THE EFFECT OF LANGUAGE INTERFERENCE ON SECONDARY STUDENT ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
Language study was made prior to the nineteenth century. Sir Williams Jones (1786) proposed a genetic relationship between Sanskrit and Persian and Greek, launching the study of language genetics. The birth of the school of historical comparative linguistics coincided with this revelation of affinity.
Jacob Grimm, Rasmus Rast, and others studied and established the existence of the Indo-European language family in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, Ferdinand the Saussure founded the structural or descriptive school of linguistics, believing in language “as a systematic structure, linking thought and sound.”
a. The Divine Source: According to Hindu tradition, language originated with Sarasvati, the wife of Brahma, the creator of the universe. Most religious groups believe that there is a divine source who provides humans with language.
b. The Natural Sound Source: It is assumed that primitive words are limited to natural sounds heard by early men and women. For example, when an object flew and made a sound, man restricted the sound to the object associated with it. To support this, it has been observed that some words in modern languages have pronunciations that appear to “echo” naturally occurring sounds such as splash, buzz, bang, and so on.
c. Oral Gesture Source: There is a link between physical gesture and oral gesture.
d. Glossed Genetics: This focuses on the biological basis of the formation and development of human language.
e. Physiological Adaptation: Use of human organs such as teeth, mouth, tongue, pharynx, larynx, lips, brain, and so on.
We use language or linguistic ability to communicate knowledge, ideas, skills, and so on during transition. Languages evolve over time, as is well known. The English language, for example, derives from Anglo-Saxon and Romance languages. With the establishment of the principles, pro-theory of historical linguistics, French, Spanish, and Italian derived from Latin. It has become obvious that languages change.
Languages are classified into families based on their common ancestry from an earlier parent. As a result, language can be traced back to the dawn of time. A romance language like French, for example, can be traced back to Latin. As a result, they are genetically related. Language evolution is gradual, as evidenced by the history of English, middle English, and modern English.
Typological and genetic classifications are available for languages. There are regular patterns found in languages that allow them to be classified typologically. For example, vowel patterns and word order: SOV, SVO, and OSV.
Relatedness is not taken into account in typological classification. English and Yoruba, for example, are unrelated languages that share the SVO structure. It has to do with structure in terms of typological classification.
Genetic classification, on the other hand, is concerned with languages that share a common ancestor. The common ancestor is referred to as PROTO-language. The origin of language can be traced back to their common origin-historical language. When people who speak the same language move from one location to another, the language will change, but they will still be able to communicate.
1.2 The Research Problem
The use of a particular form of a language by an individual, reflects the individual’s social status. That is why Blackar (1999) says, we actually live and behave in a world of language. Hence, the use of language to an extent is an item which reflects social identity.
In a politically, socially, culturally and linguistically diverse society, the learning and usage of a second language becomes very necessary not because it makes possible mutual interaction. In our Nigerian society, such is the situation because Nigeria has a geographical and political entity as was colonized by the British who were from a different linguistic background but English was adopted as a medium of communication and interaction.
Wilson and Smith (2009) states that, “it is widely held and proven that human beings are disposed to learning certain types of language”. This innate disposition enables one to acquire a first language and learn a second one. This ability however, differs from one individual to the other and this is what Elindor (1989) described as “linguistic inequality” – a striking difference in the lexis users the difference that exists between these two speakers enables us to assess them as one belonging to a higher class and the other to a lower class in the social strata.
When we listen to most students in secondary schools in Calabar South, traces of interference are observed. If we listen to some students and also listen to a monolingual student who is a speaker of Efik, we notice an obvious difference. We realize a considerable element of English in the student of Efik origin. Linguistically, the effect is located at the phonological level.
When we also listen to the secondary school students in Calabar South, at the phonological level, we hear how sounds in Efik are reproduced in terms of English; interference occurs. Here lies the problem which this study seeks to investigate.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study is aimed at identifying the effect of language interference on the academic performance of students in secondary school in Calabar South. Owing to the importance of language to the Nigerian society, this research seeks to state the effect that language interference has on the academic performance of students, since English language is the second language they come in contact with in almost every subject in school.
1.4 Research Questions
This research is guided by the following questions;
a. Will students encounter difficulties in their academic performance?
b. Are there noticeable differences when these students speak another language outside their mother tongue?
c. At what level of linguistics is interference most noticeable among the secondary school students in Calabar South?
d. Are code-mixing and code-switching predominant features in language interference?
e. Will the attention of secondary school teachers be drawn to the over – bearing effect of second language acquisition, and will this reduced the risk of these students loosing their own indigenous language?
f. Will students notice the transfer of their indigenous language intonation patterns while speaking their second language?
The formulation of these questions was based on the consideration of the linguistic and socio-linguistic features among secondary school students in Calabar South.
1.5 Scope of the Study
Language cannot be studied in isolation from the society, because men make up the society and the importance of language to man has remained unchallenged by any scientific linguistic research. Also, the importance of a second language that has almost assumed status in the society cannot be dismissed with a wave of hand.
This research work will attempt investigating the effect of language interference on the academic performance of secondary school students in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State.
1.6 Significance of Language
i. It is used to identify and transmit culture.
ii. It is used to express National Identity
iii. Language is use for expression of emotion
iv. It is used for social interaction
v. It is used to control reality
vi. It is used to record facts, that is, things that happen
vii. It is used for communication
viii. Language is a medium of thought
1.7 Limitation of the Study
This project examines the effect of language interference on the academic performance of students in secondary schools in Calabar South, and few challenges were encountered in the course of this research which include;
Insufficient finance with which to go around to distribute the research questionnaire. Finance was a great constraint because it was not very easy to have access to the required materials. Cost of research questionnaire, transportation, time factor and other miscellaneous requirements that aid in carrying out this research successfully were difficult to some by.
Also, there was a problem of getting relevant data for this project work from the secondary school students; even when I met some of them to get relevant information to fill the questionnaire, they were reluctant to collect the questionnaire and to answer my questions. There was also lack of power supply.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Historical Linguistics: This is a branch of linguistics which studies the development of language over time. It studies ways by which languages change from period, and the causes and results of such changes both outside the languages and within them.
Socio Linguistics: This is the study of the relationship between language and society. It is the study of all facts of the relationship between language and socio organization.
Language: This is a form of speech which is not mutually intelligible with any form of speech in the world. We can also define language as a broad system of speech elements exhibiting continuous modification, while in shared use by a continuous cultural succession of human generations