Research Key

ASSESSING THE Difference in the Performance of Students in English Grammar based on Parents Ethnic Background

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Background of the Study
Language is one of the most useful tools we have as humans.

Without it we could not think thoughts expressible to others, nor could we engage in the activities that commonly take place in the society we build ourselves (Di Pietro, 1994).

Language is very important in education.

Roy-Campbell and Qorro (1997) asserted that education is carried out largely through the medium of language, thus, language is very significant in the education process.

Additionally, ADEA (2005) argues, “language is not everything in education, but without language, everything is nothing in education”.

Language plays a crucial role in learning, and if the learner is handicapped in the language of instruction, then learning may not take place at all as the instructor or teacher and the learner will not be communicating (Malekela, 2003).
The language of instruction in post primary education to every learner is English.

English subject is taught with consideration of the objectives stipulated in the syllabus.

The objectives are important since they provide means through which the goals of education in Nigeria could be achieved.

It is through the syllabus that can assure the teacher if or whether he has achieved the goals or objectives of the course.

With such situation, it is important for teachers to establish objectives before working towards meeting the goals.
The English language like other languages of the world comprises several aspects known as levels of language (morphology, phonology, syntax (Grammar), semantics and graphology).

These levels define how the language should be expressed.

A user of such language especially English must therefore be well proficient in each of these levels of language to have a good communication.
Grammar, as a bedrock of this research work, can mean an individual’s knowledge of a language which is exhibited through the utterances that he produces.

This is what is meant when one says that an individual has good or poor grammar.

In this sense, ‘grammar’ means the knowledge that a fluent speaker of a language possesses which permits him to speak, understand and comment on sentences (Liles 1971:81).
This is what is sometimes referred to as ‘linguistic competence’.

Grammar may also refer to a book containing the morphological and syntactic rules of a language.

Thus, we have several grammars of a language. For instance, there are a number of books referred to as grammars of English.
The word ‘grammar’ can also be used to mean a series of descriptive statements about the morphological and syntactic structures of a language.

In this sense, when one says that an individual has mastered the grammar of English, one really means that the individual has mastered the series of descriptive statements about the systemic interrelationships of structures within the language.

It is in this sense that ‘grammar’ is used when it is said that grammar consists of Morphology and Syntax (Tale, 2007).
Grammar can also be referred to as a body of prescriptive rules about how a language should be used.

In modern linguistics, when the word ‘grammar’ is used, it has two broad meanings.

It may refer to the rules which an individual has developed which enable him to understand, produce, and make statements about the sentences of a language.

For instance, when the transformationists says that ‘a good grammar is that which can account for all sentences in a language’, he means the word grammar in this sense.

Also, the modern linguist can use ‘grammar’ to mean a theory (definite statements) about the rules of a language or a book containing such a theory.

Thus, ‘grammar’ is used in modern linguistics either to refer to the competence of a language user, a theory about the rules developed by the speaker, or a book containing such a theory. (Tale: 2007).
Having said all these, it should be borne in mind that there are factors which may influence, either positively or adversely the teaching of English grammar and can subsequently enhance or hinder the performance of students in its usage or examinations.

These factors range from teacher’s mastery and competence on rules of grammar, methods of teaching adopted, conducive environment for teaching, students’ readiness and attitude, instructional materials among others.

The teaching and learning process involves two active participants in the classroom – the teacher and the learner, and that language learning does not fall entirely on the teacher.

The students must also assume more responsibility for the learning process (Quiot: 2000).

Vuzo (2010) also reported “it is through interactions with each other that teachers and students work together to create intellectual and practical activities that shape both the form and the content of the target subject.

Once Cummings (2002) as quoted in Wang et al (1994) said that learning in which students are interactive produced far more effective participation in a class.

Meaning that effectiveness of language learning and teaching in the classrooms will depend upon the educational repertoire teachers have.

This concurs with Quist (2000) in that successful teaching and quality of students learning is closely related to the teacher’s knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Statement of the Problem
Diverse of research works have investigated into factors affecting students’ performance in English language subject in secondary schools in Nigeria both internal and external examinations. Quist (2000) asserted that most students fail English language as a result of their poor understanding of the subject among others.

The researcher is aware of these factors hence making him embark on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar in Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State.
Since to teach is to communicate, English teacher must have maximum communicative competence.

Also a teacher must be knowledgeable in the grammar itself so that he or she can make useful decision regarding what should be taught to whom, and how the teaching should be done. Researches demonstrate clearly that among the factors that lead to students’ performance are qualities of teachers (Harmer, 2003: Mosha, 2004).

It is on this finding that the researcher based the parameters as variable (home background of the student, social status of the parents, parental marital status, parental educational background etc) to this research work.
Purpose of the Study
This research work focuses on the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar with the following variables; ethnic background, parents’ marital status, parents’ educational status and parents’ socio-economic status.
Research Questions
This study is concerned with the influence of home environment on the performance of students in English grammar in some selected schools in Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State.

The following research questions are raised in order to guide the study.
i. What is the general performance of students in grammar?
ii. Is there any difference in the performance of students in grammar based on ethnic background?
iii. Is there any difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parents’ marital status?
iv. Is there any difference in the performance of students in grammar based on parental educational background?
v. Is there any difference in the performance of students based on parental socio-economic status?

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