Background to the Study
Language is the most distinctive human quality and attribute. Language is characterized by a set of vocal sounds which can be decoded. Language does not exist in a vacuum. It is always contextualized. There is a relationship between language and society. The importance of the relationship between language and society cannot be over-emphasized in the education of a child. Language is a guide to social reality. English language is one of the languages used in Nigeria.
English language has become a valuable legacy of the British which has provided Nigerians with yet another means of expressing their culture. English language is Nigeria’s official language (Adedimeji, 2007). English language performs numerous functions in Nigeria. It serves as lingua franca. It is the language of instruction, language of constitution, language of nationalism, media, Government, education among others. This is because Nigeria is a multilingual country and English language serves as a link among the people.
English language is introduced to a child from the fourth year of primary school up to the university level (Olajide, 2010). This is clearly stated in section 4 paragraph 19, subsection on primary education, 2004 of the Federal republic of Nigeria’s national policy on education. ‘That English language shall be used as a medium of instruction and the language of immediate environment from the fourth year and French shall be taught as a subject’. This means that English language shall be the language of instruction from the fourth year of the primary education.
In Nigeria, much importance is attached to English language. It occupies a vital role in the educational system, such importance could be seen in terms of the functions English language perform in Nigeria. It is an act of political expedience and in addition, it helps to remove the fear of ethnical domination. The practical oral aspect of English language becomes even more important for the purpose of interaction and articulation in our day to day use of the language.
Furthermore, the use of English language paved way for participation at national and international levels. To be able to participate in the social, political and economical life of the country, one must be able to understand and use English language effectively and efficiently. English language is used for vertical mobility (Adedimeji, 2007). It enables one to move from a lower social class to higher one. It is the language of prestige not because the users are more intelligent than the illiterates but because they can speak it. So it has become a language of personality (Adedimeji, 2007). The role of English language in Nigeria stresses the need for Nigerians to learn, understand and make use of English language proficiently. There is no doubt that interference is the major effect of mother tongue language on English language.
Interference has been observed as a cogent influence that mother tongue language has on English language. Sources of the interferences therefore could be phonology- (a science which deals with the study of sounds in language) that is how different sounds or phonemes are combined. Morphology (this deals with the combination of morphemes to form words, morpheme is the smallest indivisible unit of a language that has a significant meaning). Syntax (the arrangement of words in a language according to rules). The concern of this project is on the phonological aspect of English language (oral English).
Also, there could be poor teaching of pronunciation by the teachers. Some of the teachers use grammatical translation method especially in the elementary schools. They often explain meanings of English words using the mother tongue language. The pupils transfer the idea of having explanation of meanings being made in the mother tongue language over to the secondary schools. It is therefore the intention of this study to identify problems that affect the oral English of students in the secondary schools as regards the influence of mother tongue language on it. In addition, suggestions and recommendations would be made on how to reduce the influence of mother tongue language on oral English.
Statement of the Problem
There is no doubt that secondary school students in Nigeria are being faced with the problem of mother tongue language interference in studying English language. The oral aspect of English language is the main focus of this research. The influence of the mother tongue language on the pronunciation of English words is one of the problems. The influence of the home background on the students’ pronunciation of English words is also a problem.
Hence, series of works have been done concerning the problems of mother tongue language interference on the oral English of secondary school students in English language but it was observed that little or no emphasis has been made on the influence of mother tongue language on the oral English of secondary school students.
Consequently, there has been a need to conduct a research work on the influence of mother tongue language on the oral English of secondary school students.