Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Singular-Plural Distinction in Izon and Its Influence on the Teaching/Learning of Plural Formation in English

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Singular-Plural Distinction in Izon and Its Influence on the Teaching/Learning of Plural Formation in English

Article excerpt


This study examines singular-plural distinction processes in Izon and highlights the difficulties these may pose to the teaching and learning of plural formation in English so as to suggest ways in which teachers can design an effective teaching method to tackle the perceived difficulties. The study, which made use of 100 subjects of an average age of eleven years drawn from the Arogbo-Izon community of Ondo State, Nigeria, reveals that Izon inhibits the learning of plural formation in English as the majority of the subjects exhibit the influence of the a-plurality marker and the reflexive pronoun formation process in Izon thereby pluralizing all English nouns through the addition of -s and deriving the reflexive pronoun (their selfs or their selves) through the addition of self to the possessive form of the pronoun (their) as against the object form (them) preferred in English. To ensure that the subjects are assisted to overcome these difficulties, the study employs a ten-step contrastive approach which proves very effective as the subjects' performances, after the application of the method, recorded a tremendous rise in the percentage of correct responses from 26 per cent to 94 per cent (plural formation in nouns) and from 46 per cent to 100 per cent (plural formation in pronouns). The method is, therefore, recommended for the teaching of English in the Izon communities in Nigeria and in other similar ESL situations both within and outside Nigeria.

Keywords: Bilingualism, second-language, teaching, methodology, Izon

1. Introduction

English, Nigeria's most important and, perhaps, most useful colonial legacy (Bamgbose, 1971: 35), occupies a unique place in Nigeria's multilingual setting because of its significant role and status in national life. As Nigeria's official language, English has, according to Adetugbo (1979: 167), come to be seen as "the country's most important language" because of the several significant functions it performs, especially in government, politics, education, business, the mass media, science and technology, international relations, inter-ethnic communication, and national unity, national consciousness and cultural awareness (Adekunle, 1995; Jowitt; 1995; Awonusi, 2004a and Owolabi, 2007). Adegbite (2009: 74 & 75) summarizes the roles that English plays generally in Nigeria thus:

It serves educational and administrative purposes ... complements the indigenous languages which serve as mother tongues of different people as a further means of preserving, recording and exploring the world ... enables the learner to know more people and understand information about other people's cultures ... It serves some vital economic roles: providing opportunities for gainful employment, requirements for admission into tertiary institutions and opportunities for speakers, writers and media practitioners and artistes to gain access to a wider audience ... It is used for personal and social communication and interaction at the local, inter-ethnic and international levels ... The knowledge of English confers social advantage and an enhanced social status on an individual ... It helps to project the indigenous language culture internationally...

Considering the several significant functions that English performs in Nigeria, it is not surprising that so much attention and resources have over the years been devoted to its teaching in Nigerian schools at the expense of the Nigerian languages (Adeniran, 1978; Adekunle, 1995; Akere, 1995; Awonusi, 2004a and Awonusi, 2004b). In spite of the preference, attention and resources that the teaching of English enjoys in Nigeria, however, it is quite disappointing, as Amuseghan (2007: 320) notes, that there is a remarkable decline in both communicative and linguistic competence of the learners of English in Nigeria. As Akere (1995: 180) observes, there is evidence everywhere in the educational system that the standard of English expressions is very poor and that pupils lack the required language skills to cope with both the learning and the communicative tasks at the various levels of education. …

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