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Background of the Study

Much research has suggested that the language is the strongest way to project the ethnic identity (Masaki, 2010). Giles in 2007, note that the language is not only an instrument for the exchange of messages, but also serves as a way to distinguish a group from other groups. The depth of the projection of identity through language is eloquently developed by Johnson in 2009 which states that ethnic identity is a double skin to linguistic identity, indexing and a symbiosis between language and ethnic identity. According to Gibson, (2004) this distinction is evident among minority and immigrant groups within a dominant culture in which the use of bilingual language is often analyzed as having two parts: the “we” against the code “they”. In this discrepancy, the code “we” is the word that connotes group intimacy and solidarity while the code “they” is associated with the state and used with off-dominant group (Gibson, 2004).

Every social and human entity speaks a language or languages . Language is well-defined in Longman Encyclopedia as “a methodical communication with vocal sound symbols” (591). Language is a feature which distinguishes the most decisive human beings from all other creatures on earth (Trask, 2004).

Anderson (2009), says that the idea of attitude is generally used in social psychology but defines language attitudes as “think, feel and react” against persons, objects, social groups or events. “This definition emphasizes that attitudes are psychological constructs, rooted in the mind of the individual, but expressed by a behavior or action. However, Carson (2005), points out that “we can believe one thing but maintained a completely inconsistent behavior. On the other hand, language attitudes signify the evaluation that people make on their own languages and as an intriguing dimension of attitude of study of language is the position which Fasold, (2005) states that attitudes towards a language often reflects attitudes towards speakers of the language. It follows that if people love a particular ethnic group, such affinity spreads to their language or variety and vice versa.

It is clear that although there is a wide range of perspectives from which to define the attitude of the language, the general concepts of unification of attitude is that it involves both the beliefs and feelings, it should theoretically influence behavior, and there is a series of questions about which people have linguistic attitudes, opinions about its own language. Numerous researchers in various fields (such as language, social psychology and sociology) focus on these areas, and thus their definitions of the attitude of the language reflect their perspectives. This partly explains why, as several researchers mentioned above, there is no single definition of language attitudes accepted. Such a difference in perspective is the behaviorist vs. mentalist definitions of attitude as Fasold, (2005) (among others) argued. Fasold, (2005) maintained that, most researchers incline to the view mentalist attitude, which is the one that breaks the attitude down into the feelings, beliefs and behaviors. This statement is supported by the number of researchers who do not explicitly say they use a mentalist approach but all mention these three components. In addition, those who do not precisely define the attitude at all, but rather assume a common definition, almost all still discuss these three components (not necessarily explicit they see them as components of the attitude). Such approaches (behaviorist vs. mentalist) are applicable both in the attitudes of individual speakers and those of the speaker populations; it is the latter group, which often impact on politics and language planning (Fasold, 2005).

Nigeria as a multilingual nation is composed of different linguistic communities and ethnic groups. Previous studies on the language situation in Nigeria highlighted the convolution of the intrinsic languages in the nation state. Ndiemele, (2008) put indigenous languages figures in Nigeria to be three hundred and seventy-four (374) and four hundred (400) languages respectively. Adegbija, (2009) says there are more than five hundred (500) languages spoken in Nigeria. The obvious fact, therefore, is that Nigeria is a community composed of different “languages” and that, to a large extent, required the adoption of the English language, a colonial legacy, both as the official language and the second language in the country. Leading among these languages are Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and Nigerian Creole/ pidgin. Besides the first three main languages, Pidgin / Creole are very popular in Nigeria. Regarding Nigerian Pidgin Ndimele (2008), believes that it now serves as a mother tongue in about 3(three) to five (5) million persons in Nigeria and it is a second language (L2) for another seventy five million general public. Jowit (2007) settles the status of Nigerian Pidgin as follows: The current situation is that, the Pidgin proliferation as an inter-ethnic communication particularly in large cities with many non-native residents (Bendel, Benin, Port Harcourt, etc.) or in all states with small many ethnic groups (Jowit, 2007). It is fashionable for the Nigerian youth to communicate with their peers in Pidgin. They also use the social network. This, of course, is mixed with special jargons that are popular among young people. However, most of them speak Standard English in their formal academic quest. A significant number of young people prefer Pidgin English in informal speech. They claim that Nigerian Pidgin is easier to speak than English. They are not aware of grammaticality and acceptability of Pidgin in their words as they do in English. Number of youths can’t even flow well using pidgin so they prefer their native dialect in communication as they gain speedy conversation when use their native language (Jowit, 2007).

However, Nigeria is heterogeneous and there is a very strong linguistic diversity in the Nigerian community as identified above. It is in this context of ethnic and language diversity that a foreign language, English, was introduced in Nigeria in the 18th century. The new language component can be said to simplify the linguistic situation in Nigeria, but in another sense, it has a total complicated linguistic model by adding one more language to those already pluralistic thus adding a new dimension of complexity as well. With the inclusion of English, we are in the field of second language.

The English language holds an important place despite the numerous local languages. Nigeria placed English as a second language; English is used to strengthen coast-to-coast unanimity and cultural amalgamation. As the general public grows, communities and some areas in the country propagate and multiply, the teenagers interact with their peer groups in the modernization process, the role of English as a second language becomes more intertwined with people’s lives (Adeniran & Oyeleye, 2009).  The position of English in Nigeria can easily be compared with the position of English in Britain, America, and others, where English is the basic language. This means that even if English is native to these countries, it is not native to Nigeria and numerous other nations where it is used as a second language (L2) or a foreign language (FL). The non-native English class can be systematically classified into three major bases: (a) Acquisition Mode (b) socio-cultural terms; and (c) functional term.

