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Need to Promote The Indigenous Languages of Nigeria
|Need to Promote The Indigenous Languages of Nigeria by Flex: 12:00 am On February 24, 2017
WAEC 1994 ENGLISH THEORY QUESTION
NEED TO PROMOTE THE STUDY OF THE INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES OF NIGERIA
Nigeria is a large country of about 88 million people. Perhaps the largest country in Africa and indeed, in the whole black race. Situated in West Africa, it is larger than the whole sub-regions. Nigeria boasts of over 250 different ethnic groups found across the length and breadth of it. But there are three major ones. Hausa in the North, Ibo in the East and the Yoruba in the West, each having its own language. However, the general language of communication in Nigeria is English Language bequeathed to her by her former colonial master – Great Britain.
Even though English is the Language of communication in Nigeria and used in teaching students in school, the government and indeed leaders of thought have made concerted efforts to promote the study of the Nigerian languages in schools. Few years ago, government saw the need for this and tailored the education curriculum towards the study of indigenous Nigerian languages.
To this end, the Ministry of Education at the federal level made it compulsory for every student to study and register at least one Nigerian language at Senior School Examinations. Besides, the federal government went ahead and established at Aba, Abia State, the Federal Institute for Nigerian Languages. These are all geared towards the study and promotion of Nigerian languages.
Why then is it very necessary to study the indigenous Nigerian languages? The answers are indeed not far-fetched. There are many of them but few will be mentioned here. If a foreigner is in the midst of Nigerians of different ethnic backgrounds and they want to discuss an issue the foreigner is not supposed to know, how would they go about it? Obviously, it is impossible. Thus, the need to adopt particular indigenous Nigerian language which all Nigerians must learn as a lingua franca, irrespective of their tribes.
Alternatively, the federal government can modify the school curriculum in such a way that a student must study one language other than his own. This is a unifying force and will go a long way in bringing about the much needed peace, unity and brotherhood amongst Nigerians. The beneficiary can therefore reside in that part of the country where he understands their language, in comfort, since the acquisition of the language is a prelude to mastering their culture. Languages are tied to culture, you cannot learn the culture of a people, without learning their language. Talking about culture, studying the indigenous languages of Nigeria is another way of promoting Nigerian culture, hence, as I earlier said, culture and language are inseparable. By studying our indigenous languages, we will get to understand and appreciate the culture of not only our own tribe but that of others. This too, will in turn promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
More than anything else, the study of our indigenous languages will enhance the standard of education. Educational psychology has proved that a child of pre-school age understands more, what he is taught in his mother tongue than what he is taught in a second language. This is because, at birth, the mind of a child is totally empty and whatever values he is taught then, will register automatically in his mind. Thereafter, anything in his mind becomes indelible.
It is a common knowledge that a child learns to speak, using his mother tongue. For instance, he learns to speak calling “Mama” or “Iya” (mother in Ibo and Yoruba respectlively). It therefore follows that at school age or pre-school age (nursery), he will learn faster and better if he is taught in his mother tongue. If the government rolls out a legislation mandating nursery schools to teach infants using their mother tongues, the effect it will have in our fallen standard of education will not take long to manifest. If the government implements this, it should back it with the training of teachers of indigenous languages who will teach them at all levels of education , hence, the study of indigenous languages by students, cannot be realistic without trained teachers in such languages.
The numerous ideas, as contained in this article, if complemented will certainly help in building a great Nigeria of our dreams.
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