In English Language, there is a strong correlation between oral
language skills and achievement in the writtenlanguage among learners in
schools. In Nigeria, English remains the undisputed language of school
instruction, governance, administration, legislation, judiciary,
international relations, unification of the country‘s numerous ethnic
constituents, social prestige, and so on (Adeniran, 1980; Okedara 1997;
Oluga, Adewusi, Babalola, Oyediran, 1999; FGN, 2004; Osisanwo, 2005).
English language is taught as a subject and at the same time it is a
medium of instruction for other subjects in the Nigeria education
curriculum.The aim and objectives of teaching oral skills in English
being taught in the Nigeria education curriculum is to make the student
communicate effectively and intelligently in English. It also helps the
student to develop confidence in his ability to express himself in
English as fluently as possible and provides an opportunity for
thecorrection of mistakes in spoken English.
A good approach to oral language instruction will developsthe
reading, writing and speaking skills of the student thereby making the
learning of English language more effective and the learning experiences
of the learners in other subjects being taught in Secondary Schools
more concrete and more enjoyable.
Thisresearch seek to study and identify the factors affecting Oral
English instruction in Secondary Schools in Osogbo local government Area
of Osun State.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The English language has become greatly valued and adorned in
Nigeria’s Educational system. As remarked by Bamgbose, Banjo &
Thomas (1995), “the dominance of English in formal and transactional
communication is unchallengeable”. In view of the multilingual nature of
Nigeria, with more than 400 indigenous languages (Ufomata 1995),
English is regarded as the only feasible and realistic choice for the
nation now and in the foreseeable future. The greatest efforts expended
on English language in Nigeria have been in the area of the Educational
system, particularly in relation to Nigerian indigenous languages of
which the major ones are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibio, Edo, Fulfulde, and
Kanuri. English as the official language of Nigeria and also the former
colonial language was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic
unity of the country. English, however remains an exclusive preserve of
the country’s urban elite, and is not widely spoken in the rural areas
which comprise three quarters of the country’s population.
Language planning in Africa has to take place against the background
of several factors, including multilingualism, the colonial legacy, the
role of education as an agent of social change, high incidence of
illiteracy, and concerns for communication, national integration and
development (Bamgbose, 2000: 99) Thereforelearners of English language
as a second language are mostly faced with the problem of oral
proficiency in terms of appropriate pronunciation of English sounds
(phonemes) either by virtue of being anew language or mother tongue or
first language interference. However, there has been emphasis on the
quest for Standard English, hence; an English language Instructor as
well as learner must aim at proficiency to a degree of the standard form (Standard
English or Received Pronunciation). This enables the instructor and the
learner to acquire adequate competence for practical purpose of
teaching and everyday communication.
It is on this note, that much emphasis and efforts should be placed
on the teaching of Oral English because it will help the learner to
develop his or her pronunciation sufficiently to permit effective
communication with both native speakers and non-native users. Similarly,
it is obvious that common mistakes identified among the teachers and
learners of English as a second language today include improper
pronunciation, mispronunciation, poor intonation, as well as
misrepresentation of phonetic sounds. For instance, most students
misplace the qualities and length of vowels. It is in view of these
problems that recent development in language teaching and learning has
made the teaching and learning of oral English not only a necessity but
also a pre-requisite for assessing the learner’s competence in language
use and acquisition.
Therefore, since emphasis has shifted to studying varied rules aimed
at the identification, interpretation and reproduction of English sounds
(phonemes), there is every cause to emphasise and to review the
teaching of oral English especially in post-primary schools.
Furthermore, speech is regarded as persona which represents an
individual’s ability to articulate phonemes according to some
established norms. It also entails the ability of an individual to
identify and understand the representation and meaning of English
sounds. It is quite unfortunate that most of our secondary school
learners do not exhibit the knowledge of oral English when using the
language which could be associated with the aforementioned factors. In a
nutshell, there is the need for concern.
