language teachers have been used to the presentation method of language teaching.
This situation has led to poor performance of students in some areas of English
language studies. This study was designed to find the effect of digital
language laboratory on teacher trainee’s achievement in oral English. A quasi
experimental design which involved the use of intact classes was adopted for
the study. There were three research questions which were answered while three
hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. All the seventy-seven
year one students of the department of language studies, Enugu State College of
Education Technical, Enugu and sixty students of the department of English,
Institute of Ecumenical Education Thinkers Corner, Enugu were used for the
study. In assigning the subjects to control and experimental groups, the
seventy-seven students of ESCET and sixty students from Ecumenical were used
respectively. The experimental group was exposed to digital laboratory method
while the control was exposed to the presentation method of teaching. The
instrument used for the study was Oral Production Test. The scores obtained
from the pretest were used for the item analysis and the calculation of the
reliability indices. Applying Kuder Richard formula 20 the reliability indices
of 0.98 was found.
The mean scores and the standard deviation were computed and
were used for answering the research questions, while the analysis of variance
was adopted to test the hypotheses. It was found that digital language
laboratory method of teaching was significantly more effective than the
presentation method in the teaching of oral English. The results of the study
show that the use of digital language laboratory method enhances instruction on
oral English. It was recommended that oral English teachers should adopt the
use of digital language laboratory as a method of teaching phonetics and
Background of the study
Language is recognized as one of the greatest human
achievements. The acquisition of language is unique to human beings. Although
other species can communicate in their own way, only humans have attained the
most highly developed system of communication by the use of words and
expressions (Bell, 1981). Communication is the transfer of message from one
party to another so that it can be understood and be acted upon (Eyre, 1983).
This goes to show how important language is to human beings.
can be acquired and can also be learned. For language acquisition, it is the
term most commonly used to describe the process whereby children become
speakers of their native languages (Bell, 1981). It can also mean a natural
acquisition of a second language while language learning can best be explained
as a process of problem-solving in which the leaner exposed to the data of the
language attempts to create cognitive maps. Language learning is also a term
commonly used to describe the process whereby children and adults formally
learn a language mainly a second language. It is a complex set of process
especially when that language is a second one to the learner.
Nigeria, English is the second language. It is a second language because there
are other indigenous languages. Nigeria had about two hundred and fifty
indigenous languages in use before the introduction of English language
(Anibueze, 2007). English is firmly established as the official language and
outside the mandatory official context, English is the major language of
instruction, social services, business communication and occupational purposes.
It is notionally considered as a measure for literacy and outstanding status.
It is the language for scientific and technological innovation. It is also used
for international trade and conferences. English is virtually the language now
in use at home, in the market places, in religious houses, in playgrounds, in
social and political gatherings.
is necessary for accessing discourse at a global level, from international
relations to popular culture and to academia (Makay, 2002). English language is
the first and foremost medium of national and international communication in
this present time. Nigerians need English so as to be able to communicate and
interact with the native speakers and non-native speakers. Nigerian child needs
English language to be able to communicate with his neighbours. Indeed, the
Nigerian child requires proficiency in it so as to be able to express his
everyday experiences. Nigerian children have to understand other people and be
understood with less difficulty (Azikiwe, 2007).
language is needed in Nigeria for individual development and educational
advancement and employment. This is true when one considers the mental
exercises that are needed to be accurate in writing and reading, speaking and
listening in foreign language other than the mother tongue. The teaching of the
English language in Nigerian schools and colleges is organized around these
four language skills- Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. But despite all
efforts made to teach these skills, the Nigerian students’ level of language
proficiency is still below expectation.
English language paper is presently divided into three broad groups – paper I-
Essay, comprehension and Summary, paper II- Objective questions and paper III
Test of orals. The little emphasis placed on test of orals is evident as paper
I- Essay, Comprehension and Summary gets the lion share of the mark allocation
of 100 while paper II- Objectives and paper III share the remaining
insignificant marks of 100. Also in the planning of the time table, the time
table planners usually see English as one subject and allot equal number of
time to English as other subjects. When this happens the subject teacher only
concentrate on essay and comprehension that will provide him with enough
exercises as would be demanded by the principals and state supervisors.
to 2004, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners’ reports
of the students performances in West African Secondary School Certificate
Examination (WASSCE) showed that the overall performance of students was poor.
