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Factors Affecting Quality of English Language Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools in Nigeria

Factors Affecting Quality of English Language Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools in Nigeria

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Factors affecting quality of English language teaching and learning in secondary schools in Nigeria by S.E. Aduwa-Ogiegbaen, E.O.S.


This study examined the factors responsible for the poor quality of the teaching of English as a second language in public secondary schools in Nigeria. To guide the study three research questions were posed. The questions examined the following three variables: (1) Frequency of the use of instructional media; (2) Frequency of the use of instructional techniques; and (3) The school learning environment.

A questionnaire was distributed to 3000 senior secondary school students across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Results revealed that English language teachers do not frequently use modern instructional technologies and variety of teaching techniques in their English language lessons. It was also found that students learn under harsh environment, which is often rowdy, congested and noisy.


Though, many people would agree that there is an observable fall in standard of education in Nigeria, nobody in his widest imagination would have believed that university education in Nigeria has fallen to an abysmally low level as a World Bank study came up with a report that university education in Nigeria has degenerated in the past 15 to 16 years. The shocking news which was reported as one of the lead headlines in The Guardian, one of Nigeria's major daily newspapers, was published on the 19th of February, 2001. The screaming headline reads; "World Bank report scores Nigerian graduates low" The Guardian Newspapers quoted the World Bank sponsored study that; "Nigeria University graduates are poorly trained and unproductive on the job.... Graduate skills have steadily deteriorated over the past decade" (p. 1). According to the report, the poor performance of Nigerian graduates is particularly evident in two areas; poor mastery of the English Language and lack of requisite technical skill. It was ascertained in the report that the deficiencies in both vital areas make Nigerian graduates of the past fifteen years unfit for the labour market, and sometimes the larger society. Shortcomings were particularly observed in oral and written communication, and applied technical skills.

The study also indicated that a serious disconnection exists between university training and the needs of the labour market and this has been socially costly to the country. The report

and indeed. THE PROBLEM Majority of the students who are admitted into the University in Nigeria have no ample opportunity to study English Language any more. for functional literacy. Language is the vehicle of social interaction and we need effective language to function properly in the work place. Reyner et al (2001:57). It must be emphasized that "a person is functionally literate when he has acquired the knowledge and skills in reading and writing which enable him to engage effectively in all those activities in which literacy is normally assumed in his culture of group" (Gray. all students admitted into the universities in Nigeria are encouraged to take few courses in the use of English. This often increased the companies operating cost and reduced profitability. A mastery of written and spoken language is highly desirable. Olapoopo (1998). employers of labour compensate for insufficient academic preparation by organizing remedial courses for new employees at great expenses. yet its teaching and learning is beset by a myriad of problems at the secondary school level.71%. namely: Speaking. in many cases. Though the study may have identified major areas of the decline in the university education. In order to study English as a second language and be successful at it. Malinowski (1991). A rich and stimulating language environment during the early years and beyond is essential to the development of verbal and intellectual skills necessary for language learning. For it is at the secondary school level that the potential undergraduate is given adequate foundation in the use of English. (Kolawole 1998). except those who are admitted to study English and related subjects such as linguistics and literature in English. the actual problem may have its roots at the secondary school level. linguistic skills and convention of style. Ellis and Tomlison (1980). Though. the content of these English courses are grossly inadequate for the students to acquire requisite skills in effective use of language for communication and for the give and take of social experience. asserted that composition writing is a difficult skill to acquire. listening and writing. 1969:24). the student must be helped by the teacher to acquire skills in the four language arts skills. Such skills include spelling. indicated that the percentage of failure was between 53.showed that. social interaction. ascertained that "many good teachers are adaptive rather than rigid in their approach to teaching children and only loosely base their instruction . and recommended therefore. recommended some basic skills to be taught to learners so that they can write essays proficiently.36% and 72. In an analysis of the senior secondary school certificate results in English language between 1988 and 1996. reading. punctuation. that teachers must use a variety of methods for teaching English Language.

