The Effects Of Mother Tongue Interference In The Learning Of English Language In Some Selected Secondary Schools In Ilorin West Local Government Of Kwara State

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

The Effects Of Mother Tongue Interference In The Learning Of English Language In Some Selected Secondary Schools In Ilorin West Local Government Of Kwara State

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The theme of this study aims at finding out the effects of mother tongue interference in the learning of English language in some selected secondary schools in Ilorin west local government of Kwara State.

English is an international, global and a universal language. It is generally refers to as second language (English). It is the official and native language of Britain, Ireland, North America, Australia, and most of the British Colonies especially Nigeria which makes it our second language.

Mother tongue is one’s native language and we have many native languages in Nigeria. Everyone has mother tongue influence (MTI) in the use of sounds when speaking or interacting.

Hence, our respective mother tongue exists before colonization. This has necessitated the teaching and learning of the English language and its consequent inference of our mother tongue in various schools in Nigeria. It is therefore, glaring to state that, Nigeria is a linguistically complex nation by the mere fact of the history of its creation. It is estimated that there are about over 400 languages spoken in Nigeria.

This linguistic heterogeneity promotes the continued use of English language in Nigeria since the role of English language in Nigeria is diverse and ubiquitous, especially as a means of intra and international communication. It is as a result of the negative effects which the mother tongue has caused in the learning of English language in the educational structure and the attempt to determine the effect of the use of mother tongue in the teaching and learning process in secondary schools.

English words used must be simple so that it can be reached to people easily as well as easily understood by everyone. Nowadays English is being taught to students in secondary schools. Students are strictly made to speak in English when they are in the school premises. English is a trade language between various tribes in Nigeria.
Mother tongue disrupts the smoothness of communication as students with no confidence tend to use mother tongue instead of English. Many students from different tribes cannot pronounce many words correctly as an English native speaker will do e.g. measure, pleasure, treasure, support, college, bus, school etc.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Before the advent of British traders, missionaries and colonialists, indigenous Nigerian language defined every aspect of speech within the community from religious, cultural, political, economic and social function effectively to deal with everything relating to the day existence of the people.

New sets of ideas, concepts and values were introduced to the system where indigenous local language had previously been self-sufficient rendering them inadequate to deal with the new concepts introduced by the British, particularly in our secondary schools.

The effect of mother tongue interference in the learning of English language in schools.

The following problems are identified when teaching English as a second language.

  1. Problems of mother-tongue interference arise the second language learner use the mother tongue (native language) speaker’s acquisition of the English articles.
  2. Encounter problems in sentence and word stresses, vowel sounds, and English supra segmental of pitch.
  3. Problem of pronunciation.
  4. When a learner makes use of some linguistic items in the mother tongue to replace difficult words in the target language.

1.3 Significance of Study

  1. The significance of study will help to expose numerous factors that influence the interference of mother tongue in the learning of English language.
  2. The study will identify the effects of this interference on the academic performance of students in English language in external examinations.
  3. The study will enable teachers to identify their problems in the teaching of English language.
  4. It will enable students to understand how to make use of English words especially pronunciation, intonation, and phonology.
  5. This piece of work could equally be of immense help for those wishing to go into more research in the area of study. The results of findings in this work will be of great importance to provide necessary information to teachers and education planners on how to help the students improve on their pronunciation at the early stages of learning the second language.
  6. It will also ease the teachers’ method of teaching.

1.4 Purpose of the Study

  1. To find out the level at which mother tongue can interfere in the learning of English language in senior secondary schools.
  2. To investigate the qualifications of English teachers in secondary schools in Ilorin west of Kwara State.
  3. To know the teaching methods used by teachers in the teaching of English language in secondary schools.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. Does mother tongue actually interfere in the learning of English language in secondary schools?
  2. Does English language teachers uses correct teaching methods?
  3. Do you have qualified English teachers in your schools?
  4. How can you overcome mother tongue influence?
  5. Does the phonology of mother tongue affect the learning of English language in secondary schools?

1.6 The Scope of the Study

The study covers four selected secondary schools in Ilorin west LGA of Kwara State.

The schools are:

  • Government Girls Day Secondary School. Oko- Erin.
  • Queen Elizabeth Secondary School. Ilorin.
  • Government Day Secondary School. Oke-Aluko.
  • Government Day Secondary School. Odo-okun.

The study is restricted to SSS1-3 in the selected school and their continuous assessment and summative examinations of schools such as WASSCE and NECO Senior School Certificate Examination in English language (2015-2016).

1.7 Definition of Terms.

The following terms are operationally defined as used in this research work.

This will go a long way giving direction to the work.


It is the native language one first learns to speak before other language. It is the language a person learned as a child at home usually from their parents. The children growing up in a bilingual environment can have more than one mother tongue or native language. Mother tongue refers to the language a person learns to speak first in life.


Refers the influence of one language or variety on another in the speech of bilinguals who use both languages.


Is that person who has the ability to function in two languages. Bloom field identified the bilingual as somebody with nature-like control of two languages.


Is concerned with the structure of language which is subdivided into subfields i.e. phonetics, phonology, and morphology. Syntactical and lexical.


Consist of many different kinds of people or things.


