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Problems and Prospects of English Language in Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the multi-linguistic nation in the West Africa. It gained independence from Great Britain some 56 years ago. Until the colonization of Nigeria by Great Britain, Nigerian people were known by their indigenous languages.

Since Nigerians were colonized by Great Britain, the colonial masters have to invade Nigeria with the culture of England, such as wearing of suit, drinking of tea among other things, and one of such culture left behind was English language.

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Problems and Prospects of English Language in Nigeria

Problems and Prospects of English Language in Nigeria

Nigeria as at today is practicing a democratic system of government, this system of government, including the Nigerian constitution were all products of Great Britain, with the English language we are speaking today.

After Nigerian had gained independence on October 1, 1960, English language was declared an official language in Nigeria, and in Nigerian school system, English language is compulsory subject, if you do not pass English language you are not qualify to go further in your pursuit of  education.

It is simple and complex as that. In other words I will submit that English language is a borrowed language. Nevertheless, through education Nigerians have come to embrace English language, and a good number of Nigerians speak English very fluently.

English language was crafted into the Nigerian school curriculum as a compulsory subject with all the consonance and vowels, together with the noun, the verb, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb and all other part of speech that can make English language easy to learn and to teach.

Today one of the identity to show that one is educated is how  fluently he or she can speak English language. English language, as one of the recognized ligua franqer in the world over,  is Nigeria’s official language, and a means of communication, even while one is outside the country.

English language, being a borrowed language so to say, is a language worth speaking. Speaking English language is not easy but learning to speak is easy.

However, learning how to speak English language has posed some challenge to the learners, because every child born into a family naturally must first of all get aquinted with the indigenous language, infact,  he is born with what some Nigerians referred to as ‘mother tongue’.

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Therefore, English language becomes his second language. This is a very interesting scenario, there are some places in Nigeria where a child is taught in his first three years of elementary school with his indigenous language.

Therefore he has a problem of catching up with English language in the later years, so before he gets to say, elementary 4 or 5, speaking English language will become a problem.

Besides in some states in Nigeria, speaking indigenous language has become a law as enacted by houses of Assembly of those states because of the fear that their indigenous languages will go into oblivion. You could imagine the level at which the study of English Language is abused.

This is one of the challenges facing the learning and teaching of English Language in Nigeria. So, a child after graduation from school finds it difficult to speak or write a simple statement in English. What a tragedy!

Another challenge confronting the use of English Language in Nigeria is traceable to the problem of one teacher handling about 6 to 7 subjects in a school, you discover he finds himself specializing in non of the subjects, lest alone to take time in inculcating knowledge into the pupils or the students. This is a saddened situation.

English language teachers are not undergoing training after graduating from Teachers Training College or College of Education or University. Just like life is dynamic,

in Nigerian education system, changes do occurred occasioned by changes in education policy, coupled with modern trend of teaching.

These and new technology waves has left teachers into oblivion. Teachers particularly, English language teachers have been left in the dark.

Modern day teaching facilities are lacking in our schools this days. English language, being Nigerian official language and a compulsory subject in Nigerian schools that ought to be accorded preferences has been neglected with no instruction facilities for learning, so the teacher enters the class and present the lesson that he felt is appropriate and then leaves the class, ask any of the student. What the teacher taught, and he cannot tell because he could not get it from the way the teacher has presented the lesson.

Another challenge is about the teachers’ welfare. Yes,  the slogan teachers reward is in heaven, therefore their welfare does not matter, the teacher’s job is considered the least.

Parents have abandoned the teaching of their children English language at home, forgetting that homes are the first school where children have to learn from their parents, pushing all teaching activities to teachers at school.

I think it is time for the parents to assume their full responsibilities at home as the first teacher to their children.


English language was declared an official language in Nigeria after Nigerian gained independence 56 years ago therefore, English language should be accorded preference as an official language in such a way Nigerians will take the learning and the speaking of the language serious.

Speaking of indigenous languages in schools during school hours should be controlled but not stopped so as to encourage the  speaking of English Language.

Moreso, the idea of one teacher handling up to 7 subjects in school should be abolished in order to encourage teachers specialized in the area of their interest.

Teachers, especially English language teachers should be encouraged also by updating their knowledge on modern technique of  teaching and students or pupils who performed creditable in English language at school should be awarded to encourage the learning of English Language among students and the pupils.

For English language teachers to take their work serious, they must be encouraged and rewarded, their reward should not be in heaven, it should start here on earth, their Monthly pay package should be reviewed,  their allowances and entlement be paid as at when due.

Students should be sensitized on the important of the subject, English language, this will  inspire them to take the subject serious, knowing fully well that without credit pass in English language they cannot go any further in their academic pursuit.

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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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