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Although English is the language of interaction and instruction in Nigeria, general competence in it is yet to be achieved by many Nigerian speakers. It has also been confirmed by the findings of this research and other related studies that the intonations prove the most difficult phonological aspect of the English language to be learned by second-language users of English.

This stems from the mother tongue of the non-native speakers of English. Considering the place of the mother tongue in the second language learning and usage, the researcher decided to select the subjects from a college of education and a university where English is the primary language of teaching, learning, and interaction among the subjects… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)



Background of the Study

English can be said to be the most widely spoken language in the world and has become the official language of some West African countries, namely, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra-Leone, Liberia, and the Gambia. In these countries, English is a second language that has been adopted as the official language, partly because it is a colonial heritage, and because it is a neutral language among numerous indigenous languages contending for supremacy.

The most common means by which human beings communicate with one another is a language which, primarily, exists in a spoken form. Any other representation of language such as writing is of secondary importance because most human communication is done orally. A person can only claim to know a language if he/she can speak the language.

Hence, second language learning, specifically pronunciation learning, demands correct perception and production of sounds in the target language. The learning process itself tends to be influenced by well-established perceptions of sound and articulatory organs in the first language… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Statement of the Problem

It has been established that the Nigerian learner experiences difficulties in acquiring the English language as a second language.  Several scholars have carried out various research works on the problems of second language learning and have come up with various recommendations.  In spite of this, the problems of second language learning still persist.

As it is, many teachers of the English language in Nigeria are non-native speakers.  In addition to this, the language is being learned and used far away from its natural environment… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Research Objectives 

This work is therefore mainly concerned with the identification of problems that hinder the teaching, learning, and proper manipulation of the English intonation particularly as it relates to Secondary school students in Rivers state. In addition, the research is designed to examine:

  • The extent to which the mother tongue interferes with the use of English stress (English intonation error) rules by secondary school students… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)



Second Language Users and Spoken English

Second language users are susceptible to errors in their spoken English. This naturally springs from the second language context in which they operate. The vowels and consonants are speech sounds which can be broken into individual units. There are other features of speech that cannot be broken down into individual units and these features are stress, rhythm, and intonation.

They are called spoken English features, and they function within larger units like words, phrases, and sentences. The spoken English features refer to a phonological property of more than one sound segment. It is often referred to as the study of prosody. The intonations are often referred to as the musical aspects of speech.

This feature is superimposed on the units of an utterance; it affects our message when we speak. It also affects the quality of the vowels… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Empirical Studies

A good number of researches have been carried out on the intonations of English speech. This section of this study is an attempt to examine a few of these studies. Researchers have looked at some of the problem areas of the intonations especially as it concerns the second language learner. This becomes important, especially as regards the effective use of the language in a second language environment.

Umobi, Fredrick (2009) on a study entitled ― Intonations error s of Senior Secondary School Students in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State‖ examined the mental problems of the secondary school students of Aguata Local Government. In his research, exercises centered on the different constituents of the intonations were carried out using sample students from three secondary schools.

From the findings of this research, it is obvious that the influence of the first language is the primary cause of the problems the researcher set out to unravel… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Theoretical Framework  

Onuigbo, cited in S.A. Aladeyomi and A.K. Adetunde, posits that in first language learning, the learner is highly motivated and surrounded by an environment that encourages and at the same time enhances learning, and this is what the second language user lacks.

The implication of this statement is that though language learning generally has some levels and forms of problems, second language learning has greater problems than first language learning. These problems, of course, generate a greater number of errors in the performance of second language users (302).

For this purpose, language theorists in language teaching, learning, and use have come with two major approaches to the examination of these errors; contrastive and error analyses… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)


Research Design

According to B.G. Nworgu ― a research design is a plan or blueprint that specifies how data relating to a given problem should be collected and analyzed. It provides the procedural outline for the conduct of any given investigation‖.

For the purpose of this study, the researcher adopted a descriptive survey design. Nworgu states that ― This research design deals with those studies that aim at data collection and describing in a systematic manner the characteristics, features or facts about a given population. These studies are only interested in describing certain variables in relation to the population‖.

