Background of the Study
English language plays crucial roles in the life of Nigeria as a nation, roles
that date back to colonial era. According to Osisanwo (1990:50) the
English language is Nigeria’s lingua franca, the language of the government,
judiciary, legislature, commerce, a school subject as well as the medium of
instruction. Obuasi (2001:109) opines that the English language is a
unity language. It is introduced early to pupils in the nursery schools.
Pupils in primary schools and students in secondary schools spend either five
or six years learning the English language. Yet, students’ achievement in
this highly valued language is often poor. The poor performance of
students in this language is authenticated by a WAEC (2004) publication.
According to entries and results in the publication, students performance in
the language was truly poor. For example, between 2001 – 2003, the failure rate
in May-June examinations was as follows: 43.81% in 2001, 42.61% in 2002 and
38.81% in 2003. The percentage pass in May-June examinations for the
years mentioned above was as follows: 20.07% in 2001, 24.57% in 2002 and 29.03%
in 2003. The failure rate for the years 2001 – 2003 in the October/ November
examination was as follows: 42.56% in 2001, 44.79% in 2002 and 29.20% in 2003.
The percentage pass was as follows: 22:72% in 2001, 19.03% in 2002 and
30.50% in 2003. But for the 2003 October/November examinations that had
more passes than failures, every other year in the data had more failures than
passes of the candidates that sat for the English language examinations.
In addition to the above data, WAEC Chief Examiners (1999-2002) in their
reports also show that students don’t achieve much in the English language.
For example, in 1998, the reports say that candidates performance was extremely
disappointing. Many students could not spell the commonest English
words. They used (there) for (their) (where) for (were), (once) for
(ones) and (had) for (heard). In 2000, the reports say that candidates’
performance was rather disappointing. Candidates’ answers revealed an ignorance
of the rudiments of the English language. In 2002, the reports state that
candidates’ performance was not impressive. Candidates showed lack of
familiarity with the required format.
factors have been adduced for students’ poor achievement in the language.
Some of these factors include bad language planning/policy as well as
methodologies Tollefson (1991 in Ogidi 2005: 231). Methodologies could be
defined as ways in which things are either done or imparted. Some
methodologies may not be apt for teaching second language learners and when
such methodologies are used, learners may not learn enough to help them achieve
much in the target language.
factor that may affect performance is the issue of gender. According to
Offorma (1990), language learning calls for a lot of work which includes
repetition, imitation of sounds and words, drills and so on and girls find them
more interesting than boys. She goes on to state that it has been
established by psychologists that girls have more flair for languages than
factor that has so adversely affected students’ performance in the English language
is the issue of the knowledge of grammar or the knowledge of the structures of
the English language. Students’ weakness in grammar could be buttressed
by WAEC Chief Examiners’ (1998) reports on language and specifically their
reports on the English Language.
reports of May/June (1998) state that in English language, it was observed that
candidates exhibited poor knowledge of the rules of grammar which hindered good
essay writing. The reports go on to say that in grammar, the candidates
language is fast degenerating into pidgin English. The marker of present
tense 3rd person singular has disappeared. Students are no more familiar
with rules of concord and correct tense usage. They do not see what is
wrong in writing ‘John beated me mercilessly’ or ‘I has stop going to school’.
Poor performance in the English language due to lack of the knowledge of
grammar is so often reported in many of WAEC Chief Examiners’ Reports.
Two years after the (1998) reports mentioned above, the Chief Examiners (2000)
reported that many candidates exhibited poor knowledge of grammatical
rules. They could not present their answers in simple correct
English. Again in 2002, the reports state that candidates showed poor
knowledge of grammatical rules not only in English language but also in
business subjects like History, Economics and Government. Also poor
expression of points in the business subjects affected their scores.
has been stated so far in the WAEC Chief Examiners Reports, it appears that the
poor achievement of students in the English language and other subjects was due
partly to poor knowledge of grammatical rules or poor knowledge of the
structures of English language. Teaching of grammar in schools is not
new. Almost always, the grammar-translation method has been used in most
schools to teach grammar. Yet, there is this exhibition of poor knowledge
of grammatical structures.
Grammar – Translation method is a
method that deals with the learning of structural rules which describe how
words combine with each other to form sentences. According to Richards
and Rodgers (1995) the grammar-translation method is a way of studying language
that approaches that language first through detailed analysis of its grammar
rules. In this method, language learning is more of memorizing rules and
facts just to be able to manipulate the morphology and syntax of the foreign
language. It lays emphasis on accuracy. Qing-xue and Jin-fang
(2007:69) add that the students’ native language is maintained as reference
system in the acquisition of the second language. Language learners are
passive in language learning and teachers are regarded as authorities.
other methods that could be used in the teaching of grammar. One of such
methods which is recent and highly advocated for is the communicative
method. It is a method Qing-xue and Jin-fang (2007:71) opine that sees
the need to focus on communicative proficiency rather than on mere mastering of
structures. They go on to say that this method:
aims to make communicative competence the goal of language
teaching…it encourages activities that involve real communication, carrying out
meaningful tasks…Language learners are expected to be negotiators, teachers to
be organizers, guides, analysts, counselors or group process managers.
Yanfei (2002:1) adds that the goal of this method is that
learners will be able to use language appropriately in social context.
grammar-translation and communicative methods are two out of the methods that
can be used in teaching the grammar of English language. While the use of
grammar – translation method dates back to the 17th century,
the communicative method is a more recent method. While the former is
teacher centered, the later is learner centered. Therefore, there is the
need to determine the effect of grammar – translation method, communicative
method and gender in students’ achievement in the grammar of English Language.
Statement of the Problem
achievement in English language in Nigeria is poor. Some factors have
been deduced as reasons why students don’t achieve much in this language.
One of the factors is the lack of the knowledge of grammar inspite of the use
of grammar-translation method in teaching English language. A remedy is
needed. This work suggests that an effective method in the teaching of
grammar may improve performance. This study, therefore, poses this question:
What effect will the use of communicative method have on students’ achievement
in the grammar of English Language?
Purpose of the Study
main purpose of the study is to determine the effect of grammar-translation
method and communicative method on students’ achievement in the grammar of
English language. Specifically, the study intends to determine:
effect of the use of communicative and grammar-translation methods on students’
achievement in English language.
effect of gender on students’ achievement in English language.
interactive effect of methods and gender on students’ achievement.
Significance of the Study
governments, owners of private schools, parents, principals and teachers have
despaired over the alarming rate of failures each year when English language
results of examinations are released. Most students are disillusioned
because of the D7s and E8s that would hardly secure them admission into
tertiary institutions. Results of this study will inform proprietors and
teachers of the method that will help make their students better achievers in
English language. Again, the results of this study will help curriculum
planners in projecting the effective method that will bring about greater
achievement in English language. In addition, text book writers and
publishers will be informed of the effective method and tilt towards its use as
they write and publish their work.
Scope of the Study
study investigated the performance of some senior secondary school (SSII)
students in the English language in two co-educational schools in Nsukka
Education Zone. The investigation compared the achievement of male and
female students who were taught grammar using the grammar-translation method
with the achievement of those who were taught grammar using the communicative
following research questions are used to address the problem of this study.
are the relative mean achievement scores of students taught grammar using the
communicative and grammar-translation methods
2. What is
the effect of gender on students’ achievement in English language?
3. How do
methods interact with gender to influence students’ achievement?
following hypotheses were tested at probability level of 0.05.
is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught
grammar using the grammar-translation method and the communicative method.
is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female
is no interactive effect of method and gender on students’ achievement in
grammar of English language.