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Parental Background as a Barrier to Second Language Acquisition: A Study of Junior Secondary School Students

Parental Background as a Barrier to Second Language Acquisition: A Study of Junior Secondary School Students

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

English language plays a very important role in Nigeria. Apart from being the official language, it is also the language of instruction in our institutions of learning. The adoption of English language as the national language makes English language the second language which is learned and used in every sector of Nigeria. Indeed, English language has been institutionalised in Nigeria as the language of integration and unity (Shastri, 2018).

Adedimeji (2003) asserted that English language has emerged as that privileged language without which the unity of Nigeria as a nation is mostly improbable, if not out rightly impossible. English is the only language either in its Received Pronunciation form (RP) or its Nigerian variety or its pidgin version that is mutually understood by an average Nigerian when two or more people of different ethnic groups want to communicate (Shawer, 2020).

However, despite the crucial place of English language in Nigeria, there have been barriers facing its learning. Language barrier refers to all of the difficulties that an individual faces when attempting to communicate with a group of individuals who speak a language other than his own. It is common in situations where people from many cultures and languages are mixed together (Lieber, 2017).

Learning English in a country that English language is the native language (L1) is easier than learning English in a country that English is a second language. Nigeria is faced with a lot of challenges because English is not the native language of the country. These barriers according to Jacob (2022) are not limited to parental background only but also to unqualified teachers, location of the schools, limited learning environments, lack of learning materials and over-use of native language in the classroom. Furthermore, since education starts from the home which is the first place of contact of the child to the world and parents being the first teachers to the child, this project is therefore poised to investigate parental background as a barrier to acquisition to English language acquisition as a second language.

Parental Background as a Barrier to Second Language Acquisition: A Study of Junior Secondary School Students

Parental background is all the conditions and circumstances in the family which influence the child physically, intellectually and emotionally (Muola, 2018). Children coming from different family backgrounds are affected differently by such family conditions. These explain why some children have good family background while some have poor background. Eke (2019) noted that with some families, the background vary from time to time for the same individuals. The relationship between a student and his or her parents has been noted to have an influential impact on not only the student performance in school but also in his/her language formation. Parental background include educational attainment of parents, level of income of parents and provision of learning materials.

The level of income of the parents is a factor which assists parents to be classified socially according to different strata in the society which may play important role in the language development of the students in secondary schools (Sam, 2018). According to Samuel (2014), the level of income is the amount of money the parents (father and mother) receive monthly, weekly or daily from their occupational activities.

Samuel emphasized that the level of income of the parents may be determined by the level of education the parents attain and this may influence the level of exposure of the parents which make the parents to be versatile in encouraging the children academically. On the other hand, children from poor parents are likely to experience learning disabilities and developmental delays than children from rich parents. Although some students from poor background are motivated and encouraged by their parents academically by providing home teachers for these children at home, this tends to increase the level of language development of the children and increase the academic performance in school.

Another parental background is educational attainment of parents. Parents’ educational attainment is the stage parents’ reach educationally from primary, secondary to tertiary level. It is an important factor found in literature to have a positive relationship with students’ acquisition of language skills and language development skills (Omebe, 2016). Parents do assist their children in learning English language by providing opportunity for the children to participate in extracurricular activities after school which provide a much-needed break from the stress of academic work. It also helps in developing skills and engaging the students in valuable social situation.

From the viewpoint of parents’ educational attainment, parents who are academically inclined act as the first facilitator to the acquisition of second language for their children. Parents’ income levels are common variables in parental background which influence the activities of the parents as well as that of the children which may relate with the children’s language acquisition and development. Students ought to speak and write English language correctly.

The aim of this study is to examine the barriers to second language acquisition of secondary school students. Specifically, the study sought to ascertain the effect of parental background as a barrier to second language acquisition of secondary school students particularly among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area.

Parental Background as a Barrier to Second Language Acquisition: A Study of Junior Secondary School Students

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Language barrier is a major hindrance to the learning of English language as a second language and this has had adverse effect on the performance of junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area in the acquisition of English language as a subject and as a means of communication. In acquiring second language, the learners are known to be faced with many barriers especially in an adult, whose tongue is stiff and whose acquiring abilities have already developed, even though Dulay and Burt, 1973 claimed that second language learners, regardless of their age or first language background, acquire grammatical morphemes and structures in a similar sequence and this language is passed on to the children through the interaction with the parents.

