Rachel Gisela Purba, Susana Teopilus


Writing, one of the language skills, seems to be the most difficult skill for students to master. There are five aspects used to evaluate students’ writing abilities: content, organization, vocabulary, language use, and mechanics. This current narrative inquiry research aims to find out students’ difficulties in writing expository essays, the factors that cause them to have difficulties, and the strategies they use to overcome them. The data of this research were taken from the students taking Writing Expository and Argumentative Essays course in the English Department of Widya Mandala Surabaya Catholic University. The data of this study were collected from interviews, observations, and documents. Three participants with   middle-achievement levels were interviewed in three interview sessions, and observations in the writing class were conducted two times. Besides, two essays of each participant were analyzed.

The findings show that in relation to the five writing aspects, the major difficulty that the participants had was in the content aspect. Then, the common factor that caused all of the participants to have difficulties was a lack of reading habit. Besides, the common strategy that all participants used to overcome their difficulties was to search on Google.

Save to Mendeley


writing, writing aspects, writing difficulties, expository essays, narrative inquiry

Full Text:



Alfaruqy, D., Setyawan, H., & Rohman, T. N. (2022). Exploring first-year EFL students’ problems in essay writing. English Language Education Reviews, 2(1), 1–12. Retrieved on July 29, 2022 from https://ejournal.uinsaid.ac.id/index.php/ele-reviews/article/view/4453

Broughton, G., Brumfit, C., Flavell, R., Hill, P., & Pincas, A. (1980). Teaching English as a foreign language (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Byrne, D. (1988). Teaching writing skills--Longman handbooks for language teachers (New ed.). London: Longman.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19 (5), 2–14. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.2307/1176100

Connelly, M. (2013). The sundance writer: A rhetoric, reader, research guide, and handbook (5th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Elbow, P. (1998). Writing with power: Techniques for mastering the writing process. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fulwiler, T. (2002). College writing: A personal approach to academic writing (3rd ed.).

Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Publishers-Heinemann.

Harmer, J. (2004). How to teach writing. England: Pearson Education.

He, L., & Shi, L. (2012). Topical knowledge and ESL writing. Language Testing, 29 (3), 443–464. Retrieved on November 29, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532212436659

Hyland, K. (2003). Second language writing. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Jacobs, H. L., Zinkgraf, S. A., Wormuth, D. R., Hartfiel, V. F., & Hughey, J. B. (1981). Testing ESL composition: A practical approach. Newberry House.

Josselson, H. (2007). The ethical attitude in narrative research: Principles and practicalities.

In Clandinin, D. J. (Ed). Handbook of narrative inquiry (pp. 539–545). Sage Publications.

Kristiana, N., Yunita, W., & Syahrial. (2021). Students’ difficulties in writing descriptive text at the seventh grade of SMP Sint Carolus Bengkulu. Journal of Linguistics and Language Teaching, 7(1), 67–76. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from https://ejournal.iainbengkulu.ac.id/index.php/linguists/article/view/4249

Malloy, J.A., Gambrell, L.B. (2006). Approaching the unavoidable: Literacy instruction and the Internet. International Reading Association, 59(5), 482-484. Retrieved on December 13, 2022 from doi:10.1598/RT.59.5.8

McMillan, J. H. (2016). Fundamentals of educational research (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.

Munawwaroh, K. (2014). An analysis of student’s writing skill on expository texts at semester iv of Batanghari University (UNBARI) Jambi. Jurnal Ilmiah Universitas Batanghari Jambi, 14(2), 22–27. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from http://ji.unbari.ac.id/index.php/ilmiah/article/view/278

Phuong, W. T. N. (2021). Difficulties in studying writing of English-majored sophomores at a university in Vietnam. European Journal of Education Studies, 8(10), 313–330. Retrieved on May 31, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.46827/ejes.v8i10.3962

Richard, J. A. (2016). Developing communication skills through expository writing for teacher educators. Shanlax International Journal of Arts, Science and Humanities, 3(3), 146–150. Retrieved on July 23, 2022 from http://www.shanlaxjournals.in/journals/index.php/sijash/article/view/1218

Rofiqoh, Basthomi, Y., Widiati, U., Puspitasari, Y., Marhaban, S., & Sulistyo, T. (2022). Aspects of writing knowledge and EFL students’ writing quality. Studies in English Language and Education, 9(1), 14–29. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from http://jurnal.unsyiah.ac.id/SiELE/article/view/20433

Salam, U., & Nuranisa. (2021). Students’ difficulties in learning vocabularies. English Community Journal, 5(1), 46–53. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.32502/ecj.v5i1.3327

Sari, A. F., Wennyta, & Ismiyati, Y. (2018). An analysis of generic structure on recount text written by tenth grade students of SMA 8 in the academic years 2017/2018. Journal of English Language Teaching, 2(2), 1–7. Retrieved on May 31, 2022 from http://jelt.unbari.ac.id/index.php/jelt/article/view/19

Tashi, T. (2018). The investigation of grammatical errors in grade 10 students’ expository essays at Ura Central School, Bumthang District in Bhutan. Journal of Social Science and Humanities, 1(2), 7–13. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.26666/rmp.jssh.2018.2.2

Toba, R., Noor, W. N., & Sanu, L. O. (2019). The current issues of Indonesian EFL students’ writing skills: ability, problem, and reason in writing comparison and contrast essay. Dinamika Ilmu, 19(1), 57–73. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.21093/di.v19i1.1506

Tuan, L. T., & Doan, N. T. M. (2010). Teaching English grammar through games. Studies in Literature and Language, 1(7), 61–75. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from http://www.cscanada.net/index.php/sll/article/view/j.sll.1923156320100107.006

Webster, L., & Mertova, P. (2007). Using narrative inquiry as a research method: An introduction to using critical event narrative analysis in research on learning and teaching. New York: Routledge.

Yuliawati, L. (2021). The mechanics accuracy of students’ writing. English Teaching Journal, 9(1), 45–53. Retrieved on July 27, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.25273/etj.v9i1.8890

DOI: https://doi.org/10.33508/mgs.v51i1.4522