A close look at the reports by Chief Examiners will help to confirm the poor
performance of these students. In (2002) Students’ weaknesses were discovered
in the area of essay writing. According to the report, majority of the students
were ignorant of the components of essay topics such as content, organization,
expression and mechanical accuracy. The report from the Chief Examiner further
explained that many compositions were seriously marred by poor spellings, poor
punctuations and faulty grammar. Also the students were ignorant of the use of
comma, full-stop and question mark. Interchangeable use of words is another
error discovered. For instance where for were. The uses of ones for once,
no for know, had for heard and so on.
Examiner in (2003) examination report gave some weaknesses discovered among
Senior Secondary School Students. The students were found to be ignorant of the
proper use of punctuation and letters, the proper use of capital and small
letters, the different between the present and past tenses, restating the ideas
of passage in different words and expressions and identifying parts of speech
and how they function in sentences.
The (2004) Senior Secondary School Examination report
showed that, the students could not punctuate properly and could not spell
adequately. The evidences of the students’ poor performances in their
examinations now call for proper examination of the problems hindering the
students from meeting up to expectations in the use of the English language.
things can hinder students’ progress in academic performance. These hindrances
can be traced to teachers and their teaching methods, poor learning
environment, students’ poor background and indiscriminate use of mother tongue.
The ability to detect the problems of students in their process of learning is
very important. The major problems according to Nnamani (2010) is that when a
student fails, people blame him for not performing well without minding or
taking a look at the factors that might have impeded or caused his poor
school system English language is a compulsory subject. At the junior secondary
school level, the English language comprises of language and literature.
Language is divided into four components – morphology, syntax, lexis and
phonology. All these are integrated into one and taught as a single subject in
both junior and senior secondary schools. Oral English as part of phonology has
to do with speech sounds of a particular language like English which can be
effectively taught with the use of the digital language laboratory. Speech is
very important in English language teaching and learning. Ezeomeke (2000)
states that no matter the dexterity of a professional, he needs to speak to
attract clients and no matter how well a teacher may be, he also needs to speak
well to motivate his students. This is probably why Wilkins (1972) cited in
Ezeomeke (2000) insists that although mastery of both the spoken and written
forms are necessary for effective language use, speech is the primary
manifestation of language and writing is both secondary and dependent on it.
addition, Oral English is important because it helps the students to develop
the ability to understand an internally accepted variety of English at a normal
conversational speed (Ezeomeke 2000). It also helps them to develop the ability
to engage in sustained dialogues and conversations with other users of
internationally accepted variety of English. Students, especially those of them
in senior secondary schools, dread the subject because of its technical nature.
This has been traced to either the technical nature of phonemic symbols or the
methodology applied by the teachers. No wonder Okoli (2007) writes that
Phonetics and Phonology are often dreaded by many students especially as some
students find it difficult to apply themselves to a lot of punctuation practice
drills which usually punctuate phonetics and phonology courses.
schools the time table officers usually see English language as a single
subject and allot equal number of teaching periods and time with the other
subjects forgetting that significant priority should be given to the subject
because of its status and fundamental position in the lives of individuals and
various components that made up the language. To this Okoli (2007) writes that
language is far too complex a field of study to be studied exhaustively in a
single work. This is because knowledge of a language includes knowledge of the
morphemes, words, phrase and sentences. It also includes knowing the sounds of
the language and the way they are combined to produce meaningful units. These
aspects of knowledge associated with language clearly indicate that language
study is a multi-disciplinary field.
of the above, when a teacher is assigned to teach English language as a subject
the teacher finds it very difficult to cope with the limited number of periods
and time. The teachers often touch the only area that they may likely be
conversant with and neglect other components which is usually the oral English.
