PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED BY JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL LEARNERS OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AT THE LEVEL OF PHONOLOGY
Background to the study
The term language has become a familiar concept that everybody thinks he has an answer to the question: What is Language? It is such a familiar phenomenon, or a common place that everybody seems to be a potential “linguist” a specialist in the scientific approach to language study. At times, if one is asked the course he is studying in the university and the reply is either English language, is inquirer will have the impression that the study of the language entails easy writing comprehension and summary writing and the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo languages entails the learning of proverbs, since he can speak the language fluently and eloquently. Now,investigations into the meaning of language have shown that, the task is beyond the knowledge of a common person. The question what is language? Does not lend itself to a simple answer, language is differently define by different scholars, depending on the area of language study that interest or appeal to individual scholars.
Seweje(2005) defines language as the most direct form of communication so far and it has been with us since creation. Language is non–instinctive method of communication emotions, ideas and feeling by means of voluntarily produced symbols. It can be used in many ways to cover what is being said, what has been said or what said or what would be said. Indeed, it helps and facilitates effectiveness in communication.Multon (1974) defines language as a vehicle for communication. He explains that, language can be used to convey wishes commands, express truths and ideals influence our listeners, but he Multon is not aware of the fact that language is by far, the most mange nous, flexible and productive of these communication systems. It is wise to that, the lest precise to define language is to refers it vaguely as a form of communication.
Walhwook (1989) observed that to define language, as a means of communication is too vague to be of much use. This is because lesser animals than man do communicate the presence of strange things or persons to their owners, all these cries of blood and barking of dogs are of limited consequence. Barber (1964) point out, the various means of communication by animal differ in important way from human languages, they are devoid of structures.
Language is described mainly as a system of sound or vocal symbol by which human beings communicate experience, language is specific to man i.e. it is a special characteristics of human beings. Man uses language to communicate his individual thoughts, inner feelings and personal psychological experience. Also man uses it to communicate social experience in order to cement social relationship i.e for public communion. For example, when language is used to greet, the function is public (for social solidarity) rather than informative.
Language does not exist in vacuum. It is always centralized i.e it is a means of expressing society’s tradition and culture cannot be ignored in the history of any society.Language is seen as involving the use of symbolic and the symptomatic arrangement of how these symbols make sense in communication. Language is specific. This is why language is used by people who belong to the same linguistic community. As a result language is the organization of symbols into sets of human vocal sounds, which could also be represented in written form for the purpose e of communication by members of the same speech community or the same linguistic unit or environment.
Going by history, English language was introduced into England at about the fifth century; Hitherto, it has been on use of a period of 1,500 years. Today, English language has been dispersed to many parts of the world. Place like Ireland. Wales (part of India), Scotland. Africa of which Nigeria are Ghana are parts.Researcher observe that a situation whereby individuals acquire two languages, each of them is bound to affect the other, statement is time of English language and Yoruba. English language and Hausa, English language and Igbo bilinguals Nigeria. Some of the factors responsible for these are the development of printing press education, transportation and social consciousness.
In Nigeria, English language to all intent and purposes remained a borrowed language acquired usually after the mothers tongue ‘MT’ or ‘LT’, because of socio-linguistics reasons. English language has come to stay as an important language used for multipurpose reason in Nigeria. It is compulsory in Nigeria schools that are allocated to its teaching in our primary and secondary schools, also in tertiary institution; it has to be taken as general studies (G.S).
Since students have acquired mother tongue (MT), it is pertinent that problems evidently bound to occur at level of phonology, semantics and synaptic components of English language. This study is going to address such problems at the aforementioned level in Junior Secondary Schools.
Statement of the Problem
It must be realized that the Hausa speakers of English language have certain features which are identified in both phonological level of English language likewise Yoruba and Igbo speakers of English language. There are of course stinking difference between Hausa language and English language, Yoruba and English language, Igbo and English language.
