Causes Of Mass Failure In English Language In Senior Secondary Schools

Project and Seminar Material for English Education

Causes Of Mass Failure In English Language In Senior Secondary Schools


The non-proficiency of Nigerian students in English Language has been a major concern of the research. Therefore, the researcher probed into the causes of mass failure in English Language in senior secondary schools in Olorunda Local Government Area of Osun State.

The research was carried out in five secondary schools in Olorunda Local Government Area. Questionnaire was designed for the purpose of data collection from a hundred students chosen at random with twenty students from each school. The simple percentage and frequency distribution tables were used to analyse the data.

The study revealed that the students believed that English Language is an interesting subject to study, but that lack of qualified teachers, inadequate teaching materials, bad reading culture, parents’ illiteracy, bad attitude of students to English Language, poor environmental conditions, overpopulation in the classroom, laziness of teachers to work, and truancy on the part of the students cause failure in English Language

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Different authors have tried to make an intensive review about the causes of mass failure of students’ in English language at the secondary level across the country and beyond. Several researches on this topic were conducted in developing as well as developed countries. In developing countries some researcher showed that school factors were more important for students’ English achievement than family factors. Regarding Nigeria, there is no specific study on the issue. Therefore; further investigation is needed to determine causes responsible for mass failure of students in English language at the secondary level of Olorunda Local Government Area of Osun State. In a study conducted by Hasan (2005) on the ‘‘English Language Curriculum at the Secondary Level in Nigeria He discovers 82% of rural and urban secondary school students complain that English is not sufficiently used in the class; with an average 68% of teachers admitting that they do not arrange the practice of the four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) of English language in the classroom. Another survey shows that the trained teachers are more efficient than non-trained teachers at the secondary level of the English language in Nigeria (Johnson 2001). Moreover, Stephen Krashen (2002) hypothesizes the ‘affective filter’ that consists of various psychological factors, such as anxiety, motivation, and self-confidence which can strongly enhance or inhibit second language acquisition. Snow (2004) advocates that students of any age, and in any culture will differ from one another in various intellectual and psychometric abilities. This is noticed in both general and specialized prior knowledge, in interest and motives and in personal styles of thought and work during learning. Furthermore, these differences often relate directly to differences in students learning progress. Malaka (2001) has explored the motivational problems in teaching-learning English as a secondary language at high school level with a particular reference at standards in Nigeria.

Rashid (2005) carries out research on the strategies to overcome communication difficulties in the target language situation of Osun state, Nigeria. He found that some distinctive new features have emerged as to the difficulties and the possible use of strategies in the communication of target language. The majority of the interviewees (85%) admitted that a great deal of anxiety; hesitation and inhibition, play a negative role among those who are not relatively fluent in English conversation. Wilkins (2004) points out that a teacher is an important variable in foreign language situations, and teacher’s skill, and personalities are instrumental in creating the conditions for learning a language. Gardner (2005) proposes that second language acquisition is ‘truly a socio-psychological phenomenon. It is concerned with the development of communication skills between an individual and members of another cultural community. Krashen (2002) contends that learners with high motivation, self-confidence, self-efficacy, a good self-image, and a low level of anxiety are well equipped for success in second language acquisition. Gardner and Lambert (2002) have emphasized the significance of studying each language-learning setting in its own right, and thereby suggested that the configuration of variables obtained from one setting will not be necessarily valid in another setting. For example, the South Asian learners learn English for historical, political, social and cultural reasons, which are radically different from those of South-East Asian or African learners. Jayanthi (2002) observes the classroom interaction of the higher secondary students in Punjab. Her study reveals that the factors like smartness of the students, shyness, evaluative capacity, commitment, psychological conditions, observation of world knowledge, time factors, interactional awareness, interaction with text, etc., play a very important role over the effective and efficient interactions of the students. The role of English in Nigeria is characterized by a multipurpose functionality. For instance, English has been used for years and for different purposes, i.e. medium of instruction in the higher educational institutions, mode of communication beyond the country, Supreme Court language, and gradually it is becoming part of the socio-cultural system. Walberg’s (2004) theory of educational productivity requires nine factors to increase students’ achievement of cognitive and affective outcomes. These factors are (a) student aptitude variables or prior achievement, (b) Age, (c) Motivation or self-concept as on learning a task; the instructional variables of (d) Quality of instruction (e) Quality of instructional experience (f) Home environment (g) Classroom or school environment (h) Peer group environment, and (I)Mass media (especially Television). There is no exclusive study on this specific issue (factors affecting students’ English achievement at secondary level in Olorunda Local Government Area of Osun State. Therefore, it is important to conduct research in the two sub-districts, sub-urban and in the rural areas on the basis of reality of students, English teachers’, school principals, guardians, community members and education officers, at secondary level in Nigeria. English language is a language of communication in Nigerian society. It is a language of medium instructions, as a Lingual Franca, useful in all facets of lives in Nigeria. English as a second language is useful between the encoder and decoders. It is a language meant for a medium of communication by instructors (teachers) in the school. English is a compulsory subject to be taken to qualify students to enter the universities, and to pass WASSCE NECO, NABTEB and other public examinations. English carries our major instruments of communication in various ministries, parastatals, universities, business centre, cyber café, embassies, airports, seaports, and in our major highways. Without English language it would have been difficult for an average Nigerians to exists and interacts with the rest and outside worlds. The original owners of English language were the natives of Britains or United Kingdom which comprises of Wales in Queen Elizabeth, domain, Scotland among the Scotish, North Ireland and among the English people of England. English language gradually became an international language through the act of colonization of British in an attempt to explore the whole worlds. All the English speaking countries should belong to the Anglophone countries of which Nigeria. Ghana, India, USA , Egypt,, south Africa are member. As a result of this English language has gradually become a major language of instruction by all and sundry. Gradually, English has became a lingual France, a medium of communication to both the rich and the poor, the affluence and downtroders in our society. As a second language learner most Nigerian faces major problems in speaking and writing English language, because they could not speak and write like the Native speakers. Many of our indigenous languages has now being assimilated into the study of English language in our day to day activities.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Nigeria has unified educational system. However, it has diversity in the local areas in terms of religion, culture, socio-economic conditions etc. Nigeria has had a long period of academic attachment to English to the acquisition of English as a second language. Against such a background, however, it is generally agreed that the standard of competency of our learners in English is not satisfactory in comparison to the time they expend in learning the language. Huq (2006) in this regard observes, despite the considerable amount of time devoted to English instruction, the general proficiency and achievement of the majority of the students graduating from secondary schools is unsatisfactory and disproportionately low. it has been observed that the performance of students in English Language in public examinations such as WAEC and NECO have been amongst the lowest score compared with other fundamental subjects. Among the failures, about 90% fail the English section (Nigeria Education Statistical Book, 2005).

