The Effects Of Nigerian Pidgin English In University Community

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

The Effects Of Nigerian Pidgin English In University Community


The study exposes the difficulties experienced by students at the Junior Secondary School Certificate Level with respect to Pidgin English Interference on English Language teaching/students daily use of the language in some selected secondary schools in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area. some research questions were formulated to guide the direction of the study against the background of variable factors in the learning situation. Related literature review was undertaken so as to be abreast a earlier writers view on the subject matter studied. An instrument was designed to obtain information from respondents. The instrument in the form of questionnaire was administered and subsequently retrieved, tabulated side by side the formulated research questions with answers provided to them the results obtained were discussed with findings conclusion and recommendation were presented in the final chapter.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The One of the most important differences between man and animal is man’s ability to speak and make others understand him. Language is only possible because within each society, people agree to understand a particular pattern of sound in a particular way. For instance, all English speaking countries understand the meaning of the word ‘water’. According to Akindele and Adegbije, language is:A human phenomenon that has form which can be described in terms of units of sound (phonemes), word, morphemes, phrases, sentences and paragraphs or discourse (1).This definition shows that language has often been identified as the most unique attribute of man. It is through language that human beings grasp and understand reality and transmit it from one generation to another. This view is buttressed by Blakar who asserts that “we actually live and behave in a world of language” (4). Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman quoted Noam Chomoky as saying that:When we study human language, we are approaching what some might call the human essence. The distributive qualities of mind that are so far as we know unique to man. (1).

Language, which OyewoYinka describe as “the medium or vehicle for conveying ideas, a system of arbitrary vocal symbol based on social cooperation; the totality of meaningful utterance in any given society” (15) is by far the most important means of human communication. The effects of Nigerian Pidgin English on students is the focus of this research work. Pidgin has their different histories about language contact and subsequent borrowing and code-mixing. The origin of Nigerian pidgin can be traced to the contact which was established between multilingual coastal communities and Portuguese merchants, who were joined later by the Dutch and the English. Nigerian Pidgin English is in fact becoming very popular in the country, especially in the secondary schools and in the universities; even at public function as well as in the offices. It is a lingua franca for social integration among diverse ethnic groups in the country.

Nigerian Pidgin English has developed to the extent that it is utilized for literary communication. Some of the works which Nigerian pidgin is employed as a medium of expression are “Dis Nigeria Sef” a poem written by Ken Saro-Wiwa, No Food No Country a play by Tunde Fatunde, and Grip Am a play by Ola Rotimi; though some people consider it to be a low social status. Nigerian Pidgin has come to stay as the major lingua franca adopted for communication among the many different speakers in Nigeria. According to Jowitt: The situation today is that pidgin flourishes as a medium of inter-ethnic communication, especially in the south, and especially in the large cities with many non-indigenous residents (Bendel, Benin, Port Harcourt, etc) or throughout States with small many ethnic groups…(13)Nigerian Pidgin in this case is a situation where normal language pattern is altered, but generally accepted to convey meaning. The language does not only evolve but also has its origin from a mixture of other languages. Experiences have shown that among the students for which this work was conceived, Nigerian Pidgin English has gained a wider audience in all sectors of the economy, especially the educational sector. The term pidgin is used to refer to a language which develops in a situation where speakers of different languages have a need to communicate but do not share a common language. Once a pidgin has emerged, it is generally learned as a second language and used for communication among people who speak differently.

Language is the most creative and unlimited instrument for social communication and it helps us to understand the deep seated social relevance, culture involvement and the human relatedness of language. Having said this, we can therefore agree that pidgin is a language of its own and not just a supplementary tongue as some people see it, since it serves as an unlimited instrument of social communication especially in a multilingual community as Caritas University. According to R. Linton he states that “the culture of a society is the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation” (12). These cultures, ideas and habits can only be transmitted from generation to generation through language. In linguistic, every language is considered adequate to represent the communicative needs of its people and as such should not be made to suffer any biases.

This cannot be said of Nigerian Pidgin – even though it is a language – because various attempts have been made by different faction to eradicate the use of Nigerian Pidgin English. These attempts have however been unsuccessful because of the significant value the language has to its users. It is a language that has brought people together in spite of their differences in ancestral culture and language by creating a local culture for itself which blends ideas from different cultures.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

