A Study Of The Phonological Usage Of The English Language By L2 Speakers In Selected Nigerian Schools
This study attempts to find out the phonological problems of Selected Secondary School students in the English language. In achieving this goal, 60 students were sampled using descriptive survey design, because it is aimed at collecting data on features and facts about a given population and describing it in a systematic manner.
In conclusion, this study revealed among other things that the selected speakers of English as L2 have problems in the use of English suprasegmental features. The findings however indicate that they can be assisted to overcome these problems.
Interpretation and Discussion of Findings
In this chapter, interpretation and discussion of result of the research are undertaken and the educational implications of the findings are also discussed.
The performance of the subjects as evidenced in the exercises is a pointer to the conclusion that the study of a second language involves forming new speech habits. Although English is the language of interaction and instruction in Nigeria, general competence in it is yet to be achieved by many Nigerian speakers. It has also been confirmed by the findings of this research and other related studies that the suprasegmentals prove the most difficult phonological aspect of the English language to be learnt by second language users of English. This stems from the mother tongue of the non-native speakers of English. Considering the place of the mother tongue in the second language learning and usage, the researcher decided to select the subjects from a college of education and a university where English is the primary language of teaching, learning and interaction among the subjects. This was done on purpose with the expectations that the errors of the subjects would be minimal considering their level of education; it was expected that they should have overcome some of the peculiarities of L2 users of English in their speeches.
Implications of the Findings:
A major contributory factor to the failure in the proper use of the suprasegmentals is the linguistic background of the subjects. Most of the subjects were exposed to learning English relatively late in their lives and more so this learning was done far away from the environment of the native speakers where learning could be easily and better reinforced. None of these subjects was taught by a native speaker and they hardly speak the language in its formal form outside of formal situations. They were hardly taught correct rendition with stress and intonation as most of them could not even render correctly these features. This problem however is not peculiar to the Igala speakers of English alone. It is a general problem encountered by almost all Nigerian speakers of English as they tend to transfer features from their languages into the English language as evidenced in the review of related studies.
In conclusion, this study revealed among other things that Igala speakers of English have problems in the use of English suprasegmental features. The findings however indicate that they can be assisted to overcome these problems.
The direct subjects of this study are not the only one who will benefit from this study: instructors and the state education commission will also benefit. There is, therefore, the need for English language instructors, educational planners and school administrators to take concrete steps that are realistic and attainable for the improvement of the reading and pronunciation habits of the instructors and learners taking into consideration the great importance attached to the efficient use of English suprasegmentals.
In line with the findings, conclusion, and educational implication of this study, the following recommendations are made.
- The teachers of oral English should be specialists in oral English. Non-specialists should not be allowed to teach the subject because they may not know the right pronunciations and so they may cause the students to internalize errors which are termed error of transfer of learning.
- In order to remedy the suprasegmentals problem of the L2 users of English, more attention should be given to the teaching of the English suprasegmentals. This should be given a top priority in our schools since intelligibility in English does not solely depend on the ability to produce correct syntax and lexis alone; it also depends on the ability to render correctly the prosody and intonation features of English. Proper screening exercises by experts should be carried out on teachers of English in Nigerian schools before their employments. Unqualified teachers including certified ones who cannot deliver should be re-assigned. Thus, competent and qualified instructors already acquainted with the problems of the teaching and learning of English should be employed to teach the language at all levels. This will ensure facilitative and corrective learning measures to be in place. Anything short of this will be counter-productive. If the correct suprasegmental features of English are acquired early, it will go a long way to enhancing spoken English. In addition to the last point mentioned is the need for qualified English language teachers to use the contrastive analysis as a theoretical teaching method. The implication of this is that teachers of the language should be well knowledgeable in both the first and the target language (English); otherwise, the use of contrastive analysis will not be workable. The knowledge of the two languages and contrastive analysis is what will help the teacher to find out the problem areas and then proceed to devising and administering solutions in the process of teaching and learning. For instance, contrastive analysis will reveal to the Igala speaker of English that though two syllabic words can be evenly stressed in his language, the same does not apply in the English language; only one syllable is stressed and the first syllable does not necessarily attract stress. Instructors should also cultivate, in their students, the habit of listening to native speakers of English. This can be done through tuning in to and listening to BBC as well watching good English films.
- Emphasis should be given to oral English in our schools and more attention paid to the teaching and learning of the suprasegmentals. This should not be restricted to the field of arts and humanities alone, all fields including the sciences should be included. A solid foundation in the teaching of the suprasegmentals at the primary and secondary schools will be the basis for perfection at the higher institution(s).
- The government should, on its part, should increase and supervise the use its budget on education. Well-equipped Language laboratories should be provided in our institutions of learning especially in the departments of English. Workshops, seminars, symposia and in-service trainings should be organized for instructors. Instructors should be available to learn and update their knowledge. Responsibility also lies on speakers of the language to change their attitude towards learning. The English language libraries in our schools are also important aside the general school libraries.
- It is important that the rule of class size of thirty to thirty-five be maintained for proper classroom management. This will help in giving attention to every student in the class.
- If these suggestions are given the required attention, the suprasegmental problems of the users of English (not just Igala speakers alone) as an L2 will be minimized, and the performance of students in spoken English will rise to an enviable standard.
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