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This project is aimed at highlighting the problems faced by the Atyap learner of English. 

The Advanced Learners Dictionary of English defines language as “a human and non instinctive method of communicating ideas, feelings and desires by means of a system of sounds symbols”. The New Webster’s Dictionary of English Language defines Language as an “organized system of speech used by human beings as a means of communication among themselves.

Quirk (42) sees language as “a human instrument of expression through sound as released by the vocal cords”. It has equally been said to mean a system of conversion of vocal symbols used by a community (people) for purposes of communication. According to Sapir (21) “Language is purely human and non instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols. Frost puts it as “the range of expressions that can be analyzed using linguistic theories of natural language is far larger than the range of expressions that can be processed by currently available computer –based natural language inter-faces.

A close study of the definitions shows that all of them revolve around the same point the pact that language is a system through which human beings communicate. This implies that language is limited only to human beings to the exclusion of other animals. Animals have other ways which are mainly instinctive in nature to communicate their feelings.

Language has many functions it performs in the society. Although languages of the world differ, they serve the same general purposes in their different localities as they are used to store information because of their complex nature together with symbols. It could be used to describe events that took place long ago. It could also be used to describe situations that occur now, and these enable human beings to learn from their forebears unlike animals.

Language is culture in expression. Culture thrives around those experiences which man can find expression for. Without language there would be no culture since in perpetuating tradition, man has to pass down from generation to generation those permanent aspects through language. The written or spoken language helps us to have access to the store to accumulated knowledge over the ages in different nations all over the world.

In the society, law and orders are made through language written or oral. It is one of the chief means of socializing a child. It gives identity, a sense of belonging and oneness to its speakers, hence a powerful instrument of cohesion among members of a community.

Though intangible, language is the most enduring of the instruments at man’s disposals and its value have not changed from age to age. Despite the great strides taken in science and technology, language still remains an asset to prosperity.

1.1       Brief history of the Atyap

The Atyap people, also known as the Kataf by the Hausa people are an ethnic group that occupy part of the Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State Nigeria. They speak the Tyap language, one of the West Plateau languages. The Atyap are however addressed as Katab or Kataf by the Hausa due to the large amount of cam-wood (Katambari in Hausa and Gbandaad in Tyap) which the Atyap used as an important item of trade. Thus, the name Katab for the Atyap people, from Katambari, for their prominent role in this cam-wood trade. Language constitute an important ingredient of a people culture and therefore not subject to choice that all these people speaks dialects of a single language, Tyap, has immense implications for their origin.

The Atyap have 4 clans, namely! Agba’ad, Aminyam, Aku and Skokwa. Each of these clans has sub-clans. The Agba’ad has 3 sub clans. Akpaisa, Akwak and Nje. Aminyam has 2 sub clans. Aswoon and Fakan. Aku and Shokwa have no known sub-clans. There is no distinct settlements for specific clans or sub-clans today because clans are highly mixed today because of the mass movement of people occasioned by need for land, 19th century raids and British colonials policies aimed at effective exploitation of the Atyap. The Atyap administrative system is headed by the Agwa-yap and his council members who are responsible for running all the affairs of the chiefdom.

The close relationship in language and culture between the Atyap and their immediate neighbours and with those of the high Job Plateau indicates that they must have had a common origin and must have come from the same geographical area. It is a result of the intimate linguistic and cultural relationship between the Atyap and the Rukuba, Irigwe, Afizare and Berom of Jos Plateau, and the Bajju, Ham, Agorok, Angan (Kamantan) Kaninkon, Fantswam, Atakad, Atachirak, Gwong, Tsam, Bakulu, Ninzam and Adara, that are classified as members of the Katab group of people.

1.2       Statement of the problem

Language has long been established as the most singular component of a people’s culture. Language itself is regarded as the ideas, culture and art of a particular society at a particular period of time. This will tend to ask the following:

i.                 What are the problems faced by of the Atyap learners of English?

ii.               What are the effects on Atyap learners of English language?

iii.             How can these problems be minimized?

1.3       Aims and objectives

Language amongst other things is an essential element in the control and regulation of communities. There is need for dispensing information for encouraging co-operation and reconciling different between people. The urge to convey one’s needs effectively to the other people is one of the fundamental origins of language. This work attempts to:

                                          i.          Look at the problems of second language learning by some Atyap learners of English Language.

                                        ii.          Examine the effects of these problems on some Atyap Learners of English language.

                                      iii.          Explain how these problems can be minimized.

1.4       Scope of the study

This work covers the factors responsible for the problem of second language learner (Atyap). Professionals of all kinds, need language for understanding and relaying information and co-operation with colleagues and superiors. As work still occupies so much of life we ought to know something about its linguistic character. It will only be limited to the spoken aspect of the learning English and areas that tend to constitute problems for the areas that tend to constitute problems for the second language learners. However, serious attention will be focused on these:

i.                    Phonological interference.

ii.               Grammatical interference.

iii.       Semantic interference.

1.5       Methodology

Data for this research were obtained through various methods in finding out the problems. Some works which have been done by linguists on problems of second language learning will also be looked into. This will help us know where exactly the problem of second language learning lies. Sources from textbooks and journals on the subject were consulted.

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