STUDY ON SPOKEN ENGLISH ERROR AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

          English language has gained prominence in Nigeria through the missionaries who arrived at Badagry, among who are Henry Townsed and Thomas Birch Freeman in 1842, of the CMS Missionary. Their main purpose is to expand Christianity all over the country. The missionaries were not in the country to preach the gospel alone but were also engaged in educational activities. This domain of usage of English in an English Speaking Country such as Nigeria tends to be formal. English is of course, Nigeria’s official language. It is the language of government, education, commerce, and to a limited extent, social interaction, especially among the educated elites.

          Agbelushi(1984) estimated the number of languages spoken in Nigeria to be Four Hundred, while Dolphine(1995) estimates that of Ghana to be forty-seven and in Sierra Leone, sixteen. In the context of such complex multilingualism, it is expedient for governments to stick to a neutral language, such as English, as official language. English has the additional advantage of long association, being the language of the colonial rulers. It is also a world language with all the advantages accruing to an individual who speaks such a language both nationally and internationally.

          The learning of English language by the Nigerians (blacks) is the efforts of the colonial government. There was an ordinance that compelled private school system in Nigeria to teach English. The ordinance states that the medium of instruction shall be English Language. Though English Language is a foreign language in Nigeria, the ways in which English Language is transmitted, through a conventional system of transmission, though ironically the one which most people find much less familiar presumably because it is so much more difficult to ‘see’ what is happening in speech than in writing (Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English language 2nd edition 2003). In recent years, linguists have found it easier. The study of speech sound (or spoken language) is the branch of linguistics known as phonetics. The study of sound changes in language is phonology.           As human beings, one cannot overlook the primacy of speech in human communication. It is an acknowledged fact that human beings speak before they write and that more time is spent speaking than writing in a life-time. This is the case all over the world where there are thousands of languages. A normal human being will at least be able to speak one language and in fact individuals are endowed with the ability to speak more than one language but may have varying degree of the command of the different repertoires.

Statement of the Problem      

     It is a well-known fact, that the pronunciation of a second language(s) poses problems of a different kind from those that come our way when our first language is being learnt. Despite the conscious effort made by teachers, parents and government to improve the spoken English of the students from the primary school level to the tertiary institutions, most students have failed to meet up with the expectations of articulating the English sound well.

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Updated: 17th January 2019 — 8:07 am