September 20, 2023





This work set out to investigate problems of teaching English language as a second language in Nigeria, through a case study of selected secondary schools in Ukanafun Local Government Area. Objectively, the study investigated the effect of mother tongue interference the quality of teachers, students, attitude towards learning and the impact of availability and utilization of instructional resources on the teaching of English as a second language. Teachers from selected schools in the study are formed the population for this study. Sampling was by simple random sampling technique. For the study, a survey research design was adopted for the study. Data analysis was done using simple percentage method because it could easily be understood at a glance and computation has a high accuracy rate.




1.1     Background to the Study

English languages are recognized as a core subject who remains compulsory for every, student at the secondary level of Education (national policy on Education, 2004). Unfortunately, inspite of the huge benefit of using English languages for our everyday activities, this subject remains widely or highly dreaded by many students in Nigeria, and the failure rate at the senior secondary school certificate examination level and other external examinations is often high, hence many candidates who aspire for higher education in the university, polytechnic and colleges of education cannot meet up their expectation for further study.

Many researchers all over the world are of the view that knowledge and skills in communication with English languages has a significant influence on the performance of students in other subjects.

However the acquisition of excellent skills of communication with English languages tends to suffer some interference from the mother tongue of the learner. English therefore is a second language and has to be learnt as such before it can be effectively used for communication and other transactions.

Researchers like Eka (2015), Zusouvlay (2013) hold the view that students learn better when, appropriate method of teaching English languages is adopted, and that students also learn better when appropriate methods of teaching English language is adopted, and that students also learn better when appropriate  instructional resources used  in the teaching-leaning process. Eka (2015), therefore upholds that the issue of qualitative Education in Nigeria falls into three distinctive categories in one way, it is the teacher, in the other way it is the student, and then the government. Garaliauskiene (2019), further highlighted that mother-tongue creates a significant influence or impact on the teaching and learning of English as a second language.

Based on this background information therefore, this study intends to find out whether the quality of teachers, attitude of students toward learning such as a study habits, time management and other none  cognitive factors could significantly impact on students learning of the subject.

The study will also examine the extent to which availability and utilization of facilities in secondary schools in Ukanafun affect teaching and learning of English as a second language as well as how the influence of the mother tongue interference could influence students achievement in English languages, with a view to proffering solutions based on research findings on the issue. The problems of teaching English Language as a second language in Nigeria.


1.2     Statement of the Problem

Unfortunately, the researcher observed over the years that many students, especially in Ukanafun Local Government Area performed poorly in English language especially in public examinations such as unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and since as a matter of educational policy in Nigeria, credit pass in English language is a critical requirement for admission into higher institution in Nigeria these category of candidates usually do not succeed in securing admission into higher institution to read any course.


Mass media reports in Nigeria also indicate that English have been increasing number of failure in English language among secondary school students and UTME candidates over the years which has given rise to row enrollment of students particularly in English language based professions such as law, communication arts, theatre arts ecetera. Improvement in students’ achievement in English Language would therefore represent an asset in this regard.

This study will therefore find out whether the quality of teachers who teach the subject or the attitude of students towards learning English language, or availability of these resources do have an impact in the teaching of English as a second language, while also assessing the influence of mother  tongue interference in the teaching  learning process of English language in the study Area.


1.3     purpose of the study

General purpose of the study is to investigate into problems of teaching English Language as a second Language in Nigeria using a case study of Ukanafun Local Government Area

Specifically the study will;

  • Finding out the impact of mother tongue interference on the teaching of English as a second Language
  • Examine the impact of teacher’s quality on the teaching of English as a second language
  • Examine attitude of students towards the learning of English as a second Language
  • Assess the impact of availability and utilization of instructional resources on the teaching of English as a second Language


1.4     Significance of the study

Findings obtained from the study will,

  • Serve as a reference manual to future researchers on the topic.
  • Serve as a guide to teachers on factors relating to mother tongue interference to the teaching of English as a second language
  • Enlighten students on the issue of mother tongue interference in the study of English language.
  • Also help government, school proprietors and related agencies when making policy statements concerning supply of infrastructural facilities to secondary schools in the area.


