ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ADO- EKITI: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES TOWARDS COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE.
Background to the Study
Language is a very important means of communication. It is very difficult to think of a society without language. It sharpens people’s thoughts and guides and controls their entire activity. It is a carrier of civilization and culture (Bolinger, 2010). In the case of the mother tongue, the child learns it easily, due to the favourable environment and by the great amount of exposure to the language. But, learning a second language requires conscious efforts to learn it and the exposure to the second language in most cases is limited (Bose, 2007). Majority of the students have favoured classroom instruction for the second language acquisition (James, 2011 ). There are so many factors affect the process of learning a second language, including attitude, self-confidence, motivation, duration of exposure to the language, classroom conditions, environment, family background, and availability of competent teachers (Verghese, 2009). The various reasons for the challenges faced by the second language learner were environment, attitude and teacher’s competence.
The use of English as a second language (ESL) or foreign language (EFL) in oral communication is, without a doubt, one of the most common but highly complex activities necessary to be considered when teaching the English language especially because we live at a time where the ability to speak English fluently has become a must, especially who want to advance in certain fields of human endeavor (Al-Sibai, 2004).
The focus of teaching speaking, of course, is to improve the oral production of the students. Therefore, language teaching activities in the classroom should aim at maximising individual language use (Haozhang, 2014). In the past, oral communication instruction was neglected because of the misconception that oral communication competence develops naturally over time and that the cognitive skills involved in writing automatically transfer to analogous oral communication skills(Chaney,2008). However, Ur (1996) considered speaking as the most important skill among four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) because people who know a language are referred to as speakers of that language. This indicates that using a language is more important than just knowing about it because there is no point knowing a lot about language if you can’t use it (Scrivener, 2005).
For language learning to take place, there are four conditions that should exist, and they are the exposure, opportunities to use the language, motivation, and instruction. Learners need chances to say what they think or feel and to experiment in a supportive atmosphere using language they have heard or seen without feeling threatened (Willis, 1996). A fact that is highlighted by second language research is that progress does not occur when people make a conscious effort to learn. Progress occurs as a result of spontaneous, subconscious mechanisms, which are activated when learners are involved in communication with the second language. The subconscious element demands a new range of activities, where learners are focused not on the language itself but on the communication of meaning (Littlewood, 2008). Harmer (2011) also argued that in a communicative task, the students’ attention should be focused on the content of what they are saying, rather than the form. They should use a wide variety of language. Ellis (2003) explained that this can be done by involving learners in performing two types of communicative tasks: focused communicative tasks are communication with target audience and unfocused communicative tasks are communication that generalise speech. Both of these tasks seek to engage learners in using language pragmatically rather than displaying language. They seek to develop language proficiency through communication. Through communication learners can integrate separate structures into a creative system for expressing meaning (Littlewood, 2013).
Spitzberg (2011) defined communication competence as “the ability to interact well with others”. He explains, “the term ‘well’ refers to accuracy, clarity, comprehensibility, coherence, expertise, effectiveness and appropriateness”. A much more complete operationalization is provided by Friedrich (2009) when he suggests that communication competence is best understood as “a situational ability to set realistic and appropriate goals and to maximize their achievement by using knowledge of self, other, context, and communication theory to generate adaptive communication performances.”
Communicative competence is measured by determining if, and to what degree, the goals of interaction are achieved. As stated earlier, the function of communication is to maximize the achievement of “shared meaning.” Parks (2008) emphasizes three interdependent themes: control, responsibility, and foresight; and argues that to be competent, we must “not only ‘know’ and ‘know how,’ we must also ‘do’ and ‘know that we did'”. He defines communicative competence as “the degree to which individuals perceive they have satisfied their goals in a given social situation without jeopardizing their ability or opportunity to pursue their other subjectively more important goals”. This combination of cognitive and behavioral perspectives is consistent with Wiemann and Backlund’s (2011) argument that communication competence is:
The ability of an learners to choose among available communicative behaviors in order that he may successfully accomplish his own interpersonal goals during an encounter while maintaining the face and line of his fellow learners within the constraints of the situation.
