Nigerian Secondary School Student Speech Achievement: A survey

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Nigerian Secondary School Student Speech Achievement: A survey. Akinyetun Owolabi

Submitted: July 12, 2013

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Submitted: July 12, 2013





The spread of English Language throughout the world has conditioned non-native users of English Language to rely on it as a means of communication internationally as well as nationally, for English is used not only for academic purposes, but also for purposes of social interaction. Although learners in Nigeria learn English Language as a second language after the acquisition of their various mother tongues. These learners who are vast in their mother tongues before coming to the school system are compelled to learn English because of the roles it would play in their lives. Hence,  most of these learners find it more convenient to use their mother tongue more often than the English language even in European Journal of Educational Studies 3(1), the school environment. The resultant effect of this is that some Nigerian students seem to be deficient in oral communication when it comes to the issue of speech work in English Language.

Oyinloye (2002). Williams (2004) posits that the problems lie with the foundations at the primary school level, where there seemed to be no proper foundation for the skills of oracy. William (2004) goes ahead to identify three reasons why pronunciation should be tackled by systematic teaching in the language context. The first reason concerns the age at which the student begins to speak the second language. He posits that, except during the pre-school period, any individual learning to pronounce words in a second language cannot do so with anything approaching native  like accuracy unless he is taught systematically. The second reason according to him borders on unconscious interference of the mother tongue which occurs at both the productive and the receptive levels. The learner who cannot hear the difference between the English phonemes/P/ and /f/ in the words „Pan? and „fan? will not be able to articulate the difference. Hence, direct teaching of the sound system is the only way to remedy this disability. The third reason is to create awareness for the stress patterns and intonation or pitch. For, a learner may know the grammar and vocabulary of the target language while his use of its stress patterns and intonation may be wrong. Similarly, Roach (2000) opines that “an important purpose of oral English course is to explain how English sounds are pronounced by exposing the learners to its standard form, especially to the native speakers model or near native speakers model.


One of the observed chief characteristics of human beings is their ability to communicate even complicated messages that concern every aspect of their activities. Oyinloye (2002) opines that human being can hardly engage in any form of activity successfully without communication. It is obvious here that Oyinloye is referring to language be it in writing or speech which is the means of communication.

Roach (2000) says that, in any language we can identify a small number of regularly used sounds (vowel and consonants) referred to as phonemes. He considers it important to think of English pronunciation in terms of phonemes rather than letters of the alphabet, because English Language spelling seems to be notorious as it does not follow regular pattern. Hence adequate knowledge of speech work of a particular language will aid competence and performance in such language.

English Language is learnt by both female and male students in the secondary school students’s in Lagos State. Okoye (1983) found that sex differences had little or no effect on performance in Mathematics and English Language and that the achievements of learners depend more on personal efforts. This implies that the achievement of individual could be traced to the individual efforts after a conducive environment has been created by the teacher while teaching the learners. Adesoji (2000) in a study on problem solving difficulties which involving male and female students found that more girls than boys had difficulties in three of the stages of problem solving. He concluded that boys are better at problem solving than girls.

Wanjeri (2006) found that men and women use language differently as they talk among themselves. Men tend to speak loudly and aggressively than women. This tendence to speak more loudly by men could have effect on the performance of men in stress and intonation pattern in second language situation. Trudgill (2000) says research has shown women to use linguistics forms closer to the standard variety than

men, Wardhaugh (1998) observes that men seem less linguistically influenced than women. They also like to protect an image of themselves as tough and masculine, and see non standard language and profanity by showing these traits. He claims that various reasons are responsible for differences between male and female when it comes to language learning and use. These reason are: that language is sexist; society has a hierarchical set of power relationships in which language  behaviour reflects male dominance and that men and women have learnt to act in certain ways and follow different rules of language use. The above observation could have effect on the attitude and achievement of men and women in language learning especially in speech work Crittenden (2001) says that the pattern of conventions in a language covers a system of significant sound units (the phonemes), the inflexion and arrangement of words and the association of meaning with words. The interrelationship between these patterns of conventions justifies the position of Oyinloye (2002) that “Oral English is a skill that cannot be acquired in isolation of other language skills and vice versa.

However, it is important to note that Oral English is purely divided into two: The segmental and non-segmental. The segmental is concerned with distinguishing the phonemes of English which consist of vowels and consonants. Here individual sound is identified and its production processes are explained. In all, there are 24 consonant sounds and twenty vowel sounds, made up of twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs. The speech work of English Language does not depend mainly on learner?s ability to produce the segmental phonemes only; although the individual sounds are important, they do not solely make up English speech. The natural features that accompany the pronunciation of these sounds constitute the supra- segmental phonemes which include stress, intonation syllable and rhythm. They are non segmental phonemes because we cannot not divide them sharply into small units as we do with the vowels and consonant phonemes.



The problem which informs this study is that many Secondary School Student in Lagos State seem to show little or no interest in speech work aspect of English language studies, hence, their overall performance in both speech and examinations is always affected adversely. This is equally observed in their mispronunciation of English words and wrong ascents resulting to unintelligible communication and wrong spelling when writing sentences. This study therefore intends to determine the achievement of these students after being exposed to speech work with suitable instructional programme


The purpose of this study is to investigate the achievement of College students in speech work in English language; with a view to making suggestions for better achievement in speech work in English among Secondary School students.


In order to carry out this study, the following research questions were generated.

(i) Will there be any difference between the male and female students achievement in

segmental features in English Language?

(ii) Will there be any difference between the male and female students achievement in supra-segmental features in English language?

(iii) Will there be any difference between the male and female students attitude to speech work in English language


As a result of these research questions three research hypotheses were formulated.

(1) There is no significant difference between the male and female students achievement in the segmental features in English Language.

(2) There is no significant difference between the male and female students achievement in supra-segmental features in English Language.

(3) There is no significant difference between the male and female students attitude to speech work in English Language


The importance of the study cannot be over emphasizes as it shall be useful to the government to enable them to provide necessary facilities that will aid the speech work of Secondary School student.

The Study shall assist teachers to identify learners’ challenges in learning speech work . Also, this study shall also assist English Language teachers in latest that will assist learners of Secondary School in development in their speech work. Furthermore, the study shall assist learners develop the right attitude towards speech work and their spoken English.


The study shall only cover area of speech. The study shall make use of Secondary School student in Lagos State to carry out this research.


Due to the vastness and heterogeneity of the nation also the lmited time give for the completion of this project work, fund and time be constraints in carrying out this research at its peak.


English Language

Speech work






A survey research will be adopted in this study



The population of the study will be come selected Secondary School in Lagos with a Population of hundred 100 teachers distributed in the some senatorial districts in Lagos State.



The subjects for the study were drawn from three randomly Secondary School Student  in lagos state. The sample will consist of 100 teachers who will be from the randomly

selected Secondary School in Lagos State.


Validation of the Research Instrument

The instrument used for the study was given to specialists in phonology and those in test and measurement to establish the face and content validity


Reliability of the Instrument


The reliability of the questionnaire and the achievement tests in speech work who will  not not part of the study. The test retest method was used. The tests were re-administered

on the same 25 students after two weeks. The data collected from the students will be subjected to Pearson Product Moment Correlation Statistics analysis.

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