Language is the major tool of communication in human society and speech occupies a major position in most discussions of language as a communicative medium. One of the major characteristics of man, according to Mgbodile (1999), is his ability to use language to send messages about objects, events and situations around him. Speech is what distinguishes man from other animals. Speech is paramount to any language and knowledge of the English Language cannot be appreciably good without effective manipulation of the speech sounds, for linguistics competence, according to Chukwuma,H and Otagburuagu,E(1997), is based mainly on oracy. So, the mastery of English is highly connected to the mastery of the spoken form of it.
From the early age, a normal child responds to the sounds which his elders use to communicate with him. In his bid to communicate and get his needs identified and satisfied, the child begins to imitate the sounds which he has heard from his elders. His dire need to communicate with the adult community and his constant hearing and imitation of the language make it possible for him to acquire his mother tongue or his first language. Ogbuehi (2003) asserts that every normal child acquires the sound system and the speech patterns of his mother tongue in a normal way through imitation of sounds from adult group.
On the other hand, learning to speak a second language or foreign language usually involves some rigours and challenges because the learner has to learn the sound systems and the prosodic features of the second language against the already firmly consolidated first language in the mind of the learner. The problem is partly that some languages are tonal and syllable-timed and others are stress-timed and various speech sounds have distinctive acoustic properties. The adjustment to these differences may lead to a mismatch and therefore the learner may produce sounds that cannot be understood by other users of the same language. Onuigbo (1990) asserts that learning to speak a second language is psychologically demanding because the learner already feels comfortable towards the phonological systems of his native language. Mackey (1965) agrees that a person who has been using only one language since early childhood has habits and thoughts which are closely tied to his habits of language, and that language is a part of his experience. He concludes that in learning a second language, the learner has to adjust his speech habits to accommodate those of the target language. This according to Otagburuagu and Okorji (2002) is because languages have their individual peculiar phonological and phonemic features which must be mastered and used by the learner for mutual intelligibility with the native speakers and other users of the language.
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