From the above statement, it is certain that parents are the first teachers of the children and some parents who are not formally educated encountered problems such as; mother tongue interference in pronunciation of English words, misspellings of English words and misuse of tenses during the acquisition of second language. This problem therefore is transferred to the children during day-to-day communication. So it is hoped that, this research will look into parental background as barrier encountered by second language learners. This, then, motivated the present study. 

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine parental background as a barrier to second language acquisition, among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area.

The specific objectives will be:

  1. to identify the effect of parental educational background on the acquisition of English language as a second language among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area.
  2. to find out the effect of parental income on the acquisition of English language as a second language among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area.
  3. to find out the effect of parents provision of learning materials on the acquisition of English language as a second language among junior secondary school students of Itu Local Government Area.

1.4 Research Questions

In the light of the aforementioned, this research work will seek to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the effect of parental educational background on the acquisition of English language as a second language among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area?
  2. What is the effect of parental income on the acquisition of English language as a second language among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area?
  3. What is the effect of parents’ provision of learning materials on the acquisition of English language as a second language among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area?

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is expected that the result of this study will be of great benefits to the students, teachers and government. For instance:

  1. It is the hope of the investigator that the outcome of this research will be of great help to the students, their teachers and the managers of secondary schools, in their efforts to help the students learn English as a second language.
  2. Furthermore, will be useful guides to curriculum planners and educational administrators in selecting suitable materials for schools. For example, the planners should consider the important principles underlying second language in their planning. Such principles will help the curriculum planners to include a carefully selected and graded topic in the pronunciation of English words and other aspects of English speech relating to speaking for communication function such as dialogue and conversations, public speech, oral presentation of written materials like prose, poetry and news casting or announcements.
  3. This will also help educational administrators and inspectors see the need for constant and adequate inspection of our schools and for the purpose of evaluating their progress effectively.
  4. This work will also contribute positively to the learning of English as a second language in Nigeria as whole and other parts of the world.

1.6     Delimitation of the Study

The study was delimited to the barrier (particularly parental educational background, parental income and parents’ provision of learning materials) to second language acquisition among junior secondary school students in Itu Local Government Area.

1.7     Limitation of the Study

This research will be conducted in public secondary schools in Itu Local Government Area only. Moreover, the research was limited to very few government secondary schools due to time constraints.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Language Barrier: This is the difficulties in communication experienced by people or groups speaking different languages, or even dialects in some cases.

 Acquisition: The act of learning or developing a skill.

Curriculum: The subjects comprising a course of study in a school.

REFERENCES FOR CHAPTER ONE

Adedimeji, F.(2003). Bilingualism and loss in the second generation. Journal of Sociology of Education, 71(4), 269-294.

Dulay, J. & Burt, M. (1973). Conflicting language ideologies and contradictory language practices in Singaporean multilingual families. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 37(7), 694-709.

Eke, M. (2019). Home environment and second language acquisition: The importance of family capital. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 28(3), 285-299.

Jacob, M. (2022). Language ideologies and heritage language education. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 3(3), 167-184.

Lieber, C. (2017). Reading the world through words: Cultural themes in heritage Chinese language textbooks. Journal for Language and Education, 22(2), 95-113.

Muola, T. (2018). Bilingual parenting as good parenting: Parents’ perspectives on family language policy for additive bilingualism. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(6), 695-712.

Omebe, W. (2016). Linguistic imperialism: African perspectives. English Language Teaching Journal, 50(2).160-167.

Sam, I. (2018). The importance of language Learning on the overall development of the child in the primary school: Solutions to the Nigerian problem. (Unpublished master thesis). University of Ibandan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

Samuel, M. (2014). Family language policy: Sociopolitical reality versus linguistic continuity. Journal of Language Policy, 13(1), 1-7.

Shastri, P. (2018). English as an international language in non-native settings in an era of globalization. Journal of Comparative Sociology,5 (4), 381-404.

Shawer, K. (2020). English hegemony and English divide. China Media Research, 4(1), 47-55.

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