1.1 Background to the Study
Speech sounds are also called phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest part of spoken language that makes a difference in meaning. Phonemes are speech sounds. Letters are used to represent sounds. This will be especially important when we begin counting the phonemes in words. For example, the word book has four letters, but three phonemes: /b/-/oo/-/k/.
Speech sounds are represented in writing by placing the letter(s) used to represent the sound between slashes – so, for example: the sound that you say at the beginning of the word pot is represented by /p/. It is vital that teachers understand how speech sounds work. Struggling readers generally fall into two categories: children with phonological processing problems (trouble identifying, using, and/or learning the sounds of speech that correspond to letters) and children with problems comprehending text. Teachers must be knowledge about the sounds of speech if they are to be of much help to children in the first group. Teachers who are knowledgeable about language can play a crucial role in preventing phonological processing problems in children who are at-risk for developing problems.
Language is a method of communicating ideas, thoughts, and desires by means of sounds for psychological and physiological survival. English acts as a second language. Even though it is not our mother tongue it has become a Global language. When we begin speaking in the second language (i.e. English), we initially use sounds from our mother tongue Thus, everyone has mother tongue influence (MTI) to begin with. With more and more listening to those fluent in the second language, practicing speaking yourself and correcting mistakes, you slowly learn to replace your mother tongue sounds with the original sounds of English. An example is the “z” sound, which is a common end to words in English but is not often found at the beginning of words (Sriprabha, 2015).
Usually, the term mother tongue is used to refer as a child first language. It is the primary language that is revealed to the surrounding of a child after he/she is born. As time goes on, this language subconsciously help the child to develop further in reading, writing and speaking it fluently. Mother tongue helps a child to communicate with others by expressing their feelings, emotions and needs. It is also known as native language. Furthermore, it reveals one’s identity and nationalities, and it differentiates people from their country of origins.
According to Delbio, Abilasha, Ilankumaran (2018), mother tongue is the language that a child imbibes from his mother. Language is used to achieve the creative ideas and to obtain the complicated methods pertaining to communication. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Language is used to express one’s ideas and share with others. People are capable to exchange knowledge, beliefs, opinions, commands, thanks, feelings by using language. One can express amusement, pleasure, approval, or bitter feelings with the help of language. Many languages are around the world.
Sulaiman and Sadia (2017) states that mother tongue is the language which the child/person acquires in early years and which naturally becomes his/her means of thought and communication.
The importance of English language acquisition as a stepping stone for proficiency. In other school subject cannot be over emphasized. The knowledge is important for educational, economic and national development of a country. Also English language as a school subject derives its importance from its utilitarian value to the larger society. English language is part of communicating administration and commerce. Bamgbose (2011), greatly emphasized the importance of the use of language in strengthen communication among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. He further highlighted the need for improving the quality of spoken and written English among school children.
However, one of the current educational problems of public interest in Nigeria is that of poor level of achievement especially in public examinations. This problem of under achievement among school students has persisted in much subject area, such as English, Mathematics, Yoruba and science. This poor level of achievement in many subject areas can be link to poor foundation in English language at primary school level, and there are several research reports that support the view that language inefficiency leads to poor academic performance.
Many language teachers have not come closer to the pupils or students so that when such student makes mistake or find it difficult in learning English language they could easily identify where the problem of the students come from and how to correct and make the student understand the second language better. By understanding or learning or hearing the mother tongue of the student it would make them to aim to fashion out method, suitable for the student to learn the second language.
In order for the student to speak fluently or write correct and convincing English, teacher has to set standards for the students so that they would be able to have competent use of the language. One way of setting such standard is for the teacher to make a particular accent of English language e.g. Received Personification (R.P) examines the significant of phonetic contract within the accent and find out whether any of the sound involved are not present in the language by his students.
If some sounds are not present, the contract involving the difficulties when learning English language, so as far as mother tongue and the target are concerned units of sound in target language can be difficult to master because they are not in mother tongue. The essence of a particular sound in the mother tongue constitutes the difference between the mother tongue and English as second language.
However, it will be of great importance if there should be a review in language policy on education which should contain recommendations that will make students to have enough exposure to the subject quite early from the primary school irrespective of the advantage of mother tongue. Some notable scholars suggested that “teaching and learning of English language should be more practice in our secondary schools and the number of years of study and teaching period should be increased”. Teachers of English language should endavour to always bring the reality to the classroom when teaching through the aids of instructional materials and their methodologies. All materials for learning English language subjects should be supplied. By so doing this, problem of woeful result during examination will be fully overcome, because it is when firm decisions foundation in English language is being laid that a better performance will show case.
