Student Performance in English Language in Nigeria

Student Performance in English Language in Nigeria

GENDER AND SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ PERFORMANCE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN ISOKO, DELTA STATE, Nigeria.

Student Performance in English Language

1.1 Background to the Study

English language was introduced in Nigeria in the early 19th century by the British colonial administration. Although English language is a foreign language to Nigeria, in the sense that is not indigenous but widely used in Nigeria as the second language.

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Ever since it was introduced in Nigeria, it has survived many decades and still survives to date as it assumes a more vital status in Nigeria. Bamgbose (2005) sees English language in Nigeria as one of the leagues of colonial administration, which has succeeded in eliminating the problems of multiple language in Nigeria.”

English language has played a major role in Nigeria which could be seen in our education, government, business, commerce, mass media and most of internal and external communication. Above all, English language has played the role of the language of political unity.

In recent time, English has been rated as the world most popular language which is characterized by active communication from one continent to another, especially by the indigenous owner of the language. Formal education in Nigeria today is a product of English language. Without English, there is the possibility that there may not be anything more than the elementary formal education in Nigeria. Despite the importance of English language, the performance of students over the years, has been on a down world, trend. Media reports show that the performance of students in written, reading and spoken English is not encouraging.

Obayan (2006), was of the opinion that “spend and gender (sex) have a lot to do with the performance of students in English language. He also said that females tend to be more favourably disposed to the study of English language and other linguistics courses than the male gender.” Doglas (2001) discovered that male children perform better than their females counterparts in the study of science.”

Although gender has been said to be the major determiner of the level of proficiency of students in English language by many scholars and grammarians, but there are several other factors that could undermind the performance of students in English language such as background of students, teachers, interest, government and attitude towards academic works:

It is very important to emphasize here that the qualification of English teachers whose sole responsibility is to teach English language, will enhance good or poor performance of students. In order to ensure for accuracy, create motivation and interest, a good qualified English teacher should be placed in charge to teach the students. Government negligence and failure to provide the necessary teaching aid, has also contributed to the poor performance of students in English language; ethnic groups with over 450 languages, English serves as a second language. It is the responsibility of the government to provide the necessary instructional materials to help in the teaching of the language to students of various levels of education. This should be done, so as to avert the influence of mother tongue on English.

The various problems have come to be as a result of poor performance of students in English which has given rise to what it called varieties of English language. It is the intention of the researcher to investigate whether gender has an influence on students performance in English language studies and also prospects of problems affecting the performance of secondary schools students in English language.

The performance of students in English language basis on gender is another essential part of this study. Admittedly is the fact that women are hypercorrect in speech, they (women) also use succulent words while their male counterparts are coarse and husky.

As observed by Nwobia (2007) “The differences between male and female are visualized in varied ways. For instance, the male exhibit verbal skills which are different from the female: likewise the voice pitch of the females are usually higher than that of the males.”

She also examines that “in reading ability, females tend to read better and more fluent than males; this could be socio-culturally conditional as there is no proof that males are less intelligent than females.”

In the view of Wardaugh (1998) “captures the view of various authors (like De Klerk 1992 and Hughes 1992, baron 1986) on the distinctiveness of male and female speeches, but summarized that such claims lack solid evidential report, hear him “any view too that women’s speech is trivial … gossip-ladden, corrupt, illogical, idle, euphemistic, or deficient is highly suspect; nor is it necessarily nor precise cultivated, or stylish or even less profane than men’s speech.”

Wardaugh (1998) notes that “phonological differences exist between the speeches of men and women in some languages.” This view aligns with Smith (1979), who outlines various linguistic instances for examining sex. “They include: pronunciations, vocabulary, grammatical form, use of code e.t.c.”

British Prime Ministers. Lakoff (1973) views that “women are more polite, more positive, hyper-correct in grammar, use more euphemistic expression and know the right thing to say at the right time. Women are more prone to the use of colour words like mauve, aquamarine … but men do not.”

