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The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of affectation and mothers tongue on students academic achievement in english language in oyo state senior secondary schools. Much of the literature reviewed confirmed that affectation and mothers tongue has a significant influence on students academic achievement in English Language. The descriptive survey research was used for this study. The population of this study comprises of the entire secondary schools within Oyo metropolis. The sample of one hundred questionnaires was used to gather information from respondents and descriptive statistics, multiple regression and one way ANOVA was used to analyse the result.




1.1    Background to the problem

The most important of English language for enhancing educational attainment through improved communication ability can never be over emphasized. Students who have so much difficulties with their communication skills in English language may not function effectively, not only in English language but in their academics and this is no reason than the fact that English language in Nigeria today is the language of textbook and the language of instructions in school (Aina, Ogundele & Olaonipekun, 2013). Certainly, the quest for proficiency in the use and mastery of English language is premise on this standpoint. However, attempts by non-native learners of English language at mastering the subject-matter is usually limited by their mother tongue. As a result, a good number of non-native speakers resort to affectation, murdering the language rather than mothering it. Mother tongue and affectation thus, become factors worthy of consideration in the learning of English language as it reflects in student’s academic performance in the subject matter.

Aina Ogundele and Olaonipekun (2013) informed that the linguistic habits in the student had acquired from his first language interfere with the establishing of new habits necessary for the learning of foreign language.  This is because they explained, good language competence in English language may be a positive validity variable on the performance of students on intelligence test. It was on this note that while lamenting on the poor performance of students in West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) said that the matter is serious because of the influence of English has on all the other subjects of the curriculum which invariably pointed at the notion that students’ success in English language could influence the overall performance of students in other disciplines (Olaonipekun, 2013). In fact, there is no doubt of the truism of the assertion of Ogundele (2010) who reffered to English language as the language of the achievers and that the language counts as far as rising up and being a member of the elite class is concerned. As a result, students strive to do well in English language.

This quest for success in life and in the effective learning and mastery of English language may have precipipated affectations among the users of English language especially to the native learners. Otolorin (2011) called this, ‘acting superior’. According to him, affectation occurs when someone starts performing for people, behaving in a certain way, to project some kind of elevated status. Unfortunately, affectation is not only oppressive, it portends ungrammaticality and breeds different types of errors. According to Otolorin:

In Lagos of 2011, foreign accents are everywhere. You can’t escape them. We hear them on TV, on the radio, at school, at work, at church, at parties, at the cinemas, at fast-food joints, on the street, in busses, everywhere. Accents are ubiquitous these days. They have almost become de rigueur, a must have social requirement for living and working in Lagos. With the rise of these foreign accents, an accompanying belief has emerged. The belief that until you speak your language with some kind of British or American accent, you have not sufficiently demonstrated your sophistication or shown yourself worthy to be regarded as a member of the ‘elite’ or ‘upper class’. Fake accents have proliferated (Otolorin, 2011).

According to Otolorin (2011), there are several responsible for this foreign-accent-maina. One of them is satellite TV. Almost everyone watches DSTV or some other form of cable pay TV nowadays as opposed to the 90s, those days of the really huge satellite dishes, when DSTV/MultiChoice was the major cable provider and it was only for only for the rich. Cable TV, with its music and movie and lifestyles channels, informs our ideas of what is cool, of what is hot and what is not. And cable TV is chock-full of foreign shows and foreign accents.

Otolorin explained further that there is the increased availability of pirated American movies on DVDs. Pirated movies are everywhere now as opposed to the 90s when movies were on video tapes. Many of our trends and foreign speech patterns are from Hollywood movies. So it is like the  accents people do not learn from the cable, they learn from long hours immersed in DVDs of foreign movie ‘collections’ and ‘season films’.

The internet also helped the foreign accent trend along. The internet make sure young Nigerians kept up with the emerging expressions and slang, so much so that foreign coinages like ‘omg’ and  ‘Baby-mama’ are now used in everyday conversation (Otolorin, 2011).

Still, not everyone gets their accents from media, some people actually grew up abroad or lived there for a while and a distinction must be made between them and those whose accents were developed from what they heard on TV or in movies. There are real, original foreign accents and there are fake, counterfeit ones. The problem is that these days, it is getting harder to tell the difference (Otolorin, 2011).

In the end though, the main factor responsible for the large number of accents today, whether real or fake, is that sad, peculiarly Nigerian desire to ‘oppress’. Hudeyi (2014) said if there is something she hates, it is speaking with an accent especially those who have never been to domestic airport much more international airport. She explained it is usually difficult to say if the accent is British, American, South African or confused American. According to Hundeyi (2014), one cannot pick an accent once (s) he is over twelve years old! It is then expedient that anyone who wants to speak and write good English should master the rules of English especially oral English in order not to tell not to sound whining in the name of talking.

