Place of Bilingualism in Nigeria

3726 Words May 11th, 2011 15 Pages
The Practice of Bilingualism in Nigeria: Factors That Encourage Bilingualism – Before, During and After the Colonial Era
A Term Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements of the Course:
ENG 503: Bilingualism and Multilingualism
June 2010
Emmanuel U. Dimike
Dimike, 2
In the world today, the number of people who use more than one language is greater than the number of people who use only one language. This study focuses on these people with more than one language, especially in Nigeria – Do such people exist in Nigeria? What factors encourage the use of more than one language by individuals in Nigeria?
People who use more than one language are said to be “bilinguals”. Where such people
…show more content…
In the same vein, virtually all Nigerians, educated or not, who dwell in cities speak at least two languages – their mother tongue and Nigerian Pidgin English. In the north, one finds some people who can speak as many as four languages – none of them English or Nigerian Pidgin English!
As has been noted earlier, bilingualism exists at both individual and societal levels. In Nigeria, the constitution allows for bilingualism on regional levels. Before 1997, French was an optional second foreign language in the Nigerian educational system. In 1997, the Nigerian government gave French a new status, declaring it Nigeria‟s second official language. This officially made Nigeria an English/French bilingual country and this was documented in the National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1998 (Ogunkeye 4). Even though
Dimike, 5 very few Nigerians speak French, it is one of the two official languages in Nigeria. Reasons for the adoption of French as a second official language in Nigeria include:
 Nigeria is surrounded by francophone countries; therefore French as an official language will facilitate communication and interaction with the country‟s neighbours.
 The headquarters of ECOWAS is in Nigeria. Since there are nine francophone and five Anglophone countries in ECOWAS, French is therefore the natural choice, being the language of the majority.
 There will be access to foreign materials and other opportunities available in terms of
Open Document