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PROJECT MATERIAL ON TEACHERS’ PREPAREDNESS FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA.

PROJECT MATERIAL ON TEACHERS’ PREPAREDNESS FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

ABSTRACT

The problem of implementation of inclusive education continues to hinder the objectives of education for all, with regard to English language teachers’ preparedness to teach English language in inclusive classrooms. In this study, an attempt was made to investigate the extent of teachers ’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive Education in Senior Secondary Schools in Abakaliki Local Government Area.

Four research questions guided this study. The study employed a descriptive research survey design. The instrument for data collection was the teachers’ preparedness for inclusive education questionnaire (TPFIEQ). The TPFIEQ was subjected to face validation by two experts in Language Education and three experts in Measurement and Evaluation.

Their comments were incorporated in the final draft of the TPFIEQ. The population of the study was (70) seventy English language teachers. The sample for the study was made up of (34) thirty four males and (36) thirty six English language teachers from five (5) public and two (2) private secondary schools. The data collected was analyzed using mean score, standard deviation and simple percentages while t-test statistic and chi- square were used for testing the four hypotheses formulated for the study.

The reliability of the instrument was assessed using cronbach’s alpha (a). It yielded the overall reliability coefficient of 0.76, which was normal. The data generated from this study was analyzed using means, standard deviation and simple percentages while t-test and chi- square test were used to test hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. One of the major findings of the study was:

There was no significant effect on mean ratings of teachers’ preparedness in teaching English language in inclusive education at 0.05 level of significance. Following the findings of the study, one of the recommendations was training and retraining of English teachers through in-service-training to equip them with the requisite pedagogical skills that will enable them to effectively teach in inclusive education.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Compulsory education in Nigeria came into effect with the launching of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in September 30, 1999 by the then president, Chief Olusegu Obasanjo at Sokoto where the parents and guardians in Nigeria were mandated to ensure that every child was given the right to education. The goals of the scheme are to universalize access to free basic education, engender a conducive learning environment and eradicate illiteracy in Nigeria within the shortest possible time (Omolewa 2004). In a sense, the scheme has highlighted the obligatory responsibilities of parents who in the past denied many disabled children from education to enroll them in schools (Ahmed, 2001).

Sequel to the above goal, the Federal Government embarked on different free education programmes including the Universal Primary Education in 1979 (UPE). Nigeria equally participated and signed the declaration of the world conference on education for all (EFA) which was held in Jomiten, Thialand in 1990. However, in realization of the indispensability of equality of Education for All (EFA) irrespective of one’s social or physical status, the federal and state government made gigantic strides in providing free and compulsory education from primary to junior secondary schools. Prominent among these states include: Ebonyi, Imo and cross river states respectively. Also, the government of Nigeria participated and signed the declarations of world conference on Education for all (EFA) in 1990 in Jomiten in Thailand, as well as world Education forum (WEF) of Darkar which averred that between 2015 and 2020, all youths, adults, children with special needs, the poor, the girls and vulnerable children should have access to free and compulsory primary and junior secondary education.

Article I of the declaration affirmed that every child, youth, and adults shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs. The Salamanca declaration of 1994, provided the needed and theoretical frames for inclusive education. In the report, the point made was that, “The task of the future is to identify ways in which the school, as part of social environment can create better learning opportunities for all children and by this means, address the challenge that most pervasive source of learning difficulties in the school system itself”. That report further described “inclusion” as the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitude, of welcoming communities and building an inclusive society.

However, the quest for equity of access to education for all children irrespective of social and physical status brought about the introduction of inclusive education. Inclusive education is a process of enhancing the capacity of education system to reach out to diverse learners. Adebiyi (2003) defines inclusive education as educating a child with visual impairment or any other disability in the conventional schools instead of sending the child to a special school. According to Ozoji (2005), inclusive education is an education option carefully designed to educate special needs learners within the re-structured public, private or community schools.

Inclusion is about the child’s right to participate and the school’s duty to accept the child. Inclusion rejects the use of special schools or classrooms to separate students with disabilities from students without disabilities. A premium is placed upon full participation by students with disabilities and upon respect for their social, civil and educational rights.

