A Study of Language Structure and the Problems Associated with Second Language Learners in ODL Institutions in Nigeria

This article is published by the Zamfara International Journal of Humanities.


Iyere Theodore (PhD)
National Open University of Nigeria,
Abuja - Nigeria


Language, because of its prevalence in human affairs, has been studied by scholars who are interested in various aspects of human existence. Subsequently, researches in the field of second language learning as regards Open and Distance Learning (ODL) have shown that students in ODL institutions often encounter various challenges (spoken and written) in their efforts to acquire English and communicate meaningfully in the language. This paper, using the Contrastive Analysis (CA) theoretical framework interrogates some of the technicalities in the structure of English that often pose challenges to English as Second Language (ESL) learners in Open and Distance Learning institutions like the National Open University of Nigeria. The study found that the challenges often faced by the ODL students include learning the language without a goal, difficulty in coordinating their speech and writing meaningfully, mother tongue interference which makes them less active in speaking English, limited learning environment, being bored by traditional learning methods, lack of interest and confidence while many more are afraid of making errors. Suffice it to say that this study is justified by the fact that as teachers/facilitators of a second language, we should be interested, among other things, in those aspects of language which give our students the greatest difficulty. This way, we would be able to devise ways and methods that can help them overcome such difficulties and subsequently make the learning of the various structures of English easier and more fulfilling for them. Since language acquisition is a long process that is different for everyone and often has ups and downs, this study therefore recommends the used of ‘Blended Learning’ approach (which emphasizes the combination of traditional learning methods with modern teaching techniques) to truly assist the learners with the internal process of overcoming the challenges and acquiring the language successfully and effectively.

Keywords: Structure of Language, Second Language Learner, Open and Distance Learning,                                  Communicative Competence, Blended Learning

Background to the Study

Henry Sweet (2015) defines language as “…the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts”. As a corollary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines language as “the aspect of Human behaviour that involves the use of vocal sounds in meaningful patterns…to form, express and communicate thoughts and feelings.” Indeed, human language, because of its prevalence in human affairs, has been studied by people interested in various aspects of human existence. From the above definitions, it can be seen that language is a system with various levels to its structure. There is the sound level which involves Phonetics and Phonology, the grammatical level and the semantic level: Phonetics studies speech sounds and the physiology of speech, and covers much of the ground loosely referred to in language as pronunciation while Phonology focuses on how individual languages make use of their selection of sounds and the rules governing the formation of words from sounds. That aspect of the structure of a language which gives the rules for combining words into larger units is called the Grammar of that language. Semantics studies meaning both in general theoretical terms and with reference to a specific language. It embraces the meaningful functions of phonological features such as intonation, grammatical structures and the meaning of individual words. Suffice it to say then that the major structural features of language are phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax and context. These all work together to create meaningful communication among individuals. In other words, the structure of a language functions to make a language meaningful.

It is important to state that ‘Second Language’ as used in this paper is a technical term that refers to the language a person learns - usually in a formal situation, after he/she has learnt his/her first language or Mother Tongue (MT). Usually, this language is of extreme importance in the community because it is the language of business, education or governance. In Nigeria for example, purely by accident of history, anybody who undergoes formal education has to learn English. Some of the problems inherent in the structure of language, which a Nigerian learner faces in trying to acquire the skills needed for him/her to function effectively in English, will be subsequently explored in this paper. Therefore, s teachers and facilitators of English as a second language, we should really be interested, among other things, in those aspects of language which give our students the greatest difficulty. This paper therefore, attempts to interrogate this human phenomenon called language; what it is, its structure, the similarities and differences among languages, and above all, the challenges often face by ESL learners in trying to acquire the language in ODL institutions as well as the  implications these have for their overall intellectual development. The National Open University of Nigeria (a foremost ODL institution) is used as our case study.

Statement of the Study

This study intends to interrogate the communication challenges often faced by ESL learners in ODL institutions. These problems include but not restricted to the following: difficulty in coordinating their spoken utterances meaningfully, lack of vocabulary, poor knowledge of the rudiments of English grammar, being afraid of making errors, being less active in speaking English during facilitations, lack of interest and confidence, limited learning environment - lack of interaction with good speakers in and outside the classroom environment, students are bored with traditional learning methods, little or no knowledge of the use of multimedia facilities to improve their learning endeavours.