Nigerian Pidgin is a language just as English and there is enough room for both language to co-exist and be mutually enriching. Despite this – and the fact that Nigerian Pidgin English appears to be the most popular means of communication among diverse groups and is easier to learn than any other language in the country today – it is generally asserted that it is not the suitable language for use in formal setting and its use in such setting is usually frowned at. This research work will explore the potentials of Nigerian Pidgin English as a language. If Nigerian Pidgin English does have this potential, why is its usage and status denigrated? Also, does the speaking of Nigerian Pidgin affect the student’s academic performance? Answers to these questions will enable us make useful recommendations for future studies.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This work intends to look into the effectiveness and status of Nigerian Pidgin English. It is inherent that for a long period of time that Nigerian Pidgin English has been the means of communication among students in the higher institutions. This research will bring into light if the use of Nigeria Pidgin English has any effect on the students and their academic performance in Caritas University. The finding will be regarded to be generic, affecting also students in other institutions who equally exalt Nigerian Pidgin English above standard English.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Are there available qualified lecturers handling the teaching/learning of English language?
  2. Does Pidgin English have any influence on the teaching and learning of English Language?
  3. Is there any relationship between Pidgin English and English Language?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is important because its results can go a long way to finding out the causes of students’ negative or positive academic performance. If Nigerian Pidgin English has contributed negatively or positively to the students.

This work will in no doubt contribute to one’s knowledge especially in the department of English, Caritas University, Enugu as it will highlight some issues in educational planning. It will be a guide for the federal government in planning for effective educational system.

1.6 Scope and Limitations

The scope of this project is on the effects of Nigerian Pidgin English in university community. An assessment of its use in various forms will be carried out. This research is limited to Caritas University, Enugu even though the findings might be generic.

1.7 Research Methodology

Questionnaires were distributed to hundred (100) students in Caritas University, Enugu State which is my case study and these questionnaires were filled and collected and the hundred questionnaires were returned.

The result/total of responses from the respondents is tabled in the yes/no format. The collection of data was done in two parts. The secondary and primary source. The primary source is the questionnaire; the secondary source includes textbooks, journals and so on. The materials were researched upon in libraries: Benue State University and Caritas University libraries.

The total number of hundred (100) questionnaires were distributed and the percentage system is the method used in calculating the different responses.

1.8 Definition of Terms


Is the language, originally of England now spoken of international communication throughout the world.

English Language:

Is as well a subject of study.


A simple form of language especially English, Portuguese or Dutch, with a limited number of words used with words from a local language.

Pidgin English:

A way of speaking a language that uses simple words and forms, when a person cannot speak the language well.


The form of a language that is spoken in an area with its grammar, words and pronunciation that may be different from other forms of the same language as elsewhere used.

Ethnic Group:

Connected with or belonging to a small indigenous group in a nation, race or people that share the same cultural tradition.

Standard English:

Generally accepted spellings, pronunciations, grammar believed to be correct and used by most learned people.

Lingua Franca:

A shared language of communication used between people whose main languages are different.

L1: First Language:

The language that one learns to speak first as a child and usually one speaks the language best among other languages.

L2-Second Language:

A language that somebody learns to speak well and use at workplace or at school where it is learnt but that is not the language such user learns first.

1.9 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and also recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of pidgin English in the university community.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of teaching and learning of English Language.

5.2 Summary

The study hopes that this study will contribute to revamping the unsatisfactory poor performance of students in English language, which is vital to both their success and progress in formal education. The government, parents and teachers will achieve greater value from their investments, in both human and material resources, made on education when the teeming population of students passes the all-important English language examination. Teachers of English need to be equipped with necessary provisions to enable students overcome the pressures of their massive exposure to Nigerian pidgin in the society. This call for a reappraisal of the teaching of English language is expected to enhance better returns on teachers’ efforts.

5.3 Conclusions

This study hopes that these measures will contribute to revamping the unsatisfactory poor performance of students in English language, which is vital to both their success and progress in formal education. The government, parents and teachers will achieve greater value from their investments, in both human and material resources, expended on education when the teeming population of students passes the all-important English language examination.

Teachers of English need to be equipped with necessary provisions to enable students overcome the pressures of their massive exposure to Nigerian pidgin in the society. This call for a reappraisal of the teaching of English language is expected to enhance better returns on teachers’ efforts.

5.4 Recommendations

The researcher recommends that school curriculum need to be adjusted to accommodate Nigerian pidgin. Students need to be aware, right from upper primary school through to the end of senior secondary school, that Nigerian pidgin is different from English language.

The differences should be taught alongside their negative effects when Nigerian pidgin interferes with English. This campaign should be sustained for the period suggested above so as to afford the students sufficient time to learn how to handle the languages independent of each other.

Teachers in secondary school as well as English language lecturers in higher institutions need to acquire the requisite knowledge of Nigerian pidgin and its negative effect whenever it interferes with English language. The teachers will then be able to teach students as suggested above.

Policy makers in Nigeria need no longer disdain or ignore Nigerian pidgin. Doing the contrary is a disservice to the educational progress of the teeming population of the future leaders of the country.

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