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impact of mother tongue interference in the study of English language among secondary school students in Awgu local government area Enugu state

Project topic for Education department.



Background of the Study

The mother tongue is the greatest asset people bring to the task of foreign language learning and provides language acquisition support system. The mother tongue is the language of the home, the language of his immediate community, the language with which the child grew up. Its importance in the education of the child cannot be questioned. Merrian-Webster defined mother tongue as “the language that a person learn to speak first. A child, having spent his formative years at home and having learn the language is best equipped to learn in it. through this medium, a child can study almost any learning method.

Therefore, educationally, the mother tongue is very important where a foreign language has been adopted to use as a second language. It is only reasonable to set in motion activities used for teaching and learning. There are other problems that can face a child whose mother tongue is different from the language of the school, he often tend to think in his mother tongue while expressing himself in the second language. This usually encourage rote learning and so impairs understanding. There is also the question of educational loss especially in system where the use of the second language begins too early in the few years in school. Such educational loses make it mandatory for a child to begin his educational career through his mother tongue while learning the second language as a school subject. In 1953 the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a report arguing in favour of mother tongue (first language) instruction. UNESCO noted that the benefits of mother tongue instruction are along many dimensions: psychological mother tongue language is a system of meaningful signs that in his mind work automatically for expressing and understanding. Sociologically, it is a means of identification among member of the community to which he belongs.

Educationally, he learns more quickly through it than through unfamiliar linguistic medium. English language is an international language. It is spoken as a first language in United kingdom (UK) and London. But it is spoken as a second language in many countries of the world as a result of colonization. Although a second language, it can even be regarded as one of the major languages in African, because it has become such an essential tool for communication in the daily lives of the people in the continent. A language is a second language when it is chosen as the official language, the language of government, education, administration and general national and international transactions. It is also in these countries; serve as language of the law courts, the mass media and commerce. Text books have remained in English language especially in countries like Nigeria where there numerous indigenous language which dater curriculum planners from providing text in so many languages.

In many African countries today, there could be no serious inter change of professional knowledge, no education beyond the primary school level without the English language. The multiplicity of language has seen to this and has placed English language in a very superior position as unifying force and will likely remain so far a very long time. In Nigeria, the role of English language is quite important especially since the problem of multiplicity of language is really acute. It is therefore, not foreseen future that any one language group will dominate the others successfully so become accepted as the language of education and government. The important of English language is so acutely felt that it has remains a compulsory school subject and a pre-requisite for further education, without a pass at the credit level, one does not hope to advance further in the country educational ladder. This is the reason behind parent worry about their wards level of performance in the English language. The important of English language acquisition as a stepping stone for proficiency in other school subject cannot be over emphasized. The importance of English language as school subject derives mainly from its utilitarian value to the larger Nigeria society. This prior level of achievement in many subject area may be due to poor foundation in English language at primary school level. There are several research reports, which support the view that language inefficiency invariably leads to poor academic performance (Ayodele 2003, Faleyalo 2007). No wonder why today, according to (Iroegbu 2006) much emphasis is placed on the passing of English language at credit or distinction level in addition to subject to enable any candidate gain admission into any Nigeria higher institution of learning or be placed well in white collar job. (Salami 2002) had the important of the use of English language in improving communication among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. He further highlighted the need for improving the quality of spoken and writing English language among school children.

(Okoro 2000) has stated that the problem of poor level of achievement among school children was serious in Nigeria ad this was in spite of the fact that Nigeria had set a goals for increasing minimum level of learning by 1995. The author had observed that ample evidence as the pupils move up the system. Attempt was therefore made to find out the extent to which (Okoro’s 2000) observation applies to primary school English language beyond the year 2000. Perhaps the way English is taught in school and colleges may be blamed for some of the observed lapses in English language achievement and skills of learners.

