Are you among the many Nigerians who feel speaking or writing the English language correctly is not necessary because it is a foreign language? If you are, please get a seat.
English is a SECOND LANGUAGE, not a FOREIGN LANGUAGE in Nigeria. And there is a sharp dichotomy between a second language and a foreign language.
Unlike a foreign language, a second language is useful domestically. In other words, the English language is useful in Nigeria. It is not just the official language of Nigeria but also a lingua franca in Nigeria. It is an official language because it is the language that is approved by the Nigerian government, taught in schools, and used in legal or official documents. A lingua franca is a common language used as a medium of communication by people whose native languages are different. And it is quite obvious that the English language is doing well in this regard.
We learn a second language for two main reasons: instrumental reason and integrative reason.
The instrumental reason has to do with learning the second language for education and to secure a job. Now ask yourself. Will you be given a job in Nigeria if you are unable to speak and write English correctly? The English language is seen as an instrument for learning and acquiring the required competence to secure a job.
The integrative reason has to do with learning the second language to fuse into the social and cultural life patterns of the native speakers. In other words, we the English language to be fully acculturated into the behavioural patterns and attitudes of the native speakers.
However, as stated in paragraph three, a foreign language is not useful domestically. It is only useful outside the country for a specific purpose. For instance, a Nigerian student in Spain must learn Spanish to be able to socialise and set along educationally. An Igbo trader who goes regularly to France to transact business would have to learn and speak French for the purpose of business transaction. It is different from learning the English language in Nigeria because the English language is useful domestically.
Therefore, stop saying “English is a foreign language in Nigeria.” The earlier you know that English is a second language in Nigeria, the better for you.
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