Since a teacher must show evidence of sufficient written work for him to be
regarded as doing his work well before the school principal and supervisors,
his concentration will be heavier only on essays and comprehension which
provide him such evidence. Oral English does not provide teachers such
opportunity since according to Onovo (2001), it is practically oriented
exercises which are informed by the fact that language, particularly speech is
more or less a habit, better learned by imitation, activities and practice.
educational setting it is believed that man is a bi-product of nature and
nurture. Hence, man can have his potentials adversely affected by environment.
This is why it is today believed that no race is endowed with more innate
superiority than others but that differences in mental ability are caused by
the environment. The home plays great roles in the shaping of the child and his
performance in the school. It is in realization of the above fact that Egbe and
Omeje (2005) state that one of the important consequences of formal education
is the progressive removal from the family of its education function. They maintain
that even in the most advanced countries of the world, the school does not take
over completely from the family. The family shapes the character of the child
who, before he commences school and even after starting school, continues to
live with his parents and is deeply influenced by them.
on the impact of home environment as a major factor on language development,
Adeniran (1987) cited in Ikonta and Maduekwe (2006) states that there is high
correlation between a child’s performance in school and in his socio-cultural
environment. He states that children of middle class and upper strata of the
social milieu perform better at schools in English language due to a
combination of factors such as the use of English language in the family
communication and availability of stimulating facilities such as library, films
and other electronic gadgets to enhance or build up the children’s intellectual
who come from higher socio-economic homes are more highly motivated at home to
read than children who come from lower socio-economic homes (Okonkwo, 1998). He
maintains that elite parents make sure that their children acquire English at
the appropriate time. But children who come from lower social economic homes
have a problem in learning English because there might not be sufficient books
to read. Such parents may not teach their children nursery rhymes or tell them
bed time stories in English. If they do at all, they do that in their
with high academic attainment prepare their children towards learning and this
encouragement is reflected in their children’s academic achievements (Mayorie,
1980). The educated parents use Received Pronunciation while addressing their
children at home and in school the children are made to learn and use the
Received Pronunciation while the illiterate parents use vernacular in their
every day communication. Consequently, the children from the lower class
families find it difficult and emotionally disturbing to change from their
sub-group language to literate or Received Pronunciation. Taylor (1987)
observes that educated parents place a relatively high premium on education. He
also confirms that this serves as a positive catalyst to their children who
strive to attain the maximum potentials.
Linguistic interference which is the disparities between mother
tongue and the target language constitutes poor performances of students in
oral English. Onovo (2001) explains that most Nigerians had acquired an
indigenous Nigerian language naturally and had become proficient in it before
they were taught the English language in school. Consequently, the features of
the second language often interfere with the learning of the second language.
authors like Tifen (1980) and Eme (1984) cited in Okoye (2010) feel that oral
English is not taught using proper strategies like drills in our secondary
schools. This results in the students being faced with the problems of oral
communication in higher institutions of learning. All these problems could be
overcome if only teachers, students and school administrators could adopt good
strategies which the digital language laboratory can provide to the teaching of
To this Mebelle (2001) writes that as a second language in
Nigeria spoken English has been bedeviled with the rampant act of pronouncing
very poorly the vowels and the consonants that make up word. This situation
has, in recent time, deteriorated due to the fact that lecturers who
incidentally are equally poor in the art of speaking correctly and efficiently
do not pay attention to the teaching of spoken English. Yet the students who
pass through them gain admission to various Institutions as fresh students and
perhaps, discover that they had not acquired adequate speaking skill.
to acquire sufficient knowledge and expertise in the art of speaking in order
to enhance their ability to communicate effectively outside the school
environment when they eventually go out into the public service or overseas.
Student here refers to teacher trainee which means a student majoring in
education or who is pursuing a course of study in education. This student is
expected at the end of the course of study to teach in an institution of
learning be it higher or lower school. This type of student is a potential
teacher who will equally mould the academic career of other people in future.
It is pertinent that the teacher trainee receives quality instruction in his or
her area of specialization so as to be able to face the challenges of teaching.
Teachers are trained to be able to withstand the hurdles involved in the job of
teaching as a life changing profession. Teaching entails a lot of modeling as
the teacher is one of the major factors in the mentoring activity of the child.
