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11 Functions Of English Language in Nigeria

The official language in Nigeria is English. So the lingua franca in Nigeria is Queen’s English.  English is spoken throughout the nation of Nigeria, in families, schools, colleges, universities, churches, mosques, I mean, everywhere in Nigeria.
The English language remained the official language in Nigeria, and it is one language that has been widely used throughout the country. Since the English language is used in schools to impart knowledge, as well as propagate education, it, therefore, a compulsory subject in Nigerian schools, particularly, at the primary and post-primary schools level. So one stop and think perhaps, this can in fact, remained the major function of the English language in the Nigerian society.
If one cannot speak English fluently, he or she is considered an illiterate or half illiterate. A good command of English is a function of quality education on the part of Nigerians.
So your proof of being an educated individual is to be able to speak English very well, pronouncing the wordings distinctively. English in Nigerian schools is considered important and compulsory to every pupil and student.
4 Functions Of English In Nigeria
English In Nigeria – Photo Source: https://www.naija.ng
One cannot gain admission into a tertiary institution in Nigeria without passing English as a subject with distinction, even while clearing every other subjects with distinction, if you do not pass English, you are not considered pass at all. So this is how important English is in Nigeria as a nation.

Functions of English Language in Nigeria

English, being the official language in Nigeria has several functions attached to it. In this article however, I am going to explain some of the functions of English in Nigeria.

Since English language is the major language used in Nigeria, for both communication purposes and for the propagation of education, it is sensible to conclude that, so much important is attached to the use of English language hence, English language has served many functions. In this article however, we are going to look at some of the functions of English language together in Nigeria.

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Therefore, you have to pay rapt attention to decipher as to why English is spoken in Nigeria and used as official language. Below are some functions of English in Nigeria:

1. English Is Used As A Means Of Communication In Nigeria

First of all, we have to understand that English is spoken generally in Nigeria and it is considered the official language in Nigeria.
Someone from northern Nigeria may not be able to communicate with someone from south south zone of Nigeria, since they do not understand each other native languages.
So for them to be able to communicate effectively, they have to communicate in English. Therefore, English is used in Nigeria as major means by which people, regardless of their ethnic and tribal background can communicate between and among themselves. It is very important to note this.

2. English Is Used As A Medium Of Teaching In Nigeria

In Nigerian schools, English is used to impart knowledge in pupils and students alike, from nursery to tertiary institution.
Since English is the official language in Nigeria, it is therefore used as a medium of learning, as well as, used as a medium of teaching in schools across Nigeria.
English is also used as a medium of exchange of views among Nigerian professional class, outside formal educational institutions of learning in Nigeria.
Churches also used English to communicate their doctrines to their faithful. Nonetheless, English is used as a medium of teaching and learning in Nigerian churches and other Christian gatherings.

3. English Is Used As A Written And Spoken Language In Nigeria

English in Nigeria is considered, a lingua franca, and it is used as the written language in Nigeria. Please note that English is not only used as the written language in Nigeria, it is also used as the spoken language in Nigeria. In Nigeria alone for instance, there are over four hundred languages, different languages all together.
These different languages are indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria. Like I mentioned in this article earlier, people from different Nigerian tribes or ethnic groups may fine it difficult to understand each other, since their indigenous languages spoken are different thus, to understand each other, English is therefore, used as the spoken language in Nigeria.
Again because English officially, is the spoken language in Nigeria, it is also used or considered the written language in Nigeria.
Reason why English is used as the written and spoken language in Nigeria is not far fetched. Nigeria was colonized by Britain, and after Nigeria had gained independence, they had to take to the official language, which was English.
So Nigeria actually borrowed English from Britain and is used universally as the communication language in Nigeria. Unlike, Nigeria, other nations colonized by Britain are also using English as the written and spoken language.

4. English Is Used To Breaking Language Barrier In Nigeria

Read Also: History Of Education In Nigeria

English is also used to break language barrier in Nigeria. I have said that, the use of English as the spoken language has served as a medium of communication.
Take for instance, it would be easier to reach a particular locality with their indigenous language, and at the same, time it would not be easy, but rather difficult to reach a particular locality with a different indigenous language spoken in Nigeria.
That is why in Nigeria for instance, Igbo language cannot be used to communicate to a Calabar man in the South south thus, English is adopted to be spoken in all the villages, and all the towns, and all the cities, I mean everywhere in Nigeria.
This has made it possible for Nigerians from different ethnic groups to understand each other, when communicating.
English indeed, has made communication in this part of the world easy, irrespective of where person may come from.
Information has been passed or communicated to persons of different ethnic groups by using English. From the going, one can clearly seen the function of English in Nigeria.


