LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY AND ATTITUDE OF STUDENTS TOWARDS PROSE STUDY IN SOME SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN PANKSHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA.
LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY AND ATTITUDE OF STUDENTS TOWARDS PROSE STUDY IN SOME SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN PANKSHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA.
1.1. Background to the Study
Looking at the declining standard of literature in secondary schools today, there can be no better way of encouraging students towards the appreciation of literature which is the ability to read literary work with greater understanding which involves critical analysis of literary works, the understanding of the language been used and also to have the ability of associating meaning towards as used in a given context. Thus, the need to teach English language to enable students to have some level of proficiency in the language which will in turn help in the appreciation of literary works such as in prose texts.
Literature can be defined as an art of recreating history through the use of language in accordance with the reality of human experience. Literature can also be seen as a collection of a life time which describes the notion, beliefs and lifestyle of a group of people over a given period of time or generation. (Fadare and Adegun,2009: 1-2).
Literature has a relation with language. Language is an idea of using symbols and signs to communicate. The language could be written or spoken. The oxford advanced learners dictionary sees language as “a system of human expressions by means of words” to make ideas and feelings known. As a tool of communication, it also expresses the cultural, linguistic and literary heritage of a given society.
Fadare and Adegun (2009:2) say literary writers therefore use language to communicate to their readers and express their literary concern. It is the instrument used by creative writers to conceive and produced their literary works. Thus, literature extends the use of language beyond the ordinary or everyday use.
A specific purpose for the study of literature in second language according to Mwanti and Esther (2012: 59) is to promote competence in the use of the second language.
Similarly, competence in the second language would enable students to have no difficulty with their communication skills in English. Competence in English is measured by the student’s ability to read intensively and extensively as reading represents a major part of a student study time.
It becomes an indispensable tool of learning in any given educational system. A student survival and success in the academics and the society depends to a very large extend on his ability to learn to read and read to learn.
Knowledge in all sphere of instructions to a large extend depends on language education. Language of literature is very important to imaginative creativity because it helps to sharpen and develop the thematic explorations of writers in putting across their messages successfully to the readers. Therefore, the most important tool in any discourse is language because it is the medium through which writers articulate and express their ideas and feelings in their attempts at protecting their vision of man and society.
English language and literature are closely related. This is because in many ways, they serve a unique purpose in education. English is the language of instruction. Its status as a second language implies that it plays a very key role in social, professional and educational life of Nigerians. Thus, some levels of proficiency in the language is required.
This can be achieved through the study of literature in relation to language which will promote competence in the use of second language and this can be measured by the students` ability to read intensively and extensively which by implications means to learn to read and read to learn.
According to Mwanti and Esther (2012: 59)
In Nigeria where English is a second language, literature assumes
Particularly a critical role. Literature not only provide a means for
Continued learning of the language outside the classroom but also
Serves as an important demonstration of the language use.
If teachers wants their students to gain proficiency in English, they
Will need to encourage their students to gain extensively.
A student centered literature teaching requires students to learn technical terms and device means to gather background information about a given text and read the text on their own before the class. Thus, some of the reasons for teaching literature as outline by Mwanti and Nicholas (2017: 249) includes: to introduce literature students to new world exercise, to help them grow through literary journey with books, to discover meanings by looking at what the author says and how it is said, to educate, persuade and teach us lessons about life. This can be achieved by having the proficiency needed in the language.
Prose is and has always been part of everyday life of people. Prose was populated in the 18th century. It is the product of the literate society and rise in wealth and increase in leisure time in the English society. It is a form of literature written in a narrative form and makes use of simple or every day’s language.
The first recognized novel is Daniel Defoe`s Robinson Crusoe (1718). Some novels or prose works include: Chinua Achebe`s Things Fall Apart, Ngugi Wa Thiongo`s Weep Not Child, Camara Laye`s The African child, Zaynab Alkali`s The Stillborn etc (Fadare and Adegun, 2009: 8). Novels in fiction seem to be the most effective medium of communication between the writer and his audience. It is an art form which requires the writer and the reader to have gone to school before he can write and read it. It is a very literate literary material.
In the teaching of prose, the teacher should bear in mind that prose work enables learners to study various sociocultural situations, share the various human experiences about life and societies and learn more about the world. Hence, the teacher should train and motivate students to read the literary text several times. Prose appears in two major forms: fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is a narrative writing drawn from the imagination of the author rather than from history or facts. Example is parable. Non-fiction on the other hand deals with facts and the experience or happening of real life .it is a true story or account of an event. Examples are biography and autobiography.
Rebecca and Esther (2012:65) in a critical study of the themes, setting and characterization of Buchi Emecheta`s The Joy of Motherhood and Second Class Citizen revealed that:
1. Students are no longer interested in literature because they complain of the work load. This is so because the three examining bodies in Nigeria WAEC, NECO & JAMB have three separate syllabuses for students.