Apart from parents a teacher is the next companion of a child.
Trainee in English Language, for instance, should be both linguistically and
communicatively competent to be able to make impact on the learner. If he or
she lacks competence in any aspect of the English language, the teaching and
the learning process will be seriously jeopardized. The training of such
potential teachers should not be handled with a wave of hand rather they should
receive quality instruction that could be provided by a well equipped digital
digital language laboratory owes its existence to the recognition that the
spoken form of the language is central to effective communication and that it
should have as large a share in instructions as do written form. In order to
implement this, the text book (which is essentially graphic) should be
supplemented with the sound recordings of the native speakers. In support of
this, Onovo (2001) opines that the method of teaching and learning English
contributes to the evolution of the Nigerian variety of the English Language.
Initially, the learning of English was confined mostly to the classroom. There
was equally over-reliance on textbooks and letters of the alphabets as cues to
the pronunciation. Hence spelling pronunciation is a feature of the Nigerian
therefore presumed, that more were needed than just simple conversation.
Carefully structured audio-lingual exercise which the students participate in a
controlled way is needed. Learning of a foreign language is promoted by an
attractive foreign atmosphere which can be created by the careful planning and
installation of a digital language laboratory. The digital language laboratory
is a teaching aid as Ezema (2008) explains.
“Language laboratory is a teaching aid which can provide useful
practice both oral and aural skills and also to a certain extent in reading and
writing. The teacher’s role in the laboratory is that of a manager. He makes sure
that students exploit fully the laboratory facilities to good effect”.
The digital language laboratory
is however, an aid of a rather- different sort from those which have been
available to teachers of modern languages. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines
language laboratory as study room equipped with electronic sound reproduction
devices, enabling students to hear model pronunciations of foreign language and
to record and hear their own voices as they engage in pattern drills.
It is important
that teachers adopt the use of digital language laboratory to their language
classes especially in oral English because of the extreme mother tongue
interference. Due to the impact and influence of information technology on
society and education digital language laboratory should become the trend in
foreign language teaching and learning.
teaching, so many methods and techniques have been introduced and adopted in
the time past that, the teacher has so many methods of instruction with which
he could enrich his lesson. In essence, methods of instruction chosen by the
teacher should be practical- oriented rather than theoretical. The method
should make the learners think, say and hear. Among the various method of
teaching are presentation method, discussion method, inquiry method, activity
method, inductive method, deductive method, laboratory method and questioning
method (Opinmi, 2007)
teachers have been using presentation method where instructions are given,
through verbal communication. Teachers are found very often to be unskillful in
the use of this method and it often turns out to be stale and boring in the
classroom (Opinmi, 2007). Presentation method has to do with the presentation
of ideas and information through verbal communication. There is little or no
interaction between pupils and teachers in the use of this method. Direct
experience of the materials being learnt is completely absent from this method.
It usually takes the forms of prepared speech, lecture, story-telling,
illustrated talks, use of resource persons etc. Presentation method is
teacher-centered. The technique involved in presentation method includes;
Prepared speech by an individual which can be read to the
listeners or audience at the end of which questions and answer session is
allowed. This is a teacher-centered method which tends to limit the role of the
pupils in the classroom.
Lecture method: The teacher in this wise occupies the position
of a lecturer and gives lecture on some topics. Explanations are seldomly
offered as students are often made to think and come up with more information.
Students are expected to take notes while the lecturer lectures. It is also
teacher-centered in nature.
Story Telling Method: Under this method, the teacher makes story
out of the topic and tells this to the students. For this to be effective, the
teacher must handle the art of story-telling skillfully and intelligently so
that the students will not be rendered dormant and passive. They should be
involved in the story from time to time. This will prevent students from
falling asleep. The story should always be directed towards bringing out the
experience or knowledge that the teacher wants the students to have at the end.
Use of Resource Person: Professionals such as Bankers, Lawyers,
Accountants, Town planner, Architects, Medical Doctors and host of others can
sometimes be invited to speak on their areas of specialization. This gears up
the interest of the students in the school. It avails them the opportunity of
asking questions and having first hand information about various professions.
