Difference In The Performance Of Students In English Grammar Based On Parents Ethnic Background
Background of the Study
Language is one of the most useful tools we have as humans. Without it we could not think thoughts expressible to others, nor could we engage in the activities that commonly take place in the society we build ourselves (Di Pietro, 1994). Language is very important in education. Roy-Campbell and Qorro (1997) asserted that education is carried out largely through the medium of language, thus, language is very significant in the education process. Additionally, ADEA (2005) argues, “language is not everything in education, but without language, everything is nothing in education”. Language plays a crucial role in learning, and if the learner is handicapped in the language of instruction, then learning may not take place at all as the instructor or teacher and the learner will not be communicating (Malekela, 2003).
The language of instruction in post primary education to every learner is English. English subject is taught with consideration of the objectives stipulated in the syllabus. The objectives are important since they provide means through which the goals of education in Nigeria could be achieved. It is through the syllabus that can assure the teacher if or whether he has achieved the goals or objectives of the course. With such situation, it is important for teachers to establish objectives before working towards meeting the goals.
The English language like other languages of the world comprises several aspects known as levels of language (morphology, phonology, syntax (Grammar), semantics and graphology). These levels define how the language should be expressed. A user of such language especially English must therefore be well proficient in each of these levels of language to have a good communication.
Grammar, as a bedrock of this research work, can mean an individual’s knowledge of a language which is exhibited through the utterances that he produces. This is what is meant when one says that an individual has good or poor grammar. In this sense, ‘grammar’ means the knowledge that a fluent speaker of a language possesses which permits him to speak, understand and comment on sentences (Liles 1971:81).
This is what is sometimes referred to as ‘linguistic competence’. Grammar may also refer to a book containing the morphological and syntactic rules of a language. Thus, we have several grammars of a language. For instance, there are a number of books referred to as grammars of English.
The word ‘grammar’ can also be used to mean a series of descriptive statements about the morphological and syntactic structures of a language. In this sence, when one says that an individual has mastered the grammar of English, one really means that the individual has mastered the series of descriptive statements about the systemic interrelationships of structures within the language. It is in this sense that ‘grammar’ is used when it is said that grammar consists of Morphology and Syntax (Tale, 2007).
Grammar can also be referred to as a body of prescriptive rules about how a language should be used. In modern linguistics, when the word ‘grammar’ is used, it has two broad meanings. It may refer to the rules which an individual has developed which enable him to understand, produce, and make statements about the sentences of a language. For instance, when the transformationists says that ‘a good grammar is that which can account for all sentences in a language’, he means the word grammar in this sense. Also, the modern linguist can use ‘grammar’ to mean a theory (definite statements) about the rules of a language or a book containing such a theory. Thus, ‘grammar’ is used in modern linguistics either to refer to the competence of a language user, a theory about the rules developed by the speaker, or a book containing such a theory. (Tale: 2007).
Having said all these, it should be borne in mind that there are factors which may influence, either positively or adversely the teaching of English grammar and can subsequently enhance or hinder the performance of students in its usage or examinations. These factors range from teacher’s mastery and competence on rules of grammar, methods of teaching adopted, conducive environment for teaching, students’ readiness and attitude, instructional materials among others. The teaching and learning process involves two active participants in the classroom – the teacher and the learner, and that language learning does not fall entirely on the teacher. The students must also assume more responsibility for the learning process (Quiot: 2000). Vuzo (2010) also reported “it is through interactions with each other that teachers and students work together to create intellectual and practical activities that shape both the form and the content of the target subject. Once Cummings (2002) as quoted in Wang et al (1994) said that learning in which students are interactive produced far more effective participation in a class. Meaning that effectiveness of language learning and teaching in the classrooms will depend upon the educational repertoire teachers have. This concurs with Quist (2000) in that successful teaching and quality of students learning is closely related to the teacher’s knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Statement of the Problem
Diverse of research works have investigated into factors affecting students’ performance in English language subject in secondary schools in Nigeria both internal and external examinations. Quist (2000) asserted that most students fail English language as a result of their poor understanding of the subject among others. The researcher is aware of these factors hence making him embark on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar in Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State.
Since to teach is to communicate, English teacher must have maximum communicative competence. Also a teacher must be knowledgeable in the grammar itself so that he or she can make useful decision regarding what should be taught to whom, and how the teaching should be done. Researches demonstrate clearly that among the factors that lead to students’ performance are qualities of teachers (Harmer, 2003: Mosha, 2004). It is on this finding that the researcher based the parameters as variable (home background of the student, social status of the parents, parental marital status, parental educational background etc) to this research work.
