Research Key

The Effect of the Kom Language on the Second Language Learners of English

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International: $20
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Qualitative research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
 MS word & PDF

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This study, “The Effect of the Kom Language on the Second Language Learners of English” describes the difficulties in the realisation of some English sounds like /r/, /g/ and some false grammatical structures in English resulting from the Kom language syntax.

The data for the study came from observation, internet and the library. They were analysed from the qualitative and contrastive perspective through a bilingual approach.

The major findings of the investigation reveal that Kom language has both positive and negative effects on its learners of English. The causes of these effects were observed as natural, that is, from their language and from their culture.

The different phonological realisation in English and some apt and false grammatical structure were proven to be aspects or transposition of mother tongue into English.

This study has revealed that though Kom is a Bantu language and English a Germanic language with French and Latin influence, they both have something in common. For example, the structure of some Kom sentences is similar to those of English and some phonological sounds of English are equally found in Kom.

Another effect of English language learning by these learners was the limit of the Kom vocabulary especially in the domain of colours and nouns related to family relations.



English language like the French language is a second language to most Cameroonians. English is one of the codes in the Cameroon multilingual society which is made up of so many ethnic languages.

Due to the fact that English is learnt in Cameroon and it co-exists with other languages, speakers of these diverse linguistic groups always face difficulties in the learning of English as a second language. According to Chilver and Kaberry (1963), the fondom of Kom is located in the Bamenda Grass field of Cameroon and is the second in terms of size after Nso.

Its Language is one of these native Languages, “ftapikom”, spoken by over 250,000(according to 2005 population census in Cameroon) speakers living in the Boyo Division of the North West Region of Cameroon. This linguistic code has serious effects on its learners of English as a second linguistics code.

According to some sociolinguistics studies, beginning with the Labovian Variationist model, Labov’s (1963, 1966) works, depend much on the correlation of linguistic variables such as age gender, occupation, social class and education with the society. His study proves that these variables are influential in language learning.

Ngefac (2006, 2008) following the pioneering works on sociolinguistic variation carried out linguistic variation studies in Cameroon, in a New English’s context.

In these works, he investigated the correlation between the sociolinguistic variable, social class and the linguistic variable, phonology. His findings revealed that the correlation between sociolinguistic variables and linguistic variables depend on the context where the study has been carried out.

So, the second language context differs in the use of linguistic features from the first language, which is the case with Kom vis-à-vis English.

General Description of the Study Area

Kom is a grass fields tribe of the North West Region of Cameroon. It is the predominant tribe in the Boyo Division. It is made up of the Belo, Njinikom and Fundong subdivisions. It has one main language which is the Kom language or “Itaijikom”.

This Fondom is made up of about 42 chiefs who rule their different villages and one paramount Fon, Vincent Yuh who seats at the head of the Fondom which is called Laikom. Due to the fact that this language is spoken by about 250 000 speakers, there exist some minute differences in terms of the pronunciation of a few Kom words in some villages of this fondom but one can hardly determine varieties of the Kom language.

Despite the fact that other languages like: “Fulfulde”, a language spoken by the Bororo’tribe and “Hausa”, language spoken by the Ilausas exist as first languages mainly to these ethnic groups who live in the mountainous areas of Kom, and who are a minority in this geographical area, Kom remains the major language because it is spoken in the streets, markets, churches and almost all the neighbourhoods.

Some of the Bororos, Hausas and some strangers like businessmen and civil servants who have lived in this part of the country for a length of time seems to have mastered this language more than some of its native speakers.

However, it should be noted that English and French which are Cameroon’s official languages are learnt and spoken by pupils, students, teachers and some civil servants in this part of the country.

Statement of Problem

English language which exists in some countries and communities as a second language has acquired several varieties. This has led to several investigations on the national and international identities of this language. This has given birth to the appellation: “Englishes” to refer to the different kinds of the linguistic varieties in this language.

According to Kachru (1985), English language through its spread has been acculturized, nativized and indigenized in all areas that have had contacts with it.

He equally maintains that, because of the existence of multiple languages in the outer circles, English has varieties which originate from geographical, linguistic and cultural factors.

Thus the case of Kom is a glaring example of linguistic society where English, morphological and grammatical structures have been interrupted, mainly due to the nature and existence of its own language. In this situation, it affects English just like any other first language or mother tongue will do to a second language.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the different domains of difficulties in the second language acquisition of English as a result of first language acquisition, which in this case is the Kom language.

The manner in which Kom students pronounce certain English words, the false grammatical structures students who have Kom as a mother tongue produce are equally the pertinent examples that we will have in this work.

Research Questions

This work is bases on the following questions

  • Iiow does the Kom language influence the second language learners of English?
  • What are the possible difficulties a Kom learner of English faces?
  • How do some vowels and consonants produced by Kom learners of English differ from Standard English?
  • What are the possible false grammatical structures a Kom learner of English will likely commit?
  • Does the Kom language really affect the learning of English?

The Effect of the Kom Language on the Second Language Learners of English

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