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The Influence of Mother Tongue Interference on the Academic Attainment of Secondary School Students

The Influence of Mother Tongue Interference on the Academic Attainment of Secondary School Students

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Abstract

This study sought to find out the influence of language interference on academic attainment of secondary school students in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue state. Questionnaires were used as a means of collecting information from respondents.

The questionnaires were administered to four hundred respondents from ten (10) selected secondary schools in Ogbadibo local government area. The acculturation theory of learning was used to explain the relationship between mother tongue interference and students’ academic performance in English.  Attempts were made to explain the following concepts: concept of mother tongue, concept of language interference, concept of mother tongue instruction and academic performance, concept of Idoma native language, how first language affects second language transfer or interference, factors that cause language interference,

direct transfer as a product of first language, effects of language interference, the role of English language in Nigeria and students’ academic performance in English language in Nigeria. The review of literature showed that mother tongue interferes with the language acquisition of the learners and it has significant influence on the academic performance students in the study area.

The findings from the study were that:

  1. Mother tongue interference has significant influence on the academic performance of secondary school students in the study area.
  2. Teacher’s qualification has significant influence on the teaching and learning of English language in the study area.
  3. Idoma mother tongue has significant influence on the academic performance of students in English language in the study area.

The Influence of Mother Tongue Interference on the Academic Attainment of Secondary School Students

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

Language is a creation which every human being is endowed with or blessed; a unique gift of language is used naturally as one tool of expression consisting of different sub skills.

Historically, the advent of the British colonialist in Nigeria brought about the introduction of English Language in the country. Following this, Nigeria has become one of the African countries that embrace the use of English for communication. Also the introduction of western education in the country facilitated and aided the general acceptance of English language in Nigeria. In Nigeria today, English language has not gained prominence but it is dominating other languages in the country. In fact, it has become the “lingua franca” of the country.

Meanwhile, English language has several stipulated functions and purposes which it serves. This function includes verbal communication, which encompasses inter-personal communication and mass communication. Another function is written communication and personal interaction with other people. This becomes obvious that with the realization of these functions and purposes of English language it has been observed that mother tongue interferes tremendously in the use of the language (Baker 2001).

 Mother tongue is one’s native language. A language besides being the major distinguishing phenomenon between man and other creatures is evidently the most enduring of every people’s cultural heritage. It reflects the culture of a people and it is in extricable bound up with it (Wikipedia, 2016).

Mother tongue also means the language that one first learns to speak as a child. According to Ugwu (2003) “the mother tongue interferes in English language in two areas that is in the sound and intonation respectively. He stressed that when one is spoken to through the medium of a particular language or reads what has been printed on paper in a particular language, he or she only makes meaning out of what he or she has heard or read, so, the hearer or reader shares knowledge of the same language with the speaker or writer”.

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The Influence of Mother Tongue Interference on the Academic Attainment of Secondary School Students

On the other hand, it is observed that in our everyday discussion, the voice of the people spoken to and every of our responses usually go up and down as we combine the vowels and consonants in our communication. These voice patterns help us to appreciate or disapprove of what we have heard or spoken. Therefore, these two factors, which make the voice pattern, reveal meaning of the spoken words to the hearer in the areas where the mother tongue interferes with English language. Hence, the voice pattern which is intonation of both the English and mother tongue vary and there is interference.

Language is an important tool that enhances human communication and interaction. It is a vital instrument in cultural transmission and preservation of a social group. It is in a fundamental sense, a crucial tool in the preservation and propagation of the human species. An examination of the linguistic content of a particular speech community can provide information about the life style, occupation of a given people.

The English language being the national official language for the British colonies of which Nigeria is among makes it our second language. Hence, our respective mother tongue exists before colonization. This has necessitated the teaching and learning of the English language and its consequent interference in our mother tongue in various study points nationwide. It is therefore, glaring to state that, Nigeria is a linguistically complex society by the mere fact of the history of its creation. It is estimated that there are between 250 and 400 languages spoken in Nigeria (Internet).

It is understood that the major obstacle in the learning of English language by our students is the interference of the mother tongue which students of Ogbadibo local government area are not exempted. The interference of the mother tongue on English could be phonological, lexical and syntactic. According to Eka (2002) “he states that in terms of structural influence, every individual’s mother tongue language produces a unique effect. Adekunle (2004) state that interference implies;

The rearrangement of patterns that results from the introduction of foreign element into the more highly structured domains of language, such as the back of the phonemic system, a large part of the morphology and syntax, and some area of the vocabulary.

It is therefore believed that interference phenomenon affects learner’s performance in the target language which is English.   This work is aimed at identifying such areas where the students in the study area with a view of looking at the major structural areas of the standard English such as apart from the above mentioned phonological interference, we also have the child exposed to language codes, the L1 and L2, lack of correlation between spelling and pronunciation, the initial and final consonant clusters in English infusion of Idoma dialect words into English language pose a problem to the children of  Ogbadibo local government area learning English language.

