INFLUENCE OF TEACHING PHONOLOGY ON SPOKEN ENGLISH OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS (A CASE STUDY OF ILORIN EAST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, KWARA STATE)
This project explores the influence of teaching phonology on spoken English of secondary school students in Ilorin East Local Government Area, Kwara State. To ascertain this, the project takes a look at the concept of language, functions of language as well as language skills. English phonemes; vowel and consonant sounds are also examined. Based on the foregoing, thus, efforts are directed at analysing the data collected with the research methodology used in obtaining the data. Therefore, the summary of the findings is outlined, and discussion, conclusion and recommendations are presented in concluding this study.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of contents v
List of Tables vii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study 1
Statement of the Problems 4
Purpose of the Study 5
Research Questions 6
Scope of the Study 6
Operational Definitions of Terms 7
Significance of the Study 9
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
The Concept of Language, Functions of Language and Language Skills 11
English Vowel Phonemes 21
English Consonant Phonemes 27
Stress in English Language 30
Intonation of English Language 32
Language Competence and Performance 33
Appraisal of Literature Reviewed 34
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Research Type 37
Population, Sample and Sampling Techniques 37
Procedure for data collection 39
Data Analysis Technique 40
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
Data Analysis and Results 41
Summary of the Findings 47
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Suggestions for Further Studies 53
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Percentage distribution of the respondents’ view on the significant relationship between teaching of phonology and the academic performance of the senior secondary school students. 41
Table 2: Percentage distribution of the respondents’ view on the significant relationship between teachers’ qualifications and effective teaching of phonology in the senior secondary schools. 43
Table 3: Percentage distribution of the respondents’ opinion on the significant relationship between teaching of phonology and the spoken English of the senior secondary school students. 45
Background to the Study
English language has no doubt come to stay as Nigeria’s Lingua Franca (Jolayemi, 2007). As a Lingua Franca, English obviously is the formal or official language of the country. This status accounts for the high premium Nigeria places on it. Being a foreign language, the skills in it have to be learnt rather than acquired. Since the language is needed for the proper functioning of the country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has severally demonstrated its commitment towards the promotion and development of the language in the country. Hence, the government adopts a multi-dimensional approaches or strategies.
An integral part of these strategies aimed at ensuring the growth of English language in Nigeria is its inclusion in the schools’ curriculum, as a subject of study. Of particular interest to a curriculum planner is the speaking skill; a knowledge which enables the learners to speak the language in the same way the native speakers do. The aspect of English which caters for this interest is referred to as Phonetics and Phonology.
According to Akande (2002), Phonetics is defined as the study and description of the physical properties of human speech sounds. It is sub-divided into Articulatory Phonetics, Auditory Phonetics and Acoustic Phonetics.
On the other hand, phonology is the manner by which speech sounds are patterned into a system of a specific language (Akande, 2002). Phonology of English language is studied at segmental and supra-segmental levels
Segmental phonology deals with the consonant and vowel phonemes of English language while supra-segmental level deals with the analysis of stress, rhythm, intonation and tone. A learner’s competence in the speaking skill of the English is usually determined by how much he or she has internalized those properties of the English language sounds system.
It is a pity nowadays that most of the students at all levels of education cannot identify the English phonemes due to the over or under differentiation and reinterpretation of the English phonemes for their mother tongue(s) (Alabi, 2002). Also, students are confronted with a lot of problems whenever they come across the English consonant clusters which are non-existent in their native language. The level of mastery of stress and intonation patterns of the English language of the students is considerably low because it is quite different from their indigenous languages which are basically tonal oriented. The students normally pronounce the English words as they appear to them orthographically in their local languages or dialects which, of course, make their communication rather unintelligible to the outside world.
The concern of this study, therefore, is to find out whether or not the students in senior secondary schools in Ilorin East Local Government Area, Kwara State are making progress in internalizing these properties. In other words, this exercise is aimed at ascertaining the influence of teaching phonology on the spoken English of senior secondary school students in Ilorin East Local Government Area, Kwara State.
Statement of the Problem
Since 1989 or there about when Oral English or English Paper 3 (Test of Orals) became a compulsory paper to be written in the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WAEC and NECO), Nigeria has made concerted efforts to ensure that candidates for these examinations perform optimally. It is in pursuance of this objective that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education invests a substantial percentage of her resources annually in recruiting, training and retraining of English language teachers in order to realize these objectives of proficiency in the spoken English of the citizenry and reap the many benefits accruing from it.