which solicited students' responses on teaching strategies. With the poor performance of students and graduates in English Language in Nigeria. The items in the questionnaire were derived from literature and the researcher's experience in the field. The specifics for each of the two data collection instruments used in the study are as follows: . parents. The problem therefore is. Trifonovitch (1981) indicated that a student is automatically placed at a disadvantage when he already has a language of his own and he is asked to learn another language. RESEARCH QUESTIONS The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study: (a) Do secondary school teachers use instructional resources frequently in teaching English language? (b) Do the English Language teachers use appropriate methods in teaching English Language frequently? (c) Do secondary school students in Nigeria learn English language in environment conducive to learning? METHODOLOGY The main instruments used for this study were a questionnaire and observation schedules. Majority of secondary school students in Nigeria already have various mother tongues before they are admitted into school. instructional resources/media used by the teachers and the teaching/learning environment.on a given method". The range of data collection instruments employed increased the researcher's ability to examine the nature and frequency with which certain variables occurred in the research setting. The researchers designed the questionnaire by generating a list of items. Nigeria is reputed to have over 250 languages. employers are worried and concerned. There are odds against the Nigerian students in learning English. what factors are responsible for the general poor performance of Nigerian students in English as a second language. educators.

the section on teaching techniques had 10 items. The country was stratified along the six geopolitical zones and five schools were randomly selected from each zone.86. thus. Participants were drawn from senior secondary school students in public schools through a stratified random sampling technique. and the school environment. The experts made some observations and modifications on the items. Sections 2 to 4 of the questionnaire were Likert-type items. There are over 6 million secondary school students in Nigeria and slightly less than half of the number is in senior secondary school while the rest are in Junior secondary school. PARTICIPANTS The population of this study included senior secondary school students in public secondary schools in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. 3000 senior secondary school students were randomly selected for the study. . instructional resources/media used by the teachers frequently. The face validity of the instrument was ascertained by presenting the questionnaire to a group of referees in the areas of educational psychology.(a) Questionnaire: This instrument had four sections dealing with demographic items such as school type and location. The section on instructional resources had 17 items. methods teachers frequently adopted for teaching English language. educational technology. From the thirty schools. The statistical tests used for the study were the mean and standard deviation. making a total of 30 schools. The reliability coefficient of the instrument was calculated by using Cronbach alpha and it was found to be 0. while the section on environment also had 10 items. RESEARCH DESIGN This is essentially a survey research utilizing a questionnaire based on the Likert-type rating scale. There were 27 items in the questionnaire. The questionnaire was anonymous in order to respond to items in the questionnaire in all honesty. and curriculum and instruction. (b) Observation: Research assistants were trained to observe each classroom and some classroom proceedings during administration of the questionnaire noting the features or characteristics of the learning environment. The means were used as statistical standard due to the conformity of standard deviation for all questionnaire items.

Agree. frequently (4).99 indicates it was occasionally used. and never (1).0 indicates it was frequently used for teaching English Language. thinking researcher on the scene of the action" RESEARCH FINDINGS . University of Benin. observation was also used as instrument for data collection. from the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria were recruited and trained for two days as research assistants to administer the questionnaire to students in their respective geopolitical zones. Disagree. All the 3000 students randomly selected for the study were given the questionnaire to examine their experience with the teaching and learning of English Language as well as the conduciveness of their school environment to effective learning.5 was regarded as agree while items with less than 2. "The greatest advantage of the field research method is the presence of an observing. a theoretical mean value of 3.5 was regarded as disagree. A theoretical mean of 2. seldom (2). any item in both sections with a mean equal to or higher than 3. According to Babbie (1979: 216). Therefore any item in section D of the instrument which had a mean equal to or higher than 2. and Strongly Disagree.0 but between 2. Using formula [1 2 3 4 5/5] = 3. Items in section D of the questionnaire had four-response ratings of Strongly Agree. Therefore. This was done to authenticate the veracity of answers given by students in the questionnaire.5 was regarded as rarely used. However. respectively. any item with a mean less than 2. In addition to the questionnaire.0 DATA COLLECTION Due to the vast nature of the country.5 was taken as a criterion to judge the means for the items in that section. occasionally (3). 18 doctoral students in the Faculty of Education.0 * was determined as a criterion to judge the means of the items in these sections of the questionnaire. thus representing 100% return rate. All 3000 copies of the questionnaire were returned properly filled.5 and 2.Since sections B and C of the questionnaire Likert scales comprise five-response ratings of very frequently (5). while item with a mean less than 3.