In Ebonyi State, Governor Sam Ominyi Egwu announced in Lagos on June 16, 1999, the introduction of free and compulsory primary and secondary education barely after two weeks after he was sworn in. After the introduction of the policy, the state House of Assembly enthusiastically passed the free and compulsory Education bill into law and the implementation of the programme continued till date. The current introduction of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in Ebonyi state resulted to the current surge of children of varied talents and gifts, needs and demands. Thus, the inevitability of inclusive education which demands the teachers’ preparedness to teach in such programme. The inclusive education model evolved out of the realization that all children have the right to receive the kind of education that does not discriminate on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, religion, language, gender and other vulnerable groups.

The most crucial factor in the education system is the teacher since the quality of education in any country is reflected by the quality of English teachers. Tahir (2005:2) quoting Razik put it succinctly “the validity of any education especially inclusive education is dependent upon the quality and availability of competent teachers”. The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN, 2004) noted that the future of any nation depends on the quality of educational system while the quality of any educational system depends on the quality of its teachers. Adekosan (2000) referred to the teacher as the spark and key man in the drive to progress in our educational enterprise. Therefore, quality education especially inclusive education “would depend on what and how the teachers teach which in turn depends on their knowledge, skills and commitment” (Tahir, 2005:2).

Ordinarily, if children have particular difficulties in school they are put together with other children whose needs are similar (Fredrickson and Cline, 2002). This allows special facilities and specially trained staff to be made available to who needs them.

However, in many western parts of the world, children with developed mental disabilities are being educated in inclusive classrooms at increasing rates (Kasari, Freeman, Bauminger and Alkin (1999). Garuba (2003) proposes that the readiness for acceptance of inclusion varies across countries and continents of the world. Countries within the advanced nations have gone beyond categorical provisions but Africa is still grappling with the problem of making provision for children with special needs especially those with handicaps. Despite the Nigerian government’s visions to embark on inclusion, inclusion in Nigerian schools has had a very slow start and is presently not widely practiced in both public and private secondary schools. This may be partly due to lack of collaboration between qualified special needs teachers and regular English language teachers as successful inclusion requires that personnel from general and special education collaborate as team members (Buell, Hallam and Cormick(1999).

The teachers’ roles are very vital in bringing about the desired or positive result for inclusive education, since according to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN 2004) no education system may rise above the quality of the teachers who operate the system. Teachers are the pivot on which the educational system revolves. They are the principal determinants of change and change in education programme. Dareng (2005) defines the teacher as the person who works in schools providing education for learning. These teachers fill a complex set of roles to be mediators of learning, disciplinarians, parent substitute, judges of achievement, curriculum developers, researchers and public servants. They are facilitators to change and progress in education programmes.

Moreover, teachers’ preparedness incorporates what the teachers bring to the classroom from pre-service training and on-the-job training. Teaching English language in inclusive classroom needs planning periods for team teaching, and regularly scheduled in collaboration with others as to exchange pedagogical and subject matter knowledge.

Teachers’ preparedness is an important indicator to the extent to which they are committed to meet the challenges that characterize the teaching in inclusive classrooms. Two components are important in teachers’ preparedness: teachers’ knowledge of the subject to be taught and knowledge and skills in how to teach the subject. Teachers’ preparedness leads to teachers’ effectiveness. Effective teachers understand and are able to apply strategies to help students with special needs increase achievement in learning English language. English language teachers ought to possess deep knowledge of the subject, an understanding of how the students with special needs learn, and an ability to use principles of teaching to stimulate the students’ learning and achievement in English language. There are some key issues in teachers’ preparedness:

  • subject matter preparation
  • pedagogical preparation
  • Clinical training and
  • Pre-service teacher education policies.

However, English teachers are now challenged by reform initiatives to meet new requirements that have not been part of the conventional repertoire of expectations for effective inclusive classroom teaching. This may be as a result of inadequate preparation during the teachers’ professional training.

As a result, information about teachers’ preparedness does not completely address whether pre-service and continued learning and work environment adequately prepare English teachers to meet the often and changing demands they face in their inclusive classrooms. English teachers’ preparedness may indicate the extent to which their training prepares them to meet these challenges. The 1998 survey asked teachers especially the English teachers to indicate how well prepared they felt for some of the most compelling inclusive classroom demands as in pedagogical skills. The requirements were to:

  • Maintain order and discipline in the classroom.
  • Implement new methods of teaching English language in inclusive classroom like cooperative learning.
  • Address the needs of students with special needs.
  • Address the needs of the students with limited English proficiency or from diverse cultural backgrounds.

