1.1 Background To The Study
The quality of education is directly related to the quality of instruction in the classrooms. It is a fact that the academic qualifications, knowledge of the subject matter, competence, and skills of teaching and the commitment of the teacher have an effective impact on the teaching-learning process (National Education Policy 1998-2010). Quality improvement in education depends upon the proper training of teachers. The teachers cannot play any of the roles unless properly trained (Yadved and Singh, 1988). The performance of students especially in external examinations goes a long way to show the level of preparedness of the student definitely by qualified teachers.
Teaching is an art. It can be refined by training and practice. The availability of competent teachers is central to the reconstruction of the educational system. English has acquired the status of a global language (Crystal, 1997). Keeping in view the growing need and importance of the English language in every walk of life, English is made a compulsory subject in Nigeria from the very beginning of the academic career. This increasingly necessitates good quality initial preparation for non-native speaker teachers in the school system (Cullen, 1994).
English is taught as a compulsory subject and also the whole teaching-learning process is carried out in the English language. In other words, English is also the medium of instruction in Nigerian schools. This enables the students of these schools to learn English in an environment where most of the interaction between the teacher and the students is in English (Fuller & Clark, 1994). As a result, the students of these schools are more proficient in English and perform well in external examinations.
In some schools, however, the teaching of English is done somewhat differently and the proficiency in the language is somewhat inadequate. The traditional grammar-translation method is a favourite with the teachers and there is hardly any exposure to the English language inside or outside the class. Most of the activities in the class are done in the vernacular or the mother tongue. Even the English language is explained through Urdu or the vernaculars (Al-mutawa&Kailani, 1989). The students resort to memorization and cramming.
The teacher is the facilitator of examinations rather than of learning. The students memorize, translate and retranslate and, finally reproduce the crammed information or knowledge in the external examinations. No creativity is witnessed on the part of the students from this kind of teaching experience (Baumgardner, 1993). The reason is that the teachers themselves are not qualified or competent enough to teach English efficiently. This causes poor results in English eventually leading to the highest failure percentage in English at external examinations. Thus English becomes the biggest hurdle (particularly for the students from rural areas) on the way to getting a higher education and key administrative posts. In its annual report, Federal Public Service Commission (1998) reported that the English language as the medium of expression in the external examination is depriving the students of some poor institutions to compete with their counterparts from highly placed institutions.
English as a language plays a number of roles in the socio-economic, political and cultural development of Nigerian society. The continued slide in the performance of students in the English language in external examinations is a course of great concern not only for the teachers but also for all stakeholders in the business of education. This is more worrisome when one considers the fact that English doubles as a medium of instruction in Nigerian schools as well as our linquafranca. The central role of English cannot, therefore, be wished away. The pattern of failure has, however, shown that the incidence appears to be higher in some schools than it is in other schools. A number of factors have been linked to the courses but more relevant is the issue of qualification of the teachers. This is more important because, in the business of teaching and learning, teachers offer only what they have; you cannot offer what you don’t have. The qualification of teachers involved in teaching and learning has a great role in the performance of students and it is to find out these effects that this study set out to accomplish. Chomsky (1972) “states that one can not really teach a language but can only present the conditions in which it will develop spontaneously in the mind in its own ways”
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Language teaching has been the primary focus of applied linguistics. Formal instruction does not work in a vacuum. The school environment, teacher qualifications, curriculum and instructional approaches, and many other factors interact to produce growth in student academic skills and knowledge. There is sufficient empirical evidence that suggests that the academic performance of students relies substantially on the teachers they are assigned. Classroom-based research is valid enough to determine whether the learners are receiving appropriate content instruction or not. Pennington (1989) says that the quality of teaching must be considered in determining what results can be expected. He further states that teachers make decisions about classroom management based on achievement gains. Thus we can say that findings about the relationship between teacher characteristics and student academic performance scores are important in determining the policy regarding teachers. It is assumed that only those who have professional training in English teaching should teach the English language. The English teacher should be the one whose competence and proficiency in all the language skills are good measures. But especially in written and conversational English, is not deficient. The English teacher should have a good knowledge of current usage and the theoretical aspects of English. In Nigeria today, most students in secondary schools and in fact even in universities lack the ability to communicate efficiently in English, both oral and written. This is still the major problem faced by English students today. It is therefore important to find out if the qualification of the English teachers has any effect on the performance of the students in written and spoken English in external examinations.
1.3 Objectives Of The Study
The following are the objectives of this study:
1.4 Research Questions
HO: There is no significant relationship between the qualification of English teachers and secondary school student performance in external examinations.
HA: There is a significant relationship between the qualification of English teachers and secondary school student performance in external examinations.
1.6 Significance Of The Study
The following are the significance of this study:
1.7 Limitation Of Study
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted to the research work.