Therefore, this research is a descriptive study since it is concerned with problems of the English intonations among Secondary school students, as data was collected to prove the facts that identified the problems… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)


Analysis of the Error in Use Of English Intonations Among Selected Native Language Speakers

This chapter seeks to analyze the errors committed by some selected Secondary school students in Rivers state in Rivers State in the use of English Intonation. It deals with the presentation and analysis of the data collected on the performance of the respondents, an interpretation of the data, and the result of the analysis which are related to the research questions. (English intonation)

The responses from the tests were assembled in groups and presented in tables using percentage calculations. The analysis is based on the data collected from the subjects of the study. For ease of analysis, the errors have been grouped into two broad categories: errors in the use of stress cum rhythm and intonation; the errors collected under each category, and their causes are discussed. The errors were identified from a test administered on the subjects. (English intonation)

The subjects were tested using a passage to draw out their manipulation of:

  • the use of stress and rhythm; and
  • the use of English intonation.

The aim of the first segment of the test is to evaluate to what extent Secondary school students in Rivers state properly manipulate stress and rhythm in words, while the second test is targeted at identifying the subjects’ ability in the placement and use of intonation to signal different functions in conversation and sentences. A summary of the performances of the subjects is presented below in tables. (English intonation)

4.1 Table 1

This table depicts the performance of the subjects in the use of stress.

S/N Test Items No. of subjects with correct responses and their percentage equivalent No. of subjects with incorrect responses and their percentage equivalent
1. ‘Stretched 8             (13%) 52             (87%)
2. Him’self 8             (13%) 52             (87%)
3. ‘Scratched 6             (10%) 54             (90%)
4. Mos’quito 0             (0%) 60             (100%
5. ‘Bitten 0             (0%) 60             (100%)
6. A’nother 6             (10%) 54             (90%)
7. ‘Wailing 0             (0%) 60             (100%)
8. ‘Slapped 22           (37%) 38              (63%)
9. ‘Hoped 16           (27%) 44              (73%)
10. ‘Father 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
11. Re’plied 8             (13%) 52              (87%)
12. ‘Mother 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
13. ‘Sleeping 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
14. Whereu’pon 4             (7%) 56              (93%)
15. Uncon’trollable 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
16. ‘Laughter 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
17. ‘Wondered 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
18. ‘Longer 2             (3%) 58              (97%)
19. Al’ready 6             (10%) 54              (90%)
20. ‘Skeleton 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
21. Hu’militated 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
22. ‘Anytime 0             (0%) 60              (100%)
23. ‘Passed 12           (20%) 48              (80%)
24. A’live 6             (10%) 54              (90%)
25. ‘Ear 0             (0%) 60              (100%)

The survey reveals, among other things, that 93% of the subjects could not place stress correctly on the words used in the test, whereas 7% of the subjects were able to place stress correctly. One factor for the above is the influence of the mother tongue… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)(English intonation)

Discussion of Findings

For the purpose of this study, the errors encountered by the subjects were classified as both linguistic factors and extra-linguistic factors. (English intonation)

Linguistic Factors

The mother tongue interference was observed to be a major deterring factor in the use of English Intonation by Secondary school students in Rivers state. According to Jack C. Richards, interference from the mother tongue is clearly a major source of difficulty in second language learning. The linguistic background of the participants affects their use of intonation. (English intonation)

The same problem is evident in the use of stress and rhythm. Stress is being placed on virtually every sound segment and this directly affects the rhythm. In effect, the rhythm of the passage was totally lost. It is important to mention again that many of these problems emanate from the fact that the Native language lacks stress rules and the English language stress rules are also complicated and demands much care and attention for the proper manipulation of this feature… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material) (English intonation)




In conclusion, this study revealed among other things that Secondary school students in Rivers state have problems in the use of English spoken English features. The findings, however, indicate that they can be assisted to overcome these problems. The direct subjects of this study are not the only one who will benefit from this study:  (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material) (English intonation)


The purpose of the study is not only to draw out the numerous problems encountered in the use of Intonations by Secondary school students in Rivers state. The problems, therefore, should not serve as deterrents to the learning of intonations of English and using them correctly as the native speakers do. In order to remedy the English Intonation errors of the L2 users of English, more attention should be given to the teaching of the English intonation. (English intonation)

This should be given a top priority in our schools since intelligibility in English does not solely depend on the ability to produce correct syntax and lexis alone; it also depends on the ability to render correctly the prosody and intonation features of English. Proper screening exercises by experts should be carried out on teachers of English in Nigerian schools before their employments. Unqualified teachers including certified ones who cannot deliver should be re-assigned… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material) (English intonation)


(Get the Complete Chapter One To Five Project Material)

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