Oral proficiency should be made inherent in both Instructors
(teachers)and learners (students). Jowitt(1991) confirms that the
emphasis on proficiency in spoken English was introduced in the New
National Curriculum in English language for Nigerian Secondary Schools
in the 1980s. It was previously neglected in the teaching of English in
Nigeria as oral English was made optional for the West African School
Certificate students (though a compulsory course for teacher grade II
examinations in those days). Roach (2000) confirms that pronunciation
teaching has not always been popular with teachers and language
theorists and in the 1970s and 1980s. It was fashionable to treat it as a
rather outdated activity. It was claimed that it makes learners try to
sound like native speakers of Received Pronunciation, which became difficult and led to repetitive exercises, and it also failed to give importance to communication.
Jowitt (1991) comments about the negligence of oral English teaching on teachers. He stated that pupilsunconsciously
relied on mother tongue models when deprived them of consistent and
reliable guidance from teachers, as indeed many of teachers did:
assuming that there was a perfect correspondence between sound and
spelling. They use orthography as their guide to pronunciation. Anthony
(2001) and Uche (1998) emphasise the difficulties of acquiring oracy
skills. According to Williams (1990), the factors to be enumerated could
be categorised under one factor – the interference of mother tongue. It
is worth noting that for the non-native speakers, the mother tongue
always affects the acquisition of the second language. This has always,
been a major problem in oral English or pronunciation teaching
especially in Nigerian schools. Unoh (1986) also examines the situation
of oral English in Nigerian secondary schools. He asserts that teaching
of English pronunciation in Nigeria suffers from peculiar handicaps
unknown to the teaching of English language or any other school subject
(for that matter). For any subject to be effectively taught, there are
at least three very important conditions that must be met:
- A high degree of motivation on the part of both student and teacher; and
- The teachers’ competence in the subject, and his or her mastery of the techniques of imparting knowledge in it.
- Availability of relevant books as well as standard facilities for practical.
While the aforementioned conditions are rarely achieved in the
teaching of English Language, they are also hardly met in the case of
the teaching and learning of English pronunciation. Okoli (2000)
comments on the need to be proficient in the sound system of a new
language and explains that English should be pronounced in the accent
normally chosen as the standard form especially the model most often
recommended for foreign learners studying standard British English and
also Received Pronunciation.
The teaching of oral English in Nigerian secondary schools has
previously been overlooked. However, recent development in the teaching
of English Language requires greater emphasis on this aspect of English
language. Oral English complements the understanding and the use of
English language so as to improve the standard of spoken English.
According to Idris (2001), not much has been achieved since the
introduction of Oral English in our West African School Certificate and
National Examination Council due to the problems associated with the
teaching and learning of oral English. There are existing publications
on phonology written by Linguists such as A.C. Gimson, Daniel Jones,
David Jowitt, Peter Roach, among others. Recently, there is the
emergence of new publications particularly on Oral English by other
language teachers, researchers and scholars such as Mannell, Cox, and
Harrington (2009), Akperero (2000), Enyeazu (2001), and Idris (2001).
This development has gone a long way in bringing oral English into
focus. Its recent inclusion in the English Language Examination Paper
(Test of Orals) has drawn the attention of many teachers and students.
Consequently, the teaching of oral English is rather weighed down by
various factors which have contributed to the slow pace and
ineffectiveness in teaching the course. These factors include:
- Poor background.
- Interference of mother tongue.
- Unqualified teachers, poor teaching methodology
- Lack of constant practice,
- Lack of orientation and facilities
- Shortage and limited accessibility to relevant books.
Most of the students in our secondary schools are faced with either
one of the problems or the other. Some are deficient due to more than
one problem especially students from rural and poor backgrounds. This
study examines some of the major challenges that the teaching of oral
English could be faced with in Nigerian secondary schools.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Due to the increasing nature of poor academic performance of
secondary school students especially in external examinations like WAEC,
NECO, NABTEB or JAMB, many educationists tend to shift the blame on the
students lack of interest in the subject being discussed, interference
of mother tongue, lack of constant practice by the students, lack of
orientation and facilities as well as shortage and limited accessibility
to relevant books.