Otolorin (2011) said this is the reason why our country is the way it is, why our leaders act the way they do. In these words, “oppression is part of the general Nigerian culture”. It has nothing to do with tribe or region or religion. It is what we do. It is what who we are’.

Magnifying the above pictures, Oladejo (2012) averted that ranging from spelling mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, misuse of words, typographical errors to printer’s devil, the flawed usage of English language is unbearable and taking its toll on Nigeria’s national integrity.

The situation described above is understandable because as explained by Dwinastiti (2013), language transfer (also known as LI interference, linguistic interference, linguistic interference, and cross (1983: 256) explained interference as ‘errors in the learners’ use of foreign language that can be traced back to the mother tongue’ while Ellis (1997: 51) opined that interference is ‘transfer’ which is ‘the influence that the learners’ L1 exerts over the acquisition of an L2’.

Dwinastiti (2013) explained that the when an individual’s understanding of another language, that individual is experiencing language transfer. There can be negative transfers, otherwise known as interference, when the understanding of one language complicated the understanding of another language. Alternatively, there can be positive transfer such that knowing one language learners first language on their production of the language they are learning. It means the speaker first language influences his/her second or and his/her foreign language.

The effect can be on any aspect of language: grammar, vocabulary, accent, spelling and so on (Dwinastiti, 2013). Language interference is considered as one of error sources (negative transfer), although where the relevant feature of both languages is the same it results in correct language language production (positive transfer). The greater the differences between the two languages, the more negative the effects of interference are likely to be (Dwinastiti, 2013). It will inevitably occur in any situation where someone has not mastered a second language.

Corder was quoted by Dwinastiti (2013) to have outlined one way in which interference can be recast as a learner strategy. He was quoted to have suggested that the learner’s L1 may facilitate the development process of learning an L2, by helping to progress more rapidly along the universal route when the L1 is similar the L2. So it may follow that languages with more similar structures (e.g English and French) are more susceptible to mutual interference than languages with fewer similar features (e.g English and Japanese). On the other hand, we might also expect more learning difficulties, and thus more likelihood of performance at those point in L2 which are most distant from L1, as the learner would find it difficult to learn and understand a completely new and different usage.

Dwinastiti, (2013) while stating is a general problem that occurs in bilingualism, put forward some factors enunciated by Weinrich (1970:64-65) as contributing to interference. First is speaker bilingualism background. Bilingualism  is the major factor of interference as the speaker is influenced by both of the source and the target language (TL). Indonesia’s student who is Javanese and his studying good bahasa tends to put his Javanese language into Indonesia. Look the example, ‘Andi, apakah kamu bisa mengerijakan soal matematika ini? Tanya guru. Then Andi answered, Tidak bisa, Bu Guru, Iha wong itu angel”. The impression of ‘iha wong’ is usual in Javanese cultural insight. The word ‘angel’ means difficult in Bahasa, the student should reply his teacher with “Tidak bisa, Bu Guru, soalnya sulit’. Regarding this condition, the student is a second grade of elementary school.

Second is disloyalty to target language. Disloyalty to target language will cause negative attitude. This will lead to disobedience to target language structure and further force the bilingualist to put uncontrolled structure of his first language elements to output in practicing words utterances both oral and written. Students whose language background of target language is limited tend to put words in sentences or oral in structure and sense of first language. For example is occurred in facebook status made by Indonesian, “so must spirit”. While the correct sentence is “I must keep spirit”.

Third is the limited vocabularies of transfer mastered by a learner. Vocabularies of certain language mostly are about words of surroundings connected to life. Thus, a learner who is willing to master another language will meet new words differ from the native words. In order to be able to speak as natives of TL, vocabularies take a big hole. The vocabularies someone has, the better he masters TL. Foreign language learner will try to put deliberately his native word to state some points when he cannot find the best the word of TL. For example, when an Indonesia wants to mention ‘rambutan’ when he speaks in English. Since there is no English word for ‘rambutan’.

Fourth is needs of synonym. Synonym in language usage plays an important role as word chosen variation in order not to repeat similar word during the communication process (redundancy). Implementing synonym in a language contact will contribute to the interference in the form of adoption and borrowing of new words from second language, SL to TL. Thus, need of synonyms for certain word from SL to TL is seemingly aimed to intensify meaning.

Fifth is prestige and style. Applying unfamiliar words (foreign words) during a communication practice which dominant words are languages of both speaker and receiver is something else. Those unfamiliar word usage is aimed to get a pride (affectation). Interference will appear as there are certain words even though the receiver probably cannot catch the real idea of the speech. The usual unfamiliar word usage will become a style of the user. Unfortunately, the user sometimes does not understand the real meaning whether the meaning is denotative or connotative. The common feature is that many language users put derivational affix-ization in every word (Dwinastiti, 2013). To note, affix-ization is an adopting and borrowing process from English to state nouns.

