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Influence of Mother Tongue Interference in the Learning of English Sounds in Secondary Schools in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State



Background to the study

English language is traceable to the colonization of Nigeria by the British. It has been adopted as the national and International language, and also the medium of instruction at all levels of educational institutions. Technically, the missionaries to Nigeria did not focus on proper speaking skill of the English language but were more interested in reading and writing, so as to aid communication and introduce formal education. Mother tongue contributed to poor performance as indicated by Akudela Tom (2000) according to him “mother tongue interfere in those areas that some of the English vowels and consonants are not contained in the language of a bilingual, he says that it has developed a blind spot for those English phonemes that do not exist in Mother tongue interference.

Apart from poor education, the greatest influence on English in Nigeria is the socio-cultural context in which it is used. This is because in the second language situation it will be inevitable to many expressions and usages that are culture bound. As it is very easy to transfer L1 meanings to L2 items to express culture patterns, values, ideas, concepts and situations which are different or non existent in English native environment.

This Interference has constituted great terror to students in recent times. First, language interference is shown when a second language speaker uses a foreign pattern in English. For instance, articles are very difficult for Mother tongue Speaker to master because they do not have words which it can be used as in Mother tongue interference. Interference is the manner in which a speaker perceives and produces the sound of one language in terms of another which is still a problem to English language learners.

In collaboration with Mother tongue interference, which is the pidgin English and Sub-standard English. The students are easily exposed to these forms outside the school environment because the largest society is already polluted with these forms. In the words of Olagola O. (2001) he says;

Nigeria English has been greatly influenced by the Indigenous language that is, in contact with it. Most Nigerians find it difficult to be completely bilingual and so very often transformed from the pattern and feature of their mother tongue to English.

For Hilfert (2000) she explains that “any teacher who speaks English as a second language (L2) is likely to have difficulty in speaking like the native speaker of English (L1). This of course is due to the fact that it is not their first language, and as their second language, they were imperfect speakers of the language.

Inaccurate habit learned at the earlier stage of education is also a problem. This is especially the case when so many secondary school teachers are totally unqualified and cannot speak any recognizable English at all even good English.

The Language teacher could be one of the sources of learner’s language learning problem. In our education system, the teacher and the textbooks are the main sources of data to some learners. If the teacher is not competent in the target language, he/she ends up teaching the learners incorrect forms. If he is not up to date in the methodology of teaching English language, he uses the wrong method, a method that is not suitable for the learners and the subject matter.

Meanwhile, for a language teacher to be effective, he must determine what he is teaching. Parents are partly responsible for their children’s poor performance in English language because they devote more time on their business and jobs than their children. Some parents return late from work and leave very early the next day leaving little time for their children.

Richard O. (2001) says that “an educated parents should devote their time to interpret English Language Vividly to students who is assumed a novice of subjects, this could and for the students credit performance.” Mackey (1999) say that “Orientation by the parents should provide the students of English Language with possible atmosphere and standard textbooks.

Statement of the problem

Many schools in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State education zone are yet to set a standard to be followed in the teaching of English Language through the use of incompetent teachers. Those teachers who claim to teach the spoken English mix up with the mother tongue, using the recommended English Language in teaching the pronunciation of few sounds (some vowels and some consonants are also not pronounced properly.

The researcher at the course of carrying out this researcher projects, visited some secondary schools in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and discovered that while teaching, some of the English Language teachers are not able to pronounce the words properly, placing “I” in before and after most of the words pronounced. E.g. Garri= igarri

The study seeks to examine the influence of interference of Mother Tongue Interference in The Learning of English Sounds in Junior Secondary Schools in Afikpo South in Ebonyi State.

Significance of the study

This study is aimed at contributing immensely towards sensitizing the teachers of English Language on the Mother tongue interference in the learning of English sounds in Junior Secondary Schools in Afikpo South, Ebonyi State.

The finding could be helpful to the following groups of people.

The findings of the study would equip the teachers pedagogically as well as in-stall into them the right attitudes towards English Language. So as to become, good models as learners and listeners.

The curriculum planners, the study would assist them to play a significant roles, in teaching strategies, innovating better approaches and improving teaching and learning the study would be of great significant to government, this is because the role of government in the provision of instructional resources will be revisited. Most especially in the area of English Language, which suffers in schools for lack of effective instruction and performance?

The study provide new ground for further studies in area of English Language to other researchers for maximum attainment of performance by the learners and users of English.

Finally, the study would be beneficial for the general readers, educationally, academically and otherwise, as they may be oriented and let loose from the relative attitudes often associated with English Language.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study is to find out the influence of Mother tongue interference in the learning of English sounds in secondary schools in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, with the view of improving the English Language pedagogy and students performance.


  1. Find out if Mother tongue interferes in the study of English Language.
  2. Ascertain the extent to which parents contribute to the poor performance of students in English Language.
  3. Find out if a mother tongue affects teaching of English Language.
  4. Examine the extent to which insufficient and unqualified teachers in English Language affects students performance.

Scope of the study

This study is mainly centered on the influence Interference of Mother tongue has in the study of English Language in Secondary Schools in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Research Question

The following research question guided the study

  1. To what extent does Mother tongue interference Interfere with the study of English Language?
  2. To what extent do parents contribute to the poor performance of students in English Language?
  3. To what extent does mother tongue affects the teaching of English Language.
  4. To what extent does insufficient and unqualified teachers in English Language affects students performance.
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  1. Ewah Emmanuela April 30, 2015
  • Chinwendu Igbaji April 30, 2015
  • Oguntuga abiola July 23, 2015
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