Rababa’ah, (2005) pointed out that there are many factors that cause challenges in speaking English among secondary school students. Some of these factors are related to the learners themselves, the teaching strategies, the curriculum, and the environment. For example, many students lack the necessary vocabulary to get their meaning across, and consequently, they cannot keep the interaction going. Inadequate strategic competence and communication competence can be another reason as well for not being able to keep the interaction going. Some learners also lack the motivation to speak English. They do not see a real need to learn or speak English. Actually motivation is the crucial force which determines whether a learner embarks in a task at all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he persevere (Littlewood, 2010). The development of communicative skills can only take place if learners have the motivation and opportunity to express their own identity and relate with the people around them (Littlewood, 2008). Teaching strategies also contribute to this problem as they are inadequate, and they do not put emphasis on speaking, which results in a mere development of this skill. Besides, vocabulary items are taught in isolation, and listening materials are not used by the majority of school teachers because of the large number of teachers compared with the number of cassettes available. Teacher-training programs were found to be not very successful in changing the teachers’ methodology (Rababa’ah, 2005). Furthermore, English is seen as an academic subject only, which means exposure to the English language is insufficient. The lack of a target language environment can be considered another problem, which of course results in a lack of involvement in real-life situations. Not allowing learners to participate in discourse can be another reason for speaking difficulties.
Children need both to participate in discourse and to build up knowledge and skills for participation in order to learn discourse skills (Cameron, 2001). Furthermore, language is best learned when the learners’ attention is focused on understanding, saying and doing something with language, and not when their attention is focused explicitly on linguistic features (Kumaravadivelu,2003,p.27). It is worthy to mention that researchers recognise that learners can improve their speaking ability by developing learning strategies that enable them to become independent and competent learners (Nakatani, 2010).
Statement of the Problems
Speaking remains the most difficult skill to master for the majority of English learners, and they are still incompetent in communicating orally in English. Ur (1996), there are many factors that cause challenges in speaking, and they are as follows: .Inhibition. Students are worried about making mistakes, fearful of criticism, or simply shy. Nothing to say. Students have no motive to express themselves. Low or uneven participation. Only one participant can talk at a time because of large classes and the tendency of some learners to dominate, while others speak very little or not at all. Mother-tongue use. Learners who share the same mother tongue tend to use it because it is easier and because learners feel less exposed if they are speaking their mother tongue.
Moreover, many students lack the necessary vocabulary to get their meaning across, and consequently, they cannot keep the interaction going. Inadequate strategic competence and communication competence can be another reason as well for not being able to keep the interaction going. Some learners also lack the motivation to speak English. Based on the above problems or challenges, this study centers on “English as a second language in secondary schools in Ado–Ekiti: Issues and challenges towards communication competence.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate English as a second language in secondary schools in Ado- Ekiti: Issues and challenges towards communicative competence.
The study also sought to find out; the main speaking challenges encountered by secondary school students toward communication competence in in Ado –Ekiti, factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking challenges and the impact of English as a second language among secondary school students in Ado- Ekiti
This study was designed to address the following questions:
- What are the main speaking challenges encountered by secondary school students toward communication competence in in Ado -Ekiti?
- What are the factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking challenges
- Why do parent prefers to speak their dialect to their children instead of English Language
- What are the attitude of student towards learning English as a second language
Significance of the Study
English is being treated as a world language because of its vast presence all over the world. At this juncture, learning English gains currency. Majority of Indian students, particularly from rural place considers this seven-letter word as a magical and a mystical word. The moment they hear something in English they start feel discomfort. The research will be of great significance to the following bodies; parent, teachers students and education policy makers.
It will be of great impact to parents because the contents will enlighten parent the important of English as second language. It make them to see reason why their children should speak English as second language.
To the teachers it will broaden their knowledge on the significance of teaching and learning of English as second language and reveal some challenges encountered by secondary student toward communication competence
It will be of great impact on the student part because most of the challenges face in English as a second language toward communication competence by student will be discussed and the way out will also be discussed.
The recommendation made at the end of the research will be useful for government and education policy makers because it will enlighten them reason why English language should be included in secondary school curriculum, why competent teachers should be employed.
Finally, it contribute to existing literature and it will also serve as guide for further researchers who may want to carryout research on similar topic.
Delimitation of the Study
The study is delimited to examine English as second language in secondary schools in Ado-Ekiti. This study is delimited to four secondary schools in Ado Ekiti. The schools which the study will be delimited to are; Olaoluwa Grammar School, Ado-Ekiti, Christ School Ado-Ekiti (Boy and Girls), Ado Grammar School, Ado-Ekiti, Muslim College, Ado-Ekiti, C.A.C Comprehensive High School, Ado-Ekiti, All Souls Grammar School, Ado-Ekiti, Mary Immaculate Grammar School, Anglican Grammar School, Ado-Ekiti and Providence Group of School
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