5. English Language Is Used In Government’s Transactions: 

I have said here that English language is seen as an official language, and the language is used almost in all settings, transactions and endeavours within Nigeria. Typical example is that of government setting. In the business of governance in Nigeria, it is English language that is used  in the transactions of such business.

This is very important because the only medium through which there is understanding in government among the officials of government, is the use of English language between government departments, government agencies,, government parastatals, and government ministries, and this understanding is what engenders smooth running of government by the public servants. Do not forget that, much of what the government is used in carrying out its functions are documents, and these documents whether they are in soft copy or hard copy,  the information in these documents are written in English language. In fact, sometimes, when directive is given in government, it is given in English language.

Whether such information comes as an instructions or as an application for something or requisition for something, whatever it is, they are communicating through English language. Apart from the above mentioned information used in government, the government can also use English language to communicate through memoranda, through minutes and government circulars. The government can also by the use of English language,  communicatie through official correspondences.


6. English Language Is Used In Commerce And Industry:

Commerce and industry is one important sector in the Nigerian economy. It is one sector that boost the economy of Nigeria, therefore, the important of this sector cannot be underestimated. And given the important of this sector, there are some sort of transactions carried out within the sector by the participants, and these transactions are done in English language. Participants or players in this sector do engaged themselves in conferences, workshops, symposiums, seminars, etc, all targeted at acquiring skills and knowledge, updating such skills and knowledge for the purpose of achieving high productivity in the sector with a view to improve the Nigerian economy., and all of these transactions are done in English language. Moreso, anytime,  where there is occasion that warrant meeting of members of staff in the boardroom, it is English language that is used in such meeting.


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7. English Language Is Used For Communication Internationally:

Today, the world is seen as a global village, and any country that wishes to grow or improve economically must engage in international business. Reason for business transactions at the international level is very obvious, given the fact that no country has a monopoly of resources. Take for instance, Nigeria, as a nation is one of the oil-producing nations, but unfortunately, Nigeria, as a nation lacks the capacity of refining the crude oil produced within its damain. So what Nigeria does is to export its criude oil to countries that have capacity to refine the crude oil, and Nigeria will in turn have to import the refined crude oil back to the country. And in the course of undertaking this international business transactions, English language is used to communicate between the countries involved. So anytime Nigeria is involving in international business with any other country outside its geographical boundary, the language used is English language.


8. English Language Is Used In The Media:

Media, as we all know plays an important role in the advancement of any nation. In Nigeria, there is no exemption. In playing its role in Nigeria, English language is used by the Media to inform the public about the activities of government, as well as some happenings within the Nigerian society. So members of the public are kept abreast of what is happening within the society either through print media or electronic media through the use of English language.


9. English Language Is Used For The Drafting Of Legal Law:

Every document that has to do with legal drafting and law are documented in English language. Even the interpretation of law by the judiciary is done in English language. Take for instance, the Nigerian constitution is written in English language.


11. English Language Is Used In Science And Technology

English language is also used in the area of science and technology. The advancement of science and technology today has been made possible through the use of English language. Most chemical names, scientific names, etc are written in English language, even some of the scientific formulae.


11. English Language Is Used In Interactions Socially:

Nigeria, as a nation is made up of different ethnic groups, with different languages, so for instance, if a Nigerian met his fellow Nigerian, say for the first time, they will be compelled to speak or interact using the English language, since Igbo man may not necessarily understand Ibibio man. They will only deviate from speaking the English language if after they discovered that they are from the tribe, where they can understand each other’s tongue or the dialect.


I have said here that, English language is extensively and widely used in Nigeria., and the English language is seen and considered an official language, where everything is done and handled through the use of English language. Therefore, as a central language, communication would have been difficult without the use of English language because of the differences in Nigerian languages.

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Joseph Athanasius

Joseph Athanasius is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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