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Many people have stressed the place of Gender and secondary school students’ performance in English language. As argued by Obayan (2006) that females tend to be favourably disposed to the study of English language and other linguistic courses than the male gender. This is contrary to the African belief that male children are more superior to female children, which has equally been extended to the classroom learning situations, where the boys are assume to perform better than their female counterpart. The argument goes further that male children perform excellently well in other subjects than English and that the females are more brilliant.

Therefore, this study is undertaken to find out whether male children perform better than their female counterpart in English language or in the study of English language.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The study tends to compare the performance of gender in English language at secondary school level. For a long time now, the general opinion has been that female gender performed better in English language and other arts subjects than male counterparts. The study will specifically, determined:

i. The gender effect on the performance of students in English language.

ii. The influence of availability of teaching aid and material on students’ performance in English language

iii. The influence of teachers qualification on students’ performance in English language.

iv. The influence of teachers teaching method on student’s performance in English language.

1.4 Significance of the Study

On completion of this study, it would have been determined from the analysis of data collected that if the main independent variable considered in the study of gender determines the dependent variable performance.

Therefore, the result of this study will be beneficial to teachers, parents, students, curriculum planners, such as administration e.t.c.

1. It would bring to the notice of teachers how best to teach the students.

2. It would bring to the notice of parents how best to assist their children academically.

3. It would also bring to the notice of curriculum planners how best to help the students’ from opposite sex.

4. This research work will help the administrators to know the differences in performance between female and male students.

1.5 Scope of the Study

This research has its focus on Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State. The study is aimed at finding out the gender and secondary school students’ performance in English language.

 

1.6 Research Questions

1. To what extent does gender affect the performance of students in English language?

2. How does the availability of teaching aid and material affect the performance of secondary school student s in English language?

3. To what extent does the teachers, method of teaching affect the students’ performance in English language?

4. To what extent does the qualification of teacher affect the students’ performance in English language?

 

CHAPTER TWO

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

This aspect of research is aimed at reviewing the following based on what has said previously on the importance and performance of students in English language. They include:

2.1 English language in the curriculum

2.2 Importance of English Language

2.3 The Concept of Gender

2.4 Gender Difference and Performance

2.5 Performance of Secondary School in English Language Examination

2.6 Factors responsible for students’ poor performance in English language.

2.7 WAEC Chief Examiners Report on the Performance of Secondary school students in English language for 4 (four) years

2.8 Appraisal of Literature.

2.1 English language in the curriculum

English language occupies a meaningful position in our curriculum because of its importance. Obanya (1982) points out that “English plays a unifying role in Nigeria because it is the only language common to Nigerians from diverse linguistics, social, cultural, religious and geographical backgrounds.” This is in line with the know fact that English is a means of instruction in our primary, post primary and tertiary institutions. Therefore, English serves as a gateway to formal education because almost all the subjects in the secondary schools are taught in English language. The foregoing leaves no doubt in our mind that English occupies a enviable position in Nigeria, it can be seen as the livewire of the survival growth and unity of Nigeria. In response to this, Olagoke (1979) stresses that “English should be taught and learned in schools because it is indispensable to modern living.” Its indispensability is in view of the fact that it is the language of science and technology, commerce, trade and administration, a means of national and international communication, and finally a passport for educational advancement and prestigious employment. Olagoke (1979) recommends that “Nigerian children be given maximum encouragement and opportunity to learn English effectively in school.”

Furthermore, Teaching-Learning process for all subjects except the indigenous languages, are carried out in English, since all their texts are written in English language. There are about 400 different languages in Nigeria and in such a diversified country like Nigeria where people of many dialects and linguistics background work side by side, English language has been used to cement these different groupings.

Also, the aim of language teaching in schools as contained in the language syllabus by federal ministry of Education (FME 1985) for the junior and senior secondary English curriculum are as follows:

a. Provide students with a sound linguistic basis for further learning in secondary, tertiary and vocational instructions.

b. Equip school learner with a satisfactory level of proficiency in English language in their places of work

c. Stimulate a love for reading as pleasurable activity.

d. Promote the art of spoken English as a medium for national and international communication.

e. Enhance and develop further the various skills and competencies already acquired at the primary and junior secondary levels.