It may be observed that English teachers may feel “moderately” or “somewhat” well prepared for most inclusive classroom activities either in public or private secondary schools. In English teachers’ preparedness, they are expected to make adaptations and accommodations to the curriculum, their instructional techniques, and evaluation procedures as well as their classroom behaviour management styles.

However, English language is a compulsory subject in Nigeria as it has occupied a prominent position in the nation’s educational system. As a result, every student irrespective of his social or physical status is exposed to English language especially in inclusive education. According to Omachonu & Offorma (2009), the English language is a core subject in secondary schools in Nigeria.

The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN, 2004) in the National Policy on Education makes several policy declarations on English language which reflect the official attitude of the language and its place and role in the country’s educational setting. English language serves as a compromise language in Nigeria as it is the only acceptable communication medium between different ethnic groups.

In education, “English language is still the medium of instructions especially in senior secondary schools” (Onuigbo and Eyisi, 2009:37). Besides, Onuigbo and Eyisi (2009:47) assert that, “The English language will continue to be at the centre of Nigeria development because there is no immediate alternative among the various indigenous Nigerian languages”. In the filed of academics, it is a passport for advancement and for prestigious employment.

Virtually, all other subjects in the school curriculum are taught in English language. As a result, the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools becomes indispensable. There is no doubt, therefore, that the English language is the most important language in Nigerian educational curriculum.

But in spite of the prime position of English language in Nigeria, there may be difficulties in teaching the subjects in inclusive classrooms. The difficulties in teaching the students with special needs may arise as visually impaired may not be able to see some of the instructional materials such as charts, graphs and so on, displayed while teaching.

The hearing impaired may not hear the instructions and illustrations of the English teachers while teaching the subject. The students with special needs can only participate and learn English language effectively when there are sufficient numbers of brailled books for the visually impaired, sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired, abacus for the talented students and modern technology devices that will help English teachers in teaching the English language in inclusive classrooms.

Where these materials are lacking, the teachers’ preparedness for teaching the English language in inclusive classrooms will be in question. When the students lack the language facilities that will enable them to learn the language skills like reading, writing, speaking and listening, the teachers’ preparedness for teaching English language in inclusive classroom may be unrealizable.

The findings of Glennester in Walu (2008) reiterated that equal access to education is attained when the physical and instructional barriers to education are removed or when assistive arrangements or supportive services are available so that the students with special needs as a result of disability can compete and achieve maximal results like the normal students.

But where there is no sign language interpreters in the classroom, there may be every tendency that the hearing impaired may find it difficult in getting information from English teachers’ instructions that involve listening skills. The visually impaired may have problems of getting information from textbooks in the classroom and library if they are not brailled. As a result, the teaching of English language in inclusive classroom becomes difficult for the teachers that may lack these pedagogical skills.

It is inevitable that English teachers will have the difficulty and pleasure of teaching the students with special needs in the inclusive classroom. The English teachers need to make accommodation for some and modifications for others. Providing for the students with special needs will certainly be

 

one of the greatest challenges to professional English teachers. The most difficult areas of teaching English to students with special needs include: oral expression, written expressions, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, listening, speaking and spellings. As a result, students with special needs require specialized instructional strategies in a structured environment that supports and enhances their learning potential.

But English teachers may employ the following instructional strategies:

  • Provide oral instruction for students with reading disabilities, present tests and reading materials in an oral format so that the assessment will not       be unduly

influenced by lack of reading ability.

  • Provide frequent progress checks to      students  with special

needs.  Let them know how well             they are  progressing

towards an individual or collective goal.

  • Give immediate feedback to the students as they need to see the relationship between what was taught and what was learned.
  • Make activities concise and short wherever possible.
  • Students with special need have difficulty  in learning

abstract terms and concepts. Wherever possible, provide

 

them with concrete objects and events-items they can touch, hear and smell.

  • Try to provide specific praising comments that link the activity directly with the recognition.
  • Plan to repeat instructions or offer information in both written and verbal formats.
  • Encourage cooperative learning activities-this can be done by inviting students of varying abilities to work together on specific project with the aim of achieving a common goal.
  • The gifted students in the inclusive classroom should be engaged in exciting activities and energizing projects that offer them with creativity within the classroom.