(Ubahakwe 2002, Ohia 2007, and Duff 2007) had criticized the traditional strategy for lack of good grasp of skills in writing. (Williams 2003) had described this teaching strategy as a hit of miss affair. (Oglan 2007) had criticized the domineering nature of traditional teaching strategy which renders passive in class. He therefore recommended an activity classroom where learners especially at the primary school level can make learning a fun, such learning activities may include learning with object, things, photographs etc. (Kolawole 2002) conferred that the performance of the primary school pupil in English language was very poor. They stressed further that the standard was poor due to a number of other reasons such as: some pupils do not understand the grammar because their teachers do not know it. In most cases English language teachers in the senior primary school resort to the use of mother tongue to teach and explain the English language even up to the secondary school level. These research are of opinion that there should be a review in the policy on education. The review according to them should contain recommendations that will make pupil to have exposure to the subject quit early from the primary school irrespective of the advantage of the mother tongue. They further suggested that teaching and learning of English language should be practiced in our schools and also that number of years of study and teaching period should be increased. Finally, materials for learning of subject should be supplied.

At this juncture, it is very imperative to look at whether mother tongue has bearing on the English language stage among the secondary school student in Awgu local government area Enugu state.

Statement of the Problem

The study is designed to examine the impact of mother tongue interference in the study of English language among secondary school delimited to Awgu Local Government Area. The use of a particular form of a language by an individual reflects the individual social status. That is why (Blacker 2009) says, we actually live and behave in the world of language. Hence, the use of language to an extent is an item which reflects social identity. In a political, socially, culturally and linguistically diverse society. The learning and usage of a second language becomes very necessary not because it makes possible mutual interaction. In our Nigerian society, such is the situation because Nigeria has a geographical and political entity as was colonized by the British who were from a different linguistic background but English was adopted as a medium of communication and interaction. (Wilson and Smith 2009) states that, it is widely held and proven that human beings are disposed to learning certain types of languages. This innate disposition enable one to acquire a first language and learn a second one. This ability however differs from one individual to the other and this is what (Elindor 2008) described as linguistic inequality a striking difference in the lexis user the difference that exists between these two speakers enables us to asses them as one belonging to a higher class and other to a lower class in the social strata. When we listen to most students in secondary school traces of interference are observed. If we listen to monolingual students who is a speaker of Igbo we notice an obvious difference, we realize a considerable element of English in the student of Igbo origin. Linguistically, the effect is located at the phonological level, we hear how sound in Igbo are reproduced in terms of English interference occurs.

Purpose of the Study

This research work will attempt investigating the impact of mother tongue interference in the study of English language among secondary school students in Awgu local government area Enugu state.

The purpose includes:

  • To find out the level at which mother tongue can interfere in the learning of English language among secondary school student in Awgu local government area.
  • To investigate the speech qualification of English teachers using questionnaires in Awgu local government area as a case study.
  • To investigate whether background and environment also impact language in order words to find out how the language used in the child’s immediate environment influences a child’s use of language.

Significance of the Study

This study helps to identify the impact of this interference on other study areas that are based on the use of the English language as the basic communication. It will also enable the teachers to identify their problem of English language. This study also help the student to know how to make use of English words especially in pronunciation, intonation and phonetics. It will also enable the teachers to make more research in the use of English language. Some English language has been used as a second official and sometimes even as a foreign language in Nigeria for a long time and give the inescapable behavior of language in contact. It is normal to expect it to have factors which can identify itself as bonafide subject, dialect, variety or idiom of world English. These may be seen as research finding relating to interference, delineation and creativity as are seen to obtain among speakers. In essence, this research would identify the cause of these interference which shall include the various levels of interferences, the learners home and linguistics background to English language, the differences in the patterns and structures of English language and the native language and the qualification of the teachers who teaches the subject. The essay intends to investigate the impacts of mother tongue interferences in the study of English language among secondary school students.

Research Questions

  • What is the level of mother tongue interference in the learning of English language among secondary school students in Awgu Local Government Area Enugu State.
  • How does the use of questionnaires help investigate the speech qualification of English teachers in Awgu Local Government Area Enugu State.
  • How does background or environment influences the child’s use of English language

Scope of the Study

The study essentially covers Nigeria secondary schools but with specific references to secondary schools in Awgu local government area Enugu State. This choice is made to cover both private and public schools. This research work will attempt investigating the impact of mother tongue interference in the study of English language among secondary school students in Enugu state, focusing on Awgu local government area.

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