As the Idoma students from Ogbadibo learn and use English language, they are bound to encounter some problems, they are also the problems associated with the teaching of English language. The problem of the students can be categorized into the following interferences of mother tongue into the English language, translation wholesomely from mother tongue to English, omission of some phonemes in Idoma local language that are found in English, and the tonal  nature of Idoma dialect against the time stress nature of English language

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It is therefore the above and other reasons that the researcher is interested in find out the influence of mother tongue on academic attainment of secondary school students in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue state.

The Influence of Mother Tongue Interference on the Academic Attainment of Secondary School Students

1.2       Statement of the Problem.

English language, if properly taught and mastered could serve as effective and efficient means of communication and interaction between an individual and the masses. It is expected to be the official language for communication and interaction among the people, which will enable them to live in unity and co-exist harmoniously.

We find out that teaching of English language in the educational institutions today is expensive and above all inadequate and has many setbacks such as the interference of first language in the teaching and learning of English language. The Idoma language which is a language of communication of the Idoma people of Benue state also has some interference with the teaching and learning of English language which poses a problem to the effective academic performance of secondary school students in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue state.

However, the problem of learning English language and its setbacks purely depends on the lack or need or functions of English language in our everyday communication, and also proper motivation of education policy makers. You cannot teach or learn English language without basic facilities.

The learner and teacher of English language are required to be properly motivated and mobilized towards realizing the basic objectives of communication development. To successfully enhance better learning and understanding of English language means that the psychology of the people  (students in the study area, who are Idoma native speakers) should be improved and a better communication report will be enhanced between the teacher and learners of English language respectively.

This could be achieved by overhauling the teaching and learning system of the language. It is therefore the pre-occupation of this research work to find out how mother tongue (Idoma native language) has interfered with English language and the efforts made so far by the education planners to reverse the trend.

1.3   Purpose of the Study

The main concern of this research work is to find out the influence of mother tongue interference on the academic attainment of secondary school students in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue state. While its specific objectives are;

  1. To find out the level at which mother tongue can interfere in the learning of English language in secondary schools.
  2. To find out if there are qualified teachers who can teach English language effectively in secondary schools in Ogbadibo local government area.
  3. To identify peculiar areas of problems posed by Idoma dialect to English language.

1.4   Research Questions

  1. How mother tongue does actually interferes in the learning of English language in secondary school?
  2. Are there qualified English language teacher who can effectively teach English language in secondary schools in the study area­­?
  3. What are the problems posed by Idoma dialect to English language?
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1.5   Hypotheses

  1. Mother tongue does not significantly interfere in the learning of English language.
  2. There are no qualified English language teachers who can effectively teach English language in the study area.
  3. Idoma dialect does not significantly pose any problems to the teaching and learning of English language of students in Ogbadibo local government area.

1.6   Significance of the Study:

This study may help to expose the numerous factors that influence the interference of the study of English language by the mother tongue or native languages. It may also identify the effects of this interference on other study area that are based on the use of the English language as the basic communication.

This study may enable teachers to identify their problems in English language. This study may also enable student to understand how to make use of English words especially in pronunciation, intonation and phonetics. It may also enable the teachers to make more research on the use of English language.

Since English language has been used as a second official and sometimes even as a foreign language in Nigeria for a long time and given the inescapable behaviour of language in contact, it is normal to expect it to have factors which can identify it as bonafide subject, dialect, variety or idiom of world English. These may be seen as research findings relating to interference, delineation and creativity as are seen to obtain among speakers.

In Nigeria, English is now the term Nigerian English is used to refer to the subject of English spoken or written by Nigerians, it is commonly known that the features of Nigerian English language, like those of other new English, are essentially inherent particularly at the early stages of learning by the mother tongue features.

1.7  The Scope of the Study.

This research is concerned with the influence of mother tongue interference on academic attainment of secondary school students in Ogbadibo local government area of Benue state

It is based on the available result gotten from continuous assessment and summative examinations of schools such as West Africa Examination Council, the national examination council and examination development center for senior school certificate examination all in English Language.

1.8  Definition of Terms

It is imperative to properly define the terms that make the heading of the research topic under study. This may go a long way at giving direction to the research work. These include:

Mother tongue: The native language one first learns to speak before other language.

Interference: In this context, interruption of a language by another especially in pronunciation and intonations.

Ethnological: The moral ideas and attitudes that belong to a particular group or society (2) peculiar to a race or nation.

Dialect: this is the form of a language that is spoken in one area with grammar words and pronunciation that may be different from other form of the same language

Morphology: this is the forms of words studied in a branch of linguistics

Syntax: this means the ways words and phrases are put together to form sentences in a language and the rules of grammar for this compare morphology.

L1: This means the first language that a child is first exposed to speak at his or her childhood

L2: this is the second language learnt by a child.

Mr. Harrison

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