The declining performance of Nigerian students in the learning and use of English, especially, in the last 30 years, had been attributed to inadequacies in the methodology of the language education at all levels, explosion in school enrolment and laziness by the learners.
The observation was part of the submissions of Professor (Mrs.) Bolanle Idowu Akeredolu-Ale at the 34th Inaugural Lecture of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), titled, Queen’s English and the March of History: Reflections on the Nigerian Case.
Professor (Mrs.) Akeredolu-Ale opined that though English remained an important language in Nigeria, but high proficiency in the language had lost much of its potency and relevance as a necessary condition for securing adequate livelihood or social mobility because most students in Nigeria believe that what they need to ‘get on’ is a working knowledge of the language, not good English as such.
The pioneer Inaugural Lecturer from the Department of Communication and General Studies, College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), noted that the major disincentive and fundamental causes of the low performance by learners could be traced to the historical development in English language in Nigeria.
Professor Akeredolu-Ale observed that prior to the year 1980, good use of English was something that most Nigerians considered important, in fulfilling vital linguistic and social functions, such as having access to training and employment opportunities as priests, teachers and clerks, as well as providing access to overseas training for would-be secondary school-teachers and employment under the colonial civil service.
The don stressed that if Nigeria begins to give the deserved credit to young people who speak good English, when they seek employment in government and curb the prevalence of corruption, the country would in no distant future witness a considerable improvement in young people’s perception of the English Language as well as in their motivation to acquire competence in the language.
The Professor of Language and Communication recommended substantial reduction in the number of formal lectures prescribed for the General Studies for English courses, but for more emphasis to be placed on the practical use of the language.
She also suggested getting involved in English activities, such as the creation of relevant and highly practical modules namely, Guest -Speaker Activity Module, Students’ Debate, Symposia Activity Module, Drama Activity Module and Reading-for-Pleasure Activity Module.
The Inaugural Lecturer emphasized the need for the provision of adequate classrooms, new technologies, teaching materials and the cultivation of good reading habit among Nigerians, as well as increasing motivations for learners and teachers of English language.
Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwafemi Olaiya Balogun, said he was honoured to chair the first Inaugural Lecture of the Department of Communication and General Studies and second from the newly-established College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development Lecture Theatre, Central Car Park and Female Hostels.
Also, on Tuesday, the Council met with the Capital Development Committee while it also held its Finance and General Purpose Committee parley, on Wednesday.
The Chairman and members of Council took time off, to attend the 34thInaugural Lecture of the University, delivered by Prof. (Mrs.) Bolanle Idowu Akeredolu-Ale, at the Julius Amioba Okojie Lecture Complex, on Wednesday.