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BARRIERS TO SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION: A CASE STUDY OF JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS OF ST ANTHONY SCHOOL AGULU.
This research work centres on barriers to second language acquisition, a study of junior secondary school students of St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state. The study identifies the causes of failure in English Language in secondary schools, the factors responsible for the inability of students to learn English language as a second language and the effect of mother tongue interference on the performance of students in English language in the study area. Data for this study were collected through the use of structured questionnaires. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistical tools. On the basis of the findings, the study suggested that English language teachers in secondary schools endeavour to avoid the use of vernacular in the teaching of English language. Also, well equipped libraries and other necessary materials that would assist the students in learning English language should be provided.
1.1 Background to the Study
English language plays a very important role in Nigeria. Apart from being the official language, it is also the language of instruction in our institutions of learning. In a country like Nigeria where English language is the lingua franca, the barrier its learners face is a serious problem that should be investigated. This is why we cannot but link the failure of our students in their process of learning English with the challenge of language barrier.
A child who learns English at school but always speaks his mother tongue at home will seldom have occasions to discuss any topic in the English language at home and whenever he/she has the opportunity to do so, it will be difficult. Another challenge that confronts second language learning and teaching in our schools is lack of oral practice by the students in different language situations. However, second language learning problems arise from “interference”. This means the effect of transferring the habits associated with the learners’ own mother-tongue to the target language (second language). According to Tiffen (1968), “An English man learning Igbo language is likely to ‘carry over’ the phonetic, lexical and grammatical features of his own language when he speaks Igbo, in the same way that aIgbo man does when he speaks English”.
Language barrier is a term used to imply all the problems faced by an individual as he tries to communicate with a group of people who speak a tongue other than his own. It is prevalent in settings which involve the conglomeration of people from different cultures, speaking different languages. It is also used as a blanket term for all the difficulties associated with the learning of a foreign language (Wikipedia, 2006).Over the years, there have been various steps taken by administrators in both, academic and business worlds, to eradicate or at least minimize this problem in English speaking environments by providing courses, workshops and training. Yet, this problem is persistent, if not widespread, in schools across the nation. With a thorough understanding of the situation, we hope to find a solution that will overcome this issue, and at the same time work best to help students find resources to be proficient in oral English.
All over the world, there is a growing interest in language as a communicative instrument. The incidence of the Second World War accentuated this interest. In America and Europe, the war brought about the urgent need to teach soldiers as many foreign languages as possible and by the fastest method feasible. There was the realization that competence in a second language depended mainly on the habitual manipulation of the sentence pattern of that language. There was the awareness that the time spent on traditional pronunciation rules and analysis was time wasted because those who could use a language were unable to recite its rules and those who could recite its rules could not use it.
Wang, 2002 suggests that Language reflects culture and tends to control or influence processes used to think and to perceive. Thus, sometimes, the barriers are not due to the use of words in the language, but the ways the speakers speak or how the listeners perceive. In addition, cultures also shape the way students communicate with others. For example, Asian international students are particularly sensitive to the issue of “save face”. In providing assistance or instruction to an Asian student, if the teacher asks the student, “Do you understand?”, the student is likely to respond that he/she understands, even if he/she does not. Such an attitude would generate a barrier in communication.
Olagoke D.O (1979) explains that parents are naturally anxious that their children should become doctors, lawyers, engineers and so on; as such, parents in an attempt to make their children learn English early in life sacrifice a large part of their income in sending them to nursery and other fee-paying private schools, where they are usually taught by qualified and well paid teachers. As a result, children from such schools come home after one or two terms speaking good English. This is unlike what obtains in most of the government owned schools, where parents cannot provide their children with the required textbooks.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Language barrier is a major hindrance to the learning of English Language as a second language and this has had adverse effect on the performance of Junior secondary school students of St Antony school in Agulu in English language as a subject and as a means of communication. This therefore calls for drastic measures to be taken to save learners from the mass failure in English language in internal as well as external examinations like JSCE examinations.
1.3 Objectives of The Study
The broad objective of this study is on barriers to second language acquisition, a study of junior secondary school students of St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state.
The specific objectives are:
i. To identify the causes of failure in English Language amongjunior secondary school students of St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state.
To identify the factors responsible for the students’ inability to learn English as a second language in St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state.
iii. To determine the effect of language barrier on the performance of the students in St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state.
iv. To find out if the content of the English curriculum and the textbooks used embrace all the various aspects of the language that meet the needs of the learners.
v. To examin how language barrier and mother tongue interference affected the performance of students in English Language
1.4 Research Questions
In the light of the aforementioned, this research work seeks to answer the following questions:
i. What are the causes of failure in English Language among junior secondary school students of St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state?
What are the factors responsible for the students’ inability to learn English as a second language in St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state?
iii. What are the effect of language barrier on the performance of the students in St Anthony school Agulu, Anambra state?
iii. Does the content of the English curriculum and the textbooks embrace all the various aspects of the language that meet the needs of the learners?
iv How has language barrier and mother tongue interference affected the performance of students in English Language?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The need for this study arose because little or no work had been done on the effect Barriers to second language acquisition using junior secondary students as a study area.
To achieve this however, all possible shortcomings likely to be confronted by the students in the process of learning English as a second language have to be identified. Also efforts have to be made to find solution to the problems identified. Therefore, it is the hope of the investigators that the outcome of this research will be of great help to the students, their teachers and the managers of secondary schools, in their efforts to help the students learn English as a second language.
Furthermore, this research hopes to be one of the useful guides to curriculum planners and educational administrators in selecting suitable materials for schools. For example, the planners should consider the important principles underlying second language in their planning. Such principles will help the curriculum planners to include a carefully selected and graded topic in the pronunciation of English words and other aspects of English speech relating to speaking for communication function such as dialogue and conversations, public speech, oral presentation of written materials like prose, poetry and news casting or announcements.
Another significant aspect of this study is to make our educational administrators and inspectors see the need for constant and adequate inspection of our schools and for the purpose of evaluating their progress effectively. Furthermore, it is hoped that the findings from this work will contribute positively to the learning of English as a second language in Nigeria as a whole and other parts of the world.
1.6 Definition of Terms
Language Barrier: This are the difficulties in communication experienced by people or groups speaking different languages, or even dialects in some cases.
Acquisition: The act of learning or developing of a skill
Curriculum: The subjects comprising a course of study in a school