ASSESSING THE INFLUENCE OF TEACHING PHONOLOGY ON SPOKEN ENGLISH OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
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This project explores the influence of teaching phonology on spoken English of secondary school students in Ilorin East Local Government Area, Kwara State.
To ascertain this, the project takes a look at the concept of language, functions of language as well as language skills.
English phonemes; vowel and consonant sounds are also examined.
Based on the foregoing, thus, efforts are directed at analyzing the data collected with the research methodology used in obtaining the data.
Therefore, the summary of the findings is outlined, and discussion, conclusion and recommendations are presented in concluding this study.
Background to the Study
English language has no doubt come to stay as Nigeria’s Lingua Franca (Jolayemi, 2007).
As a Lingua Franca, English obviously is the formal or official language of the country. This status accounts for the high premium Nigeria places on it.
Being a foreign language, the skills in it have to be learnt rather than acquired.
Since the language is needed for the proper functioning of the country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has severally demonstrated its commitment towards the promotion and development of the language in the country.
Hence, the government adopts a multi-dimensional approaches or strategies.
An integral part of these strategies aimed at ensuring the growth of English language in Nigeria is its inclusion in the schools’ curriculum, as a subject of study.
Of particular interest to a curriculum planner is the speaking skill; a knowledge which enables the learners to speak the language in the same way the native speakers do.
The aspect of English which caters for this interest is referred to as Phonetics and Phonology.
According to Akande (2002), Phonetics is defined as the study and description of the physical properties of human speech sounds.
It is sub-divided into Articulatory Phonetics, Auditory Phonetics and Acoustic Phonetics.
On the other hand, phonology is the manner by which speech sounds are patterned into a system of a specific language (Akande, 2002).
Phonology of English language is studied at segmental and supra-segmental levels
Segmental phonology deals with the consonant and vowel phonemes of English language while supra-segmental level deals with the analysis of stress, rhythm, intonation and tone.
A learner’s competence in the speaking skill of the English is usually determined by how much he or she has internalized those properties of the English language sounds system.
It is a pity nowadays that most of the students at all levels of education cannot identify the English phonemes due to the over or under differentiation and reinterpretation of the English phonemes for their mother tongue(s) (Alabi, 2002).
Also, students are confronted with a lot of problems whenever they come across the English consonant clusters which are non-existent in their native language.
The level of mastery of stress and intonation patterns of the English language of the students is considerably low because it is quite different from their indigenous languages which are basically tonal oriented.
The students normally pronounce the English words as they appear to them orthographically in their local languages or dialects which, of course, make their communication rather unintelligible to the outside world.
The concern of this study, therefore, is to find out whether or not the students in senior secondary schools in Ilorin East Local Government Area, Kwara State are making progress in internalizing these properties. In other words, this exercise is aimed at ascertaining the influence of teaching phonology on the spoken English of senior secondary school students in Ilorin East Local Government Area, Kwara State.
Statement of the Problem
Since 1989 or there about when Oral English or English Paper 3 (Test of Orals) became a compulsory paper to be written in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WAEC and NECO), Nigeria has made concerted efforts to ensure that candidates for these examinations perform optimally.
It is in pursuance of this objective that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education invests a substantial percentage of her resources annually in recruiting, training and retraining of English language teachers in order to realize these objectives of proficiency in the spoken English of the citizenry and reap the many benefits accruing from it.
Consequently, there are divergent views on the effects of teaching phonology in Nigerian secondary schools.
While some opine that the subject has had a positive effect on the students’ spoken English.
The pessimist argues that in spite of the teaching of Oral English, there is still noticeable speech difference among the students in our secondary schools.
It is their opinion that some students have in fact resorted to their Mother Tongue (MT) in order to relief themselves of the nervousness in speaking English. \
It is believed by this school of thought that only a negligible number of these students speak good English probably because of their background.
It is in the light of the above argument that this study set out to ascertain the validity or otherwise of the claims.
It is entitled ‘Influence of Teaching Phonology on Spoken English of Secondary School. Students in Ilorin East L.G.A. Kwara State’.
Purpose of the Study
The aim of this research was to examine how the teaching of phonology in the secondary schools has benefited the students by sharpening their skills in spoken English.
Specifically, the study is to:
i. examine the significant relationship between the teaching of phonology and the academic performance of senior secondary school students.
ii. identify the significant relationship between the teachers’ qualifications and teaching of phonology in senior secondary schools.
iii. ascertain the significant relationship between teaching of phonology and spoken English of students in senior secondary schools.
For the purpose of this study, the following questions were asked:
i. Is there any significant relationship between the teaching of phonology and the academic performance of senior secondary school students?
ii. Is there any significant relationship between the teachers’ qualification and teaching of phonology in senior secondary schools?
iii. Is there any significant relationship between teaching of phonology and the spoken English of students in senior secondary schools?