Scholars’ preoccupation with the teaching and learning of English language among other languages in this part of the world is founded as it is the language of instruction in schools as well as the lingua franca in many African nations, Nigeria included. Given that students and their teachers do not exist in isolations of the society influencing students' performance in English language as a subject in the secondary school.
1.1 Background of study
Language is a code, a vehicle through which thoughts and creativity are conveyed. English language is not an exception. The arrival of Europeans at Badagry in the early 18th century marked the beginning of modern or western education in Nigeria. The Europeans were mostly English speaking concentrated on enlightening the people, teaching them to read and write. As a means of spreading the gospel, they therefore built school wherever land was available and there was adherents. The primary objectives of the early missionary education were basically to convert Nigerians to Christianity, to train pastors and few teachers to translate the Bible. In order to accomplish the above stated objectives, the missionaries discovered that unless Nigerians were trained to read, write and communicate in English effectively, nothing can be achieved. Hence, schools were established and patterned along the British model. English language was the only medium of instruction (lingua franca) provided by the missionaries. This united and has continued to the heterogeneous groups in the country. The fact that English language was used as a medium of instruction only in schools is the root cause of the influence of the society on students' performance on the language. Outside school, in different domains, indigenous language are more readily used than English. Since English is not our native language, students find it difficult in using it to express themselves both in speech and in writing.
Like any other language, English acquired through listening, speaking, reading and writing the four language skills. However, it is saddening to know that secondary students perform below expectation in English as subject and also were English in the medium of instruction. In other words, students' proficiency in English as far reaching effects than their ability to speak the language well-a much criterion for judging language ability.
Of all the language skills mentioned above (i.e. listening, speaking, reading and writing), listening is more basic for the acquisition of language. Babies first of all listen to sounds in their environment and attempt to produce them in speech. Thereafter, they learn hoe to read, recognize for the sound they are auditorily familiar with, and they learn how to write out these symbols. The quality of the sound and the expression listened to directly determine the quality of output by a child. In the same way except for those who augment with quality reading materials, students in secondary school produce nothing more than what they up from the society. Listening skill of the student with regard to English language is hampered because the students' immediate environment, at home and in the general community with whom the students commune in English, some of them do not speak good quality English, courtesy of unchecked interference of the indigenous language as well as sub-standard education. Also media, which could have been good avenues for enhancing the students' listening, are not available in many homes. As for the homes in which they are available, many students from such homes prefer programmes which are not particularly suited to the enhancement of their English listening skills.
The vocations of the teachers place them at a vintage point in the experience of English language that students have, as members or the society themselves, teachers are able to witness how students come in contact with in language outside the school. Outside the school domain, teachers are parents, guardians, church goers, shoppers, and media consumer in turn, in acting their roles in these different domains, they witness firsthand, the kind of exposure to English language which students have in larger society because these are the domains in which students interact with many other members of the society.
1.2 Statement of problem
Every man is a product of the society in which he lives and the traits he exhibits ate almost always influenced by his society. For secondary school students, their use of English derives from the exposure they have in the society at large. Their performance in school is therefore linked with their interaction within the society. The kind of influence which the society has on the students and the performance of the latter based on this influence is the preoccupation of this study. In order to approximately ascertain the nature and extent of such influence, the students looked to the teachers for direction.
1.3 Objectives of study
In determining the nature of societal influence on students; performance, the study seeks to draw attention to the excesses caused by the society in the process of the student cannot take leave of the society, suggestion are given as to how such excesses may be managed and curbed. In essence the specific of the objectives of the study are:
v To determine the frequency of students' use of the English language outside the school.
v To determine the factors responsible for students' choice of English language outside the school.
v To ascertain the people to whom students speak English outside the school.
v To seek ways in which English language can be improved in the society
1.4 Research Questions
i. How often students use the English language outside the school and for what purpose?
ii. What determines language choice in other domains apart from that of formal learning in schools?
iii. Who are those with whom students speak English outside the school?
iv. In what way can English language use be improved in the society?
1.5 Significance of study
English is one subject needed by every students aspiring to study in a tertiary institution in Nigeria. Despite the fact that the UTME and tertiary institution authority have this stand clear and do not compromise on it, a lot of students still find it difficult to pass the subject and therefore stand a chance to be offered provisional admission. Exposing the inherent pitfalls in society's influence on English language learning and acquisition can help both the teachers and the students to tackle the problem and better equip learners to perform optimally. Armed with this knowledge, parents, teachers and other career givers will be made aware of the opportunities available to them for helping children and wards to learn appreciate the English language better and in essence improve their performance not only at school but also outside school.
1.6 Limitations of Study
In the course of conducting this research work it is expected that the following will constitute impediments to the effective conduct of the study
a) Time constraint within which the study must be completed.
b) Financial constraint
c) Inaccessible and inadequate data
d) Also, combining project work with several other activities is another stressful task that may not allow me to cover research materials extensively.
Nevertheless, I believe the above limitations will in no way affect the reliability and validity of the research study.
1.7 Definition and terms
Influence:- This may be defined as the ability by a person or thing to affect another.
Performance- It can be said to be an act or a way in which a thing or person performs.
Society- This is a group of people considered to share certain characteristics by virtue of their living together.