Critics assert that it is not possible to deliver effectively two or more varying different instructional methods in the same classroom. As a result, the educational progresses of students who depend on different instructional methods to learn often fall even further behind their peers. But the supporters of inclusion say that, it could help children to learn social skills in an environment that approximates to normal conditions of growth and development. Often, it is gratifying that where schools and community environments can be made physically and programmatically accessible, youth, and children with special needs can function more effectively that could otherwise be the case. According to Hutchinson and Torres (1996:315), “No teaching and learning situation is complete until it has its relevant textbooks”. So, English language textbooks ought to suit the diverse group of students especially those with special needs.

Since inclusive education is an approach that looks into how to transform education system in order to respond to the diversity of learners. It becomes pertinent to enhance the quality of such education by improving the effectiveness of teachers, promoting learner-centred methodologies, developing appropriate textbooks and learning materials and ensuring that schools are safe and healthy for all children. Considering the fact that English language can best be taught in inclusive education through learner-centred approach, teachers’ preparedness should be anchored on the principles that guide the teaching and learning process following the premise that learners learn a language best when:

  • They are treated as individuals with their own needs and interests.
  • They are provided with opportunities to participate in communicative use of English in a wide range of activities.
  • They are exposed to communicative data that are comprehensible and relevant to their own needs and interests.
  • They focus deliberately on various language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing).
  • They are provided with appropriate feedback about their progress.

But inadequate facilities and lack of relevant materials are some of the major obstacles in teaching English language in inclusive education especially in a developing country like Nigeria (Charema & Peresuh, 1996). Some of the community schools where children with hearing impairment were integrated, hearing aids had no batteries or cords, some of the ear moulds were chipped, some speech trainers for the speech impaired were not functional and there were no parts to have them repaired. Some of the wheel chairs are usually old fashioned and cumbersome to push. Supporting the lack of facilities, Ozoji (2005) states that most institutions in developing countries do not have the basic units and materials necessary for teaching in inclusive education programme.

Inadequate personnel training programme is one of the problems faced by English teachers in preparation for teaching in inclusive classrooms. A new curriculum cannot be introduced without familiarizing teachers with its aims and contents. Pre­service and serving English teachers ought to be trained to embrace the inherent ambiguities of teachers’ work, to fashion their inclusive pedagogies through their own commitments as advocates for all the children and youths.

However, for English language teachers to fit into the teaching of English language in inclusive classrooms, the expectations are that they should be adequately trained to be resourceful, research-oriented and involve learners in practical learning.

English teachers in a bid for their preparedness go through in-service-training to acquire both knowledge and skills through Teachers’ Training Colleges (T.T.C), Colleges of Education, Institutes of Education and Faculties of Education in different universities. But the unfortunate situation is that most of the curricula are rigid and have not adequately incorporated the principles and practices of inclusive education.

Besides, the different institutions operate different programmes with varying duration of studies. But long and short term-in-service programmes should be run for English teachers who teach students with special needs. Private and public schools and organization ought to give the teachers opportunities to up grade themselves through seminars and workshops on regular basis.

Teachers’ preparedness may vary depending on the school type. The private schools may have more resources that may enhance the teaching of English language but not competent teachers. While public schools may not have adequate resources but may have more competent teachers who may likely possess the requisite skills for teaching in inclusive classrooms.

Public schools are elementary and secondary schools supported with public funds and providing education for all children in different communities. While private schools are elementary or secondary schools run and supported by individuals or a corporation rather than by government or public agency. They are schools under the financial and managerial control of the private body or charitable trust, accepting mostly fee-paying pupils and students.

Engelbrecht and Chris (1998) stresses that inclusive education demands relevant training supports especially the English teachers. But the worrisome situation is that there are few training programmes for the English teachers which may hinder their preparedness in teaching English language. But some public and private secondary schools in Ebonyi State make frantic efforts in organizing conferences, seminars and in-service-training for their teachers to cope with the challenges of teaching in inclusive education.

However, evidence indicates that at institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, there is a serious shortage of qualified instructors as the Work Bank (1999) reports that there is a staffing deficit in Nigerian colleges and universities of 24,000 teachers. In a bid to minimize the above problems, the Nigerian government had mandated some institutions of higher education in the country, notably, the universities of Ibadan, Jos, Kano, Calabar and Nsukka as well as Kaduna polytechnic and the Federal College of Special Education (FOCOSE) Oyo, to establish training programmes for teachers of students with special needs to ensure successful implementation of inclusive education and the provision of related services in the public and private schools of different communities.

