THE EFFECT OF MOTHER TONGUE INTERFERENCE IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
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Study Level: BTech, BSc, BEng, BA, HND, ND or NCE
Due to the place of English language in Nigeria, the poor performance of students in the use of the language is definitely an issue of national concern. Therefore, the study was designed to explore the effect of mother tongue interference in the study of English language in secondary schools. The subjects for the study consist of fifty teachers from twenty secondary schools in Ibadan South East Local Government Area of Oyo State. Questionnaires were given to the teachers to elicit information on the interference of mother tongue on learning of English language. The findings from the study indicates that language interference features usually show up in the learners’ pronunciation of English words, the use of stress, intonation and general accents. They also show up in grammatical construction, in the choice of some words and expression and so on. It was concluded that, not many learner’s of English language as a second language can overcome or totally avoid manifestation and interference in their use of English. Based on the findings above, it was thus recommended that the three factors that determine the level of interference which are the level of immersion of the individual, the level of the individual’s education and the individual’s oral English education exposure should be well taken care of in every student. Students should be made to realize their deficiencies in the use of English Language. English Language teachers should also update their knowledge regularly to understand the peculiar areas which they or the students have problems in the teaching and learning of English language as a result of mother tongue interference.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Statement of the Problems
Purpose of the Study
Scope of the Study
Operational Definition of Terms
Significance of the Study
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Status of English language in the Senior Secondary School Curriculum
Effects of Bilingualism and English Proficiency of Secondary School students in Ibadan
Overview of Linguistic Interference of English Language with Nigerian Languages
Phonological Interference and Implication for L2 Learning
Grammatical Interference and Implication for L2 Learning
Morpho-syntactic Features of Nigerian English
Appraisal of the Reviewed Literature
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHOLOGY
Population, Sample and Sampling Techniques
Procedure for Data Collection
Procedure for Data Analysis
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANAYSIS AND RESULTS
Analysis of Demographic Information
Data Analysis and Findings
Summary of Findings
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Discussion of Findings
Suggestion for further Studies
1.1 Background to the Study
Language is a creation which every human being is endowed with or blessed; a unique gift of language is used naturally as one tool of expression consisting of different sub-skills (Wikipedia 2007). Language is an important tool that enhances human communication and interaction. It is a vital instrument in cultural transmission and preservation of a social group. It is in a fundamental sense, a crucial tool in the preservation and propagation of the human species. An examination of the linguistic content of a particular speech community can provide information about the life style, occupation etc. of a given people (Wikipedia 2007).
English Language is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval English and is now spoken in many countries around the world. The English language being the national official language for the British colonies of which Nigeria is among makes it our second language. Hence, our respective mother tongues exist before colonization. This has necessitated the teaching and learning of the English language and its consequent interference in our mother tongue in various study points nationwide. It is glaring that Nigeria is a linguistically complex society by the mere fact of the history of its creation. It is estimated that there are between 250 and 400 languages spoken in Nigeria (Wikipedia 2007).
English language, as the only medium of classroom instruction in Nigerian schools, has affected students’ academic performances greatly because the language is foreign to the students. Hence, Student who has problem in communication skill may likely not do well academically not only in English language but in other subjects. The poor level of achievement in many subject areas may be due to poor foundation in English language among secondary school students which invariably may be connected with the conflict between mother tongue and English. This is because children in this part of the world are first introduced to their mother tongue with which they comprehend ideas. But as they grow, they sooner or later realize that the language of instruction in schools is basically in English. For this reason, learners struggle in between two languages mentally, socially, economically and educationally.
English language is used in school and the mother tongue at home. For some parents, in a bit to reduce the labour of their children over language utility either in school or at home; have decided to inculcate in the children the habit of speaking English language alone both at home and in school. But if this kind of mentality is embraced by all, the country may stand the risk of accommodating a bonafide future generations without roots and culture.
To this effect, many scholars over the years in Africa have been working very hard over one common language as language of instruction other than English language. Adesanoye (2004) on national language both for Nigeria and Africa assiduously mentioned Swahili, Wasobia and ‘Guosa’ which according to him had been proposed by some other scholars. Yet, none of the alternative languages to English postulated by these scholars have come to stay. In view of this, the case for English has always being overstated and the possible relationship between mother tongue and students’ academic performance in English has become a virile condition for the position of English language proficiency among students.
The importance of English language for enhancing educational attainment through improved communicative skills and ability can never be over emphasized. Students who have so much difficulties with their communication skill may not function effectively in English, not only in English language but in their academic and this is no reason than the fact that English language in Nigeria today is the language of text-books and the language of instruction in schools (Aina et. al, 2013).
