The Impact Of Pidgin English On Students Competence In Nigeria University

Project and Seminar Material for English Education

The Impact Of Pidgin English On Students Competence In Nigeria University


This project is an attempt to explore the recurring grave concerning the academic performance of students. Though a large percentage of students in Nigeria learn English as a second language and are instructed in it, the Nigerian pidgin seems to interfere with their acquisition of the language and their performance in it much more than their mother tongues. The impact of pidgin contributes in no small measure to the dismal performance of students in their academic career

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title Page
  • Dedication
  • Certification
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background to the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Significance of the study
  • 1.4 Aim and objectives of the study
  • 1.5 Justifications for the study
  • 1.6 Scope of the study

Chapter Two

2.0 Introduction

  • 2.1 Evolution of Pidgin as a form of language
  • 2.2 The place of pidgin in contemporary Nigerian Society
  • 2.3 Features of Nigerian Pidgin
  • 2.4 Status of the NP
  • 2.5 Reduplication in Nigerian Pidgin
  • 2.6 Conclusion

Chapter Three

3.0 Methodology

  • 3.1 Population Sampling
  • 3.2 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.3 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.4 Conclusion

Chapter Four

4.0 Analysis of Data

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • References

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

Nigeria is a multilingual country with four hundred indigenous languages, out of which three are regarded as major ones, namely: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, representing the three major geo-political zones – North, East and South respectively. Despite this fact, Nigerian Pidgin is used in diverse degrees in different parts of the country and ithas become a lingua franca for many, while it is a Creole in some Southern and Eastern States like Rivers, Lagos, Delta, Edo, and Cross Rivers. Marchese and Schnkal (1980) confirm this after a major evolution in the Delta area of Nigeria, they say; “… in a particular part of Nigeria, the areas around Warri and Sapele, Nigerian pidgin is more of a Creole. Creole is a mixture of an European language with a local language and is spoken as a first language.

Some view it as a variety of English, while others see it as a distinct language. A look at the structure of Nigerian pidgin (NP) portrays that it has structures and patterns of behaviour of its own. Though at its initial stage, NP was considered the language of those who could not speak good English, but many know better now. It is therefore, no wonder that it is not only used by undergraduates in Nigerian universities during conversation with the uneducated public, but it has become a fascinating medium of casual exchange among students themselves.

Fisherman (1997) asserts that; “no language considered inferior is aptly logical”. This is because where two or more speech communities come in contact, a lingua franca or common language of communication emerges. He further points out that it is the social situation use popularly known as context that affects the morpho-syntactic pattern of a language. Since pidginisation, according to Hymes (1971:84), is a “complex process of Sociolinguistics”, we shall now consider the use of Nigerian Pidgin English among students of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.

1.1 Background To The Study

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 different languages.

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 society like Nigeria.

Linton (1982) 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”. These cultures, ideas and habits can only be transmitted from generation to generation through language. In Linguistics, every language is considered adequate to represent the communicative needs of its people 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 factions 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.

Moreover, this use of Pidgin as a lingua Franca affects many Nigerians in academic careers, especially, those students that come from the environments where it is spoken.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

It is very pertinent to note that what actually started as an “emergency language” between the white merchants, to ease communication with the natives has now become “an elitist campus language” spoken among the teeming population of the Nigerian students in higher institutions of learning, thereby overlapping the standard English to such an extent that the students’ competence is impaired.

1.3 Significance Of The Study

This Study is important because its results can go a long way in finding out the causes of students’ competence. This work will in no doubt contribute to one’s knowledge, especially in the Department of English, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto as it will highlight some issues in relation to written English. It will be a guide for the effective educational system.

1.4 Aim And Objectives Of The Study

This research is carried out to examine the effect of Pidgin English on students’ competence. It is a fact that students deviate from the norms of codified English in most of their essays and communications.

The following are the set of objectives to be achieved

  1. To show the impact of Nigerian Pidgin in a University Community; using 300 level students of MELL
  2. To assess the extent of its popularity and the communicative situation within which it is used.
  3. To show who uses Pidgin and for what purpose?

1.5 Justifications For The Study

Prior to this time, a lot of works and research have been done on NP as a language of wider communication in Nigeria. However, its impact on the students is worth investigating. This work will attempt to reveal the fact that the Nigerian pidgin which was initially used as a medium of communication by particular group of people and for specific purpose has gradually come to be used in institutions of higher learning

1.6 Scope Of The Study

This research work will attempt to investigate the impact of Pidgin English on the University community, though it focuses on the Students of UDU, Sokoto (300level MELL) with a view to providing detailed information on the impact of NP on the performance of the students.

Chapter Five

Summary And Conclusion

It is observed that many of the students do not understand that English language is distinctly different from Nigerian pidgin. They do not know that the grammar and vocabulary of the pidgin are foreign and unacceptable to English. This set of students are fooled by the English language vocabulary they use in Nigerian pidgin to assume that the two languages are the same.

Solomon (2007:82) reports that this ignorance makes students to loan Nigerian pidgin vocabulary to the language. As a result of the ignorance, many students impose the grammatical structure of the former on the latter in their written English. These have grave effects on their performance in English language examinations.

As seen from the data above, Nigerian pidgin is a formidable and unassailable indigenous language in Nigeria. The co-existence of English language and the pidgin is an educational problem in Nigeria. The negative impact of the co-existence of the two languages exerts some considerable negative effects on the effective learning of English. The ignorance of some students about the distinct features of the two languages has a grave implication on the learning of English language in the country.

Implication To Research And Practice

The school curriculum would have to be adjusted to accommodate Nigerian pidgin. Students need to be aware, right from upper primary school through to the end of junior 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 primary schools as well as English language teachers in secondary schools 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.

Nigerian pidgin is a national linguistic force to reckon with in Nigeria. A well articulated programme is of necessity, which needs to developed. This will enable students and other users of the language to be conversant with the orthography and vocabulary of the language. It is envisaged that this will drastically minimise the interference of Nigerian pidgin with the English that students are taught in schools.


This project 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.

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