Research Questions

The following questions are pertinent to this study;

What specific structural problems do the ESL learners face in the ODL classroom?

Are second language learning theories really important in helping the ESL learners, when we know learning is a process that will take time no matter how it happens?

Since language acquisition is a long process that is different for everyone and often has ups and downs, how can we truly know if a student in the ODL classroom is improving?

How can we help ESL learners internalize their learning process and overcome the challenges they regularly face while trying to communicate effectively in the language?

Theoretical Framework: the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis

Originally proposed to explain all aspects of language acquisition (Lado, 1957), this theory holds that second language (L2) acquisition is filtered through the learner’s first language (L1), with the native language facilitating acquisition in those cases where the target structures are similar, and “interfering” with acquisition in cases where the target structures are dissimilar or nonexistent. Later developments in the field has begun to embrace more sophisticated approaches to ‘interlanguage phonology’, taking account of other processes (e.g. ‘universal’, or ‘developmental’) interacting with L1 transfer (Pennington and Richards, 1986; Brown, 1997; Jenkins, 2000).  Jenkins (2004) confirms that contrastive analysis-based research still prevails today and continues, in part at least, because of the current emphasis in L2 pedagogy on individual learner needs. The large body of researchers such as Italo (1988), Chan (2007), Moustofa (1979), Jilg (1999), Huang & Radant (2009), just to mention a few, show that the interest in contrastive analytical research itself has never disappeared entirely. Substantial evidence from Jenkins (2004) on the central role contrastive analysis tradition is currently playing out in L2 pedagogy and comes from “a growing body of research-based publications for teachers of students from L1s that earlier research had tended to overlook and/or treat superficially, by ignoring, the role of local L1-L2 contact” (p.113). Pronunciation research and pedagogy, therefore, has always continued to believe in the important influence of the mother tongue on L2 pronunciation. Thus as Jenkins (2004, p.113) argues, “It would, in any case, have been a serious mistake to throw out the modern contrastive analysis baby with the old contrastive analysis bathwater”.

Suffice it to say that Contrastive Analysis is significant to L2 learning in three major areas: linguistic studies, language teaching and language assessment. It is on this background that Lado claims that language teaching materials that are prepared based on the careful comparison of the scientific descriptions of L1 and L2 are the most effective. Therefore, the proponents of CA believe that when the systems of both L1 and L2 are comparatively described, areas that would facilitate learning or pose difficulties to the L2 learner would be diagnosed. This would go a long way in helping the learners and teachers overcome the challenges in L2 learning or teaching.

The Sounds of Language

As stated above, human language involves the use of vocal sounds. In essence, the human vocal apparatus is capable of producing a large number of sounds with the help of air stream from the lungs. Almost any sound thus produced may be used in some language or other. Every language selects from among these, sounds that are to be used in forming the patterns that express ideas in that language. 

Types of Sounds 

Vocal sounds may be classified into two broad groups according to whether in the course of their production there is an obstruction – total or partial – to the flow of the air from the lungs. If there is any obstruction, the sound thus produced is a consonant sound. A sound that is produced without any obstruction to the flow of air belongs to the class called vowels.

There is no human language as we defined it in this paper, which does not make use of vowels and consonants. In essence, languages are similar. So, why is it that very few people can actually learn another language ‘without an accent’? Many factors are actually responsible for this state of affairs.

Every language selects from the same pool but no two languages selects the same sounds all through. Even those sounds that are ostensibly the same may, on closer examination, be found to be slightly different. The difference, though slight, may nevertheless be distinctive. A look at the table of Hausa and English consonant sounds in appendix 1 may serve to illustrate this point.