There is little or no personal interaction between students and teachers in the
use of this method. The majority of teachers, as Opinmi (2007) puts it, do not
use proper methods in teaching. The methods the teachers use according to him
are boring and cannot arouse the interest of students in learning and the
resultant effect on the students is sleeping, chatting and moving out of the
class during oral English lesson. Since some other methods have failed in
teaching of oral English, the need arises to encourage the use of digital
language laboratory which is both activity oriented and child centered. The
National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) minimum standard (2004 –
2008) recommends practical method through the use of digital language
fundamental aim of the laboratory is to produce much and regular practice in
listening to models, in imitating these models and in repetitive oral drills.
Constant listening builds up the ability to understand the foreign language.
Oral drills strengthen the ability to speak English language fluently. With mechanical
equipment in the laboratory every student is able to get active language
practice through-out the period. No student is left out in the practice even
the dullest among the students. Learning is used to encompass four aspect of a
person – cognitive style, that is preferred or habitual patterns of mental
functioning; patterns of attitudes and interests that affect what an individual
will pay most attention to in a learning situation, a tendency to seek
situations compatible with one’s own learning patterns and a tendency to use
certain learning strategies and avoid others (Lawrence, 1984). Learning style
according to Willing (1988) is inherent and pervasive and is a blend of
cognitive affective and behavioural elements (Oxford & Ehrmani 1988). In classifying
learning styles there are “field independence vs dependence”, “Analytic vs
global processing”, “cooperation vs competition and “Tolerance for ambiguity”.
Learning strategies, on the other hand, are often- conscious steps or
behaviours used by language learners to enhance the acquisition, storage,
retention recall and use of new information (Oxford, 1990). Many different
strategies can be used by language learners. Such as metacognitive techniques
for organizing, focusing and evaluating one’s own learning; affective
strategies for handling emotions or attitudes, social strategies for
cooperating with others in the learning process: cognitive strategies for
linking new information with existing ones and analyzing and classifying and so
As the model or the teacher pronounces the words the students
follow suit. In the traditional classroom each student advances at the same
pace. Each one must cover the same amount of material and there is little
possibility for differentiation. In the digital language laboratory, however,
it is possible to provide for different levels of learning and to adjust the
rate of progress to the capacity of learner. Sharp and dull students are
recognized and they have a sense of identity. For example, a set of students
may understand the differences in the pronunciation of the sounds.
and /dʒ/ as
in church and fridge, /Ө/ and /∂/ as in thank and the while
another set of students may find it difficult. The equipment in the laboratory
allows the students to study until they master it. Even when the teacher is not
there the student can get additional practice by making use of the laboratory
during free periods and regular school hours.
the language laboratory the teacher is linked by headphones to every student.
Since her voice is heard by the students she has a much closer relationship.
She commands complete attention. The teacher deals with a group in which
everyone is participating eagerly. Instruction is on an individual level
because there is an intimate private interchange between the teacher and the
learner. The teacher can build up certain qualities that are lost in the
classroom namely self evaluation and criticism on the part of the
student. The student pronounces words correctly and is allowed to
evaluate and criticize himself based on what he has heard from the model.
digital language laboratory is a network of computers, plus appropriate
software, which provides most of the functions of a conventional (analogue)
language laboratory together with integration of video, word-processing and
other computer applications. It is a modern laboratory where text, images,
audio and video are provided for learners to record their own voices and play
back the recordings, interact with each other and the teacher and store
results. In the laboratory teachers can intervene and control the learner’s
computers via the teacher’s console.
purpose of a digital language laboratory is to involve students to actively
participate in language learning exercises and get more practice than otherwise
would not have been possible in a traditional classroom environment. The teacher
has a computer with appropriate software for conducting exercises in a digital
language laboratory; all students in the class can speak simultaneously without
distracting each other regardless of class size. Without a digital language
laboratory, in a class of more than 10 students, each student gets less than
one minute of speaking practice.
has been found to be related to language learning. The role of gender in
language learning achievement has generated a lot of interest lately. Researches
show that the gender of a learner is significant in assessing his or her
achievement in a language class. The variation has been the subject of a lot of
research. Yule (1995) found that female speakers tend to use more prestigious
forms than male speakers even within the same social and economic background.
