Education

The Problems of Teaching English as a Second Language in Nigerian Secondary School

The Problems of Teaching English as a Second Language in Nigerian Secondary School

ABSTRACT

Although the English language is now the language of government, business and commerce, education, mass media, literature and internal as well as external communication, there are still problems in the teaching of English as a second language in secondary schools. Students presume that the English language is a difficult language to learn and so do not make effort to learn it. Teachers also find it difficult to cope with the heavy demand required for effective teaching and learning of the English language. This research work was carried out using the twenty secondary schools in Igbo Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu state. Six boys secondary schools, eight girls secondary schools and six co-educational schools. The target population was one thousand, eight hundred and fifty-four students in JS III and one thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight students in SS III and one hundred and five English teachers. Ten schools and two hundred students from both junior and senior secondary schools were used for the study. Forty teachers were also selected and analyzed using mean. Based on the findings some recommendations were made.

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Origin of English language: the English language originated in North-Western Europe, going by the history of English. It is therefore said to have been involved in the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Apart from having the widest geographical spread, the Indo-European language family is spoken by the greatest number of people. The language was first spoken by various tribes in Denmark and Northern Germany. Uchechukwu (2008) said that the word English is used to denote the name of people. By the time of the Northern conquest (1066), English was the name for all the inhabitants of English. Of all the heritage left behind in Nigerian by the British at the end of the colonial administration, probably none is more important than the English. The English language is now the language of government, internal, business and commerce, education, the mass media, ENEH (2008) observed that English was the name for all the inhabitants of England. He also observed that the English language is the name for all subjects in Nigeria except the Igbo language. This observation is a reality because since we gained independence from the British people, English has been enjoying a high status within Nigerian society.

The English language is not only used in Nigeria but also has domains of usage at international levels too. Paul (2005) said that English is flexible enough to be used for the most trivial conversation or for transacting the most important affairs of the day. Thus, it is the English language that allows Nigeria to take part in the deliberation and decisions in international organizations such as the United Nations organization commonwealth of the nation, world health organization.

In Nigeria, English serves several purposes that are very important to her existence. It is the lingua franca of the country and the official language in the society due to multi-ethnic groups that speak different languages. For this diversity of language, Nigeria needs one language that will bridge the linguistic barriers among its component states. The choice of such language (English) has been made for Nigeria by the British colonial administration; Uchechukwu (2008) observed that English is spoken by more than a quarter of a billion people. It is becoming increasingly popular as a second language for non-English speaking people throughout the work. Thus, English is regarded as a second language. Nigeria civil service, government establishment armed forces, the public and judiciary system English is the prescribed language of communication among the various ethnic groups with different language backgrounds. In social gatherings, English is used among people for social interaction. Uchechukwu (2008) observed that, apart from the English language having the widest geographical spread, that the language is spoken by the greatest number of people. It is becoming increasingly popular as a second language for non-English speaking people throughout the world. It is a language that uses more than a million symbols. It is flexible enough to be used for most trivia conversations or transactions.

The most important affairs of the day can be used for recording scientific data with accuracy and precision or for creating a poem expressing a beautiful thought in words that are pleasing to the ear. Literature books so far produced in Nigeria are written in English. This includes works of Wole Soyinka, Mrs Edith Eze, Chinua Achebe, Christopher Okigbo and so on. They are highly claimed internationally. In education, it is used as a means of instruction in school and it is introduced as a school subject at the university level. School subjects in the first year in primary school up to the university level. School subjects like, biology, history, government, mathematics and so on are thought in English. This means that scientific knowledge of the word is through the English language, which he learned in school. Thus, the English language plays a role in our society. In education homes, English is used as the common language to impact knowledge to younger ones. Gradually the younger ones will develop fluent speech in English from their parents. English is indeed a lingua franca, the main official language and the second language (L2) for Nigerian children, but only a small percentage of the Nigerian population has access to it and use it in communication. And the small percentage of the people who use English in Nigeria, the only negligible proportion of them may be said to speak and writes Standard English like the educated native speakers of the language. As Anibueze (2000) observed that at pre-school age, native speakers have usually acquired unconsciously the basic sentence structure of the English language. It may not necessarily be the standard language, but it is one in which the child is relatively competent. Since a large number of Nigeria population who use the English language acquire it through the form school systems, the poor standard of their English can be ascribed in school, especially secondary school by those concerned teachers and students who sat for general certificate of education examination (G.C.E) at community High School Ekwegbe (C.H.S.) in October 2009 and the data collected confirmed that ninety-five per cent of the students book the examination because of failure in English language. Related to poor teaching and learning strategies adopted in school. Onyejeli 2008 states five basic principles of learning/teaching the English language. Firstly, the teacher should be very clear about what he/she is teaching the students because it is regular usage. Secondly, the teacher should start the teaching of English by listening and speaking before reading and writing will follow. Thirdly, the teacher should tell them the importance of materials because they are learning them as a second language. Fourthly, the teacher should tell them the importance of revision of skills learned to identify mistakes. Fifthly the teacher when teaching should create much time and patience because he/she is teaching the English language to a second language learner. The status of the English language in Nigeria and secondary school have attracted the problems of the researchers to investigate the problems of teaching and learning English.