 Phonetic Sources of Phonological Problems

Hausa and English have quite a number of sounds that share the same features and are therefore easy for the Hausa learner of English or the English learner of Hausa to make. However, there are a number of sounds in English that do not occur in Hausa and are rendered as one or other of the Hausa sounds that share the largest number of phonetic features with them. The English /p/ as in ‘pray’ [prei] which is a voiceless (i.e. produced without the vibration of the vocal cords), bilabial (i.e produced using the two lips) and stop (i.e. produced with total closure), is usually replaced by a Hausa sound which is also bilabial and voiceless but which is not a stop but a fricative (i.e. it is produced with a partial closure which enables the air to pass with some friction- like noise, like the English /f/, hence the ‘people’ [feofle] problem of the Hausa learner of English.

The English speaker learning Hausa will, of course, pronounce ‘ɓera’ (rat) as if it were ‘bera’, the English /b/ replacing the Hausa /ɓ/ since both sounds are voiced, bilabial stops. But, whereas the English /b/ is a plosive (i.e. the trapped air is released with the air going out), the Hausa /ɓ/ is an implosive (i.e. the trapped air is sucked in when the closure is released).


Apart from a sound not occurring in the second language, there is also the problem of the distribution of even those sounds that occur in both languages (that is, where in a syllable or word a particular sound may occur). The English nasal consonant /ŋ/ in words like ‘English’ [iŋliʃ] and ‘taking’ [teikŋ] never occur at the beginning of words, whereas its Hausa counterpart can and does begin words like [ŋgo] ‘written’ - ‘ngo’. An Englishman/woman learning Hausa will invariably introduce a vowel before the /ŋ/.

Many African languages do not tolerate consonant clustering – sequences of two or more consonants e.g. [spr] in words like ‘spring’ [spriŋ]. The tendency is for the learner to introduce vowels to break the clusters, thus [spriŋ] becomes [sipiriŋ].


A phonetic feature is said to be distinctive if it carries meaning difference in language. What is distinctive in one language may not be distinctive in another or may be used in a different way. This assertion is captured in www.dictionary.com which defines distinctiveness as a feature of the sound system of a language that serves as the crucial distinguishing mark between two phonemes, as the distinctive feature of voicing, which distinguishes b from p in English, or nasality, which distinguishes m from b and p. ... a component or phonetic feature characterizing a phoneme. This fact is further collaborated by Wikipedia.com which postulates that, a distinctive feature is the most basic unit of phonological structure that may be analyzed in phonological theory. Distinctive features are grouped into categories according to the natural classes of segments they describe.

Indeed, all languages make use of pitch (degree of highness or lowness in the voice), but an English word may have only one primary stress (loudness) irrespective of the number of syllables in such word. Moving this stress to another syllable may change the grammatical function of the word. E.g.   import [ˈɪmpɔːt] (noun)            import [ɪmˈpɔːt] (verb)

Whereas in African languages generally, every syllable carries a tone (high air) or (low pitch), which, together with the descrete sounds (consonants and vowels) give the total meaning of the word.  Shifting the tone from one syllable to another will either change its meaning or render it meaningless. Hausa ˈkká (crying)   and ˈkkà (baobab tree) are two different words because one has a high tone where the other has a low one in its second syllable.

All of these and many more are the phonological problems that the Nigerian learner of English has to contend with. If speech were all that the learner had to worry about, s/he would have all the time and the resources to get over some of the difficulties. But s/he needs more than the ability to speak the language. S/he needs the skills that will enable him/her to communicate with people who are not immediately before him/her.

The Nigerian English as Second Language (ESL) learner is grappling not only with the problem of mastering English sounds in themselves, but also with the problem of writing a language whose writing conventions are notoriously inconsistent with pronunciation. Why is ‘gh’ /f/ in ‘cough’ [kɒf] but /p/ in ‘hic-cough’ [ˈhikʌp], and nothing at all in ‘through’ [θru:]? What determines when ‘ou’ is /ʌ/, /ɔ:/, /ɒ/, /u:/ and so on? The learner has to master all of these under the guidance of people who, 90% of the time, are non-native speakers of English with similar, or different problems of their own.

Any observer of the English language teaching scene in Nigeria will agree with this study that our students do go through the hands of very many people – Nigerians and non-Nigerians who speak English with a variety of ‘accents’. This no doubt, has a bewildering effect on the learners and may go a long way to obstruct his/her quest for communicative competence in the language.


