THE IMPACT OF LANGUAGE TRANSFER ON STUDENTS’ SPEAKING SKILLS: SELECTED SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Language transfer has become an inevitable problem being faced by Nigerian speakers of English Language. Two or more languages will be said to be in contradiction if they are used alternatively by the same person. In a situation where one has to learn a language, there is usually the tendency to transfer habit from the first language to the second. One can hardly say that, he uses one language without mixing it with another language in his day to day interaction.
Background of the Study
The focus of this work is to look at the influence of language transfer on students speaking skills i.e. language transfer on the pronunciation of English words by Nigerian speaker of English, a case study of three (3) secondary school in Ijero Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The schools were randomly selected to determine the level of interference occurring in the use of language among secondary school students and how this language transfer influences the spoken form or speaking skills of these students.
Nitschke et al (2009) refer to Language Transfer as; “when speaker’s or writer’s applying knowledge from their second language but it can occur in any situation where someone does not have a native level command of a language as when translating into second language”.
According to Olagoke (2010), Transfer” can also be seen or define as, “The movement or shift of some linguistic or speed habit it from one language to another.”
In essence to this language transfer usually occur in the pronunciation of a particular speaker of a particular language when such a person does not poses adequate characteristics features of that second language like that of first language, for example, in Nigeria, English has the status of a second language and is used as official language. According to Olagoke (2010), English is “in fact the language of science and technology, a passport to Educational advancement and prestigious employment, the language of commerce, trade and administration and a means of national and international communication”. It is an important language of study in any tertiary institution in the country or even in securing a white collar job.
However, English language is not an indigenous language or mother tongue. One must be grounded in basic skills of this language before one can communicate well either in written or spoken forms. So, when the speaker of a particular language comes across some sounds which do not occur in its language, what such a person do is to substitute those sound that occur in its language to those that do not occur. The importance of this is to create and enable possibility for smooth and effective communication.
Equally, this research work will look into the cause of language transfer among Nigerian students. It has become part and parcel of Nigerian speakers of English language that whenever they are speaking or pronouncing English words, the features of their language would definitely affects pronunciation of English words, and this really affects the communicative competence of Nigerian students because, majority of this Semantic Transfer: Some items in Nigerian English are present in native English, but the concept they expresses in the former are absent in the latter e.g. Olu’s wife (suggesting polygamy).
In mixed transfer items partly from the mother tongue and partly from English are conjugated or collated e.g. ‘bukateria’ (buka) in Yoruba means carteen, while ‘teria’ is clipped from English cafeteria.
(d) Discourse Transfer
At the level of discourse, there are some transfers. This is more pronouncing at the level of greetings. For example, the system of greetings in Yoruba differs considerably from that of English. And a Yoruba English bilingual transfers the system of greetings in Yoruba into English. For example, the Yoruba people have different greetings for every human endeavour as in:
Appreciation: Transfer Equivalent:
( A) E se ana
( A) Thanks for yesterday
( B) Ko tope
( B) Don’t mention
( P) E ku ofo
(P. (You) Accept my sympathy
(J) E se
(J) Thank you
(F) Asokale anfaani
(F. (I wish you) A safe delivery
( B) E se
( B) Thank you
The system of greetings is also observed in via the pronunciation of length greetings in place casual greetings which characterized the discourse. I.e. in a place of “hello/hello”. The Yoruba bilingual goes further to say “how is your car” as in the following example;
Yoruba greetings Transfer Yoruba English Greetings
B. E kaasan (Egbon Kehinde) B. Good afternoon brother Kehinde
K Kaasan K. Good afternoon
K Se alaafia ni K. I hope you are well
B. Adupe B. (Yes) thank you.
For instance, at the primary school level, an utterance such as “my stomach is very sweet” ‘I can hear a smell”. At the secondary school level the following example can be found. “The book fell off the table”. At the university level, grammatical transfer is released as follow:
“I want to be registered”
“Can I see you?”
(c) Lexical Transfer: Simply refers to the transfer of lexical meaning in language A to language B. For instance, the concept of father is used to make different thing in the English of the Yoruba speaker of English. For the Yoruba speakers of English father those not only refers to once biological male parent but to capture concept such as uncle, an old relative, an elderly person, with whom the speaker has some close relation or even a father in-law.
What the word father means when a Yoruba speaker of English uses it can only be gotten from the context of situation. Lexical transfer takes two different forms. The first form can be traced to linguistic factors while the second form can be traced to linguistic factors while the second from can be traced to cultural factors. Lexical transfers identified linguistically are regarded as ERRORS. Whereas that identified culturally is not so regarded more so, when the latter expresses the local colour of socially recognized phenomena. Lexical transfer can be described under two categories identified below:
(i) Semantic Contrast: Some times in Nigerian English (NE) may have equivalent items in active English but expresses different meaning through them. “Masquerade” has to do with ancestral in cult worship in /Nigerian English. But it means ‘deceit’ or hiding ones identity in native English students are being taught by second language teacher of English language. Thus, if the these students are not properly taught the production of the distinctive sounds in English language and if proper care is not taken the features of the first language will definitely influence their pronunciation of English words. Majority of the English students in many Nigerian schools finds it difficult to pronounce sounds like /v/, /o/, /δ/ and /s/ as they are being pronounced by the ideal native speaker-hearer of English language.
This is because these sounds were absent in Alphabets of many Nigerian languages, so if one listens to the pronunciation of this sounds by Nigerian students one would discover that these sounds are normally or usually being substituted for those sounds that the similar to those alphorn- mention sounds that occur in their first language. Also in thus research, we look at it whether this transfer is a positive or negative one.
Statement of the Problem
The problem of the influence of first language (Li) on the target language or the second language is what the researcher sees as the main problem among secondary school students in Nigeria.
Particularly, the influence of Yoruba language on the speaking form of English language among students of secondary schools as being the major concern of this work. It is usually common among secondary school student that whenever they are communicating with one another in their various schools, transferring of Yoruba language element into English language is usually difficult for secondary school students in Nigeria to pronounce. Thus, easier for them to pronounce a according to their mother tongue but not according to their received pronunciation.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are to:
(i) Know how often secondary school students deviated from one language to another.
(ii) Give us an indebt and better knowledge and understanding of the English sounds difficult for secondary school students to pronounce.
Scope of the Study
This study shall be carried out in some selected private and public secondary schools in Ijero Local Government Area of Ekiti State. These are:
The systematic sampling technique shall be used in the selection of some schools in the Ijero Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
Limitation of the Study
This study does not look into the various methods of teaching of English language used by teachers. This is because apart from the fact that it might be impossible to get teachers who have been in the schools for the past five years, judgement about the quality of the various methods used by them will be difficult to pronounce.
Another limitation is that this study does not cover the assessment of students’ quality of spoken English through students quality of spoken English can be a means of assessing the influence of qualified English language teachers on them.
Definition of Terms
Mother tongue (L1): It indicate the first very language which a child comes in contact with, or the language of the child’s immediate environment. It is acquired with no parameter for competence measurement.
Second Language (L2): After the acquisition of the mother tongue, the child is then introduced to another language which learner learns from time to time. There his competence is assessed or measured in juxtaposition with the native speaker.
Ethnography: This is the study of native language and culture in its natural environment.