EFFECT OF THE FUNCTIONAL-NOTIONAL APPROACH ON SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGLISH GRAMMAR IN OWERRI NORTH OF IMO STATE, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT


This study investigated the effect of the Functional-Notional Approach (FNA) on students’ Achievement in English Grammar in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. Five research questions and five null hypotheses guided the study. The study adopted a non-equivalent control group quasi- experimental design involving the treatment and control groups. The sample of this study consisted of 162 Junior Secondary School Two (JSS 2) students drawn from three secondary schools out of a population of nineteen (19) government owned secondary schools in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State. The multi-stage sampling technique was used to draw the respondents. Intact classes were used in each school for the experiments, so there was no random assignment of the subjects to the treatment and control groups. The instrument used for data collection was an achievement test on English Grammar which consisted of 20 multiple choice items. The lesson plan used for the experimental group was developed using the Indigenous Communicative Lesson Model, while the lesson plan for the control group was developed using the Grammar Translation Method (GTM) which is the conventional-method. The instrument for data collection and the lesson plans were face-validated by experts to ascertain the clarity and content coverage of the lesson objectives. A reliability index of the instrument was calculated using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Co -efficient which yielded a value of 0.84. The internal consistency of the test items was obtained using the Split- Half method by Spearman-Brown, which yielded a value of 0.95. The method of data analysis adopted in the study was the mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions, while Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was employed to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The results showed that the students who were exposed to teaching English Grammar using the FNA gained higher mean scores in the achievement test than their counterparts taught using the conventional method-GTM. The study revealed no significant mean difference in the achievement of male and female students taught English Grammar using the FNA. There was a significant mean difference in the achievement of urban and rural students taught English Grammar using the FNA. Finally, the study showed no significant interaction effect of treatment and gender as well as no significant interaction effect of treatment and school location in the achievement of students taught English Grammar. Some educational implications were raised which included the fact that teaching English Grammar with the FNA enhances functional use of grammatical expressions and communicative competence among the learners. English Language teachers should also create learning environment as natural as what the child finds while learning the first language. This will make the language learning process more effective and speedy. Recommendations were made in the study for the students, the English Language teachers, authors, curriculum planners and authorities in teacher training institutions for the improvement of teaching English Grammar in secondary schools.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

TITLE PAGE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
ABSTRACT

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Statement of the Problem
Purpose of the Study
Significance of the Study
Scope of the Study
Research Questions
Hypotheses

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
Conceptual Framework
The Nature of Language
English as a second Language in Nigeria
Grammar in English as a Second Language
Modal Auxillary Verbs as Elements of Grammar
The Concept of Achievement
The Concept of Gender as a factor in Language Ability of the Student
The Concept of School Location as a factor in Language Ability of the Student
Theoretical Framework
Theories of Language Development
The Socio-Linguistic Theory
The Communicative Language Teaching Theory
The Functional-Notional (FNA) Theory
Empirical Studies
Studies Conducted in Nigeria on
-           methods and strategies of teaching English in secondary schools
-           gender as a factor in students’ achievement in English Language
- school location as a factor in students’ achievement in English Language
Studies Conducted outside Nigeria on:
Effective strategies of Language Teaching
SUMMARRY OF LITERATURE REVIEW

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHOD
Design of the Study
Area of the Study
Population of the Study
Sample and Sampling Technique
Instrument for Data Collection
Validation of Instrument
Reliability of the Instrument
Experimental Procedure
Control of Extraneous Variables
Method of Data Analysis

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS
Results

CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION OF RESULTS, CONCLUSION, EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUMMARY          
Discussion of Results
Effect of the FNA on Students’ Achievement in English Grammar
Effect of Gender on Students’ Achievement in English Grammar
Effect of School Location on Students’ Achievement in English Grammar
Interaction Effect of Treatment and Gender
Interaction Effect of Treatment and School Location
Conclusion
Educational Implications
Recommendations
Limitations of the Study - Suggestions for Further Study Summary of the Study
REFERENCES
APPENDICES

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study
Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, and this combination forms ideas into thoughts. Language is also described as a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group co-operates. Brown (2001) defines language as an interaction, and interpersonal activity which has a clear relationship with society. In this light, language study has to look at the use (function) of language in context; both its linguistic context (what is uttered before a given piece of discourse) and its social, or situational context (who is speaking, what their social roles are, why they have to come together to speak).

