PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
English is one of the major languages out of about 5000 estimated languages spoken in the world. About 200 years ago, English was simply the language of less than 15 million peoples. Today, however, English is used by more than 300 million people and second only to Chinese as regards the number of people using a particular language. Oga R.O (2007), ascertained that English Language is one of the most influential and fast growing languages spoken across the globe. One fifth of the earth’s land surface use English either as native tongue or official language. Of the entire World’s Languages English is the most widely studies language, especially in areas where it is not native. Today, English is used in several countries in the American continent including the United States of America and Canada, New Zealand, Republic of South Africa, Australia, Nigeria and Ghana, including other countries in the West African, Sub continent. Though English was actually the language of colonization in these countries like India they have since remained the official languages in most of the colonized territories. In other countries including Japan and China according to Udemba S.C (2007), English Language is usually taught as the chief foreign language. Equally, about half of the world’s scientific and technical journals, as well as newspapers, are printed in English. During the cold war the former Soviet Union used English in their propaganda broadcasts across the developing countries in Africa and Asia. The spread of English is further enhanced through the establishment of British Council and United States information service by the British and U.S governments respectively with centers and libraries in various countries including Nigeria. All these factors have therefore made it easy for anyone who understands and speaks English, and moves around major cities in the world to communicate effectively with one another.
According to Anibueze (2007), English Language is a lingua franca. As a lingua franca, it is the language for unification. It is highly established so that the people of varied language will have purposes to relate together maturely and work in union. For example, Hausa man may comfortably stay and effectively speak with a Yoruba man or an Igbo man, advice versa.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The English Language has remained a very important tool for socialization and bureaucracy activities in Nigeria, since the days of colonialism. Then, English was taught to their native servants just to equip them for domestic functions. It was only natural that emphasis wad laid on spoken English only and not either on written English or both of them. However, with the emergence of a new class of people, with time, the civil servants, and their new roles in the colonial administration, the teaching and learning of the language took another forms: Written English become prominent. Edward W.T. (2003) ascertained that this was very important as Nigeria which is a British began to interact with other British Colonies and citizens in Africa. Today English is the language for the international community, According to Ezugu (1995), the English Language is the most widely spoken language in the world. It is used as either a primary or secondary language in many countries. It is the Language of education administration, law, World trade, International diplomacy as well as that of pop culture. It is therefore worth while acquiring mastery of this very important language for whoever does not, has deprived himself of access to the world’s brightest of idea and modern technologies. In Nigeria today English remains the language of pedagogy, students can hardly make commendable progress in their studies without adequate mastery of English, through which most of the courses in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are taught and examined. This calls for a system that would be both rudimentary and functional in its approach. This is important for according to Umaru (2005) as a student learn a new language, very often he does not know how to express what he wants to say in writing. Since the student uses a foreign language as a medium of communication, he has to start from the scratch to learn the rudiments of the language. It is natural then that this is the junction where the various problems arising from the teaching and learning of the language meet the need to do so properly. Language Teaching, according to Oluikpe (2003) the basic criteria for assessing students’ proficiency in writing and speak are generally control of the basic grammatical categories such as punctuation, tense, number, gender etc. Language Teaching in Nigeria had fraught with deficiencies. The major reason for these deficiencies is our English teachers who are not well-trained only but are also non-professionals. And even if they are somewhat trained, their training is not up to work. A situation where a teacher of language has no mastery of it grammatical categories, as we see today, does not mean well for the system. Also writing on these problems facing language teaching, Regnier et al (2001) ascertained that “many good teachers are adoptive rather than rigid in their approach to teaching children and only loosely base on their instruction on a given method. Language is the official medium of communication to humans. It is one of the things that differentiate man from animals. Signs and symbols have no International understanding and may be difficult to understand. Picture, painting and sculptures cannot be read by all. This makes language superior to all of them because it is easily understood and generally used. According to Ozohili Oby (2007) language literally means the “tongue” a human organ used in speaking. According to Ozohili (2007), traditionally, language is defined as a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by which thoughts are communicated from one being to another. Language Learning: Human beings has the ability to learn and to understand and think about things. He has the capacity to gain and use knowledge. He can as well explore situations, collect information, plan and execute the plans. Man’s high intelligence has also enable him to evolve a level of linguistic communication by which life can be regulated. Theodore M.C, (2001) stated that language learning requires thoroughly time, patience and practice. It cannot be done solely in school with the large class but requires few minutes daily practice for individual students. Therefore, pupils and students should be encouraged to practice this language in their leisure time in order to master the language as required. Methodology: The methodology here refers to the method by which the teachers presents his/her materials to the learners and engages them in the task at hand. Methodology is very vital in every teaching-learning situation. For according to Robert .M., (2003) for effective teaching and learning to take place, the skillful teacher needs to use the many different methods and techniques at his command. Even though there is a great diversity in teaching methods and techniques, there is no one of them that can be regarded as the best for every teaching situation. This is however assumed that a carefully designed teaching method can work wonders in making learning more effective. The Teaching Materials: The teaching materials involves the dominance of textbooks, dictionaries, chalkboards, workbooks, (which are rarely used) and posters in the teaching of English Language in Secondary Schools in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State has been counterproductive.