Purpose of the Study
This research work focuses on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar withthe following variables; ethnic background, parents’ marital status, parents’ educational status and parents’ socio-economic status.
This study is concerned with the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar in some selected schools in Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State. The following research questions are raised in order to guide the study.
- What is the general performance of students in grammar?
- Is there any difference in the performance of students in grammar based on ethnic background?
- Is there any difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parents’ marital status?
- Is there any difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parental educational background?
- Is there any difference in the performance of students based on parental socio-economic status?
The following null hypotheses which are based on axioms are formulated in the study:
- H01: There is no significant difference in the performance of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba students in Ilorin West Local Government, Kwara State
- H02: There is no significant difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parents’ marital status.
- H03: There is no significant difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parents’ educational background.
- H04: There is no significant difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parents’ socio-economic status.
Scope of the Study
The study centres on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar in some selected secondary schools in Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State, Nigeria. It is aimed at finding out the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar. Nine schools from both public and private schools will be visited, all from Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State.
An achievement test which cuts across sentence, clause, phrase, words, morphemes, tenses and concord in English grammar were administered to elicit data from the respondents. Demographic characteristics of respondents would be described using percentage. The test would be interpreted using mean, standard deviation and inferential statistics.
Operational Definition of Terms
A form of communication using words either spoken or gestured with the hands and structured with grammar, often with a writing system.
A post primary school attended between the ages of 11 and 16 or 18.
A system of rules and principles for speaking and writing an English language. It can also be seen as the study of the internal structure of words (morphology) and the use of words in the construction of phrases and sentences (syntax) in the English language.
It simply means achievement, representation by action or carrying into execution.
Socio Economic Status:
This is the economic and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work and of an individual’s or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education and occupation.
The power to affect either positively or adversely, control or manipulate something or someone; the ability to change the development of fluctuating things such as conducts thoughts or decisions.
Significance of the Study
The relevance of English grammar in Nigeria secondary schools to the achievement of educational goals cannot be undermined; the findings of this study would be useful to the English language teachers, students, curriculum planners, policy makers, textbook writers and even the parents.
English language teachers would be acquainted with the origin, meaning and various changes that occur in grammar which will therefore facilitate efficient teaching and learning. Students on the other hand, would also show keen interest in speaking and writing correct English grammar which will subsequently aid success in English language as well as related subject examinations.
The research would help policy makers to see the need to employ more competent English language teachers who have gone through pedagogy especially grammar.
Moreso, parents would be enlightened on the need to be involved in the academic achievement of their children to ease the burden off teachers at school. Students would also be exposed to the need to cultivate the habits of extensive reading to be at a better chance of excelling in English language.
Finally, the findings of this study would be additional knowledge for future researchers who may wish offer suggestions and direction for future study.
Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations
This study focused on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English Grammar in Ilorin West, Kwara State. The results and findings obtained in Chapter Four were discussed in this chapter. A total of one hundred and eighty-nine (189) senior secondary school students in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria participated in the study. These students were drawn purposively on the bases of ethnicity, parents marital status and socio-economic status. Five research questions as well as four null hypotheses were generated and tested at 0.05 alpha level. The mean and chi-square were employed to analyse the data gathered. Thereafter, the conclusions were drawn based on the findings of this study, while recommendations and suggestions were articulated to encourage further studies in the efficient teaching of English Grammar.
Discussion on Findings
General Performance of Students in English Grammar
Greater percentage of students 98 (51.9%) recorded in the English grammar test given to them performed low. This implies that majority of the students involved in this study performed below average in the English Grammar Performance Test administered on them. The implication of this is that whether implicitly or explicitly stated in the syllabus, a Nigerian Senior School Certificate holder is expected to command an appreciable level of grammatical competence which this performance is a far departure from. Thereby lending credence to Sogbesans (2009) and Osisanwos (2014) views that the ultimate desire of English language teachers and curriculum designers is to inculcate and improve the linguistic abilities of English language learners, which requires that the various grammatical rules and processes be learnt and internalized.
Difference in the Performance of Students in English Grammar based on Parents Marital Status
The findings of the study revealed that senior secondary school students parental marital status does not have any significant influence on their performance in English grammar in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria. This indicated that students from separated, divorced and intact homes were not significantly different in their performance in English grammar. This negates the findings of Nwachukwu (1998) and NAEP (1986) (National Association of Educational Procurement) that students from broken homes have higher incidence of academic, emotional and behavioural problems than other children from intact homes and that third graders living with one parent score considerably lower than third graders living with both parents. The implication of this is that students parental background does not significantly influence their performance in English grammar.