0. that the furniture is not comfortable for proper sitting and that classrooms are without proper lighting and ventilation.57 respectively.Research Question 1. Charts are used by the teachers occasionally. Research Questions 2 Do the teachers use appropriate methods in teaching English language frequently? Only items 1 and 6 met the predetermined theoretical mean of 3. They disagreed that their schools have well stocked libraries. posters. English textbooks and dictionaries in that order. All other items are rarely used. DISCUSSION .82 and 2. The students agreed that their schools are overcrowded. and adequate classrooms. Research Question 3 Do secondary school students in Nigeria learn English language in environment conducive to learning? Mean scores and standard deviations for all items on environmental factors showed that secondary school students in Nigeria do not learn English Language in environment conducive to effective learning. Do secondary school teachers use instructional resources/media frequently in teaching English Language? Table 1 shows that only five items were located above the predetermined theoretical mean value of 3. English workbooks.0. The group and debate methods are occasionally used with means of 2. These are chalkboards. This means that the lecture method and intensive reading of textbooks are the only teaching techniques frequently used in public secondary schools in Nigeria for teaching English language. adequate chairs and tables.

These findings agree with those of Kolawole (1998) who found that the teaching of English Language is bedeviled with many problems such as inadequate period of teaching. the debate and group methods of teaching are occasionally used. magazines and newspaper are rarely used. rather than rely on one "best way". The implication of this is. language laboratories. their students are greatly deprived without access to modern instructional media. instruction can be more student-centred and individualized. dictionaries. (1995) states that teachers must assume the role of "resource brokers". English Language teachers in public secondary schools in Nigeria are still the chief performers and dispensers of knowledge in the classroom. computers. Galliher et al (1995) asserted that teachers' roles are beginning to change. Use of Instructional Techniques Galliher et al. Modern media such as audio and video tapes. With the coming of new instructional technologies. With the application of modern technology in the classroom. and Oluikpe (1979) advocated the use of method such as guided controlled and free writing techniques in essay writing. Cleve (1992). What this means is that secondary school teachers in Nigeria are not altering their instructional practices in spite of the coming of the new instructional technologies. The goal of controlled expression is to instill in the learner the facilities needed to produce clear piece of composition free from all grammatical errors. This is based on the premise that the use of . chalkboards. Traditionally. programmed texts. In addition to the use of the lecture method. method of teaching and lack of adequate and useful resources. While the intensive use of prescribed textbooks and the use of lecture method in delivering English lessons are prevalent.Use of Instructional Resources/Media This study has revealed the dominance of textbooks. With the current practice by English Language teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria. teachers have depended on textbooks and the chalkboards as media for disseminating knowledge in the classroom. The findings in this study run contrary to the above assertion as the English Language teachers in public secondary schools in Nigeria still depend heavily on the traditional lecture method in English lessons. workbooks and posters in the teaching of English Language in secondary schools in Nigeria. Paris (2002) stated that the teachers' role as the "sage on stage" who dispenses knowledge will shift to a role in which teachers are facilitators of learning when technology is integrated into the school curriculum. flash cards. that teachers should become familiar with a variety of instructional delivery methods.

The Teaching and Learning Environment Our observation of the schools visited revealed the following environmental deficiencies: (a) Many schools. and not until these have been learnt that originality occur in their writing endeavours. Many people often move through the paths and across the playing fields in many of the schools. presenting teachers model essays. are not only overcrowded with some classroom housing as many as 70 to 100 pupils. novels and magazines. The situation in most of the schools in the six geographical zones in the country is so bad that. (d) There is no electricity in majority of the schools. which are learnt by imitation. the state Ministry of Education was using radio and television . especially those in urban areas. that the teacher had little or no room to move around to give individual attention to students. (b) Many schools have dilapidated buildings with leaking roofs and cracked walls. (c) We also observed that most of the schools. in one of the states visited. (e) It was also observed that most of the schools have no adequate staff rooms and offices. and where they are available there was scarcity of books in the shelves. reading other materials such as journals. Many of these dilapidated buildings are still being used for classroom activities. especially those in urban centers. and allowing students free expression so that their language experience can be enriched. The technique advocated here include. It was observed that many people used the schools' premises as short cut to their destinations. are located in areas where there is a busy movement and activities of many people.language is the manipulation of fixed patterns. (f) We observed that most of the schools have no libraries.