All the words that compose any language may be classified into groups called grammatical classes or parts of speech. In English, there are eight such classes; Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections. Other languages have groups that correspond more or less to these. They are distinguished because they occupy different positions in sentence structure. Grammar then, is generally, concerned with the relationships between words in sentences. This proposition is echoed by en.wikipedia.org which explains that English grammar is the way in which meanings are encoded into wordings in the English language. This includes the structure of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and whole texts. ... Unlike nouns in almost all other Indo-European languages, English nouns do not have grammatical gender.

Every language manifests certain grammatical categories. But languages differ in the way they manifest these and what class of words carries these manifestations. Knowing how things work in one language does not necessarily equip one to construct grammatically acceptable sentences in another.

Time will not permit us to delve into all the grammatical categories there are in language structure. We will therefore, illustrate our points using just one grammatical class – the noun class. We will see the various categories that it manifests; how the manifestations affect other words in the sentence and what problems a second language learner faces in trying to accommodate all the restrictions that are necessitated by these differences.



All languages have words that name the people, places and things in their world. In traditional grammatical classification, such words form the class called nouns.

Case and Word Order

Nouns or Noun substitutes are the words that form the subject of discourse. They also act as object of the verb in a sentence or the possessor noun in possessive constructions. In languages such as Latin and Greek, these functions are marked onto the noun by affixation, so that a noun can occupy any position in the sentence but will still be recognised as the subject or object because of its shape. Such affixations are called case markers. In contemporary English only the possessive case is marked on to the noun by “s” or “s’ ”. Word Order is the grammatical device that English uses to show the function of a noun in a sentence. A noun is a subject or an object because of its position in relation to the verb. For instance,


“The man killed the lion”

“The lion killed the man”

Are two different sentences semantically, though the two contain the same words


All languages have ways of indicating that something a noun represents is “one or more than one.” This idea is the grammatical category called number, which in many languages is carried by the noun class.

English has two grammatical numbers – singular e.g. one boy, and plural e.g two boys. If an English noun carries the idea of ‘more than one’ covertly, e.g. sheep/sheep or overtly e.g. boy/boys, its introduction into the sentence triggers a change in other words in the sentence;

1.      A boy is playing near his house

2.      Some boys are playing near their house  

3.      A sheep is grazing in the field

4.      Some sheep are grazing in the field

The words ‘A’ and ‘is’ in 1 and 3 above have become ‘some’ and ‘are’ in 2 and 4; and ‘his’ in 1 has become ‘their’ in 4 because the nouns they relate to have acquired the extra meaning ‘more than one’. Failure to effect any of these changes will amount to producing a grammatically unacceptable sentence.


Pluralization is a universal grammatical feature. The details of what nouns are pluralizable and how it is to be effected differ from language to language. English for example, groups its nouns into two according to whether they are pluralizable grammatically or not. The countable/non-countable dichotomy takes care of that. If all English nouns fell into the countable/uncountable straight-jacket, and all countable nouns indicated their plural forms in the same way, things would be easier for the learner as well as his teacher. But that is not so. English countable nouns have at least three different ways of forming plural; (i) by the regular ‘s’ affixation e.g. boy/boys, (ii) the irregular vowel change e.g. man/men, and (iii) the zero affixation e.g. sheep/sheep. Nothing in the nature of a noun tells the learner which method to use. On top of it all, some nouns may be countable or uncountable according to context e.g. the word ‘paper’ in:

1.      I need paper to write a letter

2.      ‘Punch’ is my favourite paper

3.      Have you read the papers today?

In 1. ‘paper’ refers to the material we write on and is uncountable whereas in 2. And 3. It refers to newspaper and is countable. Some nouns have more than one plural e.g Brother

Brother            Brothers / brethren

Cactus             Cacti / Catuses

All of this would still be manageable if that were all the learner had to contend with. After all, some people speak languages whose plural systems are as bewildering if not more so. (Remem ber the Hausa plural classes?). But alas, that is not all.


