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Project topic for English department



1.1      Background to the Study 

The words 'language' and 'Native Language' are often intermixed. These terms are all related to the same idea and refer to the language a child is first exposed to, particularly from birth to nine months. However some children in bilingual homes acquire almost equally both languages. They will have two or more languages which are introduced at birth and equally developed through childhood. Students are expected to absorb quickly conversational English in their early school years. However, parents and teachers need to be aware of the important role played by early years of children studying English language (Kohn 1986: 22).

Acquisition of two languages naturally does not need time for learning, it is an on going life habit where acquiring a foreign language at schools needs much more practice.  Secondary school students are expected to speak English because they have been learning English for five or six years before they advanced to secondary schools. They begin learning English at the age of ten. In spite of such long years of learning, they face difficulties in speaking English. Researches pointed out that one of the principal barrier and major causes of these difficulties is mother tongue (MT) interference.

The researcher intends to investigate mother tongue positive and negative interference Secondary School Students using the following aspects:

Acquires of new vocabulary.

Recall of already learnt vocabulary.

Use of vocabulary in context

It is a fact that language remains the medium of communication in any society. Nigeria, as a multilingual society, has adopted English Language as its lingua franca to enable its over 450 ethnic groups to mutually communicate. This suggests why (Bamgbose 1971: 33). asserts that of all heritage left in Nigeria by the British colonial administration, probably none is more than English in value and importance. It is now the language of government, business, education, literature, and mass media.

Despite the importance attached to English Language in Nigeria’s educational sector particularly the spoken aspect of the English Language, which, interestingly, (Okpara 2001:120) opines that the central problem of errors committed by second language users is in the concept of interference; which is the trace left by someone’s native language, mother tongue (MT) upon the foreign language (FL) he or she has acquired (Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, Svartvik, 1972:20). This follows that some Nigerian students are highly likely to be haunted by the problem of mother tongue interference. Terrible as it may become, some of these students may become teachers in future which imply that many learners at a time will be taught wrong spoken English. 

Observation shows that a correspondent reporter ethnicity is quickly identified from their accent. Words like; chocolate; /cho-co-late/, school; /sukul/;… are commonly heard. Interaction with some students (who are interested in becoming national broadcasters like Cyril Stober, Aisha Katung, Ruth Opia and others) reveals that one of the reasons for choosing such a career is the broadcasters’ “good” use of English; and when told to say some of the words presented by the broadcasters, some of the students pronounced market /ma:kit/ as  /ma:keit/ with the stress on /kit/; some pronounced  “marked” as /ma:kd/ instead of /ma:kt/ thereby displaying the consonant  cluster /kt/ and misplaced the intonation in “/misTAKE/” to become “MIStake”. The enthusiasm they displayed in pronouncing these words, the same way prompted the need to look closely if these mistakes are as a result of the mother tongue interference of these reporters or other forms of errors like overgeneralization, teacher induced error and so on.

1.2      Statement of the Problem

 Mother tongue is the language learned and spoken as a child. It is sometimes known as first language Native Language (NL). It is not always the language spoken by your mother. It is usually the language learned in the home. Thus, a bilingual child may have one Mother tongues. A student's MT is of interest to teachers especially when it comes to what is known as MT influence. Language remains the bedrock of the broadcast media. This implies that, correspondent reporters are expected to properly manipulate the segmental and supra segmental features of English to effectively pass across media messages without distortion that may hamper semantic expression via mother tongue interference.

However, errors as a result of mother tongue interference, affect the effective communication of some teachers. This does not rest only on teacher’s image but that of the school. This affects school students as well, and particularly those who look up to such teacher “language teachers”. In the light of this, the study is set to investigate whether the errors under study are as a result of the influence of their Mother Tongue and identify implications for the teaching of spoken English in senior secondary schools. 

The objectives of study

To find out the role of MT interference with secondary school learners, to find out suitability of teaching methods to enhance speaking, To help students practice speaking skill in a conducive environment.

The objectives of this study is to investigate the Effect of the mother tongue ‘Igbo’ on the learning and proficiency of English among the secondary school students of Udi local government area of Enugu State, where Igbo is an indigenous language and is mostly used in communication. This research will be carried out under the following sub leadings. The phonological impact of the L1 on the L2 and The syntactical impact of the L1 on the L2.

1.4       Hypotheses of the study

In an attempt to answer the research questions, the following hypotheses are theorized:

Mother tongue interference plays positive role in learning L2 at secondary school level.

Mother tongue interference plays negative role in learning L2 at secondary school level.

Teaching Techniques are not effectively used in secondary schools.

1.5       Research Questions

This study seeks to investigate and provide answers to the following questions:

 1    to what extent does the phonology of the Igbo language affect the learning and proficiency of the English Language? And

How does the syntax of the Igbo Language affect the learning and proficiency of the English Language?

Does mother tongue influence the pronunciation of vowel sounds by Igbo?

What is the influence of mother tongue on the pronunciation of consonant sounds by Igbo?

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