FACTOR AFFECTING THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Background to the Study
Primary School as the first level of Nigerian education occupies the starting point and background for other levels of education. Besides, it is through it, that an individual pupil is introduced, acquainted and acquires the rudimentary knowledge, skills and attitude towards acquiring education up to the secondary school and even tertiary institutions. Primary education as referred to in the National Policy on Education (NPE), is the education given in institutions for children aged 6-1 1 plus (FRN, 2012). It is the first stage and compulsory education. Primary education is preceded by preschool or nursery education and followed by secondary education. The primary education is the first six years of the nine years of basic education using the Universal Basic Education (UBE) standard. This stage of education is often addressed as elementary education. In most countries of the world, primary education is compulsory for children to receive although it is permissible for parents to provide it.
The place of primary education is very paramount because it is the foundation of adults’ contribution to developmental processes. In other words, basic education makes a child a better adult. Primary education is to the educational system; and the nation at large, what the mind is to the body.
According to Quadri (2001) the Section 4, page 12 of the National Policy on Education (2004) described primary education as the “education given in an institution for children aged normally between 6 years to 11 years plus.” The primary education level is the key to the success or failure of the whole educational edifice because the rest of the educational system is built upon it. Primary education according to the National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004) is likened to the key which opens to success or failure of the whole educational system. Akande (2010) reiterated Njoku (2000) regarded primary education as very vitaland fundamental to all types of education any person can receive in life.
Primary education is the foundation of formal education. It is an essential component in the echelon of educational system of every nation. In order to qualify for other levels of education one must first pass through primary schools, as such it is an institution upon which all other levels of education and educational achievements are built. It prepares the mind and trains the child for higher and tougher academic pursuits. It provides young learners with the fundamentals of reading, writing, skill acquisition, information and attitudes necessary for proper adjustment into the society. Unfortunately, though not all recipients of primary education get to other levels.
In the teaching of pupils in Primary school, English language occupies the role of both language of instruction and as one the core and compulsory subjects that the students must undergo. The importance of language to man is great. Language is one of man’s most remarkable attributes. It is an absolute precondition for nearly all our social life, and it is the medium in which most organized thought and communication proceed.Highlighting the importance of language to man, Adetugbo (1980) states that “all human societies and institutions are made possible only by man’s possession of language”.
Odusina (1989) in his view observes that “without language, there would be mental isolation and thought stagnation in interaction either”. Closely related to this, Obanya (1981) said that language is seen as “man’s most important gift, the vehicle for communication and a good instrument for thought and creativity”. For Pickering and Hoeper (1990) language is, “the means by which the writer controls and influences the reader”. Language is so important in teaching and learning process such that the Nigerian government appreciates it as a means for promoting social interaction and national cohesion (FRN, 2004).
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. 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 Scottish, 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 (Oribabor, 2014).
The English language is an essential pre-requisite for propelling educational wheel of Nigeria. Joseph and Joshua (2010) added that the government having recognized the importance of English language for enhancing educational attainment as well as for improving communicative competence and ability of citizens has made it a core and compulsory subject for all in Nigerian schools. The English language continues to be a medium of instruction for all subjects from primary level to tertiary level in so many countries including Nigeria. It is a medium of instruction, a compulsory and core subject that must be offered and passed at all levels of education in Nigeria’s educational system.
It is therefore obvious that without a thorough mastery of the language, it is not possible to have a sufficient firm grasp of what the learner has to learn. The knowledge of English language helps in understanding other school subjects since it is used to teach all other subjects except local languages. Good foundation of the language paves way to success in life. The knowledge of the content of school’s subject is transferred to the students at all levels of education via the English language medium. In spite of these, the English language achievement of the Nigerian school students has been on a steady decline over the years. An online article published on 6 January 2010 by News desk showed that the falling standard of education as exemplified by the falling performance of students at various examinations is alarming. This is leaving many stakeholders in the sector to wonder about the future of education in the country as well as the place of Nigeria in the 21st century when competitors among countries will not be defined based on endowment of natural resources alone but more importantly on the competitiveness of their human capital (David, 2012).
Formal education in Nigeria today is a product of English Language. Without English, there is the possibility that there may not be anything more than elementary formal education in Nigeria. English language is a major school subject in Nigerian Educational system. It is not only the medium of instructions at all levels of education in Nigeria but also a pre-requisite to entering into post-primary and secondary institutions; Muhammed (2005) Despite the importance of English Language, the primary school pupils uses and performance in English Language has not been encouraging.
Many scholars and specialists in the English language field have had to ask questions pertaining to the low level of proficiency and performance of primary school pupils in the various aspects of English Language and in English Language examinations sometimes, they blame it on the individual background, mother tongue interference, comprehension problem, social factor, individual differences, etc. For instance, Eze (2004) in his opinion stated that “the poor performance of students in English Language examinations can be attributed to their inability to interpret written language and also answer comprehension questions in their own words” Obayan (2003) also agreed with the above where he said that students can do well in English Language examination if only they can be able to answer the questions in their own words and avoid needless lifting which results to vague answers.