Apart from number in the Hausa noun, there is also the category of gender. Most Hausa nouns whether they refer to animate things or not, are either masculine or feminine. This fact is significant in Hausa grammar since the gender of a noun determines the form certain words, such as pronouns, take in a sentence. In English, on the other hand, what gender in nouns, especially animate nouns, are usually sex-related. Except in the 3rd person singular pronouns, this fact is significant grammatically.


All languages recognise three persons involved in discourse;

               1st person – the speaker

               2nd person – the hearer

               3rd person – the other than 1st & 2nd

English personal pronouns indicate gender only in the 3rd person singular

He (masculine)   she (feminine)

It (neuter)

Hausa pronouns, on the other hand, indicate gender in all except the 1st person singular and even in that, the natural gender of the speaker determines what variant of certain expressions may be selected. For example, a female speaker will say ‘ni ce’ = ‘it is I’ (f) (f). A male speaker will say ‘ni ne’ = ‘It is I’ (m) (m).

An English man or woman learning Hausa may use whichever one of the 2nd person pronouns s/he learns first to refer to his/her listener whether the person is male or female.

Person Aspect Pronouns in Hausa

In addition to gender and person the Hausa pronoun also carries information which in English and other languages is carried by the verb. The English time-related categories of tense (when did the action take place) e,g ‘He went to Kaduna’ and aspect (is the action completed or still in progress?) “He is writing a letter”. Don’t disturb him” are carried by the verb phrase. The aspect of the Hausa verb, i.e. whether the action is completed, continuing, yet to be started or habitual, is indicated by the form of the personal pronoun, hence the term person/Aspect pronoun. Aspect is a vital grammatical category that must be indicated in the structure of the sentence. For this reason, Hausa 3rd person pronouns do not merely replace nouns. They have to be present even when there is a subject noun. This sometimes gets in the way of the Hausa learner of English. The Hausa learner of English who writes:

1.      The Hausas they cannot frononce /p/  or

2.      This shirt she is beautiful:

Is actually speaking or writing Hausa in English. The English sentence must have either a noun or a pronoun as subject not both. ‘They’ in sentence 1 and ‘she’ in sentence 2 above are therefore intrusive. And in any case, English shirts are not feminine.

The ESL students in the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) classroom need to be made aware of this vital difference in the structure of English and Hausa and be trained to use the structure appropriate to English. Only a teacher/lecturer/facilitator who is himself/herself aware of this difference, or knows enough about English grammar to notice this kind of intrusion, can help the student over the difficulty. This not propounding the perception that all the grammatical ‘sins’ a learner commits are traceable to the structure of his/her first language. Many of them are owing to the peculiar nature of the structure of English.

Other Noun Related Problems

If all countable nouns were always countable because they refer to things that can be counted individually, all a learner would have to do would be to find out which things can be thus counted, but there are other considerations.  For example, English has nouns that are called collective nouns because they refer to collections of things considered as a unit. Some of such nouns may be pluralized if we are considering more than one collection:

Committee / committees

                     Crowd / crowds

                     Flock / flocks

But there are other such nouns that are not considered countable and must never be pluralized no matter how many sets we are interested in:





                       Jewellery  (also spelt jewelry)


are very common examples of such nouns. The learner – Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba or Ibibo who says or writes:

   The travellers lost all their baggages


   My father has bought many new furnitures


   Thieves stole all my jewelleries


   The villagers have many cattles

is not translating anything from his/her language. He/she has just mastered the structure of English and must be helped to get over the problem and improve his/her communicative competence.

The learner who says: “I am looking for an information”, and its logical plural “I got some informations from him” is applying rules that he/she has only half mastered. He/She has learnt that a countable noun in the singular may take the indefinite article ‘a/an’, that in the plural the ‘a/an’ is dropped and replaced by ‘some’. But he/she has not learned that some nouns (information included) are never countable.

These may have no parallels in his language. Any such deviation therefore, must be explained by the fact that he/she has really not grasped the workings of the English noun system and the part it plays in the structure of an English sentence.

One may ask, “What does all this matter if I can get my meaning across without observing grammar or phonology?”

The answer to this is two-fold; one will help us to recapitulate the main points of the preceding section, and the other will re-state the needs of the 2nd language learner. Then we will make some suggestions that we hope will help us as teachers and our ODL students in this all important business of learning English in the Nigerian ODL situation.

