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  • Background of the Study

Speaking is an important skill which must be learnt by all L2 learners of English, if they must be successful in the acquisition. According to Ezeka (2012) learning English speaking skill is very important to the secondary school learners. It exposes them to skills such as stress, rhythm and intonation which are very important if learners must be fluent speakers and proficient writers. So, it is necessary to learn stress, rhythm and intonation because they are parts of pronunciation.

Rhythm of speech is one of the different parts of a language. Spoken English words have more syllables. Some syllables are stressed weak and strong, some are stressed long and short. These are reasons why English language has its rhythm. It refers to the length of time between the main stress or accent and looks like a musical voice in human feeling (Abubakar, 2011). It has been said that every language has its rhythm. A person who is ill or weak in language may use language without sense of rhythm. It is easier for children than adult to learn or acquire rhythm of language.

Stress is the force placed on a word in speaking to make the meaning clear in many sentences. English has stress sounds on the main words such as verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs that we call content. And some words we do not stress are called function words such as determiners, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns. The following are patterns of word stress in English. Two syllable – Second Syllable Stressed include poLICE, reCORD. Types of stress include Emphatic Stress, Contrastive Stress, Tonic Stress, New Information Stress, Stress Timing, Degree of Stress.

Intonation is a kind of pitch which means the lowness or highness of sound. When saying such a sentence, the voice can rise to a higher tone or a lower tone. This makes speech lively and the meaning clear. Intonation is a problem of learning English for learners who want to speak the language fluently as a native speaker. Intonation is the music of a language, and it is maybe the most important factor of good accent. English has intonation to tell the way speakers express themselves. Types of intonation include falling and rising tone. English language intonation is the music of the language. We use tone to show emotion or to ask questions. In each conversation, it is necessary to remember the meaning behind the tones. If the conversation is not clear or can not understand, we use tones to avoid misunderstandings between the speaker and the listener.

          In a community where two or more people exist, there is need for communication to enable them share ideas, feelings and desires, and these is done using a method known as language. Adejumobi (2007) defines language as a vocal sound. It is a graphic representation of signs and symbols, gesticulation and signals for the purpose of communication. Human language is specific to human being and it is used for dissemination of information.

          The Ngas language has five dialects, the Garram dialect, Miship(Chip), Pang, Panchen/Wokkos, and the per/Kabwir dialect. It is more important to note that these dialect are not neatly defined but are blended into one another by varieties that serves as linking shreds, so that as one moves from Panchen down to Per, one does not meet a sharp cut, but the hills dialects of Panchen tones down to Chigwong variety, which gradually gives ways to the Bwir variety through the Pang variety of Dangchor-Sharram until one gets to Bwir itself which in turn gradually tones down through Kwal-Gungji to the Per variety, the peak on the plains dialect.

          English language is traceable in Nigeria by the invasion of the European colonial masters, missionaries and slave trade activities along the west coast of Africa in the 18th century. It has been adopted as the national and international medium of instruction at all levels of education. Every individual in Nigeria needs to have a good command of English language. According to Adegbite and Akindele (2004). Nigeria is a speech community characterized by indigenous and foreign languages that compete with each other. English language performs official and national functions at the level of administration, politics, trade, communication, science and technology while the various indigenous languages are used for interaction in their respective domain of operation.

          English has two main groups, the British and American English. For each, there are standard forms of English which are used as yardstick for comparing other varieties of the respective areas. In Britain the standard is called Received Pronunciation. It refers to the pronunciation of English which is accepted in English society, BBC English, Oxford English, Queen’s English. In America there is a standard which is referred to by any of a number of titles, general American and Network American. In Nigeria, the Received Pronunciation is the most accepted; perhaps it is because Nigerians were colonized by the Britain.

          The issue of oral English Language teaching and learning in Nigeria should be a thing of concern to educational planners, administrators, policy makers and educators in a multilingual country as Nigeria where English is the language of instruction.