Inc. The effect of this is that secondary school students who find their way into the university are already at a disadvantage due to poor background and preparation in language education. rather than relying on textbooks. chalkboard and lecture method. (1992). California: Wadsworth-Publishing Co. A new look at evaluating the college application essay. (1979).jingles to compel parents and guardians to pay one thousand Naira (about $10) per child in public and private secondary schools to help rebuild dilapidated secondary schools in that state. It is strongly recommended that the learning environment in public schools in Nigeria should be given priority attention by state and federal governments so that children can learn well. Public secondary schools in Nigeria should be provided with adequate and a variety of instructional media. 1998). We are convinced that the high potential for enhanced learning through the provision of conducive-learning environment can be attained in public schools in Nigeria. If teachers in public secondary schools in Nigeria are to assume new roles and use new technology-supported instructional tools. Journal of College Admission 10. Labour market prospects for university graduates .The practice of Social Research. Little wonder that the system has been witnessing steady decline with the percentage of students who failed English Language examinations fluctuating between 55% and 75% in the past ten years (Olaboopo. they should become familiar with a variety of instructional delivery methods. REFERENCES Barbie. suggestions for high schools and colleges. at. L. Dabalen et. language laboratories and computer can be more effective teaching tools for English Language lessons as they offer authentic learning experience when interwoven with existing curriculum. R. (2000). Technologies such as audio and video recordings. E. Belmont. Cleve. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The public secondary schools in Nigeria are far behind time in offering multiple pathways to the teaching and learning English as a second language.

C.D Dissertation.(Ed). motivation and achievement in English composition in senior secondary schools. University of Ibadan. 17-23. E. Linguistic inputs and three models of presentation as determinants of students' achievement in senior secondary schools essay writing. B. London: Longman Group Ltd.A (1980). Galliher. A. M. Paper Presented at the Annual American Vocational Association Convention. West African Journal of Education. 6. New York: Community College of the Finger Lakes. Olapoopo.B & Wimmer.A (1998). Paper presented at the Joint Staff/Higher Degree Students. Malinowski. Lasisi. 8-16. Ellis. Nwokedi.O (1998). M. Odejide. P. (1979). B.. Nigeria University System Innovation Project.A (1991). Seminar sense. Teaching secondary English: A guide to the teaching of English as a second language. The use of model in the teaching of composition.The effect of cultural context on reading comprehension.J (1984). The Nigeria Language Teacher. B. R. Teaching the art of continuous writing in tertiary education. In Ubahakwe.. . Oluikpe. (1995) Preparing technical educators for interactive instructional technologies: A review of research and practice. (1980). A writing course designed for development college students.E (1984) Language problems in teaching and learning science in Nigeria: Physics. O'Neil. B. Parks. Denver. Kolawole. Effects of error-treatment model based and skill-based instructional strategies on students' attitude. Unpublished Ph. P. R. R & Tomlison. Co. The Nigerian Language teacher 6.in Nigeria (World Bank Report). Ibadan: Ibadan University Press. 17. The teaching of English studies.J. University of Ibadan.

