1.1 Background of the Study
English language is an essential pre-requisite for propelling the educational wheel of Nigeria. The English language continues to be a medium of instruction for all subjects from primary level to tertiary level in so many countries including Nigeria. It is a medium of instruction, a compulsory and core subject that must be offered and passed at all levels of education in Nigeria educational system. Joseph and Joshua (2005) added that the government having recognized the importance of English language for enhancing educational attainment as well as for improving communicative competence and ability of citizens has made it a core and compulsory subject in Nigerian schools.It is therefore obvious that without a thorough mastery of the language, it is not possible to have a sufficient firm grasp of what the learner has to learn.
The knowledge of English language aids the understanding of other school subjects since it is used to teach all other subjects except the local language. Good foundation of the English language paves the way for success in life. The knowledge of the content of school subjects is transferred to the students at all levels of education via the English language medium. In spite of these, the English language achievement of students in schools within Nigeria has been on a steady decline over the years. An online article by News Desk (2010 January 6) showed that the falling standard of education as exemplified by the falling performance of students at various examination is alarming. This is leaving many stakeholders in Educational sector to wonder about the future of education in the country as well as the place of Nigeria in the 21st Century when competitors among countries will be defined not based on endowment of natural resources alone but more importantly,on the competitiveness of their human capital.The chief examiner for 2007 May/June West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) reported a poor performance of students in English language. The report had it that students failed because of deficiencies such as weakness in skills of writing, construction of loose sentences, transliteration from the mother tongue and abuse of the basic rules of grammar.Very many candidates scored zero under mechanical accuracy section of the essay.Candidates’errors were listed under wrong spellings, wrong usage of concord, tense usage and wrong construction of verb.
By 2009, the situation remained the same as November/December WASSCE result also recorded a poor performance in English language. The Chief Examiner’s Report (2009) showed that failure in the subject was due to the following problems:- ignorance of the proper use of punctuations marks, proper use of capital letters and small letters, the difference between the present and past tense. More so was their inability to re-state the ideas of a passage in different words, inability to identify parts of speech and their function in sentences. The reports was concluded with a remark that the demand of the senior secondary school syllabus is so high that only experienced teachers who can teach the subject effectively and employ various strategies and tactics to carry along with the learners should be made to handle the subject at the level of education.
Donna (2007) in his study found that teachers’ qualification is a strong determinant of students’ academic achievement. According to Darling-Hammond (2000), middle and high school students learn more from teachers who hold Bachelor’s or Masters degree in the subject they teach and from experienced teachers than they do from less experienced ones.
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