          Oral English teachers and learners in Pankshin LGA are easily affected by their mother tongue (Ngas) because the community is surrounded by Ngas speakers. This justifies the words of Olugola (2001) which says that English language is greatly influenced by the indigenous language that is in contact with it. Most Nigerians find it difficult to be completely bilingual and so often transform the pattern and features of their mother tongue to English. It is in line with the above that this study seeks to determine the impact of Ngas language on spoken English among Ngas learners in secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

          If Oral English is learned, mastered and taught properly, it would serve as an effective and efficient means of communication and interaction among people in the country. Teachers pronounce word differently at times, so the learners or listeners find it difficult to understand the actual word being pronounced. For example ‘beat’, ‘bit’. These two words can be confusing if not properly pronounced. More so, the Ngas man will pronounce this word ‘fact’ as /fak/. One cannot tell at times whether a student is speaking English or his dialect. This is due to the intonation used in pronouncing such words.

          When words are dictated to students in the classroom, most students fail. This is not always due to the problem of spelling but the manner in which the words are pronounced when dictating. For example, a word like ‘think’, the Ngas man may pronounce it as /tink/. Therefore, it has become necessary to investigate impact of Ngas language on spoken English among Ngas learners in secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

          The purpose of the study is to find out the impact of Ngas language on spoken English among Ngas learners in secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area. The specific objectives of the study are to:

  1. Examine the extent to which Ngas vowel sounds interfere with those of English language.
  2. Examine the extent to which Ngas consonant sounds interfere with those of English language.
  3. Discuss the extent to which Ngas learners substitute English sounds for their L1 sounds.

1.4 Research Questions

          The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

  1. How has the Ngas vowel sounds interfere with those of English language?
  2. How has the Ngas consonant sounds interfere with those of English language?
  3. How has Ngas learners substitute English sounds for their L1 sounds?

1.5 Significance of the Study

          This study will help to expose the numerous factors that influence the interference of the study of English language (L2) by the mother tongue or native languages (L1). It may also identify the effects of this interference on other study area that are based on the use of the English language as the basic communication.

The study will alert school management on the importance of employing qualified and competent individual who have knowledge of mother tongue interference so as not to mislead student’s phonology that will lead to students decline in performance of spoken English.

This study may enable teachers to identify their problems in the pronunciation of some selected words. This study may also enable students to understand how to make use of English words especially in pronunciation, intonation and phonetics. It may also enable the teachers to make more research on the use of sounds to English language and Ngas language.

Since English language have been used as a second official and sometimes even as a foreign language in Nigeria for a long time and given the inescapable behaviour of language in contact, the study will educate students on the need to enhance their pronunciation skills so as they master those problematic consonant sound in English Language.

To other researchers, it would serve as a source of material in conducting similar studies. It is expected that this study will serve as reference material for other researchers so as to enrich their source on the subject matter.

Finally, the study will further help curriculum planners to plan school curriculum that will cater for all categories of students which will enhance their academic performance in school; ensure adequate learning facilities, incentive, qualify manpower to educate the students for better tomorrow.

1.6. Delimitation of the Study

The researcher is concerned with the influence of mother tongue (Ngas) interference on the learning of English sounds. Geographically, the study is limited to Public Senior Secondary School Students of Ngas language in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. The choice of Ngas mother tongue speakers is because it is the most popular Language in Pankshin Local Government. Despite the fact that the study is limited to the selected local government area, its findings will be generalized to other parts of the state with the same scenario.

1.7. Operational Definition of Terms

          It is imperative to properly define the terms that make the heading of the research topic under study. This may go a long way at giving direction to the research work. These include:

Mother tongue: refers to the native language student’s first learns to speak before other language.

Interference: In this context, interruption of a language by another especially in pronunciation and intonations.

Ethnological: This is the moral ideas and attitudes that belong to a particular group or society (2) peculiar to a race or nation.

Dialect: this is the form of a language that is spoken in one area with grammar words and pronunciation that may be different from other form of the same language

Phonology: this is the system of contrastive relationship among the speech sound that constitute the fundamental component of language.

L2: this is the second language learnt by a child which appears to Ngas, a language in Pankshin Local Government of Plateau State.

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