Background to the Study
Language is the most distinctive human quality and attribute. Language is characterized by a set of vocal sounds which can be decoded. Language does not exist in a vacuum. It is always contextualized. There is a relationship between language and society. The importance of the relationship between language and society cannot be over-emphasized in the education of a child. Language is a guide to social reality. English language is one of the languages used in Nigeria.
English language has become a valuable legacy of the British which has provided Nigerians with yet another means of expressing their culture. English language is Nigeria’s official language (Adedimeji, 2007). English language performs numerous functions in Nigeria. It serves as lingua franca. It is the language of instruction, language of constitution, language of nationalism, media, Government, education among others. This is because Nigeria is a multilingual country and English language serves as a link among the people.
English language is introduced to a child from the fourth year of primary school up to the university level (Olajide, 2010). This is clearly stated in section 4 paragraph 19, subsection on primary education, 2004 of the Federal republic of Nigeria’s national policy on education. ‘That English language shall be used as a medium of instruction and the language of immediate environment from the fourth year and French shall be taught as a subject’. This means that English language shall be the language of instruction from the fourth year of the primary education.
In Nigeria, much importance is attached to English language. It occupies a vital role in the educational system, such importance could be seen in terms of the functions English language perform in Nigeria. It is an act of political expedience and in addition, it helps to remove the fear of ethnical domination. The practical oral aspect of English language becomes even more important for the purpose of interaction and articulation in our day to day use of the language.
Furthermore, the use of English language paved way for participation at national and international levels. To be able to participate in the social, political and economical life of the country, one must be able to understand and use English language effectively and efficiently. English language is used for vertical mobility (Adedimeji, 2007). It enables one to move from a lower social class to higher one. It is the language of prestige not because the users are more intelligent than the illiterates but because they can speak it. So it has become a language of personality (Adedimeji, 2007). The role of English language in Nigeria stresses the need for Nigerians to learn, understand and make use of English language proficiently. There is no doubt that interference is the major effect of mother tongue language on English language.
Interference has been observed as a cogent influence that mother tongue language has on English language. Sources of the interferences therefore could be phonology- (a science which deals with the study of sounds in language) that is how different sounds or phonemes are combined. Morphology (this deals with the combination of morphemes to form words, morpheme is the smallest indivisible unit of a language that has a significant meaning). Syntax (the arrangement of words in a language according to rules). The concern of this project is on the phonological aspect of English language (oral English).
Also, there could be poor teaching of pronunciation by the teachers. Some of the teachers use grammatical translation method especially in the elementary schools. They often explain meanings of English words using the mother tongue language. The pupils transfer the idea of having explanation of meanings being made in the mother tongue language over to the secondary schools. It is therefore the intention of this study to identify problems that affect the oral English of students in the secondary schools as regards the influence of mother tongue language on it. In addition, suggestions and recommendations would be made on how to reduce the influence of mother tongue language on oral English.
Statement of the Problem
There is no doubt that secondary school students in Nigeria are being faced with the problem of mother tongue language interference in studying English language. The oral aspect of English language is the main focus of this research. The influence of the mother tongue language on the pronunciation of English words is one of the problems. The influence of the home background on the students’ pronunciation of English words is also a problem.
Hence, series of works have been done concerning the problems of mother tongue language interference on the oral English of secondary school students in English language but it was observed that little or no emphasis has been made on the influence of mother tongue language on the oral English of secondary school students.
Consequently, there has been a need to conduct a research work on the influence of mother tongue language on the oral English of secondary school students.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to examine the influence of mother tongue language on the oral English of secondary school students. Specifically, the purposes of this study are to determine;
- The influence of home background on the students’ performances in oral English.
- The influence of non-availability of language equipment on students’ performances in oral English.
- The influence of poor teaching on the students’ performances in oral English.
- The influence of the teacher’s qualification on the performances of students in oral English.
Based on the purposes of this study, the following questions are raised to direct the study.
- What are the influences of home background on the students’ performances in oral English?
- What are the influences of non-availability of language equipment on the students’ performances in pronunciation?
- What are the influences of poor teaching on the performance students in oral English?
- What are the influences of the teacher’s qualification on the performance of students in oral English?
Scope of the Study
This study focuses on Ilorin South Local Government area of kwara state, Nigeria. The target scope of this study is the secondary schools in Ilorin South Local Government Area. The sample scope of this study is limited to four (4) secondary schools in Ilorin South Local Government namely; Government Day Secondary school, Tanke, Bishop Smith Memorial Secondary school, Union Baptist Grammar school, Gaa-Akanbi and Chapel secondary school Tanke, Ilorin.
The sampling technique to be used is the simple random sampling technique. The sample scope is limited to the selected schools above. The sample scope will be limited to one hundred (100) students; twenty-five (25) from each school and it is restricted to only the senior secondary school two (SS 2). The questionnaire will be used as the instrument scope of this study. Questionnaire on the influence of mother tongue language on oral English will be asked to elicit responses from the students. Simple percentage will be used as the statistical scope of this study.
Operational Definition of Terms
The terms of the project work will be operationally defined by the researcher.
MOTHER TONGUE: Mother tongue is a language of one’s parents or language of the child’s immediate environment. It is a language acquired at birth and which meets all of a child’s needs always. The mother tongue language in this study is Yoruba.
ORAL ENGLISH: Oral English is the way in which English language is transmitted through a conventional system sounds. Oral English is also called Spoken English. The way sounds are being articulated to give a good and competent pronunciation.
INFLUENCE: This occurs when an individual allows the features of his/her mother tongue language (Yoruba) to interfere within his/her competence in the target language (English). The proper use of Yoruba dialect on English language.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be of immense benefit to student-teachers, students, teachers, stakeholders and Government. This would be facilitated by making the study available in places where the public could gain access to it, for example; the library, internet and print media houses.
The essence of this study is to show the result of the co-existence of the mother tongue language (Yoruba) and English language. The co-existence will allow students to be exposed to the interference of the two languages, where the interference occurs and how to minimize it. The study will help the teachers of English language to know the measures to be taken in order to help students minimize their mother tongue language interference on oral English.
Finally, the suggested solutions in this study would be of great benefits to educational curriculum planners. It would help the education curriculum planners to place premium on the essential aspect of the study of English language which would be of immense help in alleviating the problems of mother tongue language interference in oral English.