Challenges of Teaching and Learning the Igbo Language in secondary school

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Challenges of Teaching and Learning the Igbo Language in secondary school

INTRODUCTION

Language is an indispensible tool for communication, transmission of culture and socialization. The Igbo language is one of the major languages spoken in Nigeria with a population of 20 million speakers (Udoye, 2018). Most definitions of the name ‘Igbo’ often collectively referred to the land, language and the ethnic people of Nigeria who occupy the South Eastern part of Nigeria. Five states make up the Igbo speaking states namely: Enugu, Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi and some parts of Rivers and Delta states (Udoye, 2018). The language is also a medium of instruction in government owned primary schools in Anambra state. The use of indigenous language for effective teaching and learning cannot be overemphasized. Ezeani (2001) opines that the use of indigenous language in teaching science subjects will help students to understand and perform well in science subjects. Similarly, Mkandawire (2017) observes that Zambian school children participate actively in class when Cinyanja; a language spoken in town and cities is used by teachers than when the English language is used in teaching. Many efforts have been made by Igbo scholars to ensure that the language is standardized in order to compete with other languages of the world. The history of standardizing the Igbo language will not be complete without mentioning the Onwu orthography controversy. Later on, Dr Ogbalu, a popularizer of the language and Igbo linguists such as: Emenanjo, Nwadike and others helped in promoting the language. Furthermore, Ogbalu introduced the Society for the Promotion of Igbo Language and Culture (SPILC) to ensure that the language could be used in all areas of life. It is pertinent to note that SPILC died a natural death after the demise of Ogbalu in the 90s. In recent times, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Advisory Committee on Language Pluralism and Multi –language Education opines that the Igbo language will be subsumed by other stronger Nigerian languages by 2025, in essence, the Igbo language will soon become extinct. The prediction by UNESCO further propelled many Igbo scholars and popularizers to swing into action in order to find out ways of preventing the Igbo language from dying. Credit must be given to Professor Pita Ejiofor for assuming the position of Ogbalu, as a popularizer of the language. What motivated the researcher to carry out this research work is the report by UNESCO about the state of the Igbo language. The researcher wants to find out reasons why the Igbo language is about to become extinct by studying the problems of teaching and learning the Igbo language

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