1.5     Research Questions

In the course of conducting the study it was imperative to raise the following research questions to guide the study.

(i)      How does mother tongue interference impact on the teaching of English as a second language?

(ii)     To what extent does the quality of teachers impact on teaching of English as a second language?

(iii)    How does students’ attitudes towards learning impact on teaching of English as a second language?

What impact does availability and utilization of instructional resources have on the teaching of English as a second language? The problems of teaching English Language as a second language in Nigeria.


1.7     Delimitation of the Study

The study was restricted in scope to an investigation into problems of teaching English as a second language.

It was also limited to selected secondary schools in Ukanafun Local Government Area. Hence, findings from this research was not generalized as it remains valid to Ukanafun Local Government where the study was conducted.



1.8     Limitation of the Study

In the course of the investigation the researcher was confronted with certain challenge which posed significant threat to the success of the exercise. Prominent among them was financial constraints and duration constraints.

The researcher was faced with financial inadequacy, particularly as she depended on her parents financial contributions to procure and process materials required for the research which was scarcely adequate for a work of this magnitude.

Secondly, a one-semester duration allocated by the college authority for the completion and submission of this report was hardly adequate for extensive investigation on the issue.

1.9     Operational Definition of Terms

(i)     Academic Performance: This terms often used in educational institutions to describe the evaluation of student’s ability in a particular subject or assessment of students’ activities in the entire school.

(ii)    Lingua Franca: This refers to a general acceptable language commonly used for communication in everyday life in a particular society.






2.1     Mother Tongue Interference in the Teach of English as a Second Language

Language is a human characteristic which differentiates man from lower animals, man has language as one way of representing experience. According to Sapir (1961), it is best to admit that Language is primarily vocal actualization of the tendency to see reality symbolically.

An actualization in terms of vocal expression of the tendency to master reality not by direct and adhoc handling of this element but by the reduction of expression to familiar form.


Language has many uses, but it is very important conventionally in the teaching – learning process especially in schools. More so aside from having many attributes, language is a skill. This means that language has to be impacted or taught and it can also be learnt. The child learns the mother tongue by listening and speaking. Whenever a foreign Language for example, English is introduced there tends to be a conflict between the two. However in early childhood, this obstacle is overcome and the child becomes good at both mother tongue and the foreign language (McGregor, 1971).

English is called an international Language because it is the most widespread medium of international communication because of the number and geographical spread of its speakers and also because of the large number of non – native speakers who use it for part atleast of their international contact (Brumfit, 1985). English becomes a second language in Nigeria because of the use of other local languages at home.


The learning of mother tongue and second language are not the same, thus the teaching of each would then differ in technique.

Spolsky (1989). In very simple terms defined second language learning to refer to the acquisition of a language once a first language has been learned, say after the age of two. A grasp of the native of the mother tongue is an invaluable aid to the teaching of a second language. This is because ability depends on previous knowledge; One cannot expect a learner to learn a thing which the learner has no background knowledge of (fries 1945, lado 1957 and Dulay and Burt 1974).


Considering this unique inter-relationship between both languages, it would be pertinent to say that the mother tongue would influence the teaching-learning process of English language by way of interference. This interference however, depends to a certain degree. The age at which the second language (English) is being introduced and is also coupled to other factors.

It would seem to be true that teaching English as a second language to students in secondary school, who have had a sound base in the mother tongue could be quite simple. However this does not appear to be the case as had been observed by many scholars. Interference of the mother-tongue in learning of a second language (English) shows that the students perceive English language through the ’’eyes” of the mother tongue (Felix, 1985).


In today’s society, the influence of the mother tongue on English is quite glaring especially in the Nigerian society where pronunciation, vocabularization and expressions are dented with mother tongue acceptation and vocabularization. To help eliminate this interference, the second language teacher need to teach students the parameterized variations (structure specific) of the targeted language (English), According to Webb (1974), learning a second language though some times complex is said to be of cultural value. The problems of teaching English Language as a second language in Nigeria.


