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The study was carried out to determine the major areas of difficulty experienced by the students, and it is hoped that some of the findings may help to overcome the anxieties experienced by students and teachers alike. One thousand two hundred samples of free composition written by Igbo students (J S II & J S III) who have studied Yoruba as L2 for more than one and half years were examined. The samples were randomly selected from three Federal Government Colleges in Awka and Onitsha Education zones of Anambra State. The research instrument used was adopted from NECO’s past questions on the target language. Four research questions were raised; statistical mean was used to answer the four research questions.
Based on the findings, the following grammatical errors were identified:
(i) misuse of tense, (ii) misuse of verb (iii) pronoun errors, (iv) noun errors, (v) spelling errors, (vi) high case errors, (vii) style errors, (viii) adjectives/adverbs errors (ix) tone usage errors, (x) conjunction errors, (xi) fragment errors and (xii) word order errors etc. Lastly, suggestions relating primarily to a remedial programme of written Yoruba are made in the hope of helping teachers to plan the writing courses and enabling students to improve their writing skills.
I N T R O D U C T I O N
1.1 Background to the Study
Language is a very fascinating course of study, perhaps because of its ‘magical and mystical power’ and unique role in capturing the breadth of human thought and behaviour. Every knowledgeable human being recognizes the primacy of language in education which has serious implication for human development. Language is a very essential element in human life and one of the greatest attributes which characterize human beings; it is the most uniquely human, and quite possibly the most important. It is around us, everywhere, in speech, writing or simply in our minds as we dream, remember conversations, or quickly think of a problem. Language is so vital in man’s life that there is hardly any situation where it is not involved (Ibiowotisi, 1998).
It has been proved beyond doubt that language is the major vehicle of thought (Obi-Okoye, 1989). Whatever profession or involvement, people always want to clarify their thoughts through the use of language. Also, it permeates our thoughts, mediates our relationships with others and even creeps into our dreams. Without language there will be no human society. Education, socialization, civilization and national development could not have been possible.
Language according to World Book Encyclopedia (1989) is human speech, either spoken or written. Also Hornby, Gaterby and Wakefield
(1971) define language as human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, feelings and desires by means of a system of social symbols. Language, according to Wilson (1972:191) is an artificial and consciously organized method of control by the use of symbols or conventions, which involves the notion of meaning. Though the behaviour of some animals other than human beings satisfies some of these criteria, man alone is capable of controlling his environment himself by means of language–technique.
In supporting the above assertion, Denga (1988:160), defines language as a vehicle of communication, which enables us establish human relationships. According to Denga language is then exclusively a human form of communication.
Also, Webster (1989:122) sees language as a “communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary, auditory symbols in conventional ways with conventional meanings.”
The above quoted linguists and educators agree that language is a method of human communication: it is non-instinctive and arbitrary.
Iyale (2002:48) sees language as an “articulate speech which historically arose out of the social activity of man as a product and instrument of social labour”.
According to Gimson (1980:13), language is:
a system of conventional signals used for communicating
by a whole community. The patterns of conventions cover a system of significant sound units … the inflexion and arrangement of words, and the association of meaning with words.
Patt (1980:12) sees language as a “vehicle of power, a means by which we control, create and preserve”. From the above definitions language is used to preserve culture of the people. For this reason therefore, the language of any community is an integral part of their culture.
Fobins (1984; 5) defines language as “a system of vocal communication that comprises a circumscribed set of noises resulting from movement of certain organs within the throat and mouth”. He goes further to say that “by means of these, man is able to express his feelings and emotions, to influence the activities of others and to compact himself with varying degrees of friendliness or hostility towards persons who make use of substantially the same set of noises.”
The above definitions give the meaning of language and also some major functions which language performs.
According to Nwankwo (2008:32), language is a system of conventional signs, all aspects of whose structure serve the sovereign function of meaning. For Anagbogu, Mbah and Eme (2010;1), language is a means devised by human beings for communicating ideas, feelings, emotions, desires etc through complex vocal or written symbols. The above definitions have it that language is structured, vocal and serves communication purposes. Adebisi (2006:147), quoting Smith (1985) sees “language as a learned, shared and arbitrary system of vocal symbols through which human beings in the same speech community or sub-culture interact and hence communicate in terms of their common cultural
experiences and expectations. Agbedo (2000:16) observes that “language is the culturally-established rule, which govern all forms of speakers that share common linguistic knowledge.
Bloch and Trager, in Robins (1980:120), see language as a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates”. From the above definitions, it is observed that the authors see language from the social point of view. Modifying this definition, Essien (1984:4) defines language thus, language is a system of structured arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which human beings make meaning and communicate with each other in a community. Put more simply, language is a system of rules in which sound structure and meaning are integrated for communication. According to Hattum (1979:30), language is “an acquired system of structured but arbitrary vocal, graphic and signs and symbols that provide meaning by cataloguing and representing people, places, things and feelings and other abstract concepts.” He further stresses that communication which is the process whereby information, images, thoughts, feelings, ideas and concepts are transmitted between or among individuals is primarily acquired through the use of various forms of language.
From these various definitions of language, it has been observed that language is a means by which humans express their thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas etc, to one another; it has also been observed that there is no stereo-type definition of language, although, all the linguists,
philosophers and anthropologists who have been cited see language from their own point of view and area of interest.
Language can be described as one formidable instrument that makes the human society and human cooperation a reality. Language can then be seen as the complex and subtle activity that human beings engage in using the words in interactive communication.
Language Situation in Nigeria
Nigeria is a multilingual country amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Lugard. This amalgamation brought together the different ethnic and linguistic groups in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the number of languages cannot be arrived at with mathematical accuracy due to the multi-ethnic nature of the country. Scholars have, however, attempted to give different figures in their research studies, ranging from 200 – 500 (see Bamgbose, 1970, Otite, 1990, Obi- Okoye, 2005). However, Bepo (2005) puts the number of Nigerian languages at 600 plus. He goes on to say that many Nigerian languages are yet to be reduced to writing, especially those in the Niger Delta area. However, out of all these languages, the Federal Government approved the teaching and learning of three major Nigerian Languages from the primary school level to the tertiary level. The National Policy on Education (2005:9) states that:
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