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Perceived Factors Militating Against Learning Of English Language In Junior Secondary Schools


This study was on perceived factors militating against learning of English language in Junior secondary schools. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected secondary schools in Oredo local government of Edo state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made of principals, vice principals administration, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies.

 Chapter one


  • Background of the study

Nigeria is a country with about four hundred different languages. Some of these languages are spoken by millions of people while others are spoken by only a few thousands persons some of these languages also are believed to have gone extinct. Following the 1963 census. The major languages of the nation are put at Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba Hausa is used as first language (LI) by some 11.5 million persons, Yoruba by 9.5 million persons and Igbo by 7 million people. Each of these languages is also spoken as a second language (L2) by an estimated one million people.

Nigerian languages are used as a great deal in the every day lives of the people. They are used in schools market places, in offices, in factories and at school gatherings. Books are published in most of the Nigeria languages and the major languages have newspapers, magazines and comics written in them traditional theatre and musical groups are fund in many parts of the country, entertaining, using the indigenous Nigerian language.
Inspite of the widespread use of indigenous Nigerian language in Nigerian society, no single Nigerian language has yet emerged as the country’s dominant language. This is because no single language is spoken and understood by an over whelming majority of Nigerians. The Nigerian language situation is thus one in which as multiplicity of language co-exist.

Obanya, P. secondary English Teaching (Lagos, Macmillan Nigeria Publishers (1982) P1.

Institute of Education University of Ibadan publication “Language arts methods” (1981) P3.

As a result of this multiplicity of languages and consequently tribes and culture there is a problem of which language should be given prominence over the other languages. There have been calls and concerted efforts towards the development and adoption of a common national language, but the question still persists; which language should be given prominence over the other? Over the years one has come to associate the call for a national language some technical jargons in various endeaviours have not been development. Because of the, even when two people from the same language community speed, they are forced to resort to some English words in other to drive home their points.

Based on this multilingual nature of Nigeria English language readily tends to meet some of the conditions which the indigenous languages have failed to meet.
English language can be said to be playing a unifying role in Nigeria. It is the only language which Nigerians of diverse linguistic, geographical, social and religious backgrounds have in common. It is used to conduct the various official business of the nation. It is the language of the legislature commerce, the mass media as well as the language of instruction in schools and colleges. This is of course in addition to the indigenous language of the local community. It is to be noted however that English language is the medium of instruction in the senior primary, the secondary school and in tertiary institutions. In these schools the native language or mother-tongue is offered as a school subject.

Speakers of English language fall into three categories. The native speakers; speaker of English as a foreign language and speakers of English as a second language (L2) a speaker of English as a native language acquires English naturally as a young child. This the does usually because his parents use English as their normal means of communication with him and with each other and it is the language used by the community in which he is growing up. It is spoken as a native language in Britain, the united State, Australia, and New Zealand e.t.c.

As a foreign language, English is usually taught as a subject as school or college. A speaker in this situation lives in a country where English is used as a second language (L2). A speaker of English as a second language usually lives in a country where English is not the native language of the indigenous in habitants. However, in his country, English is frequently used as a means of communication between speakers of different native languages. It is the language of education, commerce and politics. These children are often exposed to English before. They learn and use it at school.

In Nigeria, English is an important item in the school syllabus which is prescribed and which must be followed. It is a compulsory school subject and a credit pass in it is a pre-requisite for admission into institutions of higher education in the country. This is of course irrespective of the course of study. At the University of Benin, Benin City a pass in the use of English is a pre-requisite for the award of a degree certificate.
Inspite of the glorious position occupied by English language in Nigeria, the number of people who understand the language is limited. Efforts have to be made to increase the number of people who understand English. The model advocated for is the Standard English which until recently is the model prescribed for Grammar, vocabulary and spelling and the Received Pronunciation (E-P) as the model for pronunciation. This could be taught through the mass media of through schools and colleges. The method of teaching the English language and the problems associated with each shall form the basis of this essay.

The problem associated with the teaching of English language can be classified into instructional and infrastructural problems as well as biases and interferences from the first language (L1). It is to be noted however that there is no single best method of teaching the English language. Language learning does not have to follow the same part whatever the objective and circumstances. The teaching of English language is a praginatic business and should be judge as such. The teacher faced with decisions on the methods and techniques that he has to use and bear in mind the conditions under which he will be working. That is to say that one cannot brand a particular method as good or bad without taking the circumstances in which it is used into consideration. The teacher also has to take into account his own qualities and the characteristics of his pupils and also physical and other conditions in which he has to work.

In learning English in a second language situations, the learner in taught English at school and unconsciously “picks it up” out of school from his family and friends, from the radio, from Newspapers, from films, from public speeches e.t.c most of the English he will be exposed to out of school will be incorrect English because it will be spoken by people whose first language is not English. In addition, he will face problems in learning English as a result of interference from the mother tongue: for example, if the mother tongue does not contain /r/ sound he will probably pronounce “river” as “liver”.

Another problem area in the teaching of English is the widespread use of pidgin. It makes the learning of grammar difficult because the grammar or pidgin has, in most cases, been implied and made to come as near as possible to that of some indigenous Nigerian languages.

There is also the problem of trained man power the student in this situation might be taught English by a teacher who has not attained a very high level of competence in the language. The size of the class and the number of classes equally has a role to play in teacher’s efficiency.

English language teaching in schools covers the following areas: Vocabulary, reading, writing, speech and grammar. These areas also have associated problems.

It is important to note that despite the catalogue of problem listed above the situation is far from hopeless. Various techniques and methods are to be adopted to remedy the situation. The use of minimal pair’s audio visual aids, recorded speech, drills and repetitions will be useful in solving the stated problems and these would be discussed in fuller details later in this work.

It is common to often hear people complain about the poor performances of students in English language in both internal and external examinations, and even in the verbal usage of the spoken language. Various reasons have been advanced for this trend. Some of these reasons include the inability of candidates to differentiate between two apparently similar sounds and orthography, this inability to differentiate between these sounds is as a result of interference from the first language (L1) on the acquisition of the second language (L2) skills which in this case is the English language.

The shortage of trained teachers the size of the class, lack of instructional aids and students’ home background are some of the problems that affect the effective acquisitions of English language skills by students.
Interference from the mother tongue in an Edo child learning English language can for example take any of the following terms: No distinction is made between the English phoneme /d/ and /¶/ as in “dough” and “though” this is because the Edo dialect does not have the dental fricative /¶/.

Another of these problems border on the shortage of trained English teachers. Tudor, P.J. once talking about the importance of trained teachers said that;

The most creatively constructed curriculum will be fruitless of teachers are not rained to work and adapt it intelligently. The professionally trained English teacher is necessary for improve students performance.

Some of the classes in our secondary schools are too large. It is not uncommon to see classes having over seventy students in a single arm of a class. It is difficult for a teacher to give all the students the individual attention needed for effective language study in a class of forty minutes.


Statement of the problem

Instructional aids facilitate the acquisition of language skills. But these aids are lacking in almost all the secondary schools. No school for instance has the language laboratory. Finally students’ home background is one other factor which affects students’ performance in the acquisition of language skills. Homes where there are no books. Such students come to school ill-prepared. This writer intends to examine these stated problems and to examine some of the variables that may constitute the problems facing the teaching learning of the English language.

Does the mother tongue interfere with the acquisition of the English language skills?

Does the shortage of trained English teachers affect the effective teaching-learning of English language?

Does the size of class affect the English teachers’ efficiency?

Does lack of instructional aids, affect the learning of English language?

Does the students’ home back ground affect the learning of English language skills by the students?


Objective of the study

The objectives of the study are;

  1. To ascertain whether mother tongue interferes with the acquisition of the English language skills.
  2. To ascertain whether Shortage of trained English teachers affect the effective of teaching learning English language
  3. To ascertain whether size of the class affects the English teachers’ efficiency.
  4. To examine whether instructional aids affects the learning of English language.
  5. To examine whether students’ home background affects the acquisition of English language skills.

Research hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

H0 mother tongue does not interfere with the acquisition of the English language skills

H1: mother tongue interferes with the acquisition of the English language skills

 H02: Shortage of trained English teachers do not affect the effective of teaching learning English language.

H2: Shortage of trained English teachers affect the effective of teaching learning English language


Significance of the study

It is the writer’s belief that based on the identified problems f teaching English language in secondary schools, coupled with suggested improvements, there will be an improved standard in the teaching/learning situation and consequently and improvement in the performance of both the students and teachers on the filed. A student will be able to communicate more effectively. It will also help the student to improve on his performance in other subject areas since English language is the medium of instruction.

Scope and limitation of the study

The scope of the study covers perceived factors militating against learning of English language in Junior secondary schools. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

  1. a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.


First language (L1) – it is the language a person learns first. In most cases, it is usually the mother tongue.

Second language – This is the language adopted by a country through administrative or judicial decision. It could be an indigenous or local language or a foreign one.

Trained English teacher – teachers with the bed (English) and or NCE (English).

Standard English – Standard English is the type of English written by educated English men.

Received Pronunciation (R.P)- Received Pronunciation is the type of English most often heard among educated people on southern English. It is used by majority of Londonians who have had university education and it is commonly heard in oxford and Cambridge.

Pidgin – Pidgin is a mixture of at least two languages. Christopherson, p – An English phonetic course (London, Longman (1955) p.9.


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