As it has been shown, affectation is one of the factors that contribute to interference, and by inference, therefore, a detailed study of interference as its affect student’s learning of second language should certainly, encapsulate the affectation as one of the strands contributing the effects so observed. Be this as it may, the bundles of research so far conducted on interference under different headings as mother tongue, bilingualism and interlingua errors notwithstanding, literature has almost been almost silent most been silent on the important place of affectation as dimension to interference and/or in its contributions to students; performance in English language. It is thus logical that students’ academic achievement in English language still remains low spite remains low in spite of the various attempts, government, parents and researcher to salvage the situation.

To this effect, Sanusi (2009) studied interlingual causes of errors due to language transfer from the mother-tongue (L1), which is Yoruba language in his case, into the target language (English), in the context of his study. Sanusi noted that many of the lexicosemantic interlingual errors committed by the learners resulted from ‘negative transfer from Yoruba while trying to produce semantically equivalent sentences in English language. Sanusi (2009) went a step further by identifying class of un-English expressions committed by students while translating directly from Yoruba to English. From the work of Sanusi (2009), the following erroneous sentences were extracted from a pool of written essays produced by students with their correct versions in brackets:

(i). I have seen the bottom of the case

(I have seen the cause of the matter)

(ii). The husband may pay the head fees

(The husband must pay the dowry.)

(iii). Come and see the things with your eyes

(come and see the things for yourself)

(iv). We spent all the money on the head of our father in the hospital

(we spent all the money in taking care of our father in hospital)

(v).He  always shows me the way whenever I misbehave

( he always advises or guides me alright whenever I misbehave.)

(vi). He is a long man.

(He is a tall man)

(vii). The smelling is sweet

(The odour is very attractive/pleasant.)

Given the above situation, one doubts if significantly high number of Nigerian students can attain high-level proficiency in the use of English language. Also, the effects of this on their attainment in other subjects, as well as on the progress of the nation become a thing of concern. Thus, studies that can rightly conceptualise this problem and proffer plausibly relevant and implementable solution cannot but a meaningful endeavour.

1.2    Statement of the problem

English language is Nigeria’s official language and a medium of instruction in most Nigerian schools. Proficiency in English language is thus, a sine qua non to students’ academic excellence and national unity/progress. However, Nigeria as a poly-nation state has a different ethnic groups with different dialects whose mother tongue often than not interferes with their English language proficiency.

Generally, bilingualism portends interlingual errors and efforts have been on to analyse such errors using acceptable approaches to bring improvement to the teaching and learning of English language but not many of such efforts have formally addressed affectation as a strand of interference in view of its use in and contribution to students’ academic performance in English language. Meanwhile, as much as mother tongue interferes, affectation cannot be a meaningful means of control as elevated-status-claim in a second language may do much harm than a good to a fake natural user.

Therefore, this study sought to investigate affectation and interference in L2 English language and students’ academic performance in the subject in Oyo state senior secondary schools.

1.3    Research questions

Based on the problem stated, the following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

  1. What is the level of students’ academic performance in English language?
  2. What are the level of interference due to mother tongue in students’ acquisition of English language and students’ affectation?
  3. What is the relationship between affectation and students’ performance in English language?
  4. What is the relationship between interference due to mother tongue and English language?
  5. What is the relationship between interference and affectation when combined and students’ performance in English language?

1.4    Research hypothesis

H0: There is no significant difference among the English language achievement scores of students taught by teachers with high, medium and low levels of affectation.

1.5    Significance of the study

The study will be of immense value as its outcomes can tell all concerned with the business of teaching and learning of English language more about the variables of the study in a manner that their effects could be checked while their utilities could be put to use.

Secondly, counselors, psychologist and teachers can find useful hints on how best to help students develop on their spoken and written English irrespective of the challenges posed by sediments of affectation and interference.

Thirdly, policy makers can also dwell on the findings of the study to decide and formulate policies on how best the teacher can disseminate learning materials to his/her students without being limited by the mother tongue.

Fourthly, pedagogists can come up with enriched teaching method by dwelling on ideas from the present study.

Finally, future researchers can find a theoretical base in the present study to support their corresponding areas of interest.

1.6    Operational definition of terms

Affectation: This implies unnatural, often inappropriate use of words either in speech or in writing intended by the user to portray himself/herself as a great speaker or writer. This construct was captured in this study for the students by analyzing the errors in student’s essay test while Teachers’ Affectation Observational Instrument was used to capture teacher’s affectation.

Interference: This implies the negative influence of mother tongue on student’s writing ability. This construct was capture in this study in by analyzing the errors students’ essay test.

Students’ English Language Achievement: This implies the total score of a student in Students’ English Language Achievements Tests designed by the researcher.


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