Background of the Study
The teaching and learning of English language in Nigeria has a long history. With the advent of the British in the country, English was designated a socio-political and an economic language. Thus, the Nigerian constitution (1999:55) states that “the business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English . . .”
Also, The Federal Ministry of Education, in the National Policy on Education (2004;16), indicates that “the medium of instruction in the primary school shall be the language of the immediate environment for the first three years’ and ‘from the fourth year, English shall progressively be used as a medium of instruction…” In the light of this, therefore, English became a medium of communication in the country and the language of instruction in educational institutions; thus, the interest in learning the language increased. The imperative to learn the language was strengthened by the introduction of the language as a vital subject of study in the formal system of education especially in secondary schools where it is a core subject. Due to this, the secondary school students’ performance in the subject is constantly monitored both by the school and the society at large.
For years now, the performance of the Nigerian secondary school students in English language has deteriorated. World Bank Report of February, 2001, on the quality of Nigerian university graduates, notes that poor mastery of English language is one of the areas of degeneration in the educational system (Sunday Guardian, March 2001). Most often, comments on the fallen standard are based on the judgment that students no longer speak correct English. Many students have been observed to converse in pidgin English and at times in their mother tongue because they cannot express themselves adequately in the standard English (Mgbodile
and Afangideh, 2005). For this reason, students ought to study oral English, properly. Studying oral English involves not only the learning of how to communicate orally in English but also to acquire the ability to understand and evaluate what others say (Akeredolu-Ale, 2005)), According to Mgbodile (1999), having competence in oral English is having the ability to understand and produce: