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The Problems Of Teaching English Language As A Second Language In Secondary Schools In Owerri Municipal Council Of Imo State




The study is on The Problems of Teaching English language as a Second Language in Secondary Schools in Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State. Four (4) research questions guided the study and the researcher adopted descriptive survey for the study. The population of the study was 17,551 for the students and 728 for the teachers. The sample population of the study was 356. The method of data analysis was simple percentage. The instrument for the study were “ Problems of Teaching English Language as a Second Language (PTELSA). To elicit the necessary information. The instrument was validated by three (3) specialists, two in measurement and evaluation and one in Education English. The reliability of the study was 0.85 using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient “r” (PPMCC). The findings revealed that the lack of employing qualified and experienced teachers in the field of English Language will result to the problems of learning English Language as a second language. Based on the findings, it was recommended that; teachers should have a vast knowledge on English Language  before teaching the students and the students should know the syntactic and semantic levels of English in order to understand and be able to speak the language fluently as a second language.



In this chapter, the background of the study and the statement of problem are presented. Next are the scope of study and purpose of the study.

Background of the Study

Nigeria came into existence in 1914 after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates. Ever since then, English language has served as the official language of the country, used for administration, education, law, commerce and news media. The first attempt to establish the use of English language in Nigeria dates back to the 19th century when the industrial revolution started in Europe and there was quest for raw materials and markets for finished goods produced in these industries. The British and Portuguese merchants invaded the West African coast to  trade with Nigerian businessmen and since business transactions cannot thrive in the absence of a common language, a language of communication gradually emerged as a medium of transaction.

Much later, some Nigerian businessmen in Calabar sent their children to England to learn English while others had their children taught English to enable establish a strong  trade links. Also, the Europeans had need for Africans who  helped them in their English language was a condition for employment.

Another factor which led to the establishment of English language in Nigeria was the abolishment of slave trade in 1883. Millions of Nigerians were shaped to plantations in the West Indies and Americans (New World) during the boom of slave trade. Most of these slaves came from different countries in West Africa and had a common language for communication but they also needed to communicate with their masters. This need made it compulsory for them to learn the language of their masters which later paid off as they developed competence in it, utilized it in the spreading of the gospel and working for the white men when slave trade was abolished. After the abolition of slave trade, thousands of these slaves were brought back to Africa and were settled in Sierra-Leone and Liberia but Samuel Ajayi Crowder who later became the first African Bishop of the Christian Mission Society (Essien, 2013).

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Furthermore, the return of many slaves led to an increase in missionary activities in West Africa and particularly in Nigeria. As many of these freed slaves were competent in English and had formal education unlike the natives, their presence facilitated the translation of the Bible and some acted as interpreters for the white missionaries whole sole aim was to convert the natives to Christianity. In the process, the rudiment of reading was taught to enable them read and understand the Bible.

However, in 1942 history was made as the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary established the first school. Their success attracted other religious groups who equally moved in and established their own schools. As the desire for the white man’s education increased, more schools were opened though the colonial administration was lukewarm towards the education of the natives. It took a dramatic turn in 1882 by promulgating the 1882 Education Ordinance and inter in 1887 education ordinance. These were geared towards quality education for the natives. This is because the ordinance specified among things the subject to be taught languages to be taught and the one to be used for instructions, as well as the quality of teachers to be used for instructions. Specific grants were promised and later given to only schools that met the criteria. This development led to the growth of two kinds of schools; assisted schools and non-assisted schools.

One prominent factor of these ordinances was the emphasis on the importance of the English language as a school subject and language of instruction. Consequently, English became an elitist symbol and was used by a few privileged Nigerians who worked for the colonial masters.

In 1960, when Nigeria gained independence, one had thought that English language would be discarded along with other vestiges of the colonial administration. Fortunately, English still retained its colossal stance in relation to the four hundred and fifty five (455) other languages (Bangbose, 2005). Not even the 1969 National Curriculum Conference and the birth of the widely acclaimed National Policy of Education could change the status of English in our educational system. As a matter of fact, Nigeria is a multi-ethnic group welded together for the benefit of the colonial administration. The welding together of different nationalities for ease in administration is the bone of the country today. Nigeria has about 250 different groups speaking as many as about 450 different languages. This had made Nigerians to see the English as a neutral language. Today, English has become our lingua franca. It is the language of inter-ethnic and inter-national communication. Nigeria has equally accepted English as its official language, the language of intellectual insight, the language of instruction from primary four through tertiary education, the language of parliamentary proceedings. More importantly for us, in academics, it is an index of academic excellence, as a credit pass in English is a condition for admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria.

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Obanya (2003) asserts that English plays a signifying role in Nigeria because of  its multi-linguistic background, while Nwachukwu (2008) adds that if we remove English from our education system and our polity (and replace it with an indigenous language), we must have cut the strongest sting that holds the country together.

Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, English is learnt as a second language, i.e. it is a variety of English spoken by these whose mother tongue is not English but more importantly is tha*/t it is a second language in Nigeria because it is used as the language of education and a means of communication in the wider society. English as a second language is the sequential second language learnt by most Nigerians but because it  is the language that ranks next to the mother tongue of the learner in utility.

Shortage of specialized teachers in the educational sector of English language cannot be overemphasized. The student find it difficult to speak English language as a medium of expression in many social gatherings or in their academic purposes because they make a lot of grammatical mistakes when speaking or writing English. The successful implementation of the curriculum in each of the school subjects which depends to a large extent on availability of specialized teachers in English had led to the employment of graduates from the disciplines such as mass communication, political science, medical laboratory etc. to teach English language in some Nigerian secondary schools. This constitutes a serious problem to the teaching and learning of English language in some Nigerian secondary school.  The most important factor in the teaching learning process is the teacher. There is a great need to train more teachers in English language. Teachers provide background experiences for their students and also determines their academic achievement.

Hence, the need arises to ascertain mother tongue, physical and psychological problems, insufficient time allocated to English time table, inadequate supply of teaching material and shortage of specialized teachers in English language hinders the effective teaching of English language as a second language in secondary schools in Owerri municipal council of Imo State.

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Scope of the Study

This research work covers all the public secondary schools in Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State investigating on the problems of teaching English language as a second language in secondary schools. This work will be delimited in finding out how English language is posed as a difficulty for a second learner and as well as to find out if child’s exposure to his mother tongue influence his learning abilities of English language as a second learner.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research is to investigating on the problem of teaching English language as a second language in secondary schools in Owerri Municipal Council of Imo State.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Ascertain the extent to which English language pose as a difficulty for a second learner
  2. To find out the extent to which a child’s exposure to his mother tongue influence the learning abilities of English language as a second learner
  • To know the extent to which the teacher’s use of teaching method affects the teaching of English language as a second language
  1. To know the extent of which English language is being exposed to the Nigerian schools adequate enough to contribute to its development

Significance of the Study

This research aims at improving communicative competence and highlights the use of language as medium of instruction in Nigerian schools. It is expected to help students gain insight and clearer perceptions of the roles of language in influence the content and effectiveness of education.

It would help the teachers understand the students i.e. their problems or errors which causes them to fail in interpreting the English language in its right usage

This research work would help the government in their different policy making where they will make provisions for the different texts used by the students, employ teachers who are experts in the field of English language and have the interest/zeal to teach.

Research Questions

To guide the study, the following research questions were posed or asked;

  1. How does the English language pose as a difficulty for a second learner?
  2. Does a child exposure to his mother tongue influence his learning solutions of English language as a second learner to a great extent?
  3. Can a teacher’s use of teaching methods affect the students capabilities?
  4. Is the extent of English language being exposed to the Nigerian schools adequate enough to contribute to his development?

    Pages:  70

    Category: Project

    Format:  Word & PDF         

    Chapters: 1-5                                 

    Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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