This study examined the factors responsible for the poor quality of the teaching of English as a second language in public secondary schools in Nigeria. To guide the study three research questions were posed. The questions examined the following three variables: (1) Frequency of the use of instructional media; (2) Frequency of the use of instructional techniques; and (3) The school learning environment.
A questionnaire was distributed to 3000 senior secondary school students across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Results revealed that English language teachers do not frequently use modern instructional technologies and variety of teaching techniques in their English language lessons. It was also found that students learn under harsh environment, which is often rowdy, congested and noisy.
Though, many people would agree that there is an observable fall in standard of education in Nigeria, nobody in his widest imagination would have believed that university education in Nigeria has fallen to an abysmally low level as a World Bank study came up with a report that university education in Nigeria has degenerated in the past 15 to 16 years. The shocking news which was reported as one of the lead headlines in The Guardian, one of Nigeria's major daily newspapers, was published on the 19th of February, 2001. The screaming headline reads; "World Bank report scores Nigerian graduates low" The Guardian Newspapers quoted the World Bank sponsored study that; "Nigeria University graduates are poorly trained and unproductive on the job.... Graduate skills have steadily deteriorated over the past decade" (p. 1). According to the report, the poor performance of Nigerian graduates is particularly evident in two areas; poor mastery of the English Language and lack of requisite technical skill. It was ascertained in the report that the deficiencies in both vital areas make Nigerian graduates of the past fifteen years unfit for the labour market, and sometimes the larger society. Shortcomings were particularly observed in oral and written communication, and applied technical skills.
The study also indicated that a serious disconnection exists between university training and the needs of the labour market and this has been socially costly to the country. The report showed that, in many cases, employers of labour compensate for insufficient academic preparation by organizing remedial courses for new employees at great expenses. This often increased the companies operating cost and reduced profitability.
Though the study may have identified major areas of the decline in the university education, the actual problem may have its roots at the secondary school level. For it is at the secondary school level that the potential undergraduate is given adequate foundation in the use of English. A mastery of written and spoken language is highly desirable, yet its teaching and learning is beset by a myriad of problems at the secondary school level. (Kolawole 1998).
Majority of the students who are admitted into the University in Nigeria have no ample opportunity to study English Language any more, except those who are admitted to study English and related subjects such as linguistics and literature in English. Though, all students admitted into the universities in Nigeria are encouraged to take few courses in the use of English, the content of these English courses are grossly inadequate for the students to acquire requisite skills in effective use of language for communication and for the give and take of social experience. In order to study English as a second language and be successful at it, the student must be helped by the teacher to acquire skills in the four language arts skills; namely: Speaking, reading, listening and writing.
Language is the vehicle of social interaction and we need effective language to function properly in the work place, social interaction, and indeed, for functional literacy. …