A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SCHOOL IN LISTENING SKILL A CASE STUDY OF A SELECTED SCHOOL IN OJO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA LAGOS STATE
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Teaching students to be literate is a high educational priority throughout the world. English language is one of the greatest challenges. Students learning English language as a second language need a variety of language experience (Ybara, nd). They need to hear language, write language, speak language and read language. There has been a debate about which of the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) is the most crucial for the learning and acquisition of a second language. However, a large proportion of the L2 research findings indicate that listening is the most important skill for language learning because it is the most widely used language skill in normal daily life and it develops faster than the three other language skills which in turn suggests that it can facilitate the emergence of other language skills (Morley, 2001; Oxford 1990).
Much of the L2 literature gives support to the importance of listening and how comprehensible input facilitates the learning of a second language, also the priority of listening in second language learning is the same as the priority of the listening-only stage a child needs to acquire his/her first language. This indicates that developing proficiency in listening is key to achieving proficiency in speaking.
Language learning depends on listening. Listening provides the aural input that serves as the basis for language acquisition and enables learners to interact in spoken communication. The cognitive advantage of an initial exposure to listening gives learners a more natural way to learn the language. Listening should be stressed before
speaking because recognition knowledge is required to process and decode the aural input; whereas retrieval knowledge is required to encode and generate speech. Concentrating on speaking in initial stage leaves little room for listening and hence little room for comprehension (Abdulhamid, 2012).
According to Morley (1991:82) “We can expect to listen twice as much as we speak, four times more than we read and five times more than we write”. So listening as a skill is assuming more and more weight in second language or foreign language classroom than ever before. Kost (1994:141-142) pointed out that listening is vital in the language classroom because it provides input for the learner, without understanding input at the right level any learning simply cannot begin Olaoye (2009) was also of the view that listening skills are very fundamental to the understanding of utterances, conversation or communication. In general aural comprehension is facilitated by listening skills.
Listening therefore can no longer be taken for granted in second language learning after the emergence of communicative and proficiency-oriented approaches to language teaching, which has emphasized listening in all levels of language learning. Several forgoing language teaching methods stressed the importance of listening back in 1960s. These methods were predicated on the assumption that the second language learning and first language acquisition are parallel and that there should be a silent period preceding the production stage in learning a second language (Abdulhamid, 2012).
English is the official language of communication in Nigeria as well as the medium of instruction in schools, colleges and universities. It is also the pre-eminent
language of international communication. Consequently, those who master English are likely to reap many academic, social and professional benefits. In the school setting, proficiency in English will make the learning of other subjects much easier. As a result, English is recognized as the central subject in the secondary schools as all other subjects depend on it. English is recommended as continued language of instruction in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning as it is viewed to be a world language of great practical importance for economic and political influence of Nigeria and its cultural intercourse with other nations. English language is also a compulsory subject one must pass at credit level for a candidate to qualify for admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria (Tella, Idonsh & Othuon, 2011).
Despite the value attached to the language, the poor performance of students in English language in both internal and external examinations is very alarming and worrisome. It was recorded from 2001 – 2011, the performance of students in National Examination Council (NECO) has been embarrassing. According to Banjo (2012), it was only in 2003 – 2006 did up to half of the candidates achieved credit and above in English language. An interesting feature of the record is that in 2008, an unprecedented 75% of the candidates obtained passes at credit level and above, and in 2001 – 2002 and then 2007 the highest rate of performance were as follows:
For most of the remaining years, the percentages ranged in the 30sand 40s. But significantly, the performance from 2009 – 2011 are as follows:
The picture revealed by the statistics is that from 2001 – 2011, the average percentage of passes at credit and above was 41.44% but from 2009 – 2011, the average was 22.77%. Banjo (2012) then concluded that from 2001 – 2008, less than half of the candidates were qualified for university admission while from 2009 – 2011 only about one fifth were qualified for the same purpose.
The same poor performance was also recorded in secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in 2011 where 79 percentage of the candidates that sat for the examination also failed to score credit pass in the language. This constitutes a considerable wastage because it shows the number of the country‟s youth that failed to proceed to higher level of education yearly as a result of deficiency in English language. The question now is, who is to blame? The parents point accusing finger at teachers, the teachers on the other hand, point accusing finger on the negative attitudes of students towards learning and lack of appropriate teaching materials.
The situation of general poor performance in English language spreads through all the levels of Nigeria‟s educational ladder; primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions. This trend is not popular to only Nigerian students and school. It is a worldwide problem existing in developed countries like America. In Nigerian situation, so many factors have been identified ranging from lack of textbooks and
other instructional materials, decline in reading culture, environmental and poor infrastructure among others.
Gender, school location and subject discipline have also been identified as factors that affect the academic performance of students in English language. The studies carried out by Najwa, A., Raneem, S. and Nasser, R. (2013) on impact of gender and English language on academic performance of student in Saudi medical school revealed that female students performed significantly better than their male counterparts in most of the basic medical sciences as well as English language. It was also discovered that male students are naturally inclined to science subjects which are regarded as difficult and hard while their female counterparts prefer art subjects which are softer and easier hence they tend to perform significantly better in it (Faisal and Hardarl, 2011).
In the same vain, studies carried out by various researchers had shown that influence of location on academic performance is not the same. While some maintain that urban students perform better in examinations than their rural counterparts, others discovered that rural students perform better, inspite of all odds (Brown and Swanson, 2001, Obasi, 2011). On the contrary, Alokan (2010) discovered that students‟ problems are strongly associated with poor performance and that sex and location do not affect the negative relationship between student problems and academic performance.
Studies carried out by Ogiegbaen and Iyamu (2006), showed that English language teachers in Nigeria are still habituated to the traditional teaching method of chalk and talk. Modern media or technologies such as audio and video tapes,
laboratory, modern text and computer are rarely used. This poses a big challenge to the teaching of English language especially to the students that are not familiar or conversant with these technologies. Additionally, Ema and Ajayi (2006), pointed out that we live in a fast changing world that is becoming more scientific and more technical and as this transformation occurs, education in all forms and in all subjects is not left out. Teaching equipment and materials have changed over the years, not only to facilitate teaching and learning situation but also to address the instructional needs of individuals and groups. This entails that teachers should offer English language learners a language rich environment where students should be engaged in language activities. Rizvi (nd) is of the opinion that comprehensive language learning along with skills is possible through classroom and language laboratory as applied for science subjects. A well equipped language laboratory with computer, radio, television, earphones and others will better motivate the students by improving their listening skill.
Pre-recorded audio material has been found to be of great educational benefit in the second language classroom. It improves the speech by helping students to listen to the records of their voice and makes them much more critical of their speech. There is nothing like hearing how one sounds to others to realize the possibility of improvement in articulation, diction, enthusiasm and organization of matter. Through the use of audio cassettes or CDS in literature or English classroom, students can use their own learning styles as a catalysts for indepth study of master works (Kochar, 1995).
Instructional media are very useful in teaching and learning situations. They help students to make abstract concepts concrete and stimulate interest among them. They contribute to the understanding of words and hence vocabulary development. They also afford the teachers, opportunity of talking less in the class when teaching a subject like English language (Abiola, 2009). Instructional media can be grouped as software or hardware. Softwares are the learning materials that carry information or instructional content, for example, pre-recorded materials like audio CD, and cassette video while hardwares are equipment or devices which are used for presenting these materials. They include- radio, television, DVD and computers (Abimbade, 1999).