But Nwazuoke (1998) argues that the number of teachers’ training institutions in the country is inadequate. Further evidence indicates that programmes for training of support personnel such as: educational audiologist, psychologists, speech and language pathologists and communication support workers like braille interpreters are not always available in the institutions of higher learning in Nigeria (Eleweke, 1997b,1999a)

English teachers’ positive emotional disposition and preparedness towards inclusion depends strongly on their competencies, available resources, and their experiences with learners who are seen as ‘challenging’, English teacher education, the available support within the classroom, class size, and overall workload are all factors which may influence English teachers’ attitudes which in turn determine their preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education.

Besides, secondary school English language teachers may find it difficult to handle special needs children in conventional schools because of the strange nature of their academic background. Waldron (1996) posites that regular teachers and educators feel a lack of disposition to teach students with disabilities. In the same vein, Okeke (2003) observes that regular teachers who are asked to cater for children who display a range of social and academic problems question the boundaries of their responsibilities as classroom teachers.

Such creams of teachers seem to lack the pedagogical qualities which are needed for a healthy learning environment. The English teachers may not be sensitive to the needs of the children with special needs in respect to classroom teaching, organization and management.Most English language teachers seem not to possess the requisite skills like braille reading and writing, and the knowledge of sign language that will enable them to teach English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

Since majority of the English language teachers lack the requisite pedagogical principles and skills required to demonstrate their professional competences in inclusive classroom, so the students’ performance in English language becomes poor. This is in consonance with the views of Danboyi, Orime and Alas (2008) that stated that some of the regular teachers (English teachers inclusive) are incompetent to teach in an inclusive classroom.

  • Hegarty (1994) stresses that the ability to successfully instruct students in    any setting      requires             more than

training, it requires that teachers feel empowered to apply new skills and competences. According to Osuorji (2002), teachers who teach the students with special needs will need mastery that will enable them:

  • Demonstrate effective and interpersonal skills with the students.
  • Employ           appropriate  assessment  techniques in the

classroom.

  • Work cooperatively with team members.

But the competences and types of skills may vary depending on the needs of the students. While some students’ needs may be due to some obvious lacks or disabilities, others may include students whose abilities, gifts, and talents are unusual that if there is a     lack of a                       deliberately           planned  content of

differentiated     processes, the students       may turn       to apathy

according to National Policy on Education (NPE, 1998).

The lack of empowerment of English language teachers by the government in form of in-service-training/enlightenment and the restriction in method of delivery are problematic issues, ones that presently affect the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools. This is common especially when the forces behind the restriction are the very ones though invisible, embedded in the structure of the school and in the wider society.

Supporters of inclusion approach neglect to acknowledge the fact that most students with significant special needs require individualized instruction and highly controlled environments. Similarly, a child with serious inattention may not be able to cope in a classroom that contains twenty or more active children; this may probably hinder the effective teaching of English language in inclusive classroom thereby leading to poor performance of students in the subject.

Besides, some English language teachers’ views of inclusive education are usually ridiculous which adversely influences the teaching of the subject or not teaching at all. This is for the fact that the teachers shy away from teaching the subject to these students. Even when the English teachers make little effort to teach the subject, they lack the requisite skills like reading of Braille, use of talking books, abacus and so on.

Other skills needed by the English teachers may include: encouraging cooperative learning among the different groups of the students. These skills ought to involve increasing the social skills of both the students with special needs and the normal students. Thus, this allows students with special needs to develop language skills.

In most cases, lack of preparedness of English language teachers may make the students with special needs to lack motivation to learn especially if their background is deprived, their home emotional problems are too severe, or their learning attempts have not received suitable encouragements by English language teachers.

Sometimes, even under best condition, most English language teachers have no time to furnish the numerous illustrations to permit the endless repetitions necessary for adequate learning of the students with special needs. So, sufficient individual attentions are not usually provided to the students with special needs which hinder the effective teaching and learning of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

Moreover, non-preparedness of some English language teachers, lack of adequate support within the classroom, class size, and non-availability of resources are the probable factors that adversely affect the effective teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools. Some of the resources like good libraries and language laboratories are not available.

Even when these resources are available, they may not be functional. Thus, these hamper effective teaching of English language in inclusive classrooms. Since most English language teachers lack skills such as sign language, braille reading, use of talking books for hearing impaired and the use of keyboard for the talented students, English language may be rarely taught in inclusive classrooms.