However, it is pathetic to note that students’ academic performance in the so called “language of instruction” in Nigeria has been awfully embarrassing due to the poor level of achievement especially in public examinations in which English is not an exemption (Kolawole and Dele 2002).
To this effect, according to Iroegbu (2006) much emphasis is placed on the passing of English language at credit or distinction level in addition to other subjects to enable any candidate gain admission into any Nigerian Higher Institution of learning. Yet, this has not savaged the situation.
The academic performance of students both at secondary school and post-secondary school is worrisome. This Adesanoye (2004) noted while he cited Adeniran that there is indeed a lot wrong with the performance in English even among University students and post-graduate students for that matter. Djihed (2013) also confirmed that even among the Arab Master students, students perform poorly in General English which compound their reading comprehension difficulties.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
English language is a generally accepted language which was introduced into Nigeria through colonialism and missionary activities and now spoken, taught and learned in Nigeria.Where English language sentences are made, they are characteristically uttered with variation in pitch often referred to as an intonation. This is often an area of difficulty for second users of English language whose language originally has their own intonation different from that of English language. This is one of the major problems encountered by learners of English language.Furthermore, in the area of sentence construction, there is the tendency for second users of English language to construct English sentence in accordance with their own local language structure. This is another problem encountered in the classroom environment.Added to the above is the fact that some phonetic sounds found in English language are non-existent in many of these local languages. These examples include the central vowels /ʒ:/, /ʌ/, /∂/.Another area where problem is noticed is in the area of stress. Stress is strange to many of these local languages. Therefore, to successfully enhance better learning and understanding of English language, the psychology of the people should be improved and a better communication report should be enhanced between the teachers and the learners of English language respectively. This could be achieved by overhauling the teaching and learning system of the language. It is therefore, the pre- occupation of this research work to find out how the mother tongue has interfered with English language and the influence made so far by the education planners to reverse the trend.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this research study is to examine the effect of mother tongue interference in the study of English language in secondary schools in Oyo State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study will attempt to investigate teacher’s perception on:
- Phonological interference on students’ academic performance in English Language in Ibadan.
- Grammatical interference on students’ academic performance in English Language in Ibadan.
- Morpho-Syntactic interference on students’ academic performance in English Language in Ibadan.
1.4 Research Questions
- Would phonological interference have significant influence on secondary school students’ academic performance in English Language?
- Would grammatical interference have significant influence on secondary school students’ academic performance in English Language?
- Would morpho- syntactic interference have significant influence on secondary school students’ academic performance in English Language?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses are generated from research questions:
- Phonological interference would not significantly influence the students’ performance in English Language.
- Grammatical interference would not significantly influence the students’ performance in English Language.
- Morpho-syntactic interference would not significantly influence students’ performance in English Language.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research work is intended to study the effect of mother tongue interference in the study of English language in secondary schools in Ibadan vis-a-vis how it affects the academic performance of students in English Language.
As such, the researcher do not concern herself with the knitty-gritty of the semantic aspect of mother tongue (local language) but concern with the phonological, grammatical and morpho- syntactical aspect of mother tongue.
As perceived by the English Language Teachers, twenty secondary schools were selected using the simple random sampling technique. A researcher-designed 100copies questionnaire, five copies in each school, is to be used to collect data for the study. The percentages would be used to analyze the data collected. The Chi-square statistical tool will be used to analyze the collected data.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The importance of the use of English language especially in students’ performance in all the subject in the school system cannot be over-emphasized. It is hoped that with the successful completion of this research, many other researchers will be encouraged to research on those variables deeply so that the students, parents, teachers, administrators, curriculum planners as well as ministry of education will gain from the study.
The study will be useful in the following aspects:
- To reduce to the barest minimum, the interference of mother tongue in the learning of English language.
- To equip the teachers on how to go about their particular area.
- To inform the curriculum planners on the needful to reduce interference.
- To intimate the stakeholders on what must be done to discourage mother tongue interference.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Mother Tongue: The first language of a bilingual or multilingual person. It is the language acquired unconsciously and naturally early in life.
Phonology: The study of the sound system of a particular language.
Bilingual Society: A linguistic community where more than one language is spoken.
L1: This is the first language that a child is exposed to at his or her childhood.
L2: The second language learnt by a child.
Interference: This is the instance of deviation from the features of either language which occurs in the speech of bilingual as a result of their familiarity with the two languages.
To some linguists, interference is seen as errors in the learner’s use of a foreign language that can be traced back to the mother tongue.
Grammatical Interference: This is a transfer of the grammatical system of one language into another. It is noticeable in the area of pronouns.
Morpho-Syntactic Interference: This is a carryover of the analogizing process in L1 into the use of the L2.
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