Various researchers especially in English Language have teaching an learning of English language is determined by a number of variables such as family, schools, society and motivation factors, (Aremu & Joken 2003; Aremu Oluwole 2001). Gillian and Gillian (2002) observed that social factors such as parents’ educational attainments have been found to be more important than economic factors in explaining children’s educational outcomes.
The teaching and learning of pupils in English Language has been found to be strongly associated with factors such as the home, literacy environment, teachers’ teaching styles and investments in resources that promote learning such as quality child care, educational materials and excursion to education resources (Shonkoff & Philips, 2000). Other factors include spa renting which in turn affect their children’s development and educational achievement. High level of illiteracy, poverty and low social status coupled with high rate of paternal and maternal deprivation, lack of money to purchase necessary textbooks, working materials and school fees for their children. These ugly situations have made some young school pupils to drop out of school and to engage in subsistence life by becoming house- helps or engaging in other menial jobs to support their academic pursuit.
The fact that primary school occupies the foundation of education in our educational sector and it carries out great roles in teaching . and knowledge acquisition of the pupils, therefore this study is intended to investigate the factors affecting the teaching and learning of English is Primary School in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State.
Statement of the Problem
As the primary school undoubtedly forms the crux of education in Nigeria SO the English language is the core and compulsory subject that must be learnt by all the primary school pupils. In the course of teaching the subject there tendencies are that the teacher confront some difficulties since the subject is neither the pupils’ nor the teachers’ first language. This problem could probably be part of the reasons why the researchers carried out various researches on variables related to English Language.
For instance, researchers such as Chapman and Pascarella (1983) studied the relationship between institutional types, class size, academic attainment and social integration in eleven institutions. They discovered that students who attend residential schools perform better academically than those who do not. Also, Ywnne and Sayibo (1998) emphasized that students level of performance in English Language depends largely on socio economic background and that high school student’s level of performance are linked to their gender and socioeconomic background among other factors.
Botts, Reuben and Dannenberg (2000) agreed that differences in students’ socio-economic background are responsible for much of the difference in students’ performance in English Language. Akande (2007) studied socio-economic factors influencing students’ performance in Nigeria using some explanations from local survey. Ipaye (1996) discovered that poverty imposed a lot of challenges on parents making them unable to cater for the academic needs of their children which eventually has terrible effects on the students’ performance in public examinations.
Though the low performance of the Primary school pupils in English Language may be as correlation of social factors such as home background, gender, age, parents’ social status, ethnicity, school ownership, religion among others but the extent to which these factors affect their performance in English language is not certain. This study therefore examines the factors affecting the teaching and learning of English Language in Primary School in Ilorin West Local Government, Kwara State.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to examine the factors affecting the teaching and learning of English Language in Primary School in Ilorin West Local Government, Kwara State. Specifically, the study will find out whether:
Based on the problem and purpose highlighted above, the flowing research questions have been drawn to guide the conduct of this research:
The following null hypotheses will be tested in this study:
Scope of the Study
This study intends to examine the factors affecting the teaching and learning of English Language in Primary School in Ilorin West Local Government, Kwara State. The respondents for the study would all primary school teachers from both the private and public schools under Ilorin West Local Government area of Kwara State.. Purposive sampling techniques would be employed to select primary school teachers from twenty private and ten public schools under Ilorin West Local Government areas. Researcher designed questionnaire would be prepared to elicit information for the study. The statistical tools of Chi square will the research hypotheses in the study.
Operational Definition of Terms
Parental ethnic groups: Hausa, lgbo and Yoruba
Parental education: NCE/OND, FIND/First Degree, Master Degree, Ph.D.
Parental literacy: Parent that can read with at least SSCE certificate are literate and Parent that cannot read with at least SSCE certificate are literate
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be of immense benefits to students, teachers, parents, guidance and counselors, school administrators and policy makers. This might be facilitated by making the study available in places where the public could gain access to it, (e.g. the library, internet, media houses) and so on.
The findings of the study might provide tangible information to the primary school teachers in order to forge the family—school linkages through communicating effectively with pupils’ parents about school strategy of enhancing the pupils’ knowledge of English language.
The finding of this study might help the school administrators to involve and encourage parents to provide resource person on learning of English Language at home that can teach students the more thereby improving the students’ academic performance.
Pointedly, school counselors (if available) in the school would be better informed on factors determining students academic performance in school and strategies to improve the students’ attitude towards learning English Language as a subject in the primary schools.
Finally, the outcome might also, assist the government at all levels to understand background factors that cannot be under estimated in pupils’ learning acquisition is English Language and prepare a plane grand for governmental intervention through equipping the school libraries, building more classrooms, attractive salaries for the teachers and others.