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Impact Of Mother Tongue In The Study Of English Language In Secondary Schools In Owerri Municipal Council Of Imo State




This study investigated the Impact of mother tongue in the study of English language in secondary schools in Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State.  Four research questions were used to  guide the study and a survey research design was adopted for the study. The population for the study comprised of 17,551 students and 728 for the teachers from 7 public schools in the study area. However, samples of 914 respondents were randomly drawn from the total population. The method of data collection was through questionnaires which were structured on a four point likert scale. The data was analyzed using mean statistics. The instrument was validated by three specialists, two in education management and evaluation and one in education English department .The reliability of the study was 0.93 using Pearson  product moment co-relation co-efficient(PPMCC). The findings revealed mother tongue, if used properly could be of great impact in the study of English language in secondary schools and can foster effective teaching and learning. Based on the findings, it was recommended that The Ministry of Education ought to give teachers proper trainings (workshop, seminars) on the role of native language in teaching English grammar for EFL classroom and strategies to improve students’ motivation and efficiency by combining mother tongue with English when necessary.



 Background to the Study

Education is regarded as the instrument per excellence and the means of achieving human capital and national development. It leads to individual freedom and empowerment, which yields significant societal development gains and makes an individual self reliant. It is seen as the foundation of society, enabling economic wealth, social prosperity and political stability. Education is therefore, increasingly being viewed as a fundamental right across the globe and essential for the exercise of all human rights. All individuals are entitled to education. Education is the action or process of educating or of being educated also. According to Aristotle, Education is “the process of training man to fulfill his aim by exercising all the facilities to the fullest extent as a member of the society”. Education can also be seen as the process of transmitting or imparting knowledge, skills from either a formal or an informal setting. A society that organizes its education well will achieve economic growth but if the system of education is not well managed, the effects on the society will be disastrous.

Nigerian secondary education is defined in the Nigeria National Policy on Education (2004) as the form of education children receive after primary education and before the tertiary stage. Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. It is characterized by transition from primary education for minors to  tertiary, ‘post secondary’ or higher education for adults. The broad aim of secondary education within Nigerian overall national objectives  is the preparation of students for useful living within the society and for higher education. It is seen as the junction which higher education takes off. A primary school graduate cannot conveniently go into the world of works as a result of age, but a secondary school leaver has four good options in front of him i.e. He can, if he/she has all the required academic qualifications to go into (i) a university (ii) a college of education (iii) a polytechnic or a school of Nursery (iv) the world of work as a messenger or a clerk.

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The responsibility of secondary school education in Nigeria falls under the jurisdiction of the federal and state government. Secondary school occupies a strategic position in Nigeria because of the important role it plays in preparing the students for useful living in the society and for higher education (Onwusaanya, 2005). To ensure that secondary schools achieves what they are set to achieve, the various subjects they are set to achieve, the various subjects must work in line with the stipulated guidelines in order to achieve these aims.

Throughout the twentieth century, English language teaching tradition has been a subject to a great change in various adaptations in language classrooms all around the world.

The use of native language in foreign language classroom resulted from one of the longstanding controversies in the history of language pedagogy; the effect of the first language (L1) in the second language (L2) teaching is still being debated, though most of the language teachers are against the use of native language in the foreign language classroom even in Nigeria, many teachers are teaching English grammar by using the second language without any reference to native language of the speaker is used appropriately, there can be no doubt that it will be helpful to learn the foreign language.

According to Damra and Al-Queda (2012-2013), throughout the 19th century, translation method offered an insight into the grammatical rules of translating from the foreign to the native language. Translation grammar method is still one of the most accepted and preferred method of language teaching which has been rather in previous to educational reforms, remaining a standard methodology.

However, many teachers believe that the use of the native language can be useful in explaining structural grammar rules. They consider that teachers who know the students native language have more advantage over the ones who do not have. It is worthy to note that advocates of native language use, are also eager to point out that “mother tongue should be selective and not seen as just an easy option”

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The key for the teachers seems to be using the mother tongue appropriately and avoiding the overuse which will make learners feel that they cannot comprehend the input of the foreign language until it is translated into their native language

Studies confirm that complete removal of native language in foreign language classrooms is not appropriate (Freeman 1991, Nation 2003 and Schewers (1999). They emphasized that when the mother tongue is used appropriately, the use of L1 can be very beneficial. According to Verghese (1989), “A knowledge of grammar is perhaps more important to a second language learners than to a native speaker”. Because of the procedure of acquiring the language while the second language is different, the native speaker have creatively initialized and internalized the grammar of the language while the second language learner has to make a conscious effort to master those aspects and parts of the language grammar.

It is against this background that the researcher deemed it necessary to investigate the impact of mother tongue in the study of English language in secondary schools in Owerri municipal council of Imo State.



Statement of the Problem

Why is The mother tongue often seen by English teachers in Nigeria as a negative feature of the L2 classroom ?  The decision about whether to use the first language L1 is amongst the most common dilemmas that language teaching in monolingual classroom encounters, the low levels of students in grammar achievement is the evidence for the existence of this problem. This intends to determine whether the use of the mother tongue in English classroom in the field of teaching grammar and structure, is negative or positive and to determine the students’ attitudes towards using the native language in teaching grammar rules and structure in the EFL classrooms.

Consequently, various policy measures  have been taken by Nigerian government to promote mother tongue, projects have been undertaken with the results pointing to the efficacy of mother tongue in enhancing better numerous benefits of mother tongue  education, researches have revealed a general apathy on the parts of the parents, especially the literate ones towards mother tongue education in the primary schools as they express the fear that it would hinder their wards effective communication in English. Thus, they place their desire to have their children communicate in English over and above their cognitive development and achievement. It is pertinent to find out from the students themselves and teachers; what is their perception of students about the efficacy of MTE in enhancing cognitive achievement in secondary schools in Owerri municipal council of Imo State is?

Scope of the Study

This research work covers public schools in Owerri Municipal council of Imo state investigating on the impact of  mother tongue interference in the study of  English language in secondary schools. It will venture into finding out the relationship between mother tongue and the development of language skills and the role of mother tongue or L2 in national development and the perceptions on the effectiveness of mother tongue interference in education.

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Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to investigate the impact of mother tongue interference in the study of English language in secondary schools in Owerri municipal council of Imo state. But specifically, the study sought to identify;

  1. The role of mother tongue in the development of language skills
  2. The role of mother tongue in national development
  • The perception of secondary school students on the efficacy of mother tongue interference in education.
  1. To what extent is the impact of mother tongue in the effective comprehension of English language.?

Significance of the Study

This research aims at improving communicative competence and highlights the use of language  as a medium of instruction in Nigerian schools. It is expected that the findings of this study will be significant in the following ways;

  • The findings that L2 acquisition is closely related to the proficiency level of the L1.
  • If taken seriously, this study can contribute to change of attitudes by teachers and parents who neglect the L1 in learning for fear that the first language negatively interferes with the learning of the L2.
  • Also, the teachers on their part will benefit from this study, if there is adherence to the recommendations of this study. It will help them acquire the various skills in using the desired method in teaching languages in Nigerian schools.
  • It will be of benefit to secondary education management and education language policy makers in making policies that will benefit the students to learn their mother tongue language as well as incorporating it towards the understanding of English language.
  • Lastly, this study will serve as a relevant literature to subsequent researchers carrying out related studies to it.

Research Questions

In line with the purpose of this study, the researcher formulated the following research questions to guide the study;

  1. What roles does mother tongue play in the development of language skills?
  2. To what extent does mother tongue play in national development?
  • What is the perception of secondary school students on the efficacy of mother tongue education?
  1. To what extent is the impact of mother tongue in the effective comprehension of English language.?

    Pages:  60

    Category: Project

    Format:  Word & PDF         

    Chapters: 1-5                                                      

    Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.



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