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French Language Education in Nigeria

French Language Education in Nigeria

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Published by Ademola Michael

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Published by: Ademola Michael on Jul 28, 2011
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ADEMOLA, MichaelDepartment of French,Federal College of Education,Kontagora, Niger State.
 A well structured educational system is undeniably a strong key to a nation¶ssurvival in all ramifications. Thus, every nation, through its Ministry of Education isexpected to accord equal status and value to all subjects that are being offered at all levels of education. This is because every educated individual should be ableto give back to the society positively and productively via the training acquired.This paper sets out, therefore, to discuss French language education in Nigeria. It shall go about this by explaining what language education means as well as presenting briefly the history of French language in Nigeria. The paper further discusses prospects and challenges of teaching and learning of French languagein Nigeria. Conclusively, some recommendations are made.
IntroductionEducation, according to
 xford Advanced Learner¶s Dictionary (2001)
isseen as a process of teaching, learning and acquiring training, most especially inschools or colleges, in order to improve one¶s knowledge as well as giving roomfor development of skills. Thus, one can boldly and generally see education as astrong instrument of development in all ramifications of human life.Having said the above, what is language education then? In a simple term,language education can be explained as the teaching and learning of anylanguage, either as a foreign or second language, in schools. Languageeducation is of paramount importance since it is a process by which a childdevelops the communicative attitude which is of positive value to his/her society.
In this case, one can also add that language education is the formal acquisition of communicative skills by an individual.There is no country of the world where language education does not takeplace. And Nigeria, as a nation is no exception. In the case of Nigeria, therefore,language education draws a special attention due to the country¶s historicalbackground, geographical location as well as its heterogeneous nature. Today, inour educational system, these features make the teaching and learning of Englishand French languages possible alongside their local counterparts: Yoruba,Hausa, Igbo, Fulfulde, Kanuri etc.However, our present concern, in this paper, is about the position of Frenchlanguage in Nigeria. How relevant is the teaching and learning of Frenchlanguage to economic development of this nation? This paper attempts to answer this question as much as possible. Similarly, some challenges confronting Frenchlanguage education shall be discussed. And some possible solutions shall beproffered at the end. Meanwhile, let us briefly have a historical look at Frenchlanguage education in Nigeria.
Historical Overview of French Language Education in Nigeria An attempt on the teaching and learning of French in Nigeria dated as far back as 19
century. In 1878, the Wesley High School already included in itscurriculum the teaching and learning of German and French languagesrespectively. But unfortunately, French language education was not officiallyintroduced into the secondary school curriculum in Nigeria until 1956. Thus,King¶s College, Lagos and Government College, Ibadan need to be mentioned inthis regard for pioneering the teaching and learning of French as a foreignlanguage in this country (Timothy-Asobele, 1999:32) At tertiary level, the situation was not much different. The teaching andlearning of French language at the university level, for instance, was necessitatedas those few lucky Nigerians who were products of the schools mentioned abovewere in quest for their university education. Consequently, as from 1960, shortlyafter the independence, some of the so-called first generation universities such asUniversity of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of Lagos, Universityof Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria tookup the challenge of teaching and learning of French language with expatriatelecturers like Henri G. J. Evans, Wilfred Feuser, Brann C. M. B. etc. (Arowolo,2004:229; Falade, 2008:71). Thus, the readers of this paper need to know that thefirst set of Nigerian French graduates were products of these famous universities. And many of them, after graduation, joined the noble teaching profession therebyreducing the penury of French of French teachers in the system at that time. At this juncture, it is our joy to stress that in Nigeria of today, some of theseindigenous ³fore-runners´ and seasoned scholars of French language educationin Nigeria are Professors of French in their respective universities, either at homeor abroad. Among them on our interminable list are Professors Abiola Irele, Victor O. Aire, Tunde Ajiboye, Kester O. Echenim, Adebola A. Kukoyi, Raymond O.

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