The Acquisition of Bilingual Literacy Skills by Children in Nursery Schools in an ESL Context, Nigeria


This study describes the orientations and responses of three major participants in the education system, viz. headteachers, teachers and pupils to the roles assigned to the mother tongue (in this context, Yoruba) and English in nursery education in Nigeria. It investigates the opinions and attitudes of headteachers as well as classroom practices of teachers and pupils in the school environment in relation to the national education policy that the medium of instruction in nursery education should be principally the mother tongue or the language of immediate community. The data for the study were derived from four sources: a tape recorded interview of selected head teachers on the roles of languages at the nursery level of education in the country; a questionnaire that requested information from teachers on the topic; casual observations of the language(s) of communication by teachers and pupils inside and outside the classroom in the school compound; and reading tests for pupils in Yoruba and English. The results of the study showed that, contrary to the policy, English served as the medium of teaching all the subjects. Although the headteachers and teachers were aware of the language policy, they ignored it for personal and societal reasons. The pupils generally read pictures well in both English and Yoruba, but some of them could not read the English sentences well.