Research findings according to Ifamuyiwa (1999) show that effective teaching is a powerful indicator of students’ performance in examinations. Adeogun (1999) identified the practices that constitute the effective teaching and learning especially in inclusive classrooms. These include:

  • Use of appropriate instructional materials;
  • Use of appropriate methods and strategies;
  • Giving individual attention to students during teaching;
  • Good student-teacher interaction.

Most of these practices may not be practicable for English language teachers that might have not acquired the pedagogical skills for teaching the students with special needs thus, it adversely influence the teaching of English language in inclusive classroom. It is worthy of note that lack of preparedness of English language teachers may be responsible for non-practicability of the practices that enhance effective teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

PROJECT MATERIAL ON TEACHERS’ PREPAREDNESS FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

Moreover, it seems Nigeria does not give adequate attention to inclusive education. This is for the fact that mass literacy is emphasized to the detriment of inclusive education. Waldron (1996) states that few colleges have changed their traditional curriculum to accommodate a more inclusive approach in which they would integrate methods for teaching English language to children with special needs into all education courses. Some are yet to respond to the current trend. Human and financial resources seem to be a constraint, thus, the rigidity of Nigerian educational curriculum in accommodating the teaching of English language in inclusive classrooms.

Sequel to the above, English teachers in senior secondary schools appear not to be prepared for the inclusive education.

The English teachers seem not to have been grounded in special education courses, principles and methods. The optimal service delivery for inclusive education programme is dependent on English teachers’ readiness for special services.

Nevertheless, inclusive education in Nigeria is still grappling with problems of policy implementation, an environment that is not conducive for practice and the lackadaisical attitude of lack of commitment of the English teachers and the government (Garuba, 2003). Garuba equally proposes that at present the Nigerian government sees the problem of eradication of illiteracy as more important to the detriment of teaching English language in inclusive education.

It becomes imperative that situation analysis of the actual present condition of the classroom learning environment in the country, state and local government areas be carried out to know the actual state or condition.

However, the probable problems of inclusive education in senior secondary schools will be: how prepared are the English teachers to ensure that these children will be included and adequately provided for, how far have the federal and state government trained the English teachers to possess the requisite skills for the teaching of English language in inclusive education? What will be the extent of teaching English language in inclusive education bearing in mind that, most schools do not have adequate resources for the normal children let alone those with special needs? Full inclusion may be a way for schools to placate parents and the general public, who have children with special needs.

Thus, using the word ‘inclusion’ as a phrase to garner attention for what are in fact, illusive efforts to educating students with special needs in the general education environment. According to Otagburuagu & Anyanwu (2002:82), the English language plays many roles as the second and official language of the nation. Otagburuagu (1997:2) states that the Nigerian national language dilemma makes the use of English a bridge language for inter-ethnic communication.

Besides, Azubuike (2001:15) asserts that the English language makes it possible for Nigerians to have “common hopes, aspirations, affairs and so on”. Thus, by the use of English, Nigerian nationals can react to the happenings in their environment in a way that is meaningful to them irrespective of their ethnic background. Sequel to the above, English language teaching becomes inevitable in inclusive education.

Finally, the issue of social acceptance of children with special needs is usually pathetic. In most cases, some English teachers are not usually ready to tolerate and show love to the students with the special    needs like  the            normal  students.

Inclusive education does not seem to be a          reality because of

the lack of professional           competence     of  English    teachers,

students, parents and community insensitivities towards exceptional children. It is against this background, that this study seeks to find out  the extent         of  English                                           teachers’

preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

Statement of the Problem

Despite the lofty ideal of practicing inclusive education in public and private senior secondary schools in Ebonyi State, children from indigent parents, broken homes, children with special needs, the girls, HIV/AIDS patients, and ex-convicts are not benefiting from the teaching of English language as required. The problem of heavy drop-out of students with special needs that ravage English language classes, since the teaching of the subject in inclusive education irrespective of the free and compulsory education in the state becomes a source of worry to the public.

Besides, in spite of the position of English language in Nigeria, it has been observed that some English teachers seem not to be prepared to teach it in inclusive classrooms due to the perceived difficulty in teaching the subject to students with different academic backgrounds. It is against this background, that it becomes imperative to investigate the extent of teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Thus, the problem to this study in question form is: To what extent are teachers prepared for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools in Abakaliki Local Area?