1.3 Objective of the Study

The objectives of the study are;

  1. To ascertain the causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school
  2. To find out whether teacher could be one of the causes of mass failure of English language in senior secondary school
  3. To find out whether family background can contribute to student mass failure in English language in senior secondary school

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: there are no causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school
    H1: there are causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school
  2. H02: teachers are not the cause of mass failure of English language in senior secondary school
    H2: teachers are the cause of mass failure of English language in senior secondary school

1.5 Significance of the Study

The knowledge of English is more critical as well as important in the context of the global marketplace, the knowledge of society and in the age of digital information technology. Dr. Mohamamad Farashuddin (2011), said, ‘‘proficiency in English is a must for the nation to abolish poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and indignity.’’ This research is aimed at making contributions towards the quality improvements of English education in secondary schools in Nigeria. By clarifying the factors that influence students’ English achievement, this study attempts to suggest a way of how to improve achievement and effective policy input. The results of this study can be used for a variety of purposes. Principally, it will help teacher-trainers, educational administrators, policy makers, researchers and teachers in Nigeria to identify the factors likely to increase students’ English achievement. Here, this study will try to point out some areas where steps may be taken to promote English teaching and learning conditions in Nigeria, encompassing the secondary-level students, rural as well as suburban .

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational Privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.

1.7 Definition of Terms


A thing done successfully with effort, skill, or courage.


Has to do with how a person understands and acts in the world. It is the set of abilities or processes that are part of nearly every human action.

Cognitive Abilities:

Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex.


Denoting or relating to mental disorders in which disturbance of mood is the primary symptom.


Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. Product failure ranges from failure to sell the product to fracture of the product, in the worst cases leading to personal injury, the province of forensic engineering.

1.8 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), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is 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 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 ascertain causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school

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 mass failure in English language in senior secondary school

5.2 Summary

This study was on causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school. Three objectives were raised which included: To ascertain the causes of mass failure in English language in senior secondary school, to find out whether teacher could be one of the causes of mass failure of English language in senior secondary school, to find out whether family background can contribute to student mass failure in English language in senior secondary school. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected secondary schools in Olorunda Local Government Area of Osun State. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made up principals, vice principals administration, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study, the following conclusions were made: That the causes of poor performance in English language among senior secondary school students in Olorunda Local Government Area of Osun State include dominance of mother tongue, inadequate teachers of English language, inadequate facilities and instructional media/materials, teachers’ attitude toward innovation and use of instructional media, negative attitude of students toward learning English language and improper use of methods of teaching by teachers. That provision and appropriate use of instructional media/materials, provision of qualified teachers of English language, use of proper methods of teaching, provision of language laboratory, listening to English language programmes and engaging students in debating activity can improve the performance of senior secondary school students in English language in Olorunda Local Government Area of Osun State

5.4 Recommendation

Qualified teachers of English language should always be employed to handle the course in all the senior secondary schools of Lagos state. Adequate instructional media/materials should provided where not available improvisation should be adopted by the English teachers of senior secondary schools of Lagos state. Proper supervision by both the administrations of the senior secondary schools of Lagos state ministry of education should be conducted to make sure teachers of English language are actually doing what they are expected to do.

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