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English Forum for Education, Literature, and Linguistics Subject: Second Language Learning Difficulties

                                                  CHAPTER ONE


1.1 Background of the Study

Language is often employed to facilitate social contact among members of society. It is also used to distinguish persons within a society based on their gender, age, and social standing. Language is a tool for growth in all societies. It socially develops countries or societies, particularly for the sake of interaction inside and beyond of a certain community. Language may be used to discriminate gender or age by using distinct words and speech styles.

Languages used by a person can be classified as L1 and L2, or first and second languages. First language, also known as mother tongue, refers to our language or the language that a child first encounters depending on the context in which he or she is born and nurtured, whereas second language is a language that is learned later in life.

The remark is made without regard for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s choice of Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba as national languages. Because of the significance of the English language, it has remained a compulsory school subject and a prerequisite for further study. Without a pass at the credit level, one cannot aspire to proceed farther up the educational ladder in the country. This is why parents are concerned about their children’s linguistic performance. Such parents are quick to see flaws, which are frequently mistakenly interpreted as signs of declining standards. Because English is required for both internal and external communication, language teachers have a lot of work to accomplish. The main implication for teachers of the language’s standing in Nigeria and Africa as a whole is that pupils must be encouraged to learn to use what is globally acceptable, not just in structure usage but also in pronunciation and general usage. For good internal and external communication, both spoken and written language must be understandable.

When a second language is employed as a language of instruction, we must admit that even the most basic facts and ideas cannot be learned until the child has mastered the language of instruction, at least in its oral form. The Mother Tongue is the language of the child’s house, the language in which he grew up, and the language of his immediate community. Its significance in a child’s education cannot be overstated. Merriam-Webster defined mother tongue as “the first language a person learns to speak.” A youngster who has spent his formative years at home and learned the language is most prepared to learn it. A youngster may study practically any subject using this medium. As a result, the mother tongue is extremely significant in education. When a foreign language is accepted for use as a second language, it is only natural to initiate activities that will lead to mastery of the language before it is utilized for teaching and learning.

Other issues may arise for a youngster whose mother tongue differs from the language of the school. He frequently thinks in his mother tongue while expressing himself in the second. This frequently favors rote learning and hence affects comprehension. There is also the issue of educational loss, particularly in systems where second language use begins too early in the first few years of school. Due to such educational losses, a kid must begin his educational career in his mother tongue while acquiring the second language as a school topic. The transfer from home to school is gradual and beneficial with such a practice.

1.2 Statement Of The Problems

Every human has a first language or mother tongue. The Hausa language is widely spoken in Nigeria’s northern region. Most Hausa native speakers experience syntactic problems in their second language (English) as a result of interference or influence from their mother tongue (Hausa) over the second language (English). This is why a native Hausa speaker may be immediately distinguished if he or she speaks English, because the interference is visible as the speakers make an utterance. Learning and using a second language becomes extremely important in a politically, socially, culturally, and linguistically diverse society, not just because it allows for reciprocal engagement. Such is the case in modern Nigerian culture since Nigeria is a physical and political entity that was conquered by the British, who came from a different linguistic background, yet English was accepted as a means of communication and interaction. According to Wilson and Smith (2009), it is commonly assumed and shown that humans are predisposed to acquiring specific forms of language. This natural propensity allows one to master a first language as well as a second. This skill, however, varies from person to person, which Elindor (1989) defined as linguistic inequality. a noticeable change in Lexis users The distinction between these two speakers allows us to classify one as belonging to a higher social stratum and the other as belonging to a lower social stratum.

1.3 Purpose Of The Study

Behind any research, there must be reason(s) why that particular research is carried out. It is in this regard that this research aims at investigating or identifying the various ways or forms through which Hausa language interferes on the syntactic level of second language. Because of the late arrival of Europeans to Northern Nigerian where Hausa is spoken, English is not as fully embraced by the Hausas as is the case with their Southern counterparts. English language seems to have some communication syllogisms, that is extension of sense and use of lexical items and local idioms. The syntactic interference of the Hausa language on English language is the focus of this research study. Therefore, this study aim at identifying the interference of Hausa syntax on the syntax of English.

1.4 Research Questions

These research questions are formulated in order to guide the researcher. The following are the questions that this research aims at answering:

  1. Does Hausa language have vowels that have the same distribution with standard English?
  2. Does English have the same realisation as in basic Hausa consonant system?
  3. Do the Hausa speakers/writers borrow from English the syntax?
  4. Has the ascendancy of English language in Nigeria created ‘linguistics imperialism on the Hausa Language?
  5. Do lexis and structure in Hausa language have different implication from those of English language?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research will be extremely beneficial not just to the Hausa language literature, but also to those learning it in educational institutions and the general Hausa speaking population.

However, the research does not seek to invalidate Hausa syntactic forms, but rather to highlight the intrinsic characteristics that distinguish Hausa syntactic forms and compare them to those of English in order to identify areas of difference and inherent flaw.

1.6 Limitation and Delimitation of the Study

Firstly, this research is specifically concerned with the study of how mother tongue (Hausa) interferes on the syntax of second language (English) using the U.G IV English language students as case study of the research work with a view to finding out the interference Hausa syntax has on that of English and also suggest possible solutions that could address the problems. All the findings are based on the area of the study.

1.7 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.