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  • Background to Study

In English Language, there is a strong correlation between oral language skills and achievement in the written language among learners in schools. In Nigeria, English remains the undisputed language of school instruction, governance, administration, legislation, judiciary, international relations, unification of the country’s numerous ethnic constituents, social prestige, and so on (Adeniran, 2009 and Osisanwo, 2009).

English language is taught as a subject and at the same time it is a medium of instruction for other subjects in the Nigeria education curriculum. The aim and objectives of teaching oral skills in English as taught in the Nigeria education curriculum is to enable students communicate effectively and intelligently in English. It also helps the student to develop confidence in his ability to express himself in English as fluently as possible and provides an opportunity for the correction of mistakes in spoken English.

The English language has become greatly valued and adorned in Nigeria’s Educational system. As remarked by Titus (2015), the dominance of English in formal and transactional communication is unchallengeable. In view of the multilingual nature of Nigeria, with more than 400 indigenous languages Ufomata (2017), believes that English is regarded as the only feasible and realistic choice for the nation now and in the foreseeable future. The greatest efforts expended on English language in Nigeria have been in the area of the Educational system, particularly in relation to Nigerian indigenous languages of which the major ones are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibio, Edo, Fulfulde, and Kanuri. English as the official language of Nigeria and also the former colonial language was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. English, however remains an exclusive reserve of the country’s urban elite, and is not widely spoken in the rural areas which comprise three quarters of the country’s population.

Therefore, since emphasis has shifted to studying varied rules aimed at the identification, interpretation and reproduction of English sounds (phonemes), there is every cause to emphasize and to review the teaching of oral English especially in post-primary schools. Furthermore, speech is regarded as persona which represents an individual’s ability to articulate phonemes according to some established norms. It also entails the ability of an individual to identify and understand the representation and meaning of English sounds. It is quite unfortunate that most of our secondary school learners do not exhibit the knowledge of oral English when using the language which could be associated with the aforementioned factors. In a nutshell, there is the need for concern.

Oral proficiency should be made inherent in both Instructors (teachers) and learners (students). Jowitt (2008) confirms that the emphasis on proficiency in spoken English was introduced in the New National Curriculum in English language for Nigerian Secondary Schools in the 1980s. It was previously neglected in the teaching of English in Nigeria as oral English was made optional for the West African School Certificate students (though a compulsory course for teacher grade II examinations in those days). Roach (2020) confirms that pronunciation teaching has not always been popular with teachers and language theorists and in the 1970s and 1980s. It was fashionable to treat it as a rather outdated activity. It was claimed that it makes learners try to sound like native speakers of Received Pronunciation, which became difficult and led to repetitive exercises, and it also failed to give importance to communication.

Oral English is a very important language skill, however it has been neglected for far too long by teachers of English, this is as a result of negative attitude of these teachers to oral English. However, recent development in the teaching of English Language requires greater emphasis on this aspect of English language. This is because oral English complements the understanding and the use of English language so as to improve the standard of spoken English. According to Idris (2019), not much has been achieved since the introduction of Oral English in West African School Certificate and National Examination Council due to the problems associated with teachers’ negligence of oral English. Recently, there is the emergence of new publications particularly on Oral English by other language teachers, researchers and scholars such as Mannell, Cox, and Harrington (2009), Akperero (2018), Enyeazu (2017), and Idris (2019). This development has gone a long way in bringing oral English into focus and enhancing of teachers’ attitude in teaching it. Its recent inclusion in the English Language Examination Paper (Test of Orals) has drawn the attitude of many teachers and also the attention of many students.

Attitude is described as “Way of thinking or behaving”. Psychology, the science of Mind and Behavior (Pesser and Smiths, 2017) gives a more elaborate explanation that an attitude is a positive or negative evaluative reaction toward a stimulus, such as a person, action, object, or concept. Attitude has been a very difficult concept to describe since it cannot be directly observed. Attitudes will affect the choices that a learner makes and be acquired from a variety of sources (Gagne, 2015). Koballa further explained that attitudes; are behaviors that are associated with critical thinking. The effective variables according to Koballa (2015) are: attitude, belief, opinion, value, behavioral intention, and behavior. The interaction of the effective variables helped to determine the attitudes of a student’s performance either negatively or positively.

