Strategies for Improving the Methods

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STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING THE METHODS OF TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE 

ABSTRACT

This study investigated “The Strategies for Improving the Methods of Teaching English Language for Good Performance in Some Selected Secondary Schools in Sabon Tasha Educational Zone, Kaduna South”. Three research questions answered, using mean and standard deviation and three null hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance using t-test statistics. The samples of three (3) schools were selected and the sample of six (6) teachers and fourteen (14) students were collected from each school to represent the population.  Main findings of the study revealed, among other that insufficient methods of teaching English Language, over population of students in a class, lack of enough textbooks for the teachers to consult before teaching in the classroom, lack of qualified English Language teachers and the students inability to have the recommended textbooks during teaching are responsible for the negative effect on the overall performance of both English teachers and the students. The researcher therefore recommended that government should as a matter of urgency, provide enough materials for teaching English Language, employ more English teachers and also train and retrain the existing ones for maximum output.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background of the Study

English language, which has become Nigerian’s official language, is so much central to our educational system today. The attention paid to it is far more than the one paid to other Nigerian language. English language is learned in addition to our mother tongues. It is the language of instruction as well as the official language in Nigeria. The government employs English language in its day-to-day official relations, business and transactions. It is also used by the government to present budget speech, and to address the nation.

This is corroborated by Asubiojo (1999), who says that English language is accorded a much more enviable status than any indigenous language like Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo. This is so because it is a unifying force bringing together all the various strands we call states and tribes in the nation of Nigeria.

The two major problems confronting the continued use of English in Nigeria according to Asubiojo (1999) are:

  1. The problem of the learners’ inability to acquire the required level of proficiency in the language.
  2. Striking a good balance between achieving good education, which is believed to be much easier through the mother tongue on one hand and acquiring high or required proficiency in English language on the other.

These problems however, fall short of the advantages of the goals of adopting thee language in the first place. The teaching of English language in Nigeria has some basic objectives to achieve. These objectives according to Williams (1990) are related to the acquisition of certain skills which are as follows:

  1. The ability to listen and understand simple conversation spoken in English at normal speed.
  2. The ability to speak fluent and acceptable English.
  3. The ability to read and comprehend contemporary written English.
  4. The ability to write clear, functional and acceptable English.

In Nigeria today, English language is used for both social interaction and academic purpose. Students learn English in Nigeria for instrumental purpose e.g. to gain admission to higher schools. According to Mohammed (1995), it is disheartening and discouraging to observe that a good number of secondary school students in Nigeria cannot express themselves adequately either in spoken or written English. For some years now in Kaduna South, no discussion about student performance in the School Certificate Examination has been more topical than the persistent poor performance in English language. (See chapter two).

This is because English language is the language of instruction in the school. It is the ‘key’ to the understanding of other subjects as a medium of expressing and so forms the bedrock or foundation of the teaching/learning interaction process.

It has been argued by scholars Banjo (1989), Mohammed (1995), Ubahakwe (1979) and Williams (1990) that very many students fail the overall Senior Secondary Certificate Examination not because they are dull or unintelligent but because of their poor level of English language. This makes it difficult to express themselves clearly in their answer.

Because of the significant roles and status English language occupies in national development, it now takes a very important position in Nigerian education. The importance of English language can be seen from Ubahakwe (1979) who said that:

It does no matter to the parents whether his child is able to develop nuclear energy for Nigeria or invent a mechanical device that could revolutionalized the way of life in a community. As long as the child does not speak the English language with the golden voice of late Tafawa Balewa or write with poignancy of Thomas Paire he is considered uneducated in the Nigerian context.

The above quotation emphasizes the perception of a typical Nigerian parent towards his child who must take the learning of English language very serious.

