STUDENTS ATTITUDE TOWARDS LEARNING OF ENGLISH IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL IN IKOSI ISHERI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF LAGOS STATE
Background to the Study
Education is the powerful tool which helps to modify the behavior of the child according to the needs and expectancy of the society. Student’s attitude is an integral part of learning and that it should, therefore become an essential component of second language learning pedagogy. Attitudes toward learning are believed to influence behaviors such as selecting and reading books, speaking in a foreign language etc. Especially in Education, if the students have positive attitude towards any subject, they can achieve many things in that specific area. There is an interaction between language learning and the environmental components in which the students were grown up. Both negative and positive attitudes have a strong impact on the success of language learning.
“Attitude is determined by the individual’s beliefs about outcomes or attributes of performing the behavior (behavioral beliefs), weighted by evaluations of those outcomes or attributes. Thus, a person who holds strong beliefs that positively valued outcomes will result from performing the behavior will have a positive attitude toward the behavior. Conversely, a person who holds strong beliefs that negatively valued outcomes will result from the behavior will have a negative attitude.” Attitude concept can be viewed from these three dimensions. Each one of these dimensions has different features to bring out language attitude results.
The relationship between student attitudes and their academic achievement is well documented in both pedagogical and psychological research. Gardner (2005) defines attitude as an evaluative reaction to some referent or object, inferred on the basis of the individual’s beliefs or opinions about the referent. Emphasizing the evaluative nature of attitude, Eagly and Chaiken (2003) define an attitude as “a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor”. Albarraacin, et.al. (2005) stressed the same idea by pointing out that “an attitude is a psychological tendency to view a particular object or behavior with a degree of favour or disfavor.” As known, attitudes are reflected by an individual’s positive or negative behavior toward the referent or object. Thus, one can say that attitudes come in between two aspects: positive and negative. Abdulsalam et al. (2012) state that attitudes are in between totally agree (positive) and totally disagree (negative), they come from individuals and the surrounding situation. Attitudes can also be defined as a combination of emotion and behavior. For example, student attitude towards English language learning means their behavior towards English language learning in the light of their emotion, motivation, and perceptions. According to Pickens (2005: 44) “attitudes might help us to define how students can see the different situations, how they behave in these situations and reflect their feelings, thoughts, and actions”.
Psychologists and sciologists define attitude as a term by refering to relation between attitude and behavior. For psychologists, if behavior is to change, attitude change must come first. Sciologists mentioned that attitudes can be measured and used to predict behavior but not change behavior. Chaiklin (2011) points out “a psychological definition of attitude identifies a verbal expression as behavior. Those who use a psychological definition of attitude attempt to do the things by changing attitudes. A sociological definition of attitude looks at verbal expression as an intention to act. Those who use a sociological definition of attitude attempt to do the things by changing behavior. It is necessary to change attitude before behavior can change, it is enough just to change behavior, or must one deal with both simultaneously.
With respect to the importance of attitudes in the education domain, one may obviously recognize the importance of attitude from its definition. Its importance mainly relates to the impact of attitude on behavior. In a language learning situation, attitude directs student behavior and achievement. As Saracaloğlu (2004:39) mentioned, “most of the researches on the issue have concluded that student’s attitude is an integral part of learning and that it should, therefore, become an essential component of second language learning pedagogy.” He sums up, “attitude refers to our feelings and shapes our behaviors towards learning.” Not only is student achievement influenced by attitude but also their desire to learn in general. Kim & Mcgarry (2014:28) stress “attitudes generally relates to a person’s desire to study and interest.” Teachers should pay more attention to student attitudes as they affect student success, as Al-Tamimi & Shuib (2009:33) emphasize “attitudes play a very crucial role in language learning as they would appear to influence students’ success or failure in their learning.” In the Soleimani & Hanafi (2013:3816) study, “It is recommended that teachers should be responsive to learners’ attitudes and value their students’ attitudes and preconceptions, as it can affect their success in foreign language learning.” Particularly in teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), Alseweed (2009:10) points out that “In the context English as a foreign language (EFL), the ‘attitude’ of the students towards the achievements of English language has got a queen position and one can hardly ignore it in such a situational study. Gardner and Lambert (1972) claim that ‘positive attitude’ enhances second language learning whereas ‘negative attitude’ does not serve the purpose. Similarly, Shah (1999) agrees with that in his findings that the lack of a positive attitude contributes towards low achievements to the students. Hassan (1996) also shows a significant correlation between attitudes towards English and English achievement.