Language is so vital in human existence that there is nothing human beings can do without the function of one form of language or the other. Block & Trager (2010) opine that every physiologically and mentally normal person acquires in childhood, the ability to make use, as both speaker and hearer, of a system of vocal communication that comprises a circumscribed set of noises resulting from movements of certain organs within his throat and mouth. By means of these, he is able to impart information, to express feelings and emotions, to influence the activities of others.


The English Language occupies a unique place in education in Nigeria because of its significant role and status in national life. This observation is made by Baldeh (2011). Supporting the view, Ezeude (2007,p. 211) posits ‘’ It is heartening to recall the enviable position that Nigeria in her National Policy on Education (2004 Edition) accords to language teaching”. According to him, languages are grouped under ‘A’ as core subjects made compulsory at both junior and senior secondary levels. To demonstrate this further, English is made the medium of instruction in the country from the upper primary level to tertiary level of instruction. Furthermore, he observes that English is the language of science and technology; it is the passport to educational advancement and prestigious employment; it is the language of commerce, trade and administration, and a means of national and international communication.
It is against this background that the need for the educational system in the country to keep abreast of the times in lanaguge teaching has been emphasized by Ezeude (2007). In the same vein, Baldeh (2011) further notes that an educational failure is primarily a linguistic failure, so a good educational system requires that the products of the system communicate their thoughts, ideas, emotions, and attitudes unambiguously and coherently.

Consequently, the essential use of language as the mot remarkable tool for man is stated by Uzoegwu (2005). According to her, man’s invention of language has been used for various purposes such as communication, social interaction, learning, storing information, maintenance and transfer of culture. Therefore it is a means of social control and an instrument that enables man to communicate his thoughts. The English Language, according to Uzoegwu, empowers learners to live a fulfilled life, especially in Nigeria.To buttress its pride of place in the educational system in Nigeria, Olajire (2004) observes that a good pass (credit and above) has become mandatory for transition from primary to Junior Secondary School (JSS), and for admission to all levels of higher education in the country.
From the foregoing, the researcher having been in the system and taught English as a subject for a number of years, has observed a steady decline in students’ performance in the subject. As a result, the researcher sees the need to make a contribution in the area of using the Functional-Notional Approach for improving the teaching method in order to enhance students’ performance and achievement in

communicative skills in English Grammar. The new teaching method in this study,

which is the Functional-Notional Approach (FNA), is designed to help students

acquire useful skills for the functional use of the language both for social interaction

and for creditable performance in internal and external examinations. Essentially, the

Functional-Notional Approach is an embodiment of the Communicative Language

Teaching (CLT) method. The goal of the CLT is to inculcate communicative

competence into the language learner while the FNA actually applies the real

communicative approach and techniques to teach the learner the practical use of

language skills both in classroom situations and in his social environment. The FNA

engages the learner to use language functions such as participating in a dialogue,

making requests, asking for information and the like. Consequently, communicative

competence is achieved by the learner.

However, some research and documentary evidences in Nigeria prove the fact that students’ performance in English Grammar has been poor over the past decades. For instance, in a seminar organised for chief examiners of English Language by WAEC (2010), the Chief Examiners were of the view that the most reliable measurement of language achievement and competence is in Paper 1, and the possible performance in the other papers (2 and 3) should be closely related to it.

To substantiate this view, Uzoegwu (2005) identifies that the poor performance of students in essay writing affects their achievement in English Language because essay writing normally has the highest score in English Language examination. Similarly, in a resumé of the Reports of the Chief Examiners November/December (2008), the Report lamented the fact that candidates exhibited poor knowledge of the rules of grammar.....

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