Consequently, there are divergent views on the effects of teaching phonology in Nigerian secondary schools. While some opine that the subject has had a positive effect on the students’ spoken English. The pessimist argues that in spite of the teaching of Oral English, there is still noticeable speech difference among the students in our secondary schools. It is their opinion that some students have in fact resorted to their Mother Tongue (MT) in order to relief themselves of the nervousness in speaking English. It is believed by this school of thought that only a negligible number of these students speak good English probably because of their background.
It is in the light of the above argument that this study set out to ascertain the validity or otherwise of the claims. It is entitled ‘Influence of Teaching Phonology on Spoken English of Secondary School. Students in Ilorin East L.G.A. Kwara State’.
Purpose of the Study
The aim of this research was to examine how the teaching of phonology in the secondary schools has benefited the students by sharpening their skills in spoken English. Specifically, the study is to:
i. examine the significant relationship between the teaching of phonology and the academic performance of senior secondary school students.
ii. identify the significant relationship between the teachers’ qualifications and teaching of phonology in senior secondary schools.
iii. ascertain the significant relationship between teaching of phonology and spoken English of students in senior secondary schools.
For the purpose of this study, the following questions were asked:
i. Is there any significant relationship between the teaching of phonology and the academic performance of senior secondary school students?
ii. Is there any significant relationship between the teachers’ qualification and teaching of phonology in senior secondary schools?
iii. Is there any significant relationship between teaching of phonology and the spoken English of students in senior secondary schools?
Scope of the study
This is a study designed to find out how the teaching of phonology in secondary schools has influenced the spoken English of the senior secondary school students in schools located in Ilorin East L.G.A. of Kwara State. Four schools were considered for the test and the names of the schools are:
i. Ansarul- Islam Senior Secondary School, Ilorin.
ii. Bishop Smith College, Ilorin.
iii. Government Day Senior Secondary School, Agbabiaka, Ilorin.
iv. Government Day Senior Secondary School, Danialu, Ilorin,
In each of these schools, thirty students and teachers were randomly selected for the project work. Thus, one hundred and twenty students and teachers were used as the source for this project empirical hypothesis.
Operational Definition of Terms
Phonetics: It is the study and description of the physical properties of human sounds.
Phonology: It is defined as the study of how speech sounds are patterned and organized into a system of a special language.
Acoustic Phonetics: This is a part of phonetics which deals with how sound waves travel between a speaker and his listener.
Auditory phonetics: It describes the effect of sounds in the human ear. It studies how sounds are perceived by the hearer.
Articulatory phonetics: This is another aspect of phonetics concerned with the description of how speech sounds are produced; the human organs of speech involved and the source air stream which is modifiesd in the production of speech sounds.
Mother Tongue(MT): It is the learner’s native language.
Mother Tongue Interference: This is a situation where a learner’s (Student’s) native language is reflected in their English language usage. Interference is a major problem of non-native learners of English language.
Foreign Language: A language other than that of the learners native language. Eaxmples of foreign languages in Nigeria are English, French and Arabic.
RP (Received Pronunciation): This is the correct or standard pronunciation in English as got from the British whose English Nigeria uses.
Listening Skill: The ability to hear and understand information
Speaking Skill: Potential to express ones’s intention without inhibition.
Reading Skill: Ability to read and comprehend.
Writing Skill: One’s potential to communicate ideas in writing.”
Syllabic Stress: This is the prominence or empasis placed on one syllable of a word or one word in a group of words.
Linguistically, stressed syllables refers to those syllables which are louder, longer and more prominent in pitch than other syllables in their environment.
Intonation: It is a variation in voice in a spoken utterance. It indicates whether the pitch of voice rises or falls during utterance.
Phoneme: A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound which determines meaning of a specific language. Example, ‘bit’ and pit, have the same number of phonemes but differ in meaning as a result or the initial phonemes /b/ and /p/.
Intelligibility: This is the ability of an utterance to make meaning to the listener or one’s ability to express self clearly without any constraints.
Significance of the Study
As variosly noted, this study is aimed at ascertaining how the teaching of phonology has impacted on the senior secondary school students especially those in Ilorin East L.G.A. of Kwara State. It is hoped that teachers in the senior secondary schools and their students will benefit immensely from this finding. This is not only because language teachers knowledge will be up dated, but also their approaches to language teaching will be modified
As for the students, it is my belief that the outcome study will go a long way in making them to adjust their attitude to English learning generally and with particular emphasis on phonology.
Furthermore, parents, language-in-education-policy-makers, governments and research individuals and institutions will also have much to benefit from this project..