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This study investigates the difficulties faced by Igbo second language learners of
English spelling. It propose solutions to students’ learning problems in order to
improve the teaching and learning of English spelling in second language situation.
The study revolves around the history of English spelling. The study also shows
that English is ridiculous, deceptive, and inconsistent as a result of borrowing from
other languages. The inconsistency between spelling and pronunciation in
English is because there is no one to one correspondence between graphemes and
A sample of one hundred students from a population of four secondary schools in Nnewi North local government Area was used. Data was collected through dictation test. The analysis was based on four type of error: omission, addition. double marking and misordering.
The inconsistencies of English spelling also have a lot of implication in the students’ learning process with a marked evidence of unintelligibility and defective pronunciation.
1.1 An Overview
The present study is on the inconsistency of the English spelling and its implication to second language learning. In this chapter, the present researcher will discuss the following sub themes: the status and role of English language in Nigeria, pronunciation and spelling in English, background to the study, statement of problem, purpose of study, significance of the study, the scope of the study and definition of terms.
1.2 The Status and Roles of English Language in Nigeria
The English language is neither the mother-tongue nor the first language of any of the over four hundred ethnic groups in Nigeria. Like the name “Nigeria” English language according to Uzoezie, “is a borrowed gown and one of the inheritances of our colonial experience” (162). The language is indigenous to Britain, but it is today the language most spoken worldwide because of the wide distribution of the speakers and the users of the language worldwide. The implication of this fact is that English is used by native and non-native speakers. It is extensively used as a second
language and as an official language in many countries of the world.
The fact that Nigeria is multi-national and multi-lingual is a truism. Hansford et al cited in Obi-Okoye also give an approximate number of four hundred languages spoken in Nigeria. It is assumed that the existence of many languages means the existence of many basically antagonistic nationalities trying to form a nation. Thus, there is mutual antagonism amongst the ethno-linguistic regions of the country, thereby making the issue of national language question a difficult one. Recourse is then made to the use of the English language in order to meet our national communicative needs, more because of its neutrality in the country. This dates back to 1862 when Lagos was formerly established as a colony by the British invaders.
According to Anyadiegwu, English is the “barometer with which the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of our school curricular are measured” (84). It has become a language for intra and international trade, a means of diplomacy and the “language that has enabled the vastly heterogeneous people in Nigeria to
forge a means of interaction” (Eyisi, 355). It serves as the unifying factor for the multiplicity of local languages in Nigeria. It is the language of the mass
media and the language of the law court. It is used for all official transactions. Every official correspondence is written in the English language.
In fact, English has become in Nigeria the lingua franca for wider communication. It is also learnt in schools as a second language with the indigenous languages acting as the mother tongue or first language.
1.3 Nigerian Language Syllable Structure
As we have noted earlier, Nigeria is a multi-lingual and heterogeneous speech community with diverse linguistic differences. None of these languages is genetically related to nor has a syllable structure similar to that of the English language. Most Nigerian languages belong to the KWA stock. The English language has a very complex syllable structure which makes it difficult to learn especially in pronunciation unlike the Nigerian indigenous language that have a simple syllable structure for example,
TABLE I.I The Syllable Structure of Five Nigerian Languages
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