With these classifications, it is unambiguous that in Nigeria, English is not a first language as it is used as a second language by many Nigerians. Reasonably existing, it solved the problem of inter-ethnic communication; and it also reduces the fear of linguistic domination in any native language over others.

English as a second language in Nigeria as it is taught through formal education by teachers and it is transplanted and espoused. It robotically enacts bi / multilingualism on the user community. Functionally in the country Nigeria, English meets some of the prerequisites of its users if it does not cover all situations of life. Again, the language has a socio-cultural task of obliging bi / multilingualism, bi / Multiculturalism users because language and culture are concurrent (Lader, 2007; Lyon, 2008). The language provides a link in the Nigerian heterogeneous community and it can therefore be considered as a communication code for the language groups and socio-cultural. It is the official language of the people of Nigeria and that is why Adetugbo (2007) observes that the official language of Nigeria, English came to be regarded as the most important language undoubtedly in the country.

Statement of the Problem

Students’ attainment in English is believed to be related to the learners’ attitudes towards learning English as a foreign language. The global use of English has amounted to variations in the language, as well as different perceptions towards the linguistic variations (Michael, 2009). Languages, both local and foreign, have many challenges as well as opportunities in a multilingual environment like Nigeria. First, a foreign language like English, but can be seen as a unifying language, can also be well-thought-out to be a language of disunity, divergence in the sense that quite a good percentage of Nigerians of different language groups may find it difficult to communicate in English (Mazrui, 2007). Only a few educated Nigerians can speak English across cultures. Apart from this, the majority of Nigerians today, most especially parents want youths to speak English. In most cases, youth are somewhat timid to speak their language or language of their local surrounding environment especially when they want to proof their proficiency in English speaking. Even in homes, many teenagers prefer to use English with their siblings (Michael, 2009). The result of this is that most of these teenagers are not competent in their local languages and at the same time, they lack English proficiency especially regarding accuracy, and grammatical rules of the language. It is necessary to enlighten the minds of our youth about the bad connotation often from our mother tongues. Our local languages should be honored because if we see our language as inferior, it’s like saying our culture is also inferior since language and culture are inseparable. Though, there are challenges in teaching and learning of language in multilingual settings (Mazrui, 2007).

Trudgill, (2007) trust that linguistic is not only for communication function, it is a very imperative means of inaugurating and upholding relationships with other people. This relationship between people of different linguistic backgrounds is performed by the English language in Nigeria. Moreover, nationalism considers the group’s identity and self-identity. Here group identity will be impossible without a particular language. Accordingly, one cannot battle efficaciously without a specific language group. In this respect, English is the second language in Nigeria that can strengthen our group relationship. Again, high status is granted to the user and at the same time, it opens the door to high-tech, science, trade, diplomacy, modern education, and international politics. Language has become a channel of inter-change between cultures and this environment has no intrinsic superiority of law, rather, its outstanding role developed owing to extra-language factors such as colonialism, language diversity, minority cases, problem of education and others. Mazrui (2007), noted that the language “is not only a means of exchange policy in the narrow sense … We consider English as a unifying force,” Our local languages can improve our culture, social status and development. Overall if we are able to put them in the appropriate base. We hear and see the role that local languages play in many technologically and politically developed countries these days. This means that no language can be regarded as backward; as much depends on how the owners manage their languages.

Aims and objectives of the study

The main aim of the study is to examine the language attitude and its effect among teenagers in OAU campus, Ile Ife.

The specific objectives of the study are as follows: –

  • To investigate the language use of teenagers in a variety of everyday contexts in OAU campus Ile-Ife.
  • To discover linguistic choices and preferences of Nigerian youths, as well as their motivation to study and speak languages.
  • To study the rapport between language use and social dynamics: for example, influence of sex, age, place of residence and socio-economic background of subjects


Significance of Study

The significance of this study is to find out the different languages attitudes used by Nigerian teenagers and its effect on the youths. The study will be important for teenagers especially as they use the results of this research in improving the local languages as well as English language to trick a balance and maintain equilibrium. The study will also add the current knowledge on the subject and will likewise be a reference source for advance research in the same area. The result of this work will help ensure that Nigerians encapsulate issues relating language attitudes, to also understand the proper perspective to stop the issue. In addition, Nigerians will get to know the efficacy and importance prerequisite for understanding the effect of language attitudes. The study will unveil to Nigerians, proactive measures necessary to activates language enthusiasm in reaching linguistic standard.


Scope of Study

The scope of study is limited to the teenagers with special emphasis on enhancing their language attitude.


In this study, the strategy of the library is embraced by its relevance and convenience. This systematic procedure involves collecting data from secondary sources such as serious work, speeches and materials usually documented in the library, the Internet and libraries in order to interpret the primary texts. This concerns the methodology of qualitative research mainly used in human subjects as a way to collect a variety of empirical evidence on the case studies, individual or contemplation meetings, life history, interviews, observations, and historical account and visual texts that describe routine and problematic moments of meaning in the life of an individual. This means that the methodology of qualitative research focuses on the translation of ideas and thoughts of people. Therefore, this approach is not totally scientific in the sense of trying to prove the claim to the truth of any particular argument, but instead of studying things in their natural environment and adopt a multi-method approach to its object. This means that the background documents on the general and specific ideas of historicism, investigations and critical writings and investigations treated in literary language attitudes in general will also be employed.


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