students.

Thirdly, the English teachers themselves have flaws, and I will not exclude myself. When I was in the senior high school, no English teacher corrected how I wrote my addresses in my essays. I completed the university knowing not my fault. Won’t blame anyone but the teachers and their teachers (to no end) of these teachers. Since the internet and huge libraries were not at my disposal, I tended to carry that bag of filth until a very good teacher enlightened me. I would have polluted my students too. I have noticed that most English teachers do no research. All they do is study some scheme of work for teaching and that is all. Since most students have no motivation to learn by themselves, they fail to put those teachers on their toes.

The fourth point has to do with the employment of unqualified teachers in the basic schools. To me, teachers are born, few are taught and so a good teacher is not necessarily one who has been to the teacher training school, but one who learns hard to give students the best tuition. When I was posted to the northern region to offer my national service, I was sent to a village school where almost all the teachers were unqualified. Some could not even speak English but taught the English Language. Since I could not speak their language, I found it difficult to communicate with the students. Even students in class six did not understand simple instructions like “stand up”. All they understood was “class staaaand”. So I was made to teach English in all classes and my lessons were very funny. I needed other teachers to translate my words, I did not know if they translated them well, but some of the students started picking up when I picked few of their words and alternated them with the English Language. I cannot tell the end of the story because I was sent to a senior high school two months into my service. I only saw one of those students at the Central Market in Tamale, she had turned into a porter; carrying things for money. She called me, stood by me and just mentioned the name of the school. My sadness knew no end.

I must add that some parents also contribute to this problem. They cannot speak the English Language well but will certainly speak it with their children knowing not that in order for children to speak other languages well, they must speak their first languages very well. So you hear a student saying something so wrong, when probed he or she tells you “that is how we say it at home.”

Also, most students find the lessons in the oral language preposterous. So if a teacher mentions forehead as “f⊃:rid”, they laugh as though the world is about to end and regard the teacher as an alien. So of course, they will fail.

Need I mention the contribution of the so called celebrities and writers? Of course, when they are seen on television murdering the rules of grammar, the students also take those words as bonds. So good teachers of the English Language become those who know nothing.

These are my few observations. Well, I throw these to the winds hoping those in charge find it useful.

Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia (c) 2015

By amoafowaa

Just a simple Ghanaian trying to find the best in our society. I may be fun, I may be interesting, I may be funny, I may even be foolish or intelligent, but it is all based on the mood in which you find yourself. I believe our minds make us who we are. Know that, pain, no matter its 'unbearability', is transient. Unburden or delight yourself for a while in my writings please. And all corrections, advice and opinions are welcome. Know that you are the king, queen or royal on this blog. :)

18 replies on “Reasons most High School Students Fail in the English Language Course in Ghana”

I am always inter sted to read how things are in the world around me. Living in Costa Rica for a time made me long to fluently speak Spanish. I got Rosetta Stone which is really quick learning. I really feel the greatest difficulty for many people in learning a new language is the immersion factor. You must learn what things mean in that language only rather than trying to constantly be translating compartively in your own language. We do this for understanding but most langugages fo not have direct translations although Spanish has many. I use an online translator to communicate with my Costa Rican friend but am careful to check the translation for errors before sending due to there not being direct translations for many words and phrases tht we take for granted. English is a difficult language becuase there are so many words and phrases meaning many different things. You are a good teacher. I applaud your tenacity. If only one student understands and appreciates this, you are successful.


I believe there are good and best teachers … When I was a high school student , I never knew that I can actually pass English until I came across to a women from Fillipin and she inspired me …Good English teachers do exist but the problem is students , primary teachers or senior who teach in mother language , it always begins at home , parents .. To know English , especially in Africa, we need well-trained teachers , teachers who teach for love , for sharing their knowledge but not just for money or just because Teaching is the easy proffesion or coz of holidays and weekends , Nooo… I think students need to start acting , like dramas at school , debating and writing everyday either essays or articles then in that way they will improve ..”Practice makes perfect” Teachers of other subjects must also speak English , grammatically correct ..

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jeeze … it’s frustrating and demanding enough to be a teacher in classes where every student speaks english … ! i don’t envy you but at least you know what it’s like to be in the trenches … . i think that great teachers are born but i also think that if a person wants to be a teacher badly enough for other reasons … like, the are care givers and teaching is their way of caring for other people … then, you can learn buy training. you might not be a great teacher but good teachers are hard to find too. i think that the college system of teaching is lacking in real training. first year teachers are lost … and they shouldn’t be if they were really trained in classroom management and knew how to handle really difficult situations in advance of being thrown to the lions. too bad … after that first or second years on the learning curve it’s no wonder most of them quit the profession …, thanks for reading me again. ks


You can have a talent for teaching, but to be an excellent teacher, you need to be taught how to do it. It’s a skill, like anything else, and if you are taught well, you don’t spend months (or years) learning just from experience (and at the expense of your first pupils). Imagine how long it would take you to make a table, if you were just given a saw and some wood.

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