This study examines strategies for improving low academic performance in English language in secondary schools in Kaduna state. Over the years, there has been a consistent decline in students’ performance in English Language. This sordid situation has caused teachers, parents, curriculum experts and evaluators a serious concern. To carry out this investigation, data were collected from thirty eight (38) English language teachers randomly from twenty secondary schools in Kaduna North Local Government Area. Analysis of the data revealed that poorly trained English language teachers, poor instructional delivery, lack of infrastructural facilities, teachers’ attitude toward innovation, and the traditional content/knowledge oriented curriculum were factors associated with students’ low performance in English language. Based on the findings recommendations were made on strategies that will improve the quality of performance in the subject. In this work, data collected in the area of material, facilities and human resources available for teaching the subject, using questionnaire, personal interview and relevant textbooks. Put together, the research questionnaire distributed were forty.
1.1 Background of the Study
The modern trend in education and the complex nature of learning and instruction have made the role of the teachers more challenging. This new role does not just involve the more transmission of information to students but it involves looking at the problems associated with learning and instruction. The National Policy on Education (NPE, 2004) in Nigeria emphasized that our children should be educated properly so that they can acquire skills and competencies that would enable them function well and solve problems in the society. The accomplishment and realization of these important educational goals in Nigeria lies in the new trend in the educational approaches.
These new approaches to learning and instruction expose the students to conceptualize and effectively manage their own learning and thus reinforce their learning and transfer their training in practical situations. Despite the new approach to learning and instruction, English language at the Senior Secondary School level in Nigeria has been plagued with poor results and low achievements. Annual results from West African Examinations Council (WAEC) reveal woeful performances from the students who have made enrolment for English language examinations a yearly ritual. It is worrisome to note too that the performance of these students has continued to deteriorate year after year. It is understood that if the situation in English Language remains like this, it will affect both the economic and technological growth of the state. This is because a good mastery of English language is mandatory on all students in order to do well in other secondary school subjects. Students who are handicapped in English language are therefore likely to be handicapped in the acquisition of skills in arts and technological related subjects.
From the foregoing, therefore, we can conclude that English language is an indispensable language of communication in Kaduna.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
This research as stated above concerns itself with the study of strategies for improving low academic performance in English language by suggesting possible solution to the following questions:
i) What are the attitude/feelings of the students towards the studying of English language?
ii) What account for the decline in performance in the subject (English language)?
iii) Do they have enough material and human resources for the teaching and learning process?
iv) Do they understand the subject very well?
v) Does the Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSCE) syllabus have either a positive or a negative effect on the student performance?
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to find out strategies for improving the performance of secondary school student in English language. Specifically it ought to:
i) To find out the types of facilities available in the secondary schools for teaching English language.
ii) To identify the methods of teaching used in teaching English language.
iii) To identify the extent to which teachers are motivated to teach English language.
iv) To identify strategies for improving the low academic performance of students in English language.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
i) What type of facilities is available for teaching English language in secondary schools in Kaduna State?
ii) What are the methods of teaching adopted by English Language teachers?
iii) To what extent are English Language teachers motivated?
iv) What are the strategies for improving the low academic performance of students in English Language?
1.6 Significance of the Study
This research work intends to investigate the student achievement in the subject. The research will be significant in the following ways:
i) The findings of the study will shade light on the nature, contents examination and performance level of the SSCE examination.
ii) The findings of the study will contribute meaningfully to knowledge of teaching and learning English language especially with the role of English in the day-to-day communication.
iii) The findings of the students will also benefit Ministry of Education in Kaduna State by recruiting qualified teachers in order to improve the performance of the students.
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
The study covers strategies for improving low academic performance in English Language in Secondary Schools in Kaduna State. Respondents were drawn from selected secondary schools in Kaduna North Local Government Area.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
In any type of research work, are many hindrances that the researcher must come across in the course of the assignment. The problem encounter in the course of this could be attributed to delays in gathering the relevant data needed for the research work and uncompromising attitude of the people to give the required information. Time is another major limitation as far as the research work in concern. The time needed to implement the work may not be sufficient for logistic reasons. Financial resources may be lacking in carrying out the required work of the project.
1.8 Definition of Terms
· Performance: This relates to the execution carried out or putting into effect the task, job or operation.
· Teacher: A professional trained to impart knowledge to pupils/students.
· Assessment: Evaluation or estimation of the nature, value or quality of something or a subject.
· Effectiveness: It is the ability to determine appropriate objectives, that is, the degree at which School’s goals are met within established resources “doing the right thing.”
· Indiscipline: Thiscan be described as a mode of life not in conformation with rule and non-subjection to contain. The term connotes the regulations capable of obstructing the smooth and orderly function of the school system
· Reading: Is the process of receiving and interpreting information encoded in language form via the medium of print.
· Writing: Writing is the process by which an author uses his mental ability to put words to paper as well as the result of that process.
· Speech: Expression of or the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulated sounds.
· Mother Tongue: This is the original and first language of an individual which they acquire from their parents.
· L2: This is language two. This is a second that is learnt as a second language in addition to their mother tongue.
· FGN: Acronym for Federal Government of Nigeria.
· Curriculum: Curriculum is the subjects comprising a step by step guide of a course of study in a school.