Furthermore, Olu Oyewole (2017) had a different view on the use of English language in the early years of primary and lower secondary school. Both of them were of the opinion that mother tongues really help teacher and students in the process of teaching and learning, not only also to preserve and value their culture but also to develop it lexically. According to these two authors, the use of English language in the early primary and junior secondary schools will give the average primary and lower secondary school children the opportunity to be sufficiently literate in both the mother tongue and other languages and that, at all level children will have mental translation of all concept presented in English language to their mother tongue so as to gain more meaning of the concept presented.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Language remains the bedrock of the teaching and learning in educational system. This implies that, both teachers and students are expected to properly manipulate the segmental and supra segmental features of English to effectively pass across teaching and learning process without distortion that may hamper semantic expression via mother tongue interference.
Mother tongue as the first language that a person learned. It is generally accepted that in teaching and learning processes, the child’s mother tongue is of utmost importance. For one thing, it categorizes a large part of the child’s environment, that is, it has names for most of the objects, actions, ideas, attributes and so on that are so important to him. This no doubt will go a long way to foster proper and adequate communication between teachers and students, and further promote learning as the child feels more comfortable to express himself in a language he/she understands and can identify with.
Kamano (2014) 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 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 Ijebu Ode traces of interference are observed. If we listen to some students and also listen to a monolingual student who is a speaker of Yoruba, we notice an obvious difference. We realize a considerable element of English in the student of Yoruba origin. Linguistically, the effect is located at the phonological level
When we also listen to the secondary school students in Ijebu Ode at the phonological level, we hear how sounds in Yoruba are reproduced in terms of English; interference occurs. In the light of this, the study is set to investigate the effect of mother tongue in teaching and learning of speech sounds in secondary schools in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of mother tongue in teaching and learning of speech sounds in secondary schools in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.
Specifically, this study aims to:
(i) find out the effects of mother tongue on the pronunciation of vowel sounds by secondary school students.
(ii) find out the effects of mother tongue on the pronunciation of consonant sounds by secondary school students.
(iii) find out the effects of mother tongue on the intonation and stress pattern of secondary school students.
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense importance to the teachers of English Language, students, curriculum planners, examination bodies, educational researchers, educational administrators and possibly parents. Thus, the study altogether will be of great importance not only to the above mentioned category of potential beneficiaries, but also to researchers and other interested bodies in the field of language and communication studies.
This study will enable teachers to identify their problems in English language. This study will also enable student to understand how to make use of English words especially in pronunciation, intonation and phonetics. It will also enable the teachers to make more research on the use of English language.
Furthermore, Teachers of English Language would find this study valuable. This is because an important aspect of language i.e. spoken English is explored in the classroom teaching and learning process.
The study will be of benefit to the teachers in their choice and emphasis, regarding ways in planning and presenting their lessons. As a result of this choice, teaching/learning materials appropriate to the students’ spoken ability could be selected and used for the lesson.
Aspects of knowledge organization and presentation that involve spoken English, analysis and transcription would definitely require insights from studies such as the present one.
Curriculum developers could find this study relevant. It would help in making decisions relating to content selection, materials and areas for development, reading diagnosis and subsequent relevantly curriculum choices.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions will be answered in the course of this study:
- Does mother tongue effect the pronunciation of vowel sounds by secondary school students?
- Does mother tongue effect the pronunciation of consonant sounds by secondary school students?
- Does mother tongue influence the intonation and stress pattern of secondary school students?
1.6 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will be tested in the course of this study:
- Mother tongue does not significantly affect the pronunciation of vowel sounds by secondary school students.
- Mother tongue does not significantly affect the pronunciation of consonant sounds by secondary school students.
- Mother tongue does not significantly affect the intonation and stress pattern of secondary school students.
1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The scope of this study is delimited to the effect of mother tongue in teaching and learning of speech sounds in secondary schools in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area of Ogun State.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Mother Tongue: Mother tongue is a language of one’s parents or language of the child’s immediate environment. It is a language acquired at birth and which meets all of a child’s needs always. The mother tongue language in this study is Yoruba.
Teaching: Teaching is the process of attending to people’s needs, experiences and feelings, and intervening so that they learn particular things, and go beyond the given.
Learning: Learning is a process that leads to change, which occurs as a result of experience and increases the potential for improved performance and future learning.
Speech sound: Speech sound refers to a phonetically distinct unit of speech. Speech sounds are also called phonemes. A phoneme is defined as the smallest part of spoken language that makes a difference in meaning.
Originally posted on March 7, 2021 @ 7:09 am