2.2     Quality of Teachers and the Impact on the Teaching of English as a Second Language.

No education programme is better than the teacher that implements it, as such no foreign language programme including English language can be better than the language teacher. The language (English) teacher is, therefore, an important index in the success of a second language programme.

The effectiveness of the teacher depends on the mastery of the language, teacher-learner relationship and teaching style. The English language teacher is expected to use the language accurately?  This should be knowledgeable in the culture of the nation of speakers, and should be professionally trained in the arts of the teaching and learning Valette, 1980.


From the above statements, it is pertinent to say that one does not give what one does not have, and this saying fits the problems of teaching English as second language in Nigeria. In fact, the learning porgramme for teachers of English language in Nigeria must be adequate to be able to produce effective teachers of the language. It might not be an easy task to produce these teacher. (Oyetunj; 1971).


Aptly put it thus: it is not claiming too much to say that teaching English as second language is the most complex and the most arduous task for teacher to undertake. Those who conscientiously and diligently examine the varying and Eluowe aspect of the teaching of English in west Africa have come to the unavoidable realization that if there is any subject that requires a scientific and pragmatic approach from teachers, it is the teaching of English.

Morrison (1979) identifies the qualities to be possessed by a language teacher for effectiveness to include being a good model of speech, being thoroughly conversant with modern English usage, being aware of potential areas of difficulty of the learners, being familiar with a variety of approaches and methods for teaching; being able to modify and supplement instructional materials, being familiar and keeping abreart with current knowledge in the theories of teaching and learning languages, and finally, having sufficient knowledge of the culture of the speaker of the language.

Furthermore, the language teacher must in the case of English, be able to understand other native speakers of English, without difficulty. In addition, his spoken words must be easily understood by others. He has to be a good model to the students (Obanija 1982) explain that being a good model does not imply he should speak like the English.


Most importantly, the problems of the learner with regard to the interference of the mother tongue. (Obanija 1982) the Nigerian society is lacking in teacher who posses many of the above mentioned qualities. In some schools, teachers who teach English did not study language at a higher academic level, they get into teaching because of lack of something else to do.


In other instances, the teachers are not up to date on recent theoritical development in the field of English language. These deficiencies are infact hindrances to the effective teaching of English as a second language in Nigeria, in view of the fact that the ultimate for the teacher is to train his students to be proficient in English because of the general and envious position it (English) occupies in Nigeria and the world at large.


2.3     Students Attitudes Towards Teaching and Impact on Teaching of English as a Second Language in Nigeria.

The best teacher of English language cannot make any head way with a student who is not willing to learn or who has a very poor attitude toward learning the subject.

All students have the capacity to learn a second language. But students with high language aptitude will mere readily learn a second language than their counterparts with low aptitude.

However, numerous studies carried out recent times have shown that academic performances declining (fazal, S.Etal 2007 Anwang G. and Sinnadurai,S. K. 2011, Demin Etal, 2012).

Many studies have analyzed the factors behind the performance of students. Nagaraju (2004) pointed out that for good academic success, good study habits and attitudes are important. According to Menzel, cited by Rana and kausar (2011), many students fail not because they lack ability but because they do not have adequate skills. These skills are lacking because these group of students lack adequate study habits.

When the same poor attitude is applied to the learning of a second language, it becomes a serious problem the student may develop these poor attitudes if the right approach to teaching English is not utilized. Students have preferred learning styles, individualized and group learning, (Valette, 1980). Where one of this teaching of the second language, the students may tend to developed poor attitudes towards learning the language.

The study of Osa-Edoh and Alutu 2012). Which examined the usefulness of imbibing in the student good study attitude in order to enhance academic performance revealed a high correlation between students study attitude performance. This is to say that good attitudes towards learning.


