The Negative Attitude of Banning Indigenous Nigerian Languages from English Language Classroom: A Linguistic Misconception

Issa O. Sanusi


Application of linguistic science to second language teaching and learning has provided enough evidence to show that second language learners do rely on their mother tongue (L1) as the basis upon which hypotheses are formulated to determine how the target language (L2) operates. Therefore, any attempt to discourage or prevent the use of (L1) in a second language learning environment will not only go against the natural learning process, but will constitute a major hinderance in second language teaching and learning. Many parents, teachers, school proprietors, and other major stakeholders in the educational system in Nigeria have the erroneous belief that there cannot be effective teaching and learning of English language where learners have access to their mother tongue. Consequently, the use of (L1) is prohibited within the school premises. To enforce the prohibition order, different inscriptions warning school pupils to avoid the use of (L1), or advising them to always speak in English, could be seen on the walls of the classrooms, in some of the schools selected for this study. Some of the inscriptions read: ‘Vernacular speaking is prohibited’, ‘Always speak in English’, ‘Discuss in English’, etc. (see the appendix)1. Effort is made in this report to examine the linguistic and pedagogical implications of the parents’ over-concern and erroneous belief that the use of mother tongue would have negative effects on the learning of English as a second language. Notwithstanding the negative attitudes towards the use of L1, the paper emphasizes the significant importance of (L1) in L2 acquisition, and considers L1 as a catalyst for intellectual development. CA is assumed as the theoretical framework for our discussion in this paper.


Mother tongue, negative attitudes, English language, linguistic misconception, Contrastive Analysis

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