- What language do you think in?
- Why won’t you teach in your local language?
English as a language has come too far to still be regarded as language of colonialism in countries colonized by English speaking nations. The fact that we use English does not mean that we cannot think or do things differently (We don’t have to behave like the English man if we don’t want to). Even among Nigerian linguists the debate still remains that Nigeria should adopt an indigenous language to serve as official and language of instruction, giving examples of China, India and other such countries that speak other languages other than English. Well it may not be impossible to do that, but as far as now is concern and for the obvious fact that no Nigerian language can be as developed as the English language in probably the next one hundred years, we have to use what we have at our disposal.
Chinua Achebe wrote a novel in his language after one of such debates, but his experience after that did not encourage him to continue in the line of argument that an indigenous language should replace English in Nigeria. No matter how fluent you are in your language, try teaching in it: integrated science, maths or social study. The fact that the student does not do well in English language does not mean that he will not do well in other subjects taught in English, except he/she does not speak English at all. After all what language can our students speak better? In Nigeria, English is considered as a second or foreign language, but how true is that? To most of the students, it is there first (and probably only) language.
So in this discussion, we are not going to look at English as a subject but as a language that we speak (as something that forms part of our social character in relation to teaching).
It is true that anywhere around the world if you can speak English you get easily accepted; the better you can speak (usually) the better you are accepted. Now how can that help in the class? Your students are very likely to be attracted to you because just you can speak good English.
You will agree with me that people who cannot speak proper English ovoid instances where they have to speak to the public, particular when they understand that educated people are present. You are confident in the class because you don’t have to worry that you may not say some things right and the students may laugh at you. You don’t have to be an English teacher before your students will laugh at your when you speak wrong English. This because they also know that it is something you have to know if you will teach them well. It is only a language ‘of the educated’. You don’t have to be a graduate of English language to speak right.
It is a sign that one is educated
If you cannot speak good English, no one will believe you when you say that you are educated. The first evidence that one is educated is connected to how he/she speaks English. In fact, one of the evidence that a school is good is how the students speak, and of cause this act of speaking is not entirely the making of the English teacher. So, your students believe that you are educated and that you are qualified to teach them. If you tell them you were a good student during your school days, they can believe, and that can make them give you more attention than if your speaking is bad. The ability of students to speak well is not entirely the effort of the English teacher. The English teacher is teaching a subject like every other teacher of other subjects. For instance the English they could speak before starting school, did any English teacher teach them? No, they learn from every person around them.
Just as they learn from your character, so they learn from your speaking
So when we use such words as fuck, fuck you, shit that are considered vulgar or indecent; the students learn them, and in most cases the use of these words go with certain character. And if they get to understand that they are not supposed to use such words, they start having problem with you the teacher who use such words. They use your choice of words to determine your character. Quite often you hear people say it is a lie when a person says a thing they don’t believe or totally accept, which invariably means that the speaker has been called a liar. It is common expression that can provoke a student who hates been regarded as a liar.
It is the most developed language in Nigeria
There is no Nigerian language that can be used to teach the different subjects effectively. Sometimes we try to justify our errors by saying that English is not “our father’s language”. Okay then, stop speaking it. Speak your father’s language.
It is not true that you have to speak like the white man; in fact you cannot do it. Even the African Americans don’t speak like their white counterpart, why then should you think that except you speak like a white man you have not learnt to speak well. All you need is to speak by certain rules, and that makes your speaking generally intelligible.