A Look at the use of reported Speech by final year students of English of the University of Buea; the case of the academic year 2017/2018

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Qualitative research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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This study seeks to assess the speech of 400 level English majors in the English Department of the University of Buea.

The area of reported speech has been a point of interest because the researcher observed that this group of students though have passed through secondary school still have problems in reporting sentences.

The researcher’s problem in this study of ‘A Look at the use of reported Speech by final year students of English of the University of Buea; the case of the academic year 2017/2018’ is to investigate how this group of students use the reported speech and why they use it the way they do;

To actually come out with the results, the researcher will use two instruments; Observation and Questionnaires.

Questionnaires will be structured based on the researcher’s observation and the data collected will be analyzed to show if 2017 -2018, 400 level English Language students have a good mastery of structuring reported speech.

To do this, the researcher has relied on the conversation of these students to know the problem they have on a grammatical category in communication.

The data collected and their discussions show that the verb and tense in reporting a speech. So the information obtained viewed that these students do not use the reported speech correctly.




This chapter concerns the background of the study, statement of the problem, the purpose of study, the significance of the study, research question(s), hypothesis, the definition of terms. It also consists of what prompted the researcher to carry out research on this topic.

Background to the study

The notion of the use of reported speech in Cameroon by English speakers is a call for concern. It is perceived differently by the users which also contributes to the weak handling of structures in both speech and writing sentence constructions.

English in Cameroon is a very complex thing. Shipped and brought to Cameroon by British merchants and sailors, the language came in contact with other indigenous languages as a result of the multilingual nature of Cameroon.

This contact consequently has resulted in interference with the grammars of different languages in place which thus leads to the problem of the use of the reported speech in an L2 community like Cameroon.

According to Kouega (2002), he notes that English is gradually entering the home environment where the indigenous language is supposed to dominate.

This has not yielded to any encouraging factor because we realize that students with degrees in the English Language, who have definitely gone through many grammar courses, still face a lot of challenges expressing themselves when it comes to reported speech usage.

Although several types of research have been done on reported speech, usage by students, no one seemed to have noticed its use by 400 level final year students majoring in English.

This work attempts to examine why this group of students despite the fact that they will soon be BA holders of English and have gone through many grammar courses do not use reported speech properly.

A student’s academic life rest on his/her ability to communicate fluently in the language of academics which in this case is the English language. Unfortunately, most 400 level English majors have not had a complete mastery of the norms guiding the structure of both written and spoken skills of language.

They do not respect the use of tense, verb and person. Note should be taken that when there is a poor mastery of the grammar of a language, its command becomes weak.

In the past years, those who studied this language have proven to be more efficient than those studying it presently. Students have been taught reported speech since primary school but the tendency is that teachers assume that the students already have mastery.

Consequently, they turn not to lay more emphasis on this aspect of change from direct to reported speech which leads to devastating effects. As this belief continues, it affects the skills learners already have on the structure and components of reported speech usage.

Again, Bafuh (1988) emphasizes how English I used on the CRTV by Anglophone journalists. She talks of their language which is marred with the incorrect use of tenses, verbs, and tones to give speech functions, faulty words combination.

Seemingly, learners who grow up to acquire English through this means, continue to make these common errors in the course of reporting. They will obviously attain the level of native speakers because of what Lydia White (2003), calls interlanguage grammar.

These learners will therefore have a mastery of a new variety of English common in their region without respecting the universal grammar. Here they place their verbs, tenses and persons where they deem necessary.

To collect data for this work, the researcher has been monitoring and observing how this group of learners of L2 use reported speech laying much emphasis on the

the transition between the main speech which comes from the speaker and the imbedded speech coming from what is spoken, and the various changes of tense, verb and person in the course of communication

Statement of the problem

Although students speak English today, sufficient research has not been carried out on the use of reported speech by English learners.

In discussion, and presentation in and out of class, the 400 level English students do not use the aspect of reported speech correctly it is evident even in their writings.

This is seen as illustrated in the following examples. Instead of saying (1) a student says (2)

  1. She asked what to read for the exams.’
  2. She was asking that what she should read for the exams.

The use of ‘that’ and ‘what’ side by side proves that this student does not have a mastery of both subordinate conjunction and relative pronouns.

The student does not know that both ‘that’ and ‘what’ are relative pronouns. Hence, this research seeks to investigate why 400 level students of English do not use the reported speech correctly.

Furthermore, 400 level students of English do not know the correct verb and tense to use in the context of reporting direct speech. This is evident in the examples below;

  1. ‘Where have you been?’
  2. ‘I have been sick.’
  3. Mary said that she is sick.

The researcher noticed that this student reporting does not know the verb and tense form to use. She does not know that the verb form changes and time also change except when reporting ongoing or current events or truths. That is when using the auxiliary ‘is’.

Purpose of the study

The Purpose of the study is to enable the teachers to improve teaching methods on the use of indirect speech laying much emphasis on the structure (changes and the components).

Hence, the increased rate of English language proficiency at the University of Buea and the country as a whole.

Mainly because this group of students majoring in English aspire to become future language teachers. This eventually leads to these learners of English as T2 to attain the native speakers.

Delimitation (scope) of the study

This work is based on the English sentence and the use of reported speech by English language learners, but it limits itself to emphasis on 400 level students of the English Department of The University of Buea

1.6. Significance of Study

This work is significant in that, it will help students and learners of English to effectively use reported speech and know what to use as components of the sentence when necessary in speech and writing.

The objective of the study

The following research objectives were used for the study.

  • To enable 400 level students of the Department of English to develop more interest in reported speech accurately upon graduation from the University of Buea.
  • To help 400 level students of the Department of English master the basic structuring and changes when they came in contact with indirect speech bot in writing and speaking.
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