Finally, the National Policy on Education (1982) set out a goal for language teaching at the primary level. That is the aim to attain permanent literacy in the mother tongue and target language. The aim of language teaching is therefore, to enable the learners to use the language in communication both orally and literally (written).

2.2 The Importance of English Language

The importance of English language in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized considering the fact that English language assumes the position of Nigeria second language. Nigeria is a country with diverse ethnic groups, religion and language considering the land mass and the population of people living in Nigeria into the various languages. English language has become an important means of communication among the different ethnic and linguistic barriers which has made it a lingua france in Nigeria.

The important of English language is most noticeable in the field of education where any person seeking admission into any post secondary institution must at least have a pass in the subject before he or she can be given admission into any Nigeria University, polytechnic or college of education Onugbo (2005) stated on the importance of English, that six grade of credit pass, is acceptable for admission into any University in Nigeria and a requirement for employment as well. By implication, this means that a candidate must have at least a credit pass in English language before he or she can be given admission.

According to Quick (2006), he said that language is like religion which is clearly powerful and unifying force. This implies that English language in used in Nigeria today as a powerful unifying instrument to both the students and society at large.

Ever since the introduction of English in Nigeria by the missionaries that invaded the country during 18th century, English language has gained dominance and popularity as the world most popular language which is widely used by the government, mass media, in business etc. This means that all the sectors of our economy today make use of the English language as a means of communication in carrying out their duties.

2.3 The Concept of Gender

“Sex is a biological distribution between male and female while gender is a social construct involving differences between male and female; that is, the societal role assignment on the male and female sexes.” Nwobia (2007)

“Gender is a complex social construct based upon biological sex but it is not the same as sex. It can also be argued that gender alone drives and that sex os an incidental feature.” Retrieved from www. Un. Org.

Gender facilitates sexual interaction and reproduction, Gender is intertwined with identity, expression, presentation, relationships, child-rearing, societal role and structure, pairing, games, and eroticism. We are sexually dimorphic species where physical appearance is the number one gender maker. Gender becomes fixed in infancy, but it remains remarkably fluid, full of twists and surprises.

The reality of gender in our culture only has two official genders: man (male expression) and women (female expression). This is a loaded binary concept Gender is misused as a major reason for discrimination. Gender is often assigned the status of natural law, but it is not absolute, and its concepts vary over time and between cultures. The current social power structure rigorously enforces a set of arbitrary gender rules. This enforcement in some way damages everyone, but it is literally devastating to those of us who cannot or will not follow the rules or play the right games.

Nwobia (2007) “our society right from time immemorial has always presented inequality between the male and their female counterpart. This inequality could be traced as far back as creation where God was always using the term “man” to refer to both male and female Gen 1:26, Ma 6:24. Also with the reference of women as the weaker vessels.” These references were not suppose to be weapons of subjugation and oppression but rathan as an awareness of the complementary role of both sexes.

As retrieved from http://www.un.org/Osagi “Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well ass the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are context/time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a women or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities.”

“Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural analysis include class, race, poverty, level, ethnic group and age.” http://www.un.org/Osagi.

2.4 Gender Difference and Performance

It is a widely held belief that gender as a factor, plays an important part in pupils performance in English language. In this regard, some scholars are of the opinion that girls excel in language courses than boys. This in most cases has been attributed to the fact that girls are more exposed to learning varies language than boys. For instance, it is believed that as the females go out to hawk in streets, play with their peers and in doing other domestic works both in and outside the home. As a result of this, they get more and more in contact with their male counterparts who in most case have limited opportunities of acquiring the language. In most cases, boys are usually found in the farm or in their apprenticeship works.

Gender is a determining factor for the level of performance and proficiency of an individual in certain areas Chukwuma (2004:224) was of the opinion that special ability and gender have a lot to do with great performance of students. During the Greek civilization, the great Greek philosopher and Plato was quieted as saying “no two person sare born exactly alike, each differ from the other in the natural endowment. One being suited for one occupation and the other for another. All things will be produced in superior quality and with greater case when each man works at a single occupation accordance with his natural gift.”