In Nigerian society, English language over the years has become an official language for politics, commerce, law and social interaction. It has become a link between the various ethnic groups in the country and beyond. It enjoys a lot of prestige as a language over and above other Nigerian languages be it the majority. According to Jowitt (1995), English has come to an unparalleled importance in the national context. According to Mohammed (1995), a good pass in English language has become mandatory for transmission from primary to junior secondary, senior secondary school and vice versa for admission to all levels of higher education in the country.

In effect, English language is the second language in Nigeria and very essential for success in educational pursuit. Despite the attention and resources devoted to its teachings in Nigerian schools, there has always been persistent mass failure for the past years. Mohammed (1995) confirms that the rate of failure in English language in the past years has been in the region of 70 – 75% annually which is very disturbing and unacceptable. Besides, being taught as a subject, it is the medium of instruction in teaching other subjects. Banjo (1989) states that many failure in other subjects are really failure in English language. It will amount to a sweeping generalization that those Nigerian children are intelligence deficient. Therefore, we must assume that the causes of this mass failure are to be found in issues that border on the policies of government, principals, teachers and students. Also the most important issue is the method of teaching it.

It is believed that at the end of the study, strategies such as the provision of adequate methods and resources for teaching English language and motivating the teachers adequately will be seriously looked into. The researcher strongly hopes it will help in improving the performance in English language in Senior Secondary School Certification Examination.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

It can be deduced from the background of the study that students’ performance in English language in Senior Secondary School Certification Examination is poor. Scholars like Ubahakwe (1979), agreed that the methods of teaching is one of the major factors that contributes to students poor performance in English language in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination.

However, studies such as Banjo (1989),  Ubahakwe (1979), Williams (1990), and Mohammed (1995), showed that there are identified problems of teaching English language which have been the reason for students’ poor performance in Secondary Schools. These scholars however, have not shown empirical data suggesting how these problems will be solved. It is on the above reasons given for the poor performance that this study seeks to identify some of the strategies to use for improving the methodology of teaching English language.

1.3     Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to identify the strategies to be used to improve methods of teaching English language for good performance in some selected secondary schools in Sabon Tasha Educational Zone, Kaduna South Local Government Area.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Identify factors responsible for inadequate resources for teaching/learning of English language in the secondary schools.
  2. Find out the difficulties teachers face in teaching English language in secondary schools.
  3. Find out the best methods in teaching English language in secondary schools.

1.4     Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the government, teachers, students and researchers.

The findings of the study will help the government to improve the curriculum of English teacher. It will help them to recognize the need for training and recruitment of more qualified English teachers into the schools.

To the teachers, the findings will help them to be proactive in the discharge of their duties when all facilities required for teaching are available. It will also create greater opportunities for teachers to be sent by government on further training.

The results of this research work will also encourage students for greater participation in English lessons, which enhances better understanding and learning faster.

Findings and recommendations from the study will no doubt provide materials that will stimulate other researchers to widen the frontiers of knowledge in this area.

1.5     Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

  1. What are factors responsible for inadequate resources for teaching/learning of English language in the secondary schools?
  2. What are the difficulties teachers face in teaching English language in secondary schools?What were the best methods in teaching English language?

1.6     Basic Assumption

The study is based on the assumptions that:

Lack of good methods in teaching English language is:

  • Responsible for the poor performance in Kaduna South Local Government Area.
  • Unqualified teachers who are using wrong methods in the teaching of English language are many in schools.
  • Students perform poorly in the English language due to teachers’ use of inadequate methods.
  • Methods of teaching might be responsible for poor academic performance of students in the schools in Kaduna South Local Government Area.
  • Lack of interest by students in English language might be responsible for poor methodology use by the teachers.

1.7     Scope and Delimitation of the Study

In order to evolve strategies for improving teaching methods in English language for good academic performance in some selected secondary schools, the study investigated the causes of students’ failure in English language and the method used by the English teachers in some of the selected secondary schools; the study could not cover the view of the parents and the general public in this matter, but only on the teachers and students of three of the selected secondary schools.

 

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