Modern media such as audio and video tapes, language laboratories, programmed texts, flashcards, computers, magazines and newspapers are not in use. These findings agree with those of kolawole (1998) who found that the teaching of English Language is bedeviled with many problems such as inadequate of adequate and useful resources.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The English Language is our cultural window into the world of heterogeneous culture and traditions. It is a gate of all higher intellectual pursuit. It is our medium of instruction in schools from the kindergarten to university level. Therefore, students at the secondary school levels are expected to communicate effectively in writing using the English Language. It is however regrettable that the teaching of this important tool of both effective education and national/international socialization at secondary schools in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State, just like in other secondary schools in Nigeria had been suffering some defects and neglects alike. Lack of qualified teacher equipped to groom the students seems to be the major problems in the schools – Text books are constantly changed thereby causing disjointed teaching method. Other instructional materials are also not available. Language Laboratory to aid the acquisition and master of English Sounds is a strange story to both the teachers and students in this area. Above all, mother tongue interference poses a debilitating danger to the prospect of good English acquisition in those secondary schools.
Since the students first acquired their mother tongue before learning the English Language this leads to grammatical errors in time of their performance as these vernacular patterns are different from English patterns.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The major aim of this study is to determine the problems facing the teaching and learning of the English Language in the Secondary Schools in Enugu South Local Government Area and possible prospects to that specifically, the study indented to: (i) Identify and classify these problems (ii) Determine the magnitude of these problems (iii) Make recommendation for more language.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Any academic research embarked upon must be aimed towards achieving a particular goal which will be significant to the society. Based on this, the findings of this study will provide us with the basic information on the nature and causes of these problems, which will be of a great importance to teach the students in Enugu South educational zone. Therefore, they will go along way in improving teachers teaching method and students standard in both written and spoken English, so as to enhance good performance of the students in examinations. It will help teachers to know the areas in which these problems occur mostly and frequently and then improve their teaching strategies.
The findings of the study will help authors and textbook publishers to know the areas to stress the subject.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study: (a) Do Secondary School teachers use instructional resources frequently in teaching the English Language? (b) Do the English Language teachers use appropriate methods in teaching English Language frequently? (c) Do Secondary School students in Enugu South Local Government Area learn English Language in environment conducive to learning? (d) Do you think that the existing condition can be improved upon?
1.6 THE SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study covered the following: the problems of teaching English Language, the methods and techniques of teaching English in Secondary Schools, an examination of problems encountered by teachers in their classes.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
In consequence with the topic of this project which is “problems and prospects of teaching English Language in Secondary Schools in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State”. The researcher has no intention to study other Schools outside the given Local Government Area. Efforts made in the past improving these problems will not receive attention for treatment here since the existence of the problems prove them ineffective.
Again, the major focus would be on problems encountered by teachers in teaching the course. Consequently, students’ experiences would be treated referentially, while teachers become the main guinea pig.
1.8 DEFINITION OF THE TERMS
The following words and phrases which form the foundation for this study are hereby explained for the effective comprehension of this research work: (i) Problems and prospects: Problems, for the purpose of this study refers to those situations whose presence affects the smooth teaching of English in Secondary Schools in Enugu South Local Government Area. Prospects also refers to situations that could facilitate the process. (ii) Language Teaching and Learning: With reference to English Language, this means the whole activities that surround the process of acquiring English as second language by students in Enugu South Local Government Area. (iii) Methodology: This means the various systematic approaches in language teaching. Methodology is the method by which the teacher presents his material to the learners and engages then in the task at hand. (iv) Instructional materials: These are closely associated with the selection of teacher or student activities are the necessary materials that will aid and facilitate learning. These can motivate students and serves as effective ways to explain and illustrate subject content. These materials include apparatus, chemicals, textbooks, specimens, charts, audio visual aids, models and other items for individual and group use.