Is the branch of anthropology that analyses and compares human cultures, as in social structure, language, religion and technology.

Second Language:

Refers to the language a person learns in addition to his first or native language. Encyclopedia defines second language as any language whose acquisition starts after early childhood.

A second language (SL) is a non-native language that is widely used for purposes of communication, usually as a medium of education, government or business. English is the second language in Nigeria.


Is considered to be a system of communicating with other people using sounds, symbols and words in expressing a meaning, idea, or thought. This language can be used in many forms primarily through oral and written communications as well as using expressions through body language. Language remains the most common medium for the communication of ideas, feelings, requests, criticisms and needs.


It investigates the whole articulating or audial system of language. It describes variants of pronunciation that occurs in different types of speech.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

This chapter deals with discussion of findings, conclusion drawn from the study the implication of the findings, and recommendation for further study are also highlighted.

This study attempt to investigate the effect of mother tongue (MT) interference in the learning of English language in some selected secondary schools in Ilorin west local government of Kwara state

5.2 Discussion of Findings

In view to the data analysis presented in chapter four and its interpretations, the following were the findings of the research work based on the research questions and questionnaire for the English teachers and students and students.

Under the phonological aspect, the following factors were observed as been deviant pronunciation of words, wrong placement of stress and because of the differences between the mother tongue phonetic inventories and those of the English language.

Nigerian speakers in English have problems in consonant phonemes

i.e. Hausa had problem with /P/ /F/ ‘pool’, ‘fool’. /θ/ /t/, /s/ as in ‘thin’, ‘sin’.

Yoruba /t∫/ /∫/ ‘chair’, ‘champion’ /v/ and /f/ are conflated safe and save.

Ibo /r/ (i)(r) ‘look’ ‘like’ /n/ /ng/ are ibo English problem, velar nasal occurs in syllable final position in English i.e. ‘sing’, ‘hand’ Ibos will put an epithetic (g). all these were identified in the students pronunciation.

From table 2 and table 3 over 60% of the students form SSS1 and SSS2 could not pronounced words correctly without interference of mother tongue (MT).

Qualified English teachers were inadequate in the four schools selected in Ilorin west local government Area of Kwara State. The percentage of English language teachers is 0.8% of the total population of teachers. The students in public schools hardly purchase English language textbooks which is the better w ay of learning the acts of reading, writing and speaking.

Teachers occasionally give exercises to students in all the four schools because of the population of the students to a teacher.

Constant practice will enhance pronunciation and improves the confidence level of speaking without mother tongue (MT).

Students and teachers hardly use English dictionary to teach and learn oral English since oral English has become a compulsory aspect in English language both in WAEC and NECO Examinations.

5.3 Implication of Study

In view of these findings, the following measures are hereby recommended.

  1. School authority should allot more time to the teaching of oral English because adequate time is one way to effective communication in language.
  2. Motivation of students by teachers is necessary because it encourages the students to use receive pronunciation even when they are been made jest of by their fellow students. They should be made to understand that English is not just a subject to be passed during Examination but the ability to express one clearly.
  3. English language is the basis of formal education. The inability to impart it on our students will be dangerous since other subjects are written in the language.
  4. Our international repute will be at stake if the English language cannot be indicated; rather the mother tongue.

5.4 Conclusion

Based on these findings, we can conclude that students make ungrammatical sentence because of the mother tongue interference, however, their biggest number of syntactical errors emanated from the inconsistencies in the rules of English language.

Therefore in the data analysis and findings of this study, the following conclusions were drawn.

  1. Relevant teaching aids for English language should be procure and made available for teachers.
  2. Teachers and students should be encouraged to put in their best in teaching and learning of English language
  3. Students should make friends with English speakers, learning to speak English and compare notes. Talk about things that you have learnt and exchange ideas.
  4. Students are advised to read aloud. Read newspaper or magazine our to themselves because it is a great way to practice pronunciation.
  5. Teachers and students are encouraged to always use dictionary. Online dictionaries often have audio examples where they can check their pronunciation

5.5 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this research work the researcher has the following recommendations to make

  1. Teaching aids should be made available in our schools as it makes concretization of facts on students and teachers use it during teaching
  2. English language teachers should ensure that students are carried along in the classroom lessons and every student should be made to express his/her in English lesson in order to master it.
  3. The state ministry of education should mount a programme on debate and quiz for secondary schools. This will go a long way at making the students perform well in English language.
  4. The government should employ more English language teachers to schools. This will enhance difficult areas of English to be target and reduce the work load on teachers.
  5. Establishment of English language laboratory in all secondary schools

Finally, teachers of English language should be dedicated and patient in handling these children in developing their speaking skill. Teachers should make effort in designing students’ activities in class as regards to remedial skills in correcting errors transferred form mother tongue.

5.6 Suggestion for Further Studies

The sampled population for this study was SSS1-SSS3 students of some selected secondary schools in Ilorin West local government of Kwara State. The researchers do hereby recommend that further research work be carried out in the following areas.

  1. Use of instructional materials in English language for effective learning
  2. Teacher motivation in achieving educational goal problems and prospect.

The Effects Of Mother Tongue Interference In The Learning Of English Language In Some Selected Secondary Schools In Ilorin West Local Government Of Kwara State

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