Generally, an attitude comprises three main components: affective, cognitive and behavior. The three components are closely related to each other. Emphasizing this, Fazio & Olson (2003) point out “attitudes can be based on either affective, congnition, or behavior, and the existence of an evaluation based on one of the elements need not imply the existence of the other two elements.”
Attitudes come in different strengths, and like most things that are learned or influenced through experience, they can be measured, and they can be changed. Regarding theses three components Hogg &Vaughan (2005) state that “an attitude is a relatively enduring organization of beliefs, feelings, and behavioral tendencies towards socially significant objects, groups, events or symbols.” To explain the different components, attitudes are defined as enduring systems of beliefs that can be examined on three different levels: cognitive (how we think or reason through an attitude), emotional (how we feel regarding an attitude), and behavioral ( how we act on an attitude) (www.cybersisman.com). Thus, attitude has an affective domain plus behavioral and cognitive domains. Highlighting the importance of the affective component, Brown (2001: 61) stressed that attitude is characterized by a large proportion of emotional involvement such as feelings, self, and relationships in community. Moreover, Mcleod (2014) provides more illustration for attitude’s components. He states that “attitudes structure can be described in terms of three components: affective component: this involves a person’s feelings, emotions about the attitude object. For example: I am scared of spiders. Behavioral component: the way the attitude we have influences how we act or we behave. For example: I will avoid spiders and scream if I see one. Cognitive component: this involves a person’s belief/ knowledge about an attitude object. For example: I believe spiders are dangerous. This model is known as ABC model of attitude.” Oladele (2014) added “we often expect the behavior of a person to be consistent with the attitudes that they hold”
Functions of attitude are well documented in teaching and learning literature. Thus, it is common that attitudes are crucial to direct behavior. According to Pickins (2005) “attitudes influence our decisions, guideour behavior, and impact what we selectively remember (not always the same as what we hear).” In addition, attitude is the starting point to achieve goals and outcomes. Fabrigar et al. (2005) in Moussu (2006:82) explains that “creating and holding attitudes helps “individuals to achieve desired goals and avoid negative outcomes” such as avoiding being taught by a nonnative English speaking teachers (NNEST) if it is believed that it will not help achieve proficiency in English.”
Of special importance, the function of attitudes in language learning is illustrated by Abidin, et al. (2012:121) who concluded that “attitude concept is considered as an essential component in language learning. So, a positive attitude should be the umbrella of language learning. EFL teachers should respect and think about students’ feelings, beliefs and behaviors before the cognitive abilities. English curriculum and classroom activities should involve affective aims according to the students’ needs and their individual differences to build up positive attitudes towards English. It is so important to study learners’ personalities. Cognitive performance can be achieved if the EFL learners possess positive attitudes and enjoy acquiring the target language. For that reason, the affective perspective, especially attitude, should be considered in language research.” Furthermore, previous studies confirm the importance of the role of attidues in teaching/learning in the EFL context
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, 1980; Okedara 1997; Oluga, Adewusi, Babalola, Oyediran, 1999; FGN, 2004; Osisanwo, 2005). Without a credit pass in English Language, a candidate‘s hope of securing admission to any course in a Nigerian tertiary institution is baseless (Olatunji, 2000; Osisanwo, 2005). Olatunji (2000) observes that English has remained the country‘s practically sole official language in spite of the elevation of French as second official language in 1998.
The mass failure in English Language that has become endemic among Nigerian students at all levels of education is a topic of discussions and focus of research, a source of worry to many stakeholders (Ayodele, 2001; Aduwa-Ogiegbaen, 2006; Adekola, 2007; Kolawole and Olatunji, 2006). The general deficiency in the all-important language is also reflected beyond the classroom or examination. People of different socio-economic status and age commit unpardonable phonological, semantic, syntactic, and lexical blunders in their day-to-day uses of the language.