2. The school timetable itself separates the students into different course groups making literature optional.
3. The teachers themselves are not well prepared and interested in the subject.
Thus, the study is aimed at analyzing the level of student’s attitude to the study of prose and the effect of language proficiency on secondary school students
1.2. Statement of the Problem
There is no gain saying to the fact that language is very significant to the lives of all students all over the world. It is expected that an educated man should be able to communicate well in all ramifications. Secondary school students have often encountered problems trying to study prose and poetry and this can be accounted for in terms of level of failure recorded in literature studies over the years in senior certificate examinations.
Attitude could serve as a factor that militates against achievement in the study of prose. It has been observed that when one develops agood attitude towards a subject, the person will show enthusiasm, dedication and self-will and will excel in the field. The attitude which teachers and learners demonstrate towards the study can influenced their achievement or it could be detrimental to it. A times, teachers show negative attitude towards the study in general. They relegate task and responsibilities of the learning process as a whole. On the part of the learners, some are lazy in their studies and hardly spare time for regular consultation of books. This can course them to learn slowly or easily forget what is taught.
Another challenge which has confronted the study of prose is the substandard and absence of books in the field. As a result, learners are liable to encounter difficulty in the study of the genre. Books and materials that are rich in content are rarely available and difficult to obtain. This is a fact that, for any meaningful academic activity to thrive, learners should be able to access research materials to aid them in their studies.
Another problem confronting the teaching of prose is the teaching method employed by the teachers. At times, teachers of prose do not select methods which will suit the comprehension level of their learners, when this occurs, it could lead to lack of understanding or loss of interest. It therefore becomes a challenge to the study of prose. Hence, a good and suitable teaching method can accelerate learning rate whereas an undesired one can bore the lesson.
Another challenge to the study of prose is that often times, prose text are not stream-lined to a single channel of interpretation, as much as there are various background knowledge, there will always be variation in perception. The message intended by the novelist may just be one, but multiple interpretations may be attached to the text at the point of study. This can lead to mismatch in opinions and possible misunderstanding of the text.
Other challenges or problems encountered in prose study include low level of language proficiency, the style of narration, language employed by some writers and the high cost of novels in bookshops. Therefore, the researcher is interested in this research study to find solutions to the problems encountered by the secondary school students in the study of prose, to promote positive attitude towards the study of the genre.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
Literature teaching is quite different from language teaching. Language focuses on developing the student’s ability to communicate his own ideas in the language but literature teaching aims at getting the students to get the ideas communicated by a literary artist who operates in the world of imagination, hence, the teaching focuses on getting students to share and participate in the world created by a literary work. The way literature is read depends on the genre. Prose text have to be read by students individually because it will take a whole term if it is to be read in turns in the classroom.
The best strategy is to read at home and discuss the portion read at home in the classroom. Ben and Clement (2011: 75-77), declare that literature text especially prose can serve as models of writing the students should aim at. For example, literature text can be selected based on the qualities of language organization, description and eyes for details which can be exemplified. The purpose of the research study is to investigate attitude of secondary school students towards the study of prose. Therefore, the research will:
a. Determine the attitude of secondary school learners towards the study of prose.
b. Identify factors responsible for the attitudes of students towards prose.
c. Proffer possible solutions to the identified problems.
d. To measure the impact of language proficiency on the study of prose.
e. Using the findings of this study as basis to make recommendations for the possible control of the identified problems on the study of prose.
1.4. Research Question
For the purpose of carrying out this research, four research questions were formulated:
1. What is the attitude of secondary school students to the study of prose?
2. What are the challenges posed by lack of language proficiency in the study of prose?
3. What are the solutions to students’ proficiency?
4. What are the solutions to the attitudes of students towards prose study?
1.5. Significance of the Study
Here, the research tells us the targeted people who are going to benefit from the research. The research work is intended to re-shape the attitude of secondary school students to prose study. It is intended to proffer solutions to the problems confronting the study of prose and these solutions are aimed at changing students reactions towards prose and help them to develop positive attitude towards it`s study. This can enhance performance in the senior school certificate examinations as well as prepare them for further studies in prose.
It can also serve as a means for encouraging teachers to show enthusiasm towards the study of prose. This attitude is expected to be ruboz on learners in the secondary schools. The teacher serving as a model to the learners often, his/her attitude accepted and practiced by his/her learners hence, the teacher needs to demonstrate a high degree of interest in the teaching of prose as this can aid learning and foster performances of students. More so, it could serve to inspire the school students who encounter difficulties in the study of prose and also aid the teachers in adopting suitable teaching methods which can ease student’s difficulty in the study of the genre.
1.6. Scope/Delimitation of the Study
The study is limited to the students at secondary school level. It is restricted to finding out ways of developing positive attitudes towards the study of prose.
1.7. Operational Definition of Terms
Language proficiency- Means human speech or the written symbols for speech. Having the skills, competence, high level of oral proficiency in a particular language of interest because of training and practice.
Students- Are persons who study or investigate a particular subject.
Attitude- Is a manner of thought or feeling; the way you behave towards something that shows how you think and feel.
Prose- Is a genre of literature written in a narrative form and makes use of simple or every day’s language.
Study/learning- Means to look at something and ask about it and read about it. Learning is understanding new things and getting better ways of doing them. It could also mean getting knowledge, the acquiring of knowledge or skill through teaching, lecture, study or reading (L.Ron Hubbard, 2005: 5).
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