Phonological and Grammatical Meaning

The first part of my answer to the question in the preceding section is yes, it does matter, because breaking too many rules may fail to get you what you need or you may make yourself a laughing stock.

We have noted elsewhere the part that consonants and vowels play in the creation of words. It must be emphasized here that they are not just decorative pieces in the word. By themselves, they carry no meaning but organised they contribute to the meaning of words. The English words: ‘sine’, ‘shine’, ‘dine’ are all different because the initial consonants are different. A Hausa seamstress who asks her American or British or an Itsekiri apprentice to hand her a /fin/ is likely to get a part of the head of a fish, and not [pin].

The learner of Hausa who tells his Hausa listeners:

                    Yaro ya shiga cìkìn

                           instead of

                    Yaro ya shiga cíkín 

will give them a good laugh because using the word with the low tone, he has created a sentence which is semantically ridiculous.

At the grammatical level we have noted that: ‘The man killed the lion’ and ‘The lion killed the man’ are semantically different because of the position of the nouns in the sentences. Uttering one of the sentences instead of the other gives the wrong information and will get the wrong response.

For instance, in Hausa if you mention the word ‘tsoho’ when you are looking for an ‘old woman’, you will end up with an old man since the absence of the /uwa/ form takes away the +female feature of the word. The word for ‘old woman’ is ‘tsohuwa’. Who says grammatical and phonological ‘sins’ do not carry their own retribution?

2.4       The Blended Learning Approach and Its Importance in the ESL Classroom

Linder (2005) postulates that “Blended learning is not just a trend, and we’re starting to see technology integrated in really intentional ways”. In other words, blended learning is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace. Furthermore, face-to-face classroom practices are combined with computer-mediated activities regarding content and delivery. Blended learning allows ESL students learn at their own pace and their own ability level. By including a virtual environment, learning is not limited to a physical classroom, and students are subsequently exposed to a variety of ways to overcome any challenge they encounter in trying to acquire effective language skills. Language learning can happen in long periods, in bits and pieces, from home, from a coffee shop, or during a lunch break, depending on what works for the learners and their facilitator(s). This fact is corroborated by Alpala & Roberto Florez (2011) who argue that Blended Learning has become one of the most common ways to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) due to its double component, which integrates Face-to-Face classes with virtual learning in order to offer students a wide range of materials and resources organized in a methodological way. Over the years, teachers and students have changed the way this educational process is seen because new technologies have been implemented and teachers have to propose new ways of working to display materials that complement ESL Face-to-Face classes. However, the implementation of a Blended Course must have a pedagogical foundation for each setting where it is planned in order to be developed. It is also note-worthy that Blended learning allows increased flexibility, as it enables anytime anywhere learning while allowing students to practice all four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It also enables the learners to use many different forms and methods in second language learning. Consequently, On-line courses leave room for any inclusion of many listening texts and video files. Indeed, this study encourages teachers to reflect upon Blended Learning (BL) as a potential and different way to approach learning ESL, taking advantage of all the emerging pedagogical tools. At this point, it is relevant to reiterate the importance of Blended learning in the ESL Classroom.


Importance of Blended Learning in the ESL Classroom

By way of emphasis, Blended learning is important because it breaks down the traditional walls of teaching, especially the aspect that does not work for all students. But now, with access to present day technologies and resources we can tailor the learning experience for each student. Blended learning is the one that offers flexible time frames that can be personalized to each person, offering them the ability to learn at their own pace. Since Blended learning is live interaction between teacher and student that uses technology, it allows flexibility for students and teachers. Students can enjoy personalized learning that suits their study plan through blended tools while teachers can interact with students more efficiently by monitoring their growth and giving instant feedback. Suffice it to say then that Blended learning allows students to personalize their learning experiences by using additional tools beyond the classroom. They can identify areas that need more attention and personalize their learning schedule to accommodate this. Teachers can also use blended learning methods to enhance their lessons. This is a modernized way of teaching that can have a positive impact on a student’s training experience. This type of learning prepares students to work at digital based jobs that require technology proficiencies.

