Teach English in GuihuA Zhen - Xianning Shi

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Problems for Learners in a Country of your Choice Although English language has been the official language in Nigeria for decades, there are a good number of challenges that learners of English language continuously encounter. These problems are not only peculiar to learners, but may also be existent in so called fluent speakers. One of the most basic problems is mother tongue interference. 1. Mother Tongue Interference: This is a form of language interference in which a Nigerian's first language/native language/mother tongue (L1) hinders or influences the acquisition of a new language (possibly L2), in this case - English language. In the process of this interference, linguistic features from the mother tongue are often transferred to English language, creating an adulterated version of English language that could differ amongst individuals or ethnicities. Therefore, Igbo learners, for example, have similar adulterated versions of English language, just like other ethnicities do. For instance, an Igbo English learner is more likely to exaggerate "bread" from /bred/ to /breid/. Mother tongue interference can manifest in forms such as phonological, code mixing and code switching. These classes of interference address alterations to pronunciations, grammar and syntax. A. Phonological Interference: this consists of interferences in relation to accents, word and sentence stress patterns, intonation, phonemes, and all other elements related to pronunciation and articulation. For example, an Igbo English learner is likely to swap the lateral consonant /l/ with /r/, so that "red" which is transcribed as /red/, becomes /led/. The ambiguity created by the wrongful exchange of phonemes increases with the length of the speech. Consider the following: i. "Lead us to righteousness, oh lord," becomes "/r/ead us to /l/righteousness, oh /r/od." Read us to lighteouness, oh rod. ii. "Restore my glory days," becomes "/l/estore my g/r/o/l/y days." Lestore my grory days. As for word stress, syllables which are normally stressed could easily be flattened, and unstressed syllables could be stressed instead. For example, "enVIronment" evidently has its stress in the second syllable. A Nigerian English learner may decide to completely flatten the word or adopt the stress pattern from his/her indigenous language, which may leave the stress hanging on the first syllable, the penultimate syllable or the last syllable. This alteration could create serious issues in comprehension, especially for words which their word class are easily identified by stress placement. For instance, CONflict (noun); conFLICT (verb). Because the rules of sentence stress in English differ from that of Nigerian languages, sentences are often uttered in a dishevelled manner; where certain vowel sounds are not weakened or strengthened, or certain neighbouring consonant sounds are not assimilated. B. Code switching and code mixing: Code mixing is the intrasentential combination of linguistic elements (such as affixes, words, phrases and even clauses) from two or more languages. Code mixing could be as a result of limited vocabulary on the part of the learner or on the part of the language, i.e in cases where English language has no word for that particular expression. For example: "Kissie his forehead," in which case "ie" is a suffix (particualr to Igbo) added to the root word "Kiss". Code mixing in Nigeria is apt in informal and semi-formal contexts. In contrast, code switching is an intersentential change in language use to create special pragmatic effects. For example: "Bia ebe a (Igbo for "Come here"). I said come here!" When the speaker switches to a more formal language, which is recognised as the official language, the tone of the speech becomes even more serious and less friendly. Other problems learners in Nigeria encounter include: 1. Insufficient availability of qualified teachers who are native speakers of English language. This lacuna has played a key role in resulting to the creation of Nigerian English, which lacks certain phonological and phonteic properties of the British Standard English. 2. Dearth of appropriate teaching materials and methods. 3. The multilingual environment which sometimes reduces the emphasis of the acquisition of English Language, especially as Pidgin English is readily available.