Especially, learning of second language such as English can greatly impact on the understanding of the language thereby making the job of the teacher less tedious. Students are therefore needed to have a good attitudinal approach to the learning of English as a second language (Valette, 1988), considering the importance of mastery of the language.


2.4     Availability and Utilization of Instructional Materials and the Impact on the Teaching of English as Second Language in Nigeria.

There are some requirements needed in a school where foreign language is taught for success in the teaching and learning of the language. These requirement are small and homogeneous classes, specialized classrooms, appropriate and adequate materials and equipments.

Teacher should realize that some methods are use to process learning while others deal with learning outcomes. Some foster cognitive learning while others aim at enhancing either effective or psychomotive skills some methods are teachers centered, while others are learner centered. Some of these techniques are complementary to each other.


The teacher should be able to produce simple and low cost instructional materials, such as charts, posters, maps, pictures, drawing, model ecetera. Audio-visual tools are also very essential for teaching language especially English which is a second language.

In the secondary school settings in Nigeria, the instructional resources readily available to both teachers and students include the school or subject curriculum and the recommended textbooks. (Azikiwe 1990) believes that if these resource are effectively utilized in academic situations, the teaching of a second language such as English would be greatly enhanced.

Therefore, he advocate for a resources centre suggested facilities for displaying and demonstrating the use of various materials to promote effective teaching and learning task.


  • Chapter Summary

The popularity of English language in Nigeria will continue to grow so long as it is the language of public and professional life, technology and commerce and in many cases, the easiest medium of communication with many foreign countries.

The teaching of English as a second language especially in secondary school is not an easy task. Researchers have found out that there are many problems facing the effective teaching of English language as a second language in schools notable among these problems highlighted in this review are those of  interference of the mother tongue, qualities of the teacher teaching the second language, study attitudes of student and adequacy and effective utilization of instructional material to aid the teaching of English language as a second language.

As a developing country, politically, economically technologically and otherwise, student in the secondary schools who are Nigerian youths today and future leaders of this country should be able to effectively communicate in English language.





3.1     Area of the Study

The study will be conducted in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Geographically, Ukanafun is located in the Northern Western part of the state. The Local Government Area is under Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. Ukanafun is bounded by other Local Government Areas which include Oruk Anam, Ika and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas.

People of Ukanafun are of the Annang Ethnic group. The Language is also Annang; people of this area indulge majorly in peasant farming as well as trading. Culturally, The Ukanafun people are known for their cultural dexterity in cultural dances and songs, religiously, Christianity and the African traditional religious practice predominates. The area also has enormous touris in potentials.

Educationally, the Local Government is blessed with many intellectuals spread all over Nigeria and overseas. There are fourteen Secondary Schools in the Area.


3.2     Research Design

The researcher will adopt survey research design for the study; The reason being that the researcher intends to highlight information from various sources on the issue.


3.3     Population of the Study

The total population of the study will consist of fifty-six English language teachers in the area, out of which thirty (30) will be selected from the secondary school.


3.4     Sample and Sampling Technique

Three (3) English language teachers shall be sampled from each of the ten selected secondary schools in the area. This will bring to a total of thirty (30) English language teachers for the study.

Random sampling technique shall be adopted in selecting the representative English language teachers for the study.


3.5     Instrumentation

The researcher shall adopt a structured questionnaire as instrument for data collection.


3.6     Validation of Instrument

The researcher constructed the research instrument with the aid of her research supervisor.

This instrument was pre-tested on two secondary schools outside the study area. Scores obtained from the pre-test was used to establish the reliability of the test using Kudar Richardsonzo formula.

At the end of the exercise the researcher forwarded the result to her supervisor for validation in terms of accuracy and consistency.


3.7     Administration of Instrument

The researcher shall personally visit each of the ten selected secondary schools to obtain permission from the principal/ vice. Principal to use their schools for the research. The instrument was administered to three English language teachers in each school. Completed questionnaire were returned to the researcher.

At the end of the exercise the completed questionnaire was summarized, scored and analyzed scientifically to establish relevance to the issue under investigation.

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