The view of plato above is in centrally with that of Darlington (2001) when he wrote that “the difference between the two fundamental fact of life, philosophically and socially, intellectually and historically, is totally genetic and incapable of being effectively modified by the environment.” Mussen et al (2004), agree with the above discovery, where he said that “boys are supposed to be naturally better than girls in subjects that requires special reasoning such as geometry, physics, chemistry, mathematics etc girl on the others hand, are expected to excel at foreign language such as English and French etc.

Over the years, there has been a consistent public school pattern of more boys than girls offering science subject that of girls who prefer language course. This controversy has become a normal phenomenon that in our secondary schools and tertiary institutions, girls are hardly found in the classes and when some of them vehemently divides to develop some career, some time find it difficult to excel in the course. Lincoln (2005) pointed out that girls excel consistently in arithmetic than boys who are slightly better in rate, spelling while boys are better in geometry.

Blar et al (2005) agree with the view that there are differences in performance of students in most cases, favouring girls in the areas studied. He also went further to say that boys do better in science related subjects than girls. Onurage (2001) was of the opinion that girls should be encouraged to pursue courses in the science and technology.

Leome (2006:42) holds a different view where he affirmed that boys are superior to girls in schools or academic performance and other spheres of life. Cratch (2006) agrees with Ceramic where he said that “not even the most daunted feminist would deny the fact that in the outside work that men were achieved more than women.” He went further to stress that men have achieve more than women, not only in the services, business, engineering, exploration, arts and even in the traditional fermine field of dress making, interior decoration and cooking in well.

According to Onna (2005:62), “human beings have different kind of ability, some have the ability to work well with their mind and others with their hands. Academic ability or performance is only used in references to those students who learn easily from printed materials such as books, newspapers and magazine and those that can handle concepts with ease.”

It has been revealed by several other scholars that there is no fundamental sex differences in the academic performance of individuals. According to Bloom (2004) “it is pointless to speak of superiority or inferiority of gender because during the ages of seven to seventeen, there is title justification for separate analysis of boys and girls on intelligence.” While in investigation into the understanding of some biological factors among secondary school students.” She discovered that gender is not a determining or significant factor in pupils understanding of biological empts.

2.5 Performance of Secondary School in English Language Examination

Performance despite the importance of English language and the fact that it is the language of instruction in Nigeria educational system, the performance of students in the subject in Isoko South Local Government Area over the years has been very poor and not encouraging.

According to Ubahakwa (2002:42) he pointed out that “the point of divination has been in existence since 1963, when a pass in English language ceased to be a limit for award of the school certificate? he added that “increase enrollment figure over the years also shows a decline in the performance of students. A release of the federal ministry of education in 1998 categorically stated that “only 123-421 students (about 9.9%) of the 1,244,524 who wrote the English language paper in the school certificate examination in the past 3 years, passed above credit level.

According to WAEC enrollment from (2000-2004), a total of 4,333453 candidate sit for English language extermination at the senior school certificate examination; and only 108, 1623 (25%) credited the subject ranging from AI-C6) 1,351,097 candidate (31,2% had ordinary pass which is equivalent to failure due to its’ inability to fetch one admission in the tertiary institution or university. 1,901,234 candidates (43.9%) of the total enrolled population failed English language within this period under review.

From the above analysis of WAEC enrollment from 2000-2004 on students’ performance in the English language in the senior secondary certificate examination. It is very exasperating considering the number and percentage of failure released within this period. It shows that performance of Nigeria students in English language examination is below average. Most English language teachers feel very annoyed because sometimes when students perform poorly like this, teachers are usually blamed in most cases. They are assumed not to have done their job well. Many scholars and specialists in the English language field have informed to ask questions pertaining to level of proficiency and performance of secondary schools pupils in the various aspects of English language and in English language examination aspect of English and equally English language examination. Sometimes, they blame it on the individual background, mother tongue interference, comprehension problem, social factor and individual differences etc. Eze (2004:112) was of the opinion that “the reason behind the poor performance of students in English language examination can be attributed to their inability to interpret written language and also answer comprehension question in their own words.”

