Essay Writing Performances at the Tertiary Level:The Case of Indonesian EFL Learners

Achmad Kholili, Feri Ferdiyanto


Some methods and approaches have been put into practice by stakeholders, including both teachers and lecturers in the teaching and learning process of English, specifically writing. Nevertheless, writing English is still burdensome for some learners, particularly EFL learners. For this reason, the survey study was conducted to point out the mistakes made by the students in composing an essay. Eleven EFL learners, coming from non-Anglicized linguistic and cultural backgrounds at the Institut Ilmu Keislaman Zainul Hasan Genggong, Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia were taken out as the sample of this study. The major instruments distributed were writing prompts and a semi-structured interview. Their writing results were scored with the scoring scale adopted from Jacobs (1981), cited in (Weigle, 2002, p. 116). From the five components in writing, consisting of Vocabulary, Content, Language Use related to the ideas in the text, Organization of the text, and Mechanics, the results demonstrate that Language use (Tense, Preposition, Run-ons, and Articles)and Mechanics (Spelling, Punctuation, and Capitalization) are dominant errors committed by the EFL Learners in writing.


Essay; Writing Performance; EFL Learners

Full Text:



Afshar, H.S., Movassagh. H, &Arbabi, H.R. (2017).The Interrelationship among Critical thinking, writing an Argumentative Essay in an L2 and their sub-skills. The Language Learning Journal.45(4), 419-433.

Al-Badi, I. A. H. (2015).Academic Writing Difficulties of ESL Learners. The 2015 WEI International Academic Conference Proceedings. Barcelona, Spain.

Aunurrahman, Hamied, F.A. & Emilia, E. (2017). Exploring the tertiary EFL Students’ Academic Writing Competencies. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics.7(1), 72-79.

Belkhir, A, &Benyelles, R. (2017). Identifying EFL Learners Essay Writing Difficulties and Sources: A Move towards Solution The Case of Second Year EFL Learners at Tlemcen University. International Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Educational Research.16(6), 80-88.

Bourke, S. & Holbrook, A. (1992). University Students’ Writing: Types of Errors and Some Comparisons across Disciplines. Higher Education Research and Development, 11(2), 119-134.

Coxhead, A. (2012). Academic Vocabulary, Writing and English for Academic Purposes: Perspectives from Second Language Learners. RELC Journal.4(3), 137-145.

Cresswell, J.W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative, and Qualitative Research. USA: Pearson Education.

Denscombe, M. (2010).The Good Research Guide for Small-Scale Social Research Projects(4th Ed). New York: Open University Press.

Erkan, Y, D. &Saban, I, A. (2011). Writing Performance Relative to Writing Apprehension, Self-Efficacy in Writing, and Attitudes towards Writing: A Correlational Study in Turkish Tertiary-Level EFL. Asian EFL Journal.13(1):164-192.

Fadda, A.H. (2012). Difficulties in academic writing: From the perspective of King Saud University Postgraduate Students. English Language Teaching.5(3), 123-130.

Harmer, J. (2004).How to Teach Writing. England: Pearson Education Limited.

Heffernan, J.A.W. (1982). Writing a College Handbook. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Hosseini, H., Chalak, A., &Biria, R.(2019). Impact of Backward Design on Improving Iranian Advanced Learners’ Writing Ability: Teachers’ Practice and Beliefs. International Journal of Instruction, 12(2), 33-50.

Hyland, K. (2003). Second Language Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kelly, P.G. (2015). Teaching Writing to Tertiary Level ESL Students.RELC Journal.15(2), 80-94.

Kim, Y. & Kim, J. (2005). Teaching Korean University Writing Course: Balancing the Process and the Genre Approach. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly.7(2), 68-89.

Kroll, B. & Reid, J. (1994). Guidelines for Designing Writing Prompts: Clarifications, Caveats, and Cautions. Journal of Second Language Writing.3(3), 231-255.

Nguyen, C.T. L. (2015). Written Fluency Improvement in a Foreign Language.TESOL Journal.6(4), 1-24.

Phakiti, A, & Li, L. (2011).General Academic Difficulties and Reading and Writing among Asian ESL Postgraduate Students in TESOL at an Australian University.RELC Journal.42(3), 227-264.

Rahmatunisa. (2014). Problems Faced by EFL learners in Writing Argumentative Essay. English Review: Journal of English Education. 3(1), 1-9.

Silva, T. (1993). Toward an Understanding of the Distinct Nature of L2 Writing: The ESL Research and Its Implications. TESOL Quarterly, 27(4), 657-677.

Soleimani, M, Modhirkhamene, S, &Sadeghi, K. (2015). Peer-mediated vs. Individual writing: Measuring Fluency, Complexity, and Accuracy in Writing. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching.11(1), 86-100.

Tan, K, E. &Manochphinyo, A. (2017). Improving Grammatical Accuracy in Thai Learners’ Writing: Comparing Direct and Indirect Written Corrective Feedback. The Journal of Asia TEFL. 14(13), 430-420.

Taylor, G. (2009). A Students’ Writing Guide: How to Plan and Write Successful Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Weigle, S.C. (2002). Assessing Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, J.D. &Takaku, S. (2011). Help-Seeking, Self Efficacy, and writing performance among college students. Journal of Writing Research.3(1), 1-18.

Yugianingrum. (2010). Producing an English Academic Papers: Process, Problems, and Solution. US-China Foreign Language. 8, 39-49.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Achmad Kholili, Feri Ferdiyanto

License URL:

VELES' Visitors


Creative Commons License
VELES Journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Contact Us: VELES (Voices of English Language Education Society);

Address: Faculty of Language, Arts, and Humanities, Universitas Hamzanwadi

Jln. TGKH. M. Zainuddin Abdul Majid No. 132 Pancor, Selong-Lombok Timur, NTB, Indonesia. e-mail: