The Relevance of Use of English in Nigerian Universities



The relevance of Use of English in Nigerian Universities

Language allows people to develop a sense of self, and to interact with others in the community. Language is the means through which knowledge is transmitted. Every form of education; formal, informal or non-formal is expressed and acquired through language. Through education, man’s potentials are developed; skills, knowledge and expertise that will enable man become more productive and creative in his environment are acquired. Through this university students are equipped to engage in gainful courses that would earn them higher give and improve understanding. Students are enabled to gain access to better education and other social services that add value to his life. Thus, education is regarded as a powerful instrument for human and national development.

However, the issue of education cannot be discussed without the Use of English through which the concepts are expressed. Because no matter how expertly the learning experiences are selected and organized, the ultimate objective of the teaching-learning exercise would not be achieved if the language of instruction is unfamiliar to the learner. 

English is the language of education in Nigerian University. It is the language of instruction from upper primary education, through secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria. The state of English as a Second Language in Nigeria coupled with the numerous roles it plays compels every Nigerian citizen to learn and to speak it.

The Use of English Language in the Nigerian Universities 

A good knowledge of the socio-political history of Nigeria will enable one understand how Use English language came into Nigeria and occupied a colossal position in the Nigerian Universities. Our country is made up of multilingual and multi-ethnic nationals wielded together for the benefit of the colonial administration. English language was then adopted as a language of necessity to enable the British run their colonial government. Clarks and interpreters were trained and those who wished to work with the colonial masters strives to learn English.

The missionaries were the first to establish schools in Nigeria. Their main aim then was to train people who will propagate the gospel. When the British government took over the running of the schools in Nigeria, they harmonized the subjects taught in the different missionary schools. They also came up with a policy that made English language a core subject as well as the language of instruction in the 1882 and 1887 education ordinances (Njoku and Izuagba: 2001).

Form this point, many Nigerians Universities strove to learn English as competence in it was a meal ticket. In fact it was a yardstick for employment during the colonial era. After independence, the Nigerian Universities did not change much from what it was during the colonial era. Use of English remained the pivot of education in Nigeria. It is the language of instruction from upper primary education through secondary, to tertiary education in Nigeria. It is the language through which all other subjects in the curriculum are taught. Not only is English language a compulsory subject in secondary education, a credit pass in it is a compulsory condition for securing admission into Nigerian tertiary institutions. Competence in English is seen as an index of academic, excellence. Thus, it is a yardstick for measuring learners’ academic performance. More so, before any student can graduate from the tertiary institutions in Nigeria, they must pass the course Use of English.

From the foregoing, we have seen that English language is the bedrock upon which Nigerian Universities is hinged. Suffice it then to say that Use of English is indispensable to Nigerian Universities.

Problems of Teaching and Learning Use of English in Nigerian Universities  

Most often, language lecturer’s at all Nigerian Universities encounter many problems in their attempt at improving the teaching and learning Use of English. Some of the problems include:

1.  Lack of resources for language teaching.

2. Inadequate knowledge of current trends in the teaching and learning of a second language.

3.  Inconsistencies in the language policy provision on education.

4. Attitude and psychological problems on the part of the learners and unprofessional in handling the subject.

These are just a few of the problems as space would permit.

For us to achieve good success in Use of English in Nigerian Universities, these problems should be tackled headlong.

For instance, the teaching of English should be handled by professionals only. It should not be open to ‘every comer’ in the teaching profession.

Again, the government should provide the needed resources for teaching language in our universities. Such resources include text books, tape recorders, flannel boards, interactive/magic boards, and language laboratories etc.

On training of teachers, Nwachukwu discourses that “there is need to update knowledge and skills in a world that is continually progressing in all spheres of life, if not, we will find ourselves recycling information that is long outdated”.

So, lecturers need to be exposed to current trends in Use of English teaching, they should also be exposed to all body of knowledge, skills and resources that would enable them teach effectively the English language in our universities. As for tackling the attitude and psychological problems of the learners, the use of the CLL method would go a long way in restoring the confidence of the learners as well as reduce their anxiety.

We strongly advocates that all the segments of the Nigerian university should have equal access to effective teaching and learning of the English language.

The present dichotomy which exists between students in urban and rural areas should be closed. If the CLL method should be adopted by all language teachers, all Nigerian students would be enabled to acquire adequate functional and communicative competence in the use of English language in Nigerian , irrespective of where they reside in the country.

The role of English language in the Nigerian University is quite immeasurable. For one to be relevant both in the Nigerian polity and the world at large, one has to attain some level of competence in the use of English language.

Relevance of Use of English in Nigerian Universities

1. English is the Language of International Communication: Although English is not the most spoken language in the world. It is the official language in 53 countries and is spoken as a first language by around 400 million people worldwide. But that’s not all, it is also the most common second language in the world. According to the British Council, by 2020 about two billion people in the world will be studying English.

Therefore, it is highly likely that if you meet someone from another country, you will both be able to speak English. It gives you an open door to the world and helps you communicate with global citizens.

2. English gives access to more entertainment and more access to the Internet: Nowadays, many films, TV shows, books and music are published and produced in English. By understanding English, you won’t need to rely on translations and subtitles anymore. By accessing these media, you will also continuously improve your English listening and reading skills.

English is currently the language of the internet. An estimated of 565 million people use the internet every day and about 52% of the world’s most visited websites are displayed in English. Therefore, learning this language gives access to over half the content of the internet, which might not be available otherwise. Whether it is for fun or for work, if you understand English, you will be able to exchange information with more people online and use many more materials.

3. English makes it easier to travel: As highlighted before, since English is spoken as a first language in 53 countries and as a second language in over 118 countries, learning the language makes it much easier to travel anywhere. Indeed, airport announcements, train timetables, emergency information and street signs are often available in English, including in countries where the native language uses a different type of alphabet. It goes without saying that, when travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language, you are practically guaranteed to find someone who understands at least some English.

4. English can make you smarter: Learning a foreign language enhances your cognitive and analytical abilities. Learning a new language can be difficult and it involves a lot of mental exercises. Research shows that learning a new language changes the brain structures, impacting the parts of the brain responsible for memory, conscious thought and it can make you more creative. In the long term, bilingualism can keep the brain strong and healthy into old age and supports concentration and memory skills. On an individual level, it improves personality and increases sense of self-worth. In simple words, learning a foreign language makes the brain stronger and more versatile.

6. Learning Use of English is not only useful, but it also gives a lot of satisfaction and making progress will make you feel great. Why not make it even more tangible by taking a standardized test to certify your proficiency.


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