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of the study was to find out the extent of teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

Specifically, the study intends to:

  1. Identify the extent of English language teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.
  2. Investigate the extent to which English language teachers possess the requisite skills that will equip them in teaching English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.
  3. Identify the available resources for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.
  4. Investigate the strategies that will be adopted to enhance English teachers’ preparedness in the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

Significance of the Study

This study has both theoretical and practical significance.

Theoretically, Albert Bandura’s social learning theory applied in language education emphasizes that, “The learner is a member of a social group who naturally seeks activities that enhance group affiliation and integration”. Basically, the social learning theory presumes that the social environment constitutes the overall learning situation and deciding factor in the stability of any teaching and learning (Ngwoke, 2004).

This theory applied to language education will sensitize the English teachers on the need for positive interaction and integration of students with special needs so as to promote effective teaching of English language in inclusive education programme. This will equally promote affiliation of the students with special needs with the normal students.

Even when the students with special needs receive other related services such as language and speech therapy, they are still treated like full members of the class. Besides, if the English teachers encourage cooperative learning and mutual support between the group members through organizing “group activities” in inclusive classrooms.

It may stimulate the students’ interest in learning, reinforce their affiliative needs and increase their awareness of group membership. This provides them with ample opportunities to exchange ideas and widen their scope of knowledge of English language. This facilitates social acceptance and sense of belonging to these students with special needs, thus, the justification for this study.

Practically, the significant of the results of this study is that it will be useful to the English teachers, the students, the curriculum planners and the society at large. It will be of benefit to the English language teachers because it will increase their awareness of the innovative practices as was stated by Bello (2006) that the more the teachers are involved in innovative endeavours, the richer they are in their innovative ideas and the more competent they would certainly be in preparing the students for future challenges.

On the side of the students, inclusive setting allows those with and without disabilities to play and interact together even when those with special needs are receiving therapeutic services. A combination of inclusion and pull-out (partial inclusion) services

 

will be beneficial to the students with learning disabilities in the area of reading comprehension and preferential for the special education teachers delivering the services.

Besides, inclusive education will be beneficial to all students in a class, not just students with special needs. Some research findings show that inclusion helps students understand the importance of working together, and fosters a sense of tolerance and empathy among the student body.

The curriculum planners through this study will know the need to restructure and incorporate the essential ingredients that enhance the teaching of English language in inclusive education. This study will act as a guide to the curriculum planners to incorporate the teaching of English language in inclusive education.

This study will be beneficial to the society, as inclusive education will enhance the attainment of the objectives of Education for All (EFA) thereby promoting mass literacy in the society, as physical status will no longer be a barrier to education. Besides, if the students with special needs are trained to acquire different skills through inclusive education, their dependence on people will be reduced to the barest minimum. Thus, this will promote the economic development of the society as the students with special needs will contribute through their skills.

Scope of the Study

This study was limited to the extent of teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. This study examined the extent of English language teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools in Abakaliki Local Government Area.

The researcher equally investigated the extent to which English language teachers possess the requisite skills for the teaching of the English language in inclusive education. The views of English language teachers on the available resources for the teaching of English language were examined. The study equally investigated the strategies that could be adopted to enhance English language teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided this study:

  1. To what extent are   English teachers prepared for the

teaching     of English   language in inclusive education in

senior secondary schools?

  1. To what extent do   English language teachers possess

the requisite skills       that will equip them in teaching

English                      language                    in inclusive education  in      senior

secondary schools?

  1. What are the available resources for the teaching of English language      in                               inclusive          education   in    senior

secondary schools?

  1. What strategies could be adopted to enhance English language teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive  education   in                               senior

secondary schools?

Hypotheses

In addition to the four research questions posed above, the following null hypotheses were respectively tested at 0.05 level of significance.

H0i: There is no significant difference between the mean rating of English language teachers of public and private secondary schools with regard to the extent of English teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education.

H02: There is no significant difference in the mean responses of public and private secondary school teachers on the extent to which English language teachers possess the requisite skills for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

H03: There is no significant difference in the mean rating of English language teachers of public and private secondary schools on the available resources for the teaching of English language in inclusive education in senior secondary schools.

H04: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of the English language teachers of public and private secondary schools with regard to the strategies that will be adopted in promoting English teachers’ preparedness for the teaching of English language in inclusive education.

PROJECT MATERIAL ON TEACHERS’ PREPAREDNESS FOR THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

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