HOMOPHONY AND HOMOGRAPHY AND CHALLENGES OF ACADEMIC WRITING FOR ESL LEARNERS
One of the measures of language mastery which also has significant implications on meaning and meaning construction is word spellings. This paper points to some of the problems posed by word spellings in selected students’ academic writing where the concepts of homography and homophony are examined. The data for the study comprise thirty purposively selected sets of lexemes from the examination scripts of some Part Two Obafemi Awolowo University (O.A. U) students of EGL 206: Semantics of English. The choice of thirty is made in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of lexemes. Thus, thirty sets of lexemes are distributed into three different classes: ten for the class of total homophones, ten for the class of partial homophones and ten for the class of homographs. The paper, through the framework of Lexical Semantic Theory (Pustejovsky, 1995), considers the different English lexemes not only in relation to their word class and meanings, but also their sound patterns. The paper discovers that some English word spellings like ‘lead’ are wrongly articulated and contextualized as ‘led’ due to the students’ inadequate mastery of the English word spellings, meanings and pronunciations. The problem has accounted for the poor performance of some Part Two students of Semantics. Statistics shows that Category C of 50 students (13.2%) performed expectedly while Category A of 170 students (44.7%) and Category B of 160 students (42.1%) performed below expectation. The paper therefore concludes by recommending that to ensure academic success in the teaching and learning of homography and homophony, there must be provision for vocabulary development in the curriculum of not only tertiary institutions, but also secondary schools.