Difference in the Performance of Students in English Grammar based on Parents Educational Background
The findings of the study also showed that senior secondary school students parental educational background does not have any significant influence on their performance in English grammar in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria. This indicated that students from illiterate and literate homes were not significantly different in their performance in English grammar. Beards (1990) and Bergerts (2011) findings which showed that children who come from homes where conversation is limited and books unknown, are likely to be slower in their linguistic growth and to find greater difficulty in learning to read than those who come from more favoured backgrounds; and that the majorities of the students have less-well educated parents and come from socio-economically disadvantaged families who tend to lack educational resources including books, seem to disagree with this finding.
Difference in the Performance of Students in English Grammar based on Parents Socio-economic Status
The finding of this study on the influence of parents socio-economic status revealed there was a significant difference in students performance in English grammar based on parental socio-economic status. Out of the one hundred and eighty-nine (189) senior secondary school students sampled, 138 (72+66+0) students from the middle socio-economic homes were significantly different from their counterparts in the low and high socio-economic homes.
This depicts that students differ significantly based on income level of their homes. This however confirms the findings of Graetz (1995) which showed that children from low socio-economic status (low income level) families do perform as well as they potentially could at school compared to children from high socio-economic status (high income level) families.
Difference in the Performance of Students in English Grammar based on Parents Ethnic Background
It is revealed from the findings of the study that since the calculated significance (0.604) is greater than the critical alpha level of significance (0.05), this implies that the null hypothesis is therefore accepted, that is there is no significant difference in the performance of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba students in English grammar.
Thus, secondary school students ethnic background does not have any significant influence on their performance in English grammar in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria. This indicated that students with Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba ethnic background were not significantly different in their performance in English grammar.
This disputes the findings of Akomolafe and Olorunfemi (2011) which showed that students ethnicity creates some bias in their relationships amongst one another and this significantly affects their academic performance.
The findings of this study have indicated that none of the predictor variables of parents ethnic background, marital status, educational background, except socio-economic status had any significant influence on students performance in English grammar. This showed that parents’ language, being divorced or married, educated or uneducated does influence students performance in grammar. Hence, English teachers in senior secondary schools should maximise this opportunity in their classrooms to ensure that students’ performance in grammar improve significantly. This has confirmed the general statements of earlier researchers and language scholars that the pathetic performance in the school certificate examination in this very important subject are due mainly to pedagogical failure on the part of the teacher.
Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made for efficient teaching and learning processes:
It is recommended that students show a positive attitude towards learning especially English language (grammar). They should do away with the erroneous notion that English language is too difficult to study, or it involves too many a rule to learn by heart before having a good grammar etc. They should not undervalue the need for correct grammar and consult relevant books for effective mastery and usage.
It is recommended that teachers employ the use of various teaching techniques such as traditional, boxing, immediate constituent analysis, structural analysis, the scale and category/neo-firthian system approach, the phrase structure approach or surface structure approach, the transformational approaches in teaching English grammar in secondary schools. Furthermore, they are to take note that the best of teachers are those who are industrious, committed and show eagerness to solve learner’s problems in the teaching-learning process. They are also advised to update their professionalism by constantly attending seminars, workshop, in-service training and reading of academic journals and related research studies. This will expose teachers to the pedagogical needs for the use of resources teaching English grammar. Similarly, it would stimulate learners to learn more efficiently. Thus, the teaching/learning process becomes an enjoyable experience.
Curriculum Planners and Policy Makers:
It is recommended that curriculum planners and policy makers should know what kind of methods, techniques and resources to prescribe or recommend for teaching English grammar. This would make the needs of learners to be met during teaching/learning of English language. Periodical seminars and in-service training should also be put in place for teachers to keep them abreast of some of the changes that occur in their area of specialization.
Textbook Writers and Publishers:
It is recommended that textbook writers employ the right type of teaching techniques needed in the course of writing and organising the contents of textbooks in line with the current English Language curriculum so as to achieve the desired goal of teaching and learning. In the same vein, the publishers are employed to update their publications by ensuring that the type of teaching techniques highlighted in this study are applied in the teaching of various aspects of English grammar. This will trigger teachers and proprietors’ interest of various schools to patronise their books.
Suggestions for Further Studies
This study covered only the secondary schools in Ilorin West Kwara State, Nigeria. Further study can be undertaken in other states of the federation. The techniques used in this study can also be researched into at this level as well as other educational levels.
Finally, the findings of this study are inconclusive. More studies on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar in Ilorin West, Kwara State.
Difference In The Performance Of Students In English Grammar Based On Parents Ethnic Background
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