Obinyan (2005:54) agrees with the above comment by Eze where he said that students can do well in English language examination, if only they can be able to answer the question in their own words and avoid unnecessary lifting which might result to ambiguous answers.”

At this juncture, it is very imperative and necessary that all the points raised here pertaining the reason why students perform poorly in English language examination will be addressed, considering the teachers channeled into teaching English and has continued to linger on.

2.6 Factors Responsible for Students Poor Performance in English

Several factors has been attributed to the reason why students perform poorly in English language examination.

Some of these factors include:

i. Childs’ background

ii. Mother tongue interference

iii. Teachers’ factor

iv. Social factor

v. Students factor etc

Childs’ background/Environment

According to Femi (2006:102), “the background of a child to an extent has a very strong influence on the child’s physical and mental development process. A child from rich background develop faster than a child from a poor background who some time experience some difficulties in the process of growing up.

Chukwuemeka (2006:18) share the same view with Femi where he said that children from rich background, whose parents are educated are usually exposed more than children from poor homes who are usually shy and final in terms of presentation. They always do not like to come out to the public place because of their poor status which sometimes leads to intensively complex.

Anada (2006:52) share a different view where she said that environment where a child grew up, determines the level of achievement and education attainment of such a child. A child who grew up in an environment where English language is the language of communication will definitely grow up to know how to speak English unlike a child that grew up in a remote environment where the language of instruction, communication and interaction is in his or her native dialect, such a child will find it very difficulty to adopt to a new environment where they speak a different language altogether”, Okereke (2005:52) added that parents usually send their children to the schools in the town for the sole purpose of acquiring the best knowledge, unlike poor parents who experience some difficulty in sponsoring their children in school.

In Nigeria to be precise, it is noticeable that children from rich background go to the best school in the country (private schools) where as children from poor homes are usually seen in public or government owned schools which is less expensive.

Mother Tongue Interference

Mother tongue is one of factors that influences child ability to speak English fluently. Ezema (2006) was of the opinion that children find it very had to lean a new language especially in a situation where they only been taught how to do things in their native dialect. This will take a long time for the children to gain familiarity with the new language.

In Nigeria for instance, there are several ethnic groups and diverse language, children are taught morals in their various native dialect. So, there is every possibility that when they want to express themselves in English, there is bound to be some interference in either their information, or pronunciation eg. The vowel sound /i/ and /I:/ look alike but are distinct in terms of function. Children who have only spoken their natural dialect all their life will find it very difficult to notice the difference between these two vowels. They pronounce them.

The whole problems of teaching and learning revolved round the teachers prolise importance in educational system cannot be overemphasized. Holiday et al (2006) was of the opinion that the issue of qualified English teacher is one of the determining factors to the performance of students in English language examination. He went further to say that a good English teacher is one of the determining factor to the performance of students in English language examination.

Still in teacher, Tiffen (2006) stated that “a good English teacher ought to know the modern method of teaching language courses in order to bring about moderation, participation and interest” He went further to say that the importance of the modern method of teaching English will also aid the teacher and students to acquire the desired object.

Social Factor: Social factor is another factor that may hinder the performance and proficiency of students in English language in Nigeria. Considering that Nigeria is linguistically erogenous. Speaking on the social factors that influence the use of English language Bamgbosel (2007) pointed out that the basic errors committed by people using English in bi-lingual situations are usually grammatical and lexical errors. These error are coursed by the interference of natively dialect and pidgin English.

Also, social factor as one of the hindrance to students performance in English language and indeed academic work in general has been emendated by many scholars and researchers Chinwubar (2006:103) was of the opinion that high or low performance is not matter of inheritance, sex but on the basis of environmental circumstance of the people since everyone is born with the inmate ability to do things.