This should not come as a surprise since English is not a native language in Nigeria though many Nigerians are trying to make it their children‘s first language by adopting it as medium of communication within their families. The ugly truth is that most of such parents succeed only in transferring Limited English Proficiency Syndrome (LTEPS) to their children. After al the parents themselves are inhibited by the same circumstances of second language environments. This challenge is not peculiar to Nigeria. As observed by Karahan (2007), many Turkish learners fail to attain desired English language proficiency in comprehensive and or productive skills in spite of early and consistent long-term exposure to the language at all levels of schooling.
The bottom line is that native-like command of a language in a second language learning situation is almost impossible. In fact, it is impossible to attain a native-like command of a second language without an opportunity to live among native speakers for a considerably long period of time. Kperogi (2010) too testifies that no Nigerian who was educated at home, including those who deride Nigerian English, can avoid speaking or writing it either consciously or unconsciously. Therefore, the idiolects of Nigerians are far from the Standard British English to varying degrees.
One of the attempts at helping Nigerians attain native-like command of the English Language is the publication of several books containing catalogues of ―bad English‖ expressions common among Nigerians against prescribed Standard British English versions. Expectedly, attempts to master many of such prescribed expressions and lexical items result in confusion, arguments, and frustration since the students hardly have opportunities to practice what they are struggling to learn. This confirms Thater-Braan‘s (2007) assertion that particular ecologies give rise to definite languages. The ecological factors surrounding a typical Nigerian residing in a typical Nigerian environment do not lend themselves to native speakers‘ kind of English language mastery.
Statement of the Problem
English language has a lot benefits to offer to the student, but most of these students frequently, are turning a negative attitude towards it due to the lack of their interest in it. Enligh language is an official language that aid communication in Nigeria, because the psychology and linguistic reason for teaching it is to create wisdom and also to motivate the students in different varieties like lecture, discussion, small – group for presentation, drama and other varieties which can easily lead to successful attainment of proficiency, but, most of those students are not motivated to have interest in English Language at all, that is the second language, not to even talk on having interest in reading English Literature texts. Whereas, higher level of motivation and positive attitude is part of the major things that can produce more successful second languages learner.
Moreover, many students are not motivated in reading. As a result, they felt that they are forced to learn the subject and so, they learn it just to pass the examination. Many students especially in the rural areas are facing difficulties in learning english due to the language and cultural barrier. Due to their inability to Comprehend the texts; they are not able to proceed to mere cognitively challenging activities.
At present, the issue is whether student are interested in learning English. The question that have always been pondered upon are how much literature and reading text should be included into the curriculum as well as the cultural and linguistic barrier that must be overcome to facilitate a successful second languages learning environment, while other studies had been conduct to find out student motivation and attitude toward English learning. This study looks into student perception of their motivation and attitude toward learning English in secondary schools.
Purpose of the study
The major aims of the study is to examine secondary school students attitude towards learning of English language in Ikosi Isheri local government area of Lagos state
The specific objective is to
- To find out the attitude of secondary school students towards English language
- To find out if teacher attitude contribute to effective teaching of English language
- To determine the impact of teacher qualification in teaching English language
Significant of the Study
The findings of this study will provide insight for English teacher who are teaching the literature to reflect on whether the approaches that they are implementing in their classrooms are effective and beneficial to their students. Apart from that, teachers will be able to understand their students perceptions, motivation and attitude toward learning English By knowing these, teachers will be able to select a more appropriate method or techniques to teach English in order to make it interesting and fun for the students.
In this wise, the finding of this study provides information for curriculum developers as to whether the reading materials of the english in the syllabus motivate the students and whether it caters for the students needs and interests.
Thus it is hoped that through the finding of this study, teacher are able to cater to the student and interest in learning English so as to improve on their motivation and shape their attitude positively as these will affect their success in second languages learning.
The study is designed to provide answer to the following questions.
- what are the attitude of secondary school student towards learning of English language
- does teacher attitude contribute to effective learning of English
- does teacher qualification has effect on teaching English
- What are the new steps to be taken by the teachers to motivate the student towards English
Delimitation of the study
This research work is delimited to Ikosi Isheri Local Government Area of Lagos State. The study is delimited to students in secondary. The study will comprise of 70 selected secondary school students and 30 english teachers
Limitation of the Study
Among the limitations encountered in the course of this project was lack of adequate funds, I really had financial problems throughout the process of the project.
Also there was problem of data collection, four copies of the questionnaire were not returned after series of call on respondents.
Other limitation include logistic problem, lack of enough time, there was limited time for the programme.