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It is observed that quite a number of adults are unable to learn a second language apart from their mother tongue. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the reasons behind the poor or no acquisition of Second Language in adults. We have, therefore, collected our data through questionnaire and employed descriptive statistics, using single percentage in tabular form, bar charts and histograms to analyse our data. The major findings are that 18(30%) of our respondents agreed that they do not think they can learn the English language; implies that majority of our respondents have a negative attitude towards the English language and this inhibits learning and that 54(90%) of the respondents agreed that they prefer their native languages to English. This shows that there is cultural bias and as far as 90% of our respondents are concerned. This is also an inhibitor to learning the English language. Recommendations have also been given to assist learners learn better given the factors discovered to inhibit this learning.


Title page                                                                                                                                i

Certification                                                                                                                            ii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iii

Acknowledgements                                                                                                                iv

Abstract                                                                                                                                  vi

Table of Contents                                                                                                       vii

List of tables                                                                                                                           x

List of figures                                                                                                                         xi

  • Chapter One-

General Introduction

    • Introduction                                   1
    • Aims and Objectives                            1
    • Scope of study   1
    • Justification                                                  2
    • Methodology                                  2
    • Chapter Summary 3
  • Chapter Two-

Literature Review

  • Introduction                         5
  • Definition of terms                              5
  • Second Language Acquisition                       6
  • Language Acquisition Theories
    • Behaviourism 7
    • Mentalism 9
  • Linguistic concepts
    • Socio cultural factors in L2 acquisition 14
    • Language and culture 14                                                        11
    • Cultural confrontation 16
    • Cultural familiarisation 20
  • An eclectic approach to factors affecting language learning 22
  • Conclusion 28
  • Chapter Three-

Presentation and Analysis of Data

  • Introduction 29

3.1       Section One: Presentation and Analysis of Data Based on

Personal       Variables                                     30

3.2       Section Two:  Presentation and Analysis of Data Based on

Some Research Questions                                              34

3.3       SectionThree:   Presentation and Analysis Based on a Randomly selected Few lexical items of the English language                                               49

3.4       Chapter Summary                                                                         52

  • Chapter Four-

Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Conclusion

  • Introduction                                53
  • Summary of Findings 53
  • Recommendations 56
  • Conclusion 57



List of Tables

Table 3.1.1:           The distribution of respondents according to sex                            23

Table 3.1.2:           The distribution of respondents according to age groups.   24

Table 3.1.3:           Distribution based on ethnicity                                            25

Table 3.2.1:           The categorization of English language                  27

Table 3.2.2:           The distribution of respondents based on ability to speak

English.                                                                                  27

Table 3.2.3:           The distribution of respondents who like English but cannot

Speak it.                                                                                  29

Table 3.2.4:           The distribution of respondents who think they cannot

learn the English language.                                                  30

Table 3.2.5:           The distribution of respondents based on those who

prefer their native language to the English language.        32

Table 3.2.6:           The distribution of respondents based on response to time in

Language acquisition.                                                           33

Table 3.2.7:           The distribution based on responses on an assertion that

‘it is compulsory to speak English where I work’.             34

Table 3.2.8:           The distribution based on an assertion that ‘if I speak

vernacular where I work, I will be punished’.                     36

Table 3.2.9:           The distribution based on an assertion that ‘I have a

formal training in the use of English’.                                37

Table 3.3.1:           The use of correct plural and tense forms

Table Showing the percentage use of each lexical

item in this research (1-5).                                                      39

Table Showing the percentage use each of the

lexical items in this research (6-10).                                      39

List of Figures

Figure 1:         A bar chart showing the distribution of the respondents according

to sex.                                                                                                  23

Figure 2:         A bar chart showing the distribution of the respondents according to

their age groups.                                                                                 25

Figure 3:         A bar chart showing the percentage distribution of ethnicity          26

Figure 4:         A bar chart showing the percentage of those who agreed that


English language is easy to learn.                                                    27

Figure 5:         A bar chart showing the proficiency of speakers of the English language based on the responses got from our questionnaire.           29