2.7 WAEC Chief Examiner Report On Student performance in English for Four (4) Years

In the chief examiners reports in the years 2001 he states that:

The paper was generally within the scope of the students although the performance of the student bellied the quality and simplicity of the question… They generally organized their essays, badly and they made no conscious efforts at theory grammatical corrections

From the above comment by WAEC chief examiner, he observed that the even though the question were very cheap. This the students failed to organize their essays well and they made grammatical errors which also contributed to their poor performances.

In the subsequent year (2002:12) the chief examiner stated that:

The students failed to adhere to rule of comprehension, which led to their poor performance. Hence they engaged themselves in lifting works and expression to answer their question without checking if they are wrong or right. Thus, they failed.

In the year (2003:7) the chief examiner state that:

The students made a lot of grammatical errors while in answering their comprehension question. Thus, they did not understand the questions very well which reflected in the answers they gave in the comprehension passage. Their construction were wrong, filled with vague expression, the students could not understand the question, which resulted in the wrong expression and answering they made.

Thus, their expression were badly constructed which also deducted some marks from them.

In the year (2004:7), the chief examiner state that:

The students failed to adhere to the rubies of the comprehension passage. This instead of answering the question in their own words, they engaged themselves in mindless uplifting which express their little understanding of the comprehension.

2.8 Appraisal of Literature

This research study attempted to review the following aspects in the review of literature, English language in the curriculum, importance of English language, the concept of Gender, Gender difference and performance, performance of secondary school in English language examination, factors responsible for students’ poor performance in English language and finally WAEC Chief Examiners report on the performance of secondary school students in English language for 4 (four) years.

However, English language in the curriculum was reviewed paying cognizance in the place of English language in the curriculum. That is, the different contributions of different scholars on how English language should be taught in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

In the same vein, the importance of English language was also reviewed paying attention to its relevance in the economy, education, government, politics and society at large.

Furthermore, the concept of Gender was also reviewed with references to cultural, social, economic and political points of view as noted by numerous scholars from different works of life.

Gender differences and performance was also examined from different perspectives. That is, performance from the angle of communicative and linguistic competence which embodies the speaking and reading skills.

Performance of secondary school in English language examination was also looked into fully with the aid of Ubahakwa (2002:42) “the point of divination has been in existence since 1963, when a pass in English language ceased to be a limit for award of the school certificate?….. increase enrollment figure over the years also shows a decline in the performance of students….”

Factors responsible for students’ poor performance in English language were also reviewed. Some of these factors were; mother tongue interference, teachers factor, social factors and students’ factors.

In conclusion, the WAEC Chief Examiners’ report on the performance of secondary school students in English language for 4 (four) years was also reviewed which stated that: “The student failed to adhere to the rubies of the comprehension passage. This instead of answering the question in their own words, they engaged themselves in mindless uplifting which express their little understanding of the comprehension.”

Student Performance in English Language in Nigeria

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Comments

  1. florence ossom says:

    Pls I want the full project on the influence of parental background on the performance of students in English language

  2. please i need details of this project (factors associated with mass failure of student of English language in tertiary institutions).

  3. khabonina agupusi says:

    I am trying to get materials on a seminar presentation on the effects of language interference on the academic performance of students in secondary school (a case study of Festac Town community Lagos state)

  4. Ajao Ayodele Joseph says:

    Pls sir, kindly send the references to me pls

  5. Awoleke opeyemi says:

    Pls kindly send d reference of dis piece. Tanks.

  6. Ewim Nnaemeka says:

    I need material for the topic; FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR MASS FAILURE OF STUDENTS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE. I am domiciled at Nnewi, Anambra State. How could you help? Thanks.

  7. Plz sir can i get a piece of the references, even if is from 1 to 25.

  8. Gudmorning sir,infact this is a job well-done,but we need d references to this work.

  9. caroline oba says:

    pls send the references

  10. Pls sir send me the list of references. Thks.

  11. Juliana Kwakwala says:

    Where is the list of references?

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