Research Key

Effect of pidgin English on L2 learners of English language of the University of Buea

Project Details

Project ID
International: $20
No of pages
Qualitative Research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
 MS Word & PDF

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This project was aimed at examining the impact of Pidgin English on L2 earners of the University of Buea. The purpose was to establish the effect of Pidgin English on student’s language acquisition. To achieve this, data was collected from level 300 students of the English Department through questionnaires to students and interviews with some parents and lecturers.

The study reveals that out of (30) students that took the questionnaire, four (4) students representing 80% attested to the fact that pidgin English greatly influences their language acquisition process.

This might be due to the influence of mother tongue, peer groups, social environment and lack of student’s interest in in the study of the English language. Consequently, the Students language learning process is low. Students should be given adequate motivation both at home and in school to learn and use more English in conversation than Pidgin English.



The English Language is a West Germanic Language that originated from old English (Anglo-Saxon), brought to England by settlers from North Germany. It is the primary language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various small island nations in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It is also an official language of India, the Philippines and many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa. In Cameroon, the English language is the lingua franca.

This makes the language an indispensable tool for students in the country to communicate and interact socially because of the numerous indigenous languages and dialects spoken by the different ethnic groups in different parts of the country. Some of these Cameroonian languages include; Mungaka, Mopke, Fulfulde etc.

However, none of these dominant tribal languages has been generally accepted as the national language. The English language is the official language in Cameroon and the means through which the colonial masters in their era used in uniting the various tribes for communication to take place, especially in British Cameroons.

The English language is a global language. The English Language is used in the field of technology, science, aviation, computer and education. Therefore, efficient spoken/written knowledge of the English language is of basic importance to the study of every other subject Standard English should Command respect and prestige in society. Despite the importance of correct use of the English language, it is found that students perform woefully in its usage both in examinations and daily life interactions.

When students are faced with the challenge of communicating with their friends in standard language, they resort to the use of the non-standard code that may be classified as pidgin. The question that comes to mind is: The language spoken by students English or Pidgin?

This study looks at the use of the English language, regarding the phenomenon of non-standard English, in Universities Especially the University of Buea. It seeks to establish a relationship between the speaking of Pidgin English used by students and the use of Standard English, and assess the impact of this pidgin on students’ academic performance.

Background to the study

Language in multilingual societies such as Cameroon has always been a matter of concern to educators, educational planners and parents, especially with regards to its appropriate use in communication. The English language is the medium of instruction in Cameroonian educational institutions at all levels. Cameroon is one of the countries in central Africa with a long history of linguistic connection with the English language.

By 1916, parts of Cameroon that are British southern Cameroons had been taken over by the British colonial administration: and since then, England has superseded the local languages till about 1961 when Cameroon got its independence .and hence the English language became the language of the government, administration and many other activities of national character.

Parents as well as educators and educational planners are at a loss as to address the “fallen standards” in the use of English in part, and of education in general. The basic causes of this have been the social environments in which the learners find themselves, which affects their language learning process.

The blames have been partly shifted to teachers, parents and learners themselves; therefore it is incumbents on educators and all well-meaning Cameroonians to help address the problem.In a material gotten from the internet, has the following on pidgin;

pidgin was originally a trade language jargon developed in the 19th century but now commonly and loosely used to mean any kind of ‘broken’ or ‘native’ version of the English language. Pidgin is any of various trade jargons, contact language, or lingua-franca arising in ports and markets where people of different linguistic backgrounds meet for commercial and other purposes.

Usually, a pidgin language is a rough blend of the vocabulary of one dominant language with the syntax or grammar of one or more other dependent groups. Where pidgins serve long-term purposes, they become a language acquired by children as one of their everyday languages.

MC Artur (1992:778) also adds to the definitions of pidgin and writes that “pidgin is generally a contact language which draws on elements of two or more languages … .it is a hybrid makeshift language used by and amongst traders….An article on pidgin “from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia” also says;

A pidgin or contact language is the name given to any language created, usually spontaneously, out of two more languages. As a means of communication between speakers of different tongues, and usually a simplified form of one of the languages.

Pamela B. De Vinne (1990:1284) also writes that pidgin is “a simplified form of speech, usually a mixture of two or more languages, that has a rudimentary grammar and vocabulary and is used for communication between groups speaking different languages”. This definition is like what D.C. Derrian writes that “pidgin is a simplified speech used for communication”.

The concept of pidgin in this study is slightly different from what has been presented above and in other writings. In this study, pidgin refers to the non-standard use of the English language by students to communicate with their peers; pidgin in this study is different from its general use. This study will present the different effects pidgin has on the English language especially amongst university students in general and learners of the English language.

Statement of Problems

Some people argue that pidgin is a variety of English that facilitates communication among students though it is a deviation from the norm. It is an indisputable fact that the Cameroonian schools and Universities as a formal system of education have their aims and objectives spelt out in a national syllabus that has Standard English as its model.

Thus, the medium of instruction in secondary schools is Standard English. Standard English is a means of communication among students and teachers and such ought to be used. However, some students have adopted this non-standard code to facilitate communication among them, identifying them clearly as “part of the crowd”.

Whether that phenomenon is formally allowed or not, the students continue to use the phenomenon even at the tertiary level. Many students in our Universities use this non-standard English sometimes even informal interactions in their various institutions.

Many parents and teachers express worry about the use of the non-standard code of English and they think its use influences the performance of students negatively. People have the feeling that the performance of students in examinations is negatively influenced by their use of pidgin their day-to-day interaction by way of communication.

Many conclusions have been drawn about the use of Pidgin English by students and its impact on student’s performance in examinations. These conclusions have been of a mixed nature. Even teachers of many schools are fighting against the use of pidgin though they seem not to have any concrete proof of any negative effects on students’ academic performance, and they have not succeeded in their efforts to suppress the use of pidgin.

This question, therefore, looks at the use of Pidgin English among L2 learners of the English language, with the effects that pidgin has on L2 learners of the English language. Though some work may have been done concerning school pidgin, this work hopes to contribute to the wealth of knowledge and volume of work done in this area of study.

Research Question

  1. What are the positive effects of Pidgin English on L2 learners?
  2. What are the Negative effects of Pidgin English on L2 learners?
  3. What are the various ways the Negative impact of Pidgin English can be improved?
  4. What influence does to non-use of Pidgin English have on L2 learners of English Language?
  5. How does to socio-economic status of the parents influence L2 learners of English Language?
  6. What influence does the use of other languages such as: French, Mother tongue have on the learning of English language by L2 learners?

Research Objectives

  1. To assess the negative impact of Pidgin English on L2 learners of English language.
  2. To propose solutions to mitigate the negative impacts of pidgin English on L2 learners of English language.
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