I wish to maintain that though efforts have been put in place to
improve Oral English, a good result is yet to be seen and according to
Obriri (2007), “Although many concerned pundits have charted numerous
ways to simplify the teaching or instruction of Oral English, many more
problems are mounting and need to be thoroughly addressed urgently as
they are alarming”. The cause of this negative development is certainly
because a lot of energy are being channelled only towards the learners’
problems, and not the problem of teaching.
The main concern of this investigation is to identify those problems
that are negatively affecting the instruction of Oral English. The
inquiry will also look at the efforts that have been put in place to
tackle the problem of teaching Oral English, which however have not
yielded any practical solution. The factors affecting Oral English
instruction in Osogbo Local Government Area range from teacher
incompetence, inadequate instructional materials, disgust for the
emphasis on the British accent, poor teaching skills, poor motivation
for the students, to other problems which could have been caused by
school proprietors or the government. The work identifies workable
solutions to the factors affecting Oral English instruction in secondary
school in Osogbo Local Government Area.
1.3 THE PURPOSE OF STUDY
Nigeria as a country requires a population competent in the English
Language in order to keep up with the pressure of globalization which
has led to the increasing use of the English Language in all sectors as
well as its continued use as the official language and medium of
instruction, Oral English is an important part of the language
curriculum in Nigeria is also required for learners to be able to
understand the structure of the English Language. Thus, it is arguable
that proficiency in English is one of the greatest opportunities that
the Nigerian education system ought to provide children with. The
primary aim of this study is to identify the factors affecting Oral
English instruction in Secondary Schools in Osogbo local government Area
of Osun State.From the above this study sets out to:
- Assess the methods of instruction of Oral English by teachers in senior secondary school.
- Compare the effectiveness of various method being used for the
instruction of Oral English by teachers of senior secondary school via
their academic performance,
- Examine the effect of interference of mother tongue oninstructors of Oral English in senior secondary school.
- Compare the qualification of instructors on their ability to perform effectively in their field of work.
- Investigate the influence of relevant books, practical facilities on
the instruction of Oral English in Senior Secondary Schools.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- Is there a significant relationship between good instructional materials and students performance in Oral English?
- Are practical Oral Exercises necessary in the instruction of Oral English?
- Do the instructors’ qualifications affects the instructions of Oral English?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
- There is no significant relationship between good instructional materials and students performance in Oral English.
- Practical Oral Exercises are not necessary in the instruction of Oral English.
- Noise is not inimical to the instruction of Oral English.
- Instructors’ qualification does not affect the instruction of Oral English.
1.6 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION OF STUDY
First, the researcher will focus his inquiry on investigating the
factors affecting the instructions of Oral English.Secondly, the
researcher will limit his work to ten selected secondary schools in
Osogbo Local Government Area of Osun State. These include:
Ataoja School of Science Osogbo
Laro High School, Osogbo
Osogbo High School, Osogbo
Baptist High School, Osogbo
Oroki Middle School, Osogbo
St’ Charles High School Osogbo
Ifeolu Middle School Osogbo
African High School Osogbo
Good Tidings Standard Collegiate Osogbo
Gof International College Osogbo
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study will be beneficial to the following:
The Secondary School Students in Osogbo Local Government Area and other students in Osun State
Principals and proprietors of secondary schools within and outside Osogbo Local Government Area
Teachers of Oral English in secondary Schools in Osogbo Local Government;
Ministry of Education in Osogbo Local Government Area;
Osun State Universal Basic Education Board; and
Osun State Ministry of Education, and so on.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Factors: Things or circumstances contributing to result.
Affecting: Produce effect on or to bring about.
Quality: Degree of excellence.
English: The language, originally of England,
now spoken in many countries and used as a language of international
communication throughout the world.
Language: Use of words in agreed way as means of human communication.
Teaching: Guidance or training given to someone.
Students: A school pupil or a person studying at a place of higher education
Secondary School: Level of education that comes after the basic or results from the primary education.