31-67. English as an international language: An attitudinal approach.S (2001). M.(Ed) English for Cross Cultural Communication Hong Kong: Mcmillan Press Ltd. In Smith. Reyner.S. Bulletin of the Association for Business Communication. IYAMU Faculty of Education University of Benin. S. B. Pesetsky. R. G. Nigeria TABLE 1: MEANS AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF THE FREQUENCY OF THE USE OF INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES/(n = 3000) INSTRUCTIONAL S/N RESOURCES/MEDIA [bar. Nigeria DR.. and Seidenberg. Benin City. D. (1981). Perfetti. Foorman.277 Rarely used . C. 2. E.O. Psychological Science in the Public Interest: A Journal of the American Psychological Society.. L.68 1. Benin City.R.E ADUWA-OGIEGBAEN Department of Educational Psychology and Curriculum Studies University of Benin. DR. Trifonovitch. K. X] SD REMARKS 1 Flipcharts 1.Pace.A.W (1990) Trends in the basic course in organization communication. How psychological science informs the teaching of reading.

18 Rarely used 1.74 Rarely used 2.474 Rarely used TABLE 2: MEANS AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS OF THE FREQUENCY OF THE USE OF TEACHING TECHNIQUES IN TEACHING ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING S/N TECHNIQUES [bar.15 0.38 Rarely used 3.934 Frequently used 3.01 Frequently used 1.19 Frequently used 4.179 Occasionally used 2.92 1.73 1.73 1.91 2.02 1.92 1.600 Rarely used 1.48 Rarely used 1.92 1.18 Rarely used 10 English workbooks 11 Dictionaries 12 Posters 13 Audio visual center 14 Language laboratory 15 Chalkboard 16 Computers 17 Programmed texts 4.08 1.428 Rarely used 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Videotapes/television 1.29 Rarely used 1.21 0.2 Audio Recordings/ Audio Recorders 1.71 1.06 1.006 1.09 Frequently used 4.09 0.856 used .09 Frequently used 2.97 0.03 1.31 1.233 Rarely used Flash cards Picture cards Charts Newspaper Magazines English textbooks 2. X] SD REMARKS 1 The teacher comes to the classroom to lecture on each topic in English lessons Frequently 3.

novels and .82 1.317 used 4 Teachers' model essays are given to students to study and are required to produce similar essays 1. magazines. newspapers.2 Students are shared into smaller groups to discuss the pros and cons of a topic with the teacher moderating Occasionally 2.82 Rarely used 6 Students are made to read prescribed textbooks only Frequently 3.57 2.93 1.28 used 7 Students are encouraged to read other materials such as journals.55 1.427 Rarely used 5 Students are encouraged to choose essay topics and are allowed to write freely on the topics 0.474 used 3 Students are shared into groups with leaders who guide activities of the groups Occasionally 2.57 1.

511 used 10 Students listen to a speech and take down notes to recall.45 1. travelling.216 0. banking. asking for direction and so on.71 Rarely used TABLE 3: MEANS AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS ON ENVIRONMENT FOR .39 Rarely used 8 Students in English are exposed to a variety of dialogues which involve all aspects of social life such as shopping.74 1.554 1. 1. after which they give brief answers to questions on the speech.17 Rarely used 9 When reading a passage. 1. the teacher writes the difficult words on the blackboard and ask students to guess their meanings before providing the correct meanings Occasionally 2.storybooks and are required to provide summary for the teacher 2.

142 0.081 0.874 Agree 2 Pupils can hardly see the black board during English language lessons 3.776 Agree 3 The classrooms in my school are adequate for teaching and learning 1.857 Agree 5 The chairs and tables in my school are adequate 2.102 0.001 Disagree 4 The furniture in my school is not comfortable for proper sifting of pupils 3.TEACHING AND LEARNING ENGLISH LANGUAGE [bar.014 0.913 1.203 1.108 Disagree 6 The classrooms in my school have no good light and ventilation 3.703 Agree . S/N SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT X] SD REMARKS 1 The classrooms in my school are overcrowded with more than 50 pupils in the class 3.

828 Agree COPYRIGHT 2006 Project Innovation (Alabama) COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale.032 0.058 Disagree 8 Noise from outside the classroom often leads to loss of concentration when teaching / learning is going on 2.070 Disagree 10 Some of the buildings in my school are dilapidated and in dare need of repairs 3. different rooms are provided for subjects such as art.057 1. Cengage Learning .155 1.854 0.979 Agree 9 My school has a library that is well stocked with relevant books and adequate space for reading 2. must and geography 2.7 In my school.

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