Scholars’ preoccupation with the teaching and learning of English
language among other languages in this part of the world is founded as
it is the language of instruction in schools as well as the lingua
franca in many African nations, Nigeria included. Given that students
and their teachers do not exist in isolations of the society influencing
students' performance in English language as a subject in the secondary
1.1 Background of study
Language is a code, a vehicle through which thoughts and creativity
are conveyed. English language is not an exception. The arrival of
Europeans at Badagry in the early 18th century marked the beginning of
modern or western education in Nigeria. The Europeans were mostly
English speaking concentrated on enlightening the people, teaching them
to read and write. As a means of spreading the gospel, they therefore
built school wherever land was available and there was adherents. The
primary objectives of the early missionary education were basically to
convert Nigerians to Christianity, to train pastors and few teachers to
translate the Bible. In order to accomplish the above stated
objectives, the missionaries discovered that unless Nigerians were
trained to read, write and communicate in English
nothing can be achieved. Hence, schools were established and patterned
along the British model. English language was the only medium of
instruction (lingua franca) provided by the missionaries. This united
and has continued to the heterogeneous groups in the country. The fact
that English language was used as a medium of instruction only in
schools is the root cause of the influence of the society on students
performance on the language. Outside school, in different domains,
indigenous language are more readily used than English. Since English
is not our native language, students find it difficult in using it to
express themselves both in speech and in writing.
Like any other language, English acquired through listening,
speaking, reading and writing the four language skills. However, it is
saddening to know that secondary students perform below expectation in
English as subject and also were English in the medium of instruction.
In other words, students' proficiency in English as far reaching effects
than their ability to speak the language well-a much criterion for
judging language ability.
Of all the language skills mentioned above (i.e. listening, speaking,
reading and writing), listening is more basic for the acquisition of
language. Babies first of all listen to sounds in their environment and
attempt to produce them in speech. Thereafter, they learn hoe to read,
recognize for the sound they are auditorily familiar with, and they
learn how to write out these symbols. The quality of the sound and the
expression listened to directly determine the quality of output by a
child. In the same way except for those who augment with quality
reading materials, students in secondary school produce nothing more
than what they up from the society. Listening skill of the student with
regard to English language is hampered because the students' immediate
environment, at home and in the general community with whom the students
commune in English, some of them do not speak good quality English,
courtesy of unchecked interference of the indigenous language as well as
sub-standard education. Also media, which could have been good avenues
for enhancing the students' listening, are not available in many homes.
As for the homes in which they are available, many students from such
homes prefer programmes which are not particularly suited to the
enhancement of their English listening skills.
The vocations of the teachers place them at a vintage point in the
experience of English language that students have, as members or the
society themselves, teachers are able to witness how students come in
contact with in language outside the school. Outside the school domain,
teachers are parents, guardians, church goers, shoppers, and media
consumer in turn, in acting their roles in these different domains, they
witness firsthand, the kind of exposure to English language which
students have in larger society because these are the domains in which
students interact with many other members of the society.
1.2 Statement of problem
Every man is a product of the society in which he lives and the
traits he exhibits ate almost always influenced by his society. For
secondary school students, their use of English derives from the
exposure they have in the society at large. Their performance in school
is therefore linked with their interaction within the society. The kind
of influence which the society has on the students and the performance
of the latter based on this influence is the preoccupation of this
study. In order to approximately ascertain the nature and extent of
such influence, the students looked to the teachers for direction.
1.3 Objectives of study
In determining the nature of societal influence on students;
performance, the study seeks to draw attention to the excesses caused by
the society in the process of the student cannot take leave of the
society, suggestion are given as to how such excesses may be managed and
curbed. In essence the specific of the objectives of the study are:
v To determine the frequency of students' use of the English language outside the school.
v To determine the factors responsible for students' choice of English language outside the school.
v To ascertain the people to whom students speak English outside the school.
v To seek ways in which English language can be improved in the society
1.4 Research Questions
i. How often students use the English language outside the school and for what purpose?
ii. What determines language choice in other domains apart from that of formal learning in schools?
iii. Who are those with whom students speak English outside the school?
iv. In what way can English language use be improved in the society?
1.5 Significance of study
English is one subject needed by every students aspiring to study in a
tertiary institution in Nigeria. Despite the fact that the UTME and
tertiary institution authority have this stand clear and do not
compromise on it, a lot of students still find it difficult to pass the
subject and therefore stand a chance to be offered provisional
admission. Exposing the inherent pitfalls in society's influence on
English language learning and acquisition can help both the teachers and
the students to tackle the problem and better equip learners to perform
optimally. Armed with this knowledge, parents, teachers and other
career givers will be made aware of the opportunities available to them
for helping children and wards to learn appreciate the English language
better and in essence improve their performance not only at school but
also outside school.
1.6 Limitations of Study
In the course of conducting this research work it is expected that
the following will constitute impediments to the effective conduct of
a) Time constraint within which the study must be completed.
b) Financial constraint
c) Inaccessible and inadequate data
d) Also, combining project work with several other activities is
another stressful task that may not allow me to cover research
Nevertheless, I believe the above limitations will in no way affect the reliability and validity of the research study.
1.7 Definition and terms
Influence:- This may be defined as the ability by a person or thing to affect another.
Performance- It can be said to be an act or a way in which a thing or person performs.
Society- This is a group of people considered to share certain characteristics by virtue of their living together.