The hundred of ethnic grouping in Nigeria have characteristics pattern. Dutsen (1969) shows the influence of twelve Nigeria language on English language production the three major ethnic group will be looked at and their accept on how they affect the learning of English language and the major ethnic groups are (Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo) and that is why the Government College in OkeOsun, Ikere-Ekiti is the school of study because it is the only Government Secondary School that student of different ethnic groups could be found.
Purpose of the study
This research will focus on how to identify the problems encountered by Junior Secondary School learners of English language at the level of phonology and how their mother tongue (MT) has affected their spoken form of English language. This study focuses on the differences in the pronunciation of English and Hausa languages, English and Igbo languages. There will be suggestions and recommendations on how to reduce the problems to the nearest minimum.
This study will answer the following questions
- What is the extent of the interference of the mothers tongue (MT) or (L1) on the learning of English language in a Government school? (Government secondary schools) has the intake of the tree major tribes in Nigeria that is, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
- To what extent has environmental situations affected the learning of English language in junior secondary schools?
- What is the level of phonological interference between the mother tongue (MT) and English language?
- Is there any significant difference between the sound of the first language (L1) and the second language (L2) and English language (ESL)?
Significance of the Study
This study is significance in many ways because it is going to examine the phonological problems encountered in the learning of English language in a linguistic society. It is expected to suggest solution to these problems and bring to limelight reasons for mass failure of students in English language in the selected schools, especially at the junior Secondary School and the general performance of students within the selected schools and outside.
It is equally noteworthy that the phonological and morphological problems encountered by students of the Junior Secondary School learners of English will be examined and teachers will be from nearer to solving these problems for the purpose of effective positive changes in the teaching/learning process within the school system.
The study will as well as alerts the teachers in meeting up the areas of their deficient, since they too are second learners of the language. It will as well let the government (Both federal and state) know its assistance will be needed if deadly English language is the national language so that the coming generation would be able to speak in the generally acceptable form of English language.
The study will as well alert parents know areas they will buckle up, in helping their children in the learning of English language (L2).
Limitation of the Study
The researcher limits the study to three secondary schools, one government unity school, one government public school and the other one is the private school. These are:
- Government Secondary School, Oke-Osun, Ikere-Ekiti.
- Eleyo High School, Ikere-Ekiti.
- Demonstration Secondary School, Oke-Osun, Ikere-Ekiti.
The study will cover different areas of phonological interference in language contact situations. The study will not cover all secondary schools in Ikere, because of transportation, financial and time limitations problems. But all government schools imply the three major tribes in Nigeria. Moreover, the three major languages are being taught in all secondary schools.
Definition of Terms
For thorough understanding and clarity of propose of the ideas presented in this study, it will be necessary however to define these terms as used in the study. These terms are:
- Second Language
- Mother Tongue
- Foreign Language
Second Language (L2): Second language is referred to as (L2), it is the language learned in addition to the mother tongue or (L1) such a language may be the language of instruction, as well as official language. Example is English Language in Nigeria. A second language is not necessary a national language, speakers of such language (L2) are called ‘B’ speaker, that is, the speaker learns it and it is usually for instructional purpose.
Bilingualism:Bilingualism refers to a situation where by two languages co-exist within a speech community. The concept of bilingualism is relevant where an individual or a society makes use of two languages for the purpose of (MT) the other language is the second language.
Phonology: Phonology focuses on speech sounds. It is concerned with how sounds are identified, classified and described by the phoneticians. Phonologic is concerned with the sound system of a particular language.
Morphology: Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies internal structure of words. It accounts for word formation.
Interference: Interference is a situation whereby the knowledge of one language is transferred to the other language especially, when mother tongue (MT) has influence on the learning of the second language, (L2) or a target language.
Mother Tongue: The Mother Tongue (L1/MT) is the first Language, which a person picks up in early childhood. It is not, but it is acquired by limitation and stabilized by corrections from parents, peer-groups and community. It is the language that encodes earlier concept of the child. Mother Tongue (MT) speakers are regarded as ‘A’ of that very language.
Foreign Language: Foreign Language is learnt or acquired as a human discipline. A foreign language is learnt for instruction or interrogative purposes.