The method of language teaching and learning strategies, the method and strategies used by some teachers of English pose problems to the learners of the language by the student’s teachers of English should understand the meaning of the word “teach” that is to acquire knowledge or to perform an action. Any methods used by the teacher should aim at enabling the child to acquire knowledge of doing something. There are eight ways by which a teacher can make his student acquire knowledge, each slightly different from the other but all tending to produce the same results in varying degrees. He can make him learn it, he can inform him, instruct him, train him, lecture him or educate him. Each approach has its peculiar connotation and its effect on the relationship between the teacher and the pupils. The methods learn puts effort into the student and makes the achievement more long-lasting and more effective. The other methods, especially “teach” put the responsibility on the teacher. This is why teachers must learn how to use different materials to teach in the classroom. English language should be practised for effective learning.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

This is a widespread feeling that the standard of the English language is rapidly great problems to the educationist especially specialist teachers of English language. The student finds it difficult to the English language as a medium of expression in many social gatherings or their academic purposes. They make a lot of grammatical mistakes when speaking or writing English. We have a shortage of specialist teachers in the educational system that cannot be over-emphasized. The successful implementation of the curriculum in each of the school subjects which depends to a large extent on the availability of specialist teachers in English has led to the employment of graduates from other disciplines such as mass communication to teach the English language in some secondary schools. This constitutes a serious problem to the teaching and learning of the English language in secondary schools. Since the most important factor in the teaching-learning process is the teacher, there is a great need to train more teachers in the English language. Teachers provide background experiences for their students and also determine their academic achievement. Hence the need arises to ascertain mother tongue, physical and psychological problems, insufficient time allotted to English timetable, inadequate supply of teaching material and shortage of specialist teachers of English hinder the teaching and learning of English as a second language in secondary schools in Igbo Etiti local government area of Enugu state.

1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this study includes i. To know if there is any problem in the time allotted to the teaching and learning of the English language as a second language. ii. Find out how lack of teaching and learning material have contributed to problems in the teaching and learning of the English language.

iii. To ascertain the effect of shortage of specialist teachers on the teaching of English language as a second language.

1.4 SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY

The study on the problem of teaching and learning English as a second language in secondary school in Igbo Etiti local government area of Enugu state will help the teacher of English to know the strategies to adopt in. Improving their acquisition of skills in the English language through this study too, the educational policymakers and the administration will know the resources to be provided in school to improve the teaching and learning of English.

1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study. i. Does insufficient time allotted to the teaching and learning of the English language in the school timetable affect the mastery of the English language? ii. Does the inadequate supply of teaching materials militate against the teaching and learning of English as a second language? iii. Does a shortage of specialist teachers hinder the teaching and learning of English as a second language?

1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The researchers limited their study to junior secondary III and senior secondary III in twenty secondary schools, six boys secondary schools, eight girls secondary schools and six co-educational schools in Igbo Etiti local government area of Enugu state. The problems include; mother tongue interference, inadequate supply of instructional materials method used by the teachers to teach the language shortage of specialist teachers, student physical and psychological problems and insufficient time allotted to the English language in the school timetable.

1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

In the course of the researchers work, the researchers encountered some problems. One of the problems was the uncooperative attitude of some respondents. The researcher found it difficult to gain access to the classroom to distribute their lessons or limit the time for their lessons. Some teachers and students were reluctant in filling the questionnaire and this affected their responses. The researchers are living far away from the sampled schools and could not travel frequently to the schools to be present when some teachers responded to the questionnaire since some of them choose to do it at their convenient time.

The presence of the researchers would have helped to clarify some misconceptions to the respondents.

1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS

PROBLEMS: It can be defined as something very difficult to deal with or understand.

TEACHING: It is a way of giving lessons in a class to a learner. It is also a way to show someone how to do something.

ENGLISH: It is the language of England, used in many varieties throughout the world.

LANGUAGE: This can be said to be human or the communication of all creatures through the structural use of words. It is also a system of symbols and rules for writing something.

SECOND: Learn as an imitation or learned from others.

SECONDARY: School of children from the age of 11 to 16 or 18.

LEARNER: One who gain knowledge or skill of future changes in good behaviour.

REFERENCES

Abbasi, M., Ahmed, A. & Khattack, Z. (2010). Negative influence on large scale assessment on language learning strategies of the secondary school certificate (SSC) students. Procedia– Social and Behavioural Science 2(2), 4938-4942. doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.030799

Bechhofer, F. & Paterson, L. (2000). Principles of research design in the social sciences. London: Routledge.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education (6th ed.). USA, Canada: Routledge.

Christopher, N. (2008). The social and educational impact of language assessment in Nigeria. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 17 (3), 198 – 210.



Copyright © 2021 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0