The language policy in Nigerian schools entails, English as the standard medium of communication between the teacher and student. Indigenous languages such as Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa are electives in the Nigerian curriculum. They are not compulsory subjects to sit for at the end of Basic Education. On the other hand, English is a mandatory subject and failure to score at least a credit in the subject, translates in the candidate, re-sitting the entire exam the year after.
The degradation in the eagerness of Nigerian youth to embrace their local languages is due to several causes. Peer pressure for one. Most Nigerian kids who speak Yoruba openly are treated as inferior because they are not in tune with the Western culture most of the youth emulate.
The local culture is disdained and deemed as “not cool”. This is in turn has diminished the importance of traditional culture and its existence is beginning to decline within urban centers like Lagos.
Also, parents fail to teach their kids, their indiginous language because there is hardly ample time for them to teach them. Students spend most of their time at school and when the parents return late from work, they communicate with their children in English. Most teens are more interested in developing their English vocabulary than learning how to count in Yoruba or Igbo. They believe learning Yoruba will be of little benefit to them in school or in future. They would even chose French over Igbo any day, any time.
Make the language seem fun to them. The easiest way to do this is to teach them proverbs. Proverbs make one sound intelligent and when a child is able to quote an adequate proverb in a situation where the proverb seems apt, he/she will be seen as mature.
Parents taking time out to tell the children about the history of their culture and language is always intriguing, and generally beneficial. The child will be encouraged to learn about his/her culture and language. This history should be told with stories and in the local language.
Academically, I would suggest the state government to make the local languages as important as English. All students should be able to speak their language to a certain level to so as the languages don’t become extinct. Oral examinations should also be carried out at the end of Basic education.
With this steps hopefully, the local languages will become more exciting to the youth and will return to its proper place as the standard means of communication like in the old days.
– Ibukun Soyebo