The Place of Interest in Pre-Service English Teachers' Choice of Occupation: A Study of Selected Nigerian College of Education Students

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Abstract

The study was carried out on the basis of the fact established in extant literature that the impact of well motivated teachers right from the Universal Basic Education level can stop to the evil of perennial mass failure of Nigerian candidates in English language examinations. Two hundred preservice English language teachers were randomly sampled from four colleges of education in southwestern Nigeria. A self-constructed thirteen-item questionnaire was validated and used to collect data. The analysis of the data revealed that (i) a much greater percentage of the pre-service teachers in the colleges of education in the southwestern part of Nigeria do not see teaching as a profession (ii) most Nigerian pre-service English teachers in colleges of education found themselves in teacher preparation programmes as a result of frustration rather than interest (iii) majority of the English language teachers would opt out of the profession at the next available opportunity (iv) the pre-service teachers do not believe in their prospective students (v) most of the pre-service teachers do not have adequate interest in teaching English language. These imply that when such people get into actual classroom practice, they cannot effect the much-needed positive change.

Introduction: Teaching and Professional Status

It is common to hear teaching described as a noble profession. It is equally not unusual to hear many people express doubts about or outright disagreement with the claim that teaching is qualified to be referred to as a profession. The latter group erroneously believes that everybody is a teacher and everybody can teach successfully. Dada (1999), however, debunked this view as he emphasised the place of rigorous training in subject-matters and pedagogy as an irreplaceable criterion for being a teacher in the true sense.

A teacher can thus be described as someone who, as a result of theoretical and practical training in the philosophy, principles and practice of education, has been certified competent to facilitate learning in pupils or students. It is noteworthy that by this qualification, not everybody is a teacher. A mother does not become a teacher by merely "teaching" her daughter how to prepare a new delicacy. Therefore, the National Policy on Education (1978, revised in 1998 and 2004) stated inter alia; that the goals of teacher education shall be to:

a. produce highly motivated, conscientious and efficient classroom teachers for all levels of our educational system;

b. help teachers fit into social life of the community and the society at large and enhance their commitment to national goals;

c. provide teachers with the intellectual and professional background adequate for their assignment and make them adaptable to changing situations;

d. enhance teachers' commitment to the teaching profession (p. 33).

The teachers of a language, therefore, are those who have acquired substantial knowledge of various aspects of the morphology, syntax, lexis and semantics, pragmatics, phonology, and literature of the said language. They must have been groomed in various language teaching methods, selection and use of appropriate instructional materials, as well as language teaching skills. Efforts at ensuring all-round adequacy of English language teachers in Nigeria are made in teacher training colleges and language departments in faculties of education in various universities.

The NCCE, in recognition of the need for intensive and highlevel training of teachers, has stipulated the Nigeria Certificate in Education as the minimum entry requirement for teaching in the country while all lower level teacher training programmes have been scrapped. Holders of NCE are qualified to teach within the first nineyear tier of basic education made up of six -year primary and threeyear junior secondary schooling. Abolade and Yusuf (2005) thus observed that teacher education is given prominence in the Nigerian system. …