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1.1 Background to the Study
Mother tongue as the first language of instruction in schools is an essential tool in whatever field we may find ourselves, without it any meaningful form of intellectual pursuit will be hindered. As we all know that most children who begin their education in their mother tongues make a better start as they demonstrate increased self confidence, and continue to perform better than those who start school in a new language (English). (Cummins,2000)
The outlook of the education is brighter when the school builds on the foundation of mother tongue in teaching a second language.
It is therefore important that one understand the functions of mother tongue,
particularly pupil’s learning through it as a-medium of instruction in school. This
has been given a tremendous support by both educational authorities
and the general public. (Baker, 2000)
This support however, rests on the general belief that the mastery of mother tongue assists in the understanding of other subjects like Art, Social Studies and Primary Science etc. The numerous studies in all parts of the world shows that the effective use of mother tongue tends to the better knowledge of a second or foreign language when it is acquired in a comparative short time. (Skutnabh, 2000)
It is commonly known that children who lack the knowledge of mother tongue, that is children who only know how to speak English language as their first language without the knowledge of the language of their immediate environment, usually perform lower in academic work. (Baker, 2000)
In Nigeria, almost every parent wants their children to acquire the knowledge of a second language as their first language at the expense of their immediate environment. [Modernization has affected the acquisition of mother tongue in this regards. Now the way children perform in school, is no more like before, their performance had greatly dropped down almost to zero point. In a situation where children are being introduced to the language of their immediate environment at their early age, when they begin schooling, their performance in academic "work will improve. That is why this research is been conducted in order to address the role of mother tongue as it relates to child education, but at the lower level of primary school. Primary one to three are the focus of the research with a case study of some selected Model Primary School in Sokoto metropolis
1.2 statement of the problem
It has been observed that the rates at which primary school pupils of nowadays are performing poorly is very alarming. This might not be unconnected with the fact that mother tongue as the first language of instruction in school and which had been stipulated in the National policy on Education (NPE, 2004) had not been use for instruction as required. And in line with this, therefore Pupils are facing a lot of challenges today with regards to their educational attainment or progress. Education, as we all know, is inevitable if one really wants to make it in life, though one may become somebody in life without it, yet it is generally believed that if one really wants to make it, education cannot be left behind.
Now it is a problem for students to have good grade. This problem does not only affect the children in lower classes and upper classes of primary school, even students of secondary schools are being affected. When one considers the performance of students writing S.S.C.E Exam this day, is far lower than the way
students perform in the past. This is the reason why the researchers decided to consider the roles of mother tongue in education, most especially as it relates to child education in primary school that is primary one to three with special reference to some selected Model Primary School so that this problem can be addressed and solutions to be proffered.
1.3 Objective of the study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the impact of mother tongue on children learning at the lower level of primary education. However, other specific objectives include
1. To find out ways by which pupils could be helped to solve the problem they have in learning new things in other language (English)
2. To find out whether the language teachers are applying the children mother tongue in the process of teaching and learning.
3. To find out ways of motivating of the pupils towards the uses of their mother tongue in communicating with their colleagues and teachers in primary one to three.
4. To find out ways of helping pupils to develop their linguistics competence as they are growing in life.
1.4 Research Questions
1. What are the ways by which pupils could be helped to solved the problems the have in learning new things in other language?
2. Are the language teachers applying the children’s mother tongue in the process of teaching and learning?
3. How can the pupils be motivated towards the use of their mother tongue in communicating with colleagues and teachers?
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