Also girls achieve more than boys in foreign language acquisition (Offorma,
Statement of the problem
Digital language laboratory is a technique for engendering
problem-solving, activity and communicative language learning.
The most serious problem confronting learners of the English
language is that the language is not widely used in their immediate
environment. As a result, the learner has no exposure to the language outside
his classroom. A person learning the language of his immediate environment has
many teachers made up of the people with whom he interacts daily. The non-use
of teaching methods that are problem solving, activity oriented and student
centered, such as the digital language laboratory, may be the root course of
poor performance of students in oral English. Other teaching methods, such as
presentation method, do not allow teachers to adopt learning to the level of
students’ understanding. In most cases, teacher who teach second language are
themselves non-native speakers. So, they neither speak the language fluently
nor intelligibly. The students, therefore, find oral English difficult.
Given the nature of phonology and phonetics, teachers find it
difficult to use presentation method to teach the rudimentary aspect of oral
English study. This situation calls for the need to seek ways of making the
teaching of oral English more effective to ensure that students achieve higher
in the English language. Since little or no empirical studies exist to prove
the superiority or otherwise of digital language laboratory method over
presentation method on teacher trainees’ achievement in Oral English, the need
therefore arises for the study of the effect of the use of digital language laboratory
on teacher trainees’ achievement in Oral English. The researcher, therefore,
seeks to find out whether teacher trainees’ exposure to digital language
laboratory has any effect on their mean achievement in oral English.
of the study
The main purpose of this study is to ascertain the effect of
teacher trainees’ exposure to digital language laboratory on their mean
achievement in Oral English.
Specifically, the researcher seeks to find out
effect of digital language laboratory on the students’ achievement in oral
of gender in students achievements in oral English if taught with
digital laboratory method.
students’ socio-economic background affect their achievement in oral English
when taught with the digital laboratory method.
Significance of the study
Findings from this study will provide invaluable information to
the following:- Government, the Nigerian Education Research Center, curriculum
planners, teachers and students. Also, awareness will be created for the
installation of digital language laboratories in schools at both primary,
secondary and higher education levels. The study will sensitize the teachers of
English language to adopt a better teaching approach to oral English. When
students acquire a higher level of proficiency in English language, they will
be able to widen their academic horizon.
expected that this study will be significant to educationists and educational
administrators. The use of presentation method of language teaching will be
de-emphasized as curriculum planners will find need to improve upon it.
Curriculum planners will definitely find empirical data on which to base
curriculum innovations or modifications. Practicing teachers will find this
study useful as it will suggest a better method of language teaching to them as
a sure way to achieving their set objectives with less pain. This is because
the students can even practice what they learn often and on until they master
it as posited by Behaviourists.
Scope of the study
study will be carried out in Enugu State College of Education Technical and
Institute of Ecumenical Education Thinkers’ Corner all in Enugu. The classes to
be used are year one students in the Department of Language
focused on ENG112-Introduction to phonetics and phonology. The course content
Phonetics and Phonology: Definition and distinction
Organs of speech and mechanism of speech sounds
Consonants and vowels
Introduction to phonemic Transcription
Stress: word-level and its effects on pronunciation
Stress – sentence level – emphatic and normal speech.
The study was guided by the following Research questions.
1. What is
the effect of digital language laboratory on students’ mean achievement in oral
2. To what
extent does gender affect students’ achievement in oral English?
3. To what
extent does students’ socio-economic background affect their achievement on
The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study
There is no significant difference in the mean achievement
scores of teacher trainees taught oral English using digital language
laboratory and those taught using presentation method.
There is no significant difference in the mean achievement
scores of males and female students taught oral English using digital language
There is no significant difference in the achievement scores of
students from high socio-economic background and students from low
socio-economic background when taught with digital language laboratory method.