A classical Roman poet by name Publius Vergilus Maro, more commonly known as Virgil, was once quoted in his poetry saying, “They can do it, because they think they can” (Dekeyser & Sokalski, 2019). William James once said, “it is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome”(Wagner, 2018). Attitude can be viewed as a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, person, situation, etc. Koballa(2015) defined attitude as an evaluative reaction to some referent, inferred on the basis of the individual’s beliefs or opinions about the referent. A number of authorities (Khatib, 2019) maintained that a lot of senior secondary school students do not like oral English and even majority of them have negative attitude towards it. It is in the light of the above study discussion that this study seeks to determine attitudes of students towards the learning of oral English in selected senior secondary schools in Langtang North.     

  • Statement of the Problem

Today, there is a noticeable phobia for the learning of oral English among students at both formal and informal discussions. Education stakeholders have often decried the difficulty of oral English especially when compared to the other language skills of English (Dekeyser & Sokalski, 2019). Some students have said expressly their hate for oral English not for a lack of interest, but because of their fear for pronunciation, stress, etc. They lament that the oral English seem beyond their comprehension.

Students in secondary schools have phobia for oral English especially as they are not properly taught by their teachers. Students. As teachers of English, it is not enough to simply speculate the possible problem(s), but there is the need to investigate and present in measurable terms, the immediate and remote causes of the problem of poor attitudes towards learning oral English and possible solutions. Therefore, this study will help solve the phobia of learners towards oral English as recommendations from this study will enhance teaching and learning of oral English. Furthermore, teachers will adopt suitable and adequate teaching methods which will enhance the performance of students in oral English. This is why the present study seeks to examine the attitudes of senior students towards the learning of oral English in selected secondary schools in Langtang Local Government Area of Plateau State.

  • Purpose of the Study

            The main purpose of this study is to investigate the attitude of senior students towards learning of oral English in selected secondary schools in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State.

            Specifically, this study seeks to:

  1. Determine the attitudes of students towards learning oral English.
  2. Find out the relationship between these attitudes and their performance in oral English.
  • Determine the main causes of these attitudes.
    • Research Questions

The study is guided by the following:

  1. What are the attitudes of students towards learning oral English?
  2. To what extent is there a relationship between these attitudes and their performance in oral English?
  • What are the main causes of these attitudes?
    • Research Hypotheses

The following research hypothesis was tested at 0.5 level of significance:

Ho: There is a significant relationship between attitudes and their performance in oral English.

  • Significance of the Study

It is hoped that, when this research is conducted, suggestions will be offered towards improvement of the art of teaching oral English with a view of solving the problems encountered by teaching of oral English and also, students will demonstrate a better appreciation and understanding of oral English. The teacher will also understand the learners better so as to capture their attention and change their perceptions and attitudes towards the oral English. Motivation, reinforcement and relevant instructional strategies by the teachers might help the learners have positive attitudes towards oral English.

In addition to its intrinsic educational value, this research can reinforce the rest of the school curriculum. The school administrators, curriculum planners as well as the Ministry of Education would understand the challenges confronting oral English and when setting policies, they will take note of these challenges and remedy them accordingly.

Finally, the research would also be useful to other researchers in supplementing the existing Literature on the same study area and would also, provide a rich ground for further research based on the gaps left out by this study. In this way, oral English can accomplish several goals at once-enriching students’ school experience.

  • Scope/Delimitation of the Study

This study covers attitudes of students towards learning oral English. It is limited to selected secondary schools in Langtang North Local Government Area of Plateau State. However, the findings will be used to generalize in other areas not covered by this research.

  • Operational Definition of Terms

For the purpose of clarity, the following terms will be defined.

Attitudes: The way one thinks, feels, likes or dislikes and behaves toward oral English activities. The manner or behavior a learner exhibit towards learning of oral English.

Secondary School: Level of education that comes after the basic or results from the primary education.

Senior Students: A school pupil or a person studying in senior secondary school

Learning:  The act of acquiring a new knowledge and skills from an oral English expert.

Oral English: This is the language skill that has to do with speaking as against listening, reading and writing.

English: The language, originally of England, now spoken in many countries and used as a language of international communication throughout the world.

Language: Use of words in agreed way as means of human communication.


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