 Conclusion: The Needs of the Learner

In conclusion, we want to reiterate that the second part of our answer to the question posed in the preceding section is no: it does not matter to somebody who needs just enough of a language to get around. In fact, if somebody takes his/her lecture room grammar and phonology to the motor park, he/she will be laughed out of the station, or will make enemies for ‘blowing grammar’ on poor uneducated folk. But our students do not need just enough English to get around. They will get that without our help. What they need is the kind of English that will enable them to function properly in a wider world than their local Ibo, or Yoruba or Hausa community. They need the kind of English and the skills that will make them effective university graduates. And when they become Nigeria’s representatives to the United Nations and other countries and international organisations, they need to understand and be understood by the man/woman from Australia, North America, and South Africa, etc. They need a standard of English that is acceptable to the great majority of the people they have to deal with. But before all that they need us to direct them through the tortuous paths of 2nd language learning. Ironically, we cannot help them if we are not properly motivated to do so – if we are not properly armed academically and professionally. We must make conscious effort to improve our communication skills too. We as teachers must have the humility to admit that our PhDs notwithstanding, we are still learners ourselves. That way, we can truly appreciate our students’ problems and endeavor to help them. Above all, we must cultivate the patience that a task as formidable as ours calls for, so that our students can have confidence in our ability and willingness to help them in their learning endeavours.



Abdulhamid,  A.  (2000).  An  introductory  Hausa morphology: Maiduguri.    Faculty  of  Arts,

            University of Maiduguri.

Abubakre, O. (2008).  Affixation in Hausa and Eggon: A  comparative  analysis. EDE  Journal    of Linguistics. 5(6), 77-93. 

Brown, C. A. (1997). Acquisition of Segmental Structure: consequences for speech perception    and second language acquisition. Ontario: National library of Canada Press.

Chan, A. (2007). The discrimination of English sonorant consonants by Cantonese ESL learners             in Hong Kong.The second CELC symposium for English language teachers. Singapore.

(2015). American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. New York,          Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Cohen, A. (1965). On Distinctiveness as a Criterion in Language Analysis. International Journal   of Linguistics. 9(2), 46 -56
https://www.britannica.com › biography › Henry-Sweet

https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Distinctive_feature

https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › English_grammar

 Huang, H., &Radant, J. (2009).Chinese Phonotactic Patterns and the Pronunciation Difficulties             of MandarinSpeaking EFL Learners.The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly, 11 (4), 148-168.

Italo, B. (1988). A Comparative Study of English and Oromo Segmental Phonemes with its             Implication for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Addis Ababa University:             Unpublished M.A.Thesis

Jenkins, J. (2000). The Phonology of English as an International Language. Oxford: Oxford      University Press.

Jenkins, J. (2004). Research in Teaching in Pronunciation and Intonation .Annual Review of             Applied Linguistics 24(7)), 109-126.

Jilg, H. (1999). Theatre voice training and technology in teaching oral skills: Integrating the             components of a speech event. System, 33(7), 593-608

Lado, R. (1957). Linguistics across cultures: Applied linguistics for language teachers. Ann             Arbor:University of Michigan Press

Linder, K.. (2005). Perspectives on blended learning in higher education. International Journal    of Blended Learning, 6(1), (pp. 81-94).

Moustoafa, M. H. (1979). Perception analysis. The Modern Language Journal, 33 (8), 435-441.

Ochoa Alpala C. A., & Roberto Flórez, E. E. (2011). Blended Learning in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language: An Educational Challenge. HOW Journal18(1), 154-      168.

Pennington, M. C., & Richards, J. C. (1986). Pronunciation Revisited. TESOL Quarterly,    20 (2), 207-225.

Sweet, H. (2015). A Short Historical English Grammar - Scholar's Choice Edition. London,             Macmillian.

Sweet, H (2018). The Practical Study of Languages: A Guide for Teachers and Learners. New   York, Creative Media Partners, LLC

Tomori, O.S. H. (1999). The morphology and syntax of present day English: An introduction.

            London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, Print.

Yule, G.  (2010). The study of language.  Cambridge: Cup, Print.

 Download the file by clicking here:

Post a Comment