Background of the study
English language is a major school subject in the Nigerian education system. It is not only a medium of instruction at all levels of education in Nigeria but a pre-requisite to entering into post-secondary institution. The English language gained prominence in Nigeria through the missionaries who arrived at Badagry among which are Henry Townshed and Thomas Bireh Freeman in 1842, of the CMS Missionary. Their is main purpose is to expand Christianity all over the world. They were not here to preach the gospel alone but were also engaged in educational activities. Many homes were established where English and Yoruba were taught.
The English language in Nigeria has a long history. Abiodun (1998) asserts that: Historical records are silent with regard to the early development of English elsewhere in Nigeria. English language has been firmly entrenched in Nigeria educational system.
Kennedy and Bolitho (1984) opine that students or Nigeria children attitude towards the English language might be as a result of exposure. Attitudes to an English course maybe influenced by students previous learning of the English language where the learning has not been successful, there is bound to be negative feelings towards the learning.
The English language becomes inevitable in Nigeria due to its functions. It is regarded as the language of communication co-operation and better understanding. It is the language of government and politics.
Bamisaye (2006) define language as a means of communication between individual and between groups. This implies that language can be used in interpersonal communication and inter-group communication.
Communication within the same person and the same group, respectively. In either of interpersonal and inter group, communication, language is invariably the medium employed.
Language according to Oxford dictionary (18th edition) is the system of communication in speech or writing that is used by people of a particular country or area. Language as a linguistic endowment is one of the major distinguishing features between man and animal. Both man and animal communicate the former employs language in communication while they later lack the ability to use language to communicate. Nigerians believe that without the English language, we cannot do anything, which led to lingua franca. It has been observed that in Nigeria schooling system, the English language has advantage in private schools over public schools because of their mode of teaching. The learning of English by the Nigerians (blacks) is the effort of the colonial government. There was an ordinance that compelled private system schools in Nigeria to teach English. It is stated that the subject of teaching shall be reading and writing of English.
According to Oyinloye (2000) the basic language skill are Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Oyinloye (2007) asserts that reading is another skill which linguistics generally described as a receptive skill. People read in order to collect or retrieve information. The teaching of reading has to begin at the elementary stage. The teaching of course is usually combined with listening, the learner has to listen to the articulation of sounds or words produced by the teacher and later initiate.
Writing is also a productive skill like speaking linguistics often describes inviting as a means of externalizing what has been internalized. It is a skill that can be taught at any stage of language learning. What to write depends on the ability of the students or the learners. For a beginner, writing can take the form of making stroke or curves and later the alphabets. One interesting thing about these language skills is that they cannot be target in isolation.
It is however, strongly speculated that the use of English language in Nigeria pre-dates the first known written English by Equiaro in 1789 and the use of language through British missionary and administration activities. There are some set of people who through schooling became part and parcel of the language and these people were likely found to be the students of private schools. They are raised up by literate parent where they have been developed morally, intellectually, financially and even physically. This study is concerned with the learning and use of the English language by children in selected Nigerian schools. It is important that we need to understand the position (status and functions) English in the society.
Moreover, the Nigeria local languages also have their individual and collective status and functions quite distinct from those of the English language. In addition, we shall examine the concept of Language acquisition and Language learning.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary Language as the system of communication in speech and writing that is used by people of a particular country or area. Acquisition means the act of getting something especially knowledge or a skill.
English language acquired as the first language or Mother Tongue in places like England, Canada, U.S.A, and Australia, but a child born and bred by Yoruba parents having English as the language spoken at home and in the immediate environment could have English as his mother tongue. The state of language acquisition begins from Birth-Cry, Babbling, Lalling, Echolalia and True speech/mono syllabic words.
To some extent, second acquisition or learning in children could be a conscious and formal process of making the learner masters the target language. That is linguistically homogenous, where all the speakers speak the same language. Thus, almost every linguistic group in Nigeria is at least minimally represented in some cities especially the cosmopolitan Lagos.
Consequently, many of the children born in Lagos are neither Lagosian nor native of Yoruba which is the language of the Western Nigerians. Such children living in Lagos may grow up to first acquire their mother tongue. This mother tongue is acquired without the help of any teacher. Mother tongue is very important in the life of an individual because it is the first language with which man is exposed to the world around him.
This research work is therefore designed to find out and compare the spoken English of student in private and public schools in Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
Statement of the Problem
As a corollary to the above submission on English language in Nigeria, it is believed that speakers/users of English language in Nigeria encounter some difficulties in their daily usage of the language, most especially in the spoken component. This may be traced to a number of factors. Hence, the study is set out to analyse the various factors affecting the learning of spoken English among secondary school students.