Figure 6:         A bar chart showing the percentage of responses of the respondents on the assertion that ‘ I like English language but cannot speak it’.             30

Figure 7:         A bar chart showing the percentage of those who agreed that they do not think they can learn English language and those that did not. 31

Figure 8:         A bar chart showing the percentage distribution of responses

on the assertion that ‘I prefer my native language to English language’ 32

Figure 9:         A bar chart showing the percentage distributionof respondents who

agreed to the assertion that ‘if I had enough time I will learn English language better’ and who did not.                                                      34

Figure 10:       A bar chart showing the percentage distribution of respondents who agreed to the assertion that ‘it is compulsory to speak English where I work’.   35

Figure 11:       A bar chart showing the percentage distribution of respondents

based on the assertion that ‘if I speak vernacular where

I work, I will be punished’                                                               36

Figure 12:       A bar chart showing the percentage distribution of

respondents on an assertion that ‘I have a formal training

in the use of English’.                                                        38

Figure 13:       A histogram showing the percentage distribution of respondents based on the randomly select few lexical items.                                           39




Learning a second language for an adult is a demanding task but attainable. This research is meant to expose those reasons why adults find it difficult to learn a second language. Very few of a vast number of people who have difficulty in acquiring a second language know the reasons behind their little or no acquisition of the target language; this is the major reason for attempting this research. The researcher’s interest in the field of language acquisition is also a propelling force for attempting this research.


One of the major aims of this research work is to analyse the reasons behind the little or no acquisition of second language in adults. Another objective of this laudable research is to make a reader understand how he/she can learn a second language better. This research also intends to compliment other researchers’ efforts in the field of language acquisition and to fill in gaps where they have left vacuums.

1.2       SCOPE OF STUDY

Taking into consideration the vastness of the proposed topic, it will only be appropriate to streamline this research work to two theories which have perspectives of language acquisition focusing on variables that can either improve or impair second language learning in adults. These variables would be considered thoroughly as this research progresses.


This study is justified because it is discovered that Language does far more than just enable people to communicate with each other; it helps foster unity and peace among its speakers. Language is an important identity marker which gives a sense of belonging. In a multilingual setting like Nigeria people seem to be more ‘at home’ with people of the same language with them. Learning a second language therefore is an important strategy responsible for unity in any nation.

This work is also justified by its intention to resolve issues of language policy that are dependent on a knowledge of how second languages are learned. Due to several arguments and vastness that abound in the field of second language acquisition, this research is therefore justified by its intention to break fresh grounds in the subject matter.


The researcher will attempt to employ the method of information gathering from relevant sources. The researcher will read materials, journals, articles, etc. and critical writings on the basic ideologies of second language acquisition.

An instrument of information gathering will be the questionnaire. We shall use two or multiple-choice questions and counter-check questions to check the consistence in the answers given by the respondents in the Section B of our questionnaire. The questions are formed to address issues relating to second language acquisition.

However, sixty copies of questionnaire shall be generated and administered to students to low income staff (cleaners, messengers, gardeners, etc) of the University of Ilorin as well as other people like traders, market women and food sellers within the University of Ilorin community who hitherto should have learned the English language by virtue of their stay on the University Campus and linguistic interactions with those who are proficient in English because they within our purview of knowledge are best recipients of the questionnaire. The questionnaire is made up of personal variables include the respondents’ semi-demographical characteristics such as sex, age and educational qualification; and the measured variable, which include the research questions and a select set of lexical items which were to test the recipients’ knowledge of the plural forms and tenses of the English language.

Furthermore, our data shall be analysed by employing descriptive statistics, using the graphical form of presentation such as single percentage in tabular form, bar charts and histograms. We have chosen this statistical approach for our data analysis for an easy tabulation and summarization of our data and to produce a simple and watertight data presentation and analysis without losing the basics and the essentials.



1.5       SUMMARY

We have thus far given the general background to this research. We began by giving the introduction to this study. We next stated the aims and objectives and thereafter gave the justification to this study. We have also considered the scope of study of this research. We have taken some time to discuss how our data shall be gathered and analysed. In the next chapter, we intend to briefly evaluate some relevant literatures to this study.




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