Languages in Nigeria’s Educational Sector: Issues, Challenges and Perspectives

  • Bobby OjoseEmail author


In this chapter, I explored the use of languages in instruction and communication in Nigeria from back in the earlier days to the present. Nigeria is a country of about 150 million people and speaks about 250 different dialects (languages). The diversity in dialects is based on the fact that Nigeria is a multiethnic country with different nationalities. Even though Nigeria is a multiethnic country, the federating states employ one curriculum for students in K-12 whereby every state looks up to the federal government for directions including the language to use in teaching and learning. The paper makes an in-depth exploration of the effect of Nigeria’s language policy. Specific attention is given to the three dominant spheres of languages in Nigeria: English Language (EL), Mother Tongue (MT), and Pidgin English (PE). The challenges, issues and perspectives associated with each of these modes of languages in communication, commerce, trade, and especially in teaching K-12 students is the central focus of the paper.


Language Mother tongue English language Pidgin English Education policy 


  1. Adegbite, W. (1999). Bilingualism and biculturalism and the utilization of African languages for the development of African nations. Ibadan, Nigeria: Hope Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Adetugbo, A. (1982). Towards a Yoruba dialectology. In A. Afolayan (Ed.), Yoruba language and literature (pp. 207–224). Ibadan: University of Ife Press.Google Scholar
  3. Akande, A. T. (2008). Nigerian pidgin English. Issues in African Languages and Liguistics.Google Scholar
  4. Akande, T. A., & Salami, L. O. (2010). Use and attitudes towards Nigerian Pidgin English among Nigeria University students. In R. M. Millar (Ed.), Marginal Dialects, Ireland and Beyond. Aberdeen: Forum for Research on the Language of Scotland and Ireland, 70–89. ISBN 978-0-9566549-0-8.Google Scholar
  5. Awobuluyi, O. (1992). Language education in Nigeria: Theory, policy, and practice. Retrieved February 7, 2017.Google Scholar
  6. Balogun, T. A. (2013). In defense of Nigerian pidgin. Journal of Languages and Culture, 4(5), 90–98.Google Scholar
  7. Dada, S. A. (2010). Language policies and planning in Nigeria: Issues and perspective. Journal of the Linguistic Association of Nigeria, 13(2), 417–440.Google Scholar
  8. Danladi, S. S. (2013). Language policy: Nigeria and the role of english language in the 21st century. European Scientific Journal, 9(7), 1–20.Google Scholar
  9. Emenanjo, E. N. (1996). Languages and the national policy on education: Implications for prospects. Fafunwa Foundation Internet Journal of Education.Google Scholar
  10. Khejeri, M. (2014). Teachers’ attitudes towards the use of mother tongue as a language of instruction in lower primary schools in Hamisi District, Kenya. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(1), 75–85.Google Scholar
  11. Mba, B. M. (2012). Language policy, mother tongue education and the role of the Nigerian language teacher in Nigerian language education. Journal of Education and Practice, 3(10), 48–54.Google Scholar
  12. National Policy on Education (NPE). (2004). National policy on education. Revised. Lagos, Nigeria: NERDC.Google Scholar
  13. Obayan, P. A. I. (1992). Language issues in basic education and literacy. Conference paper, UNESCO Institute of Education, Hamburg.Google Scholar
  14. Obayan, P. A. I. (1998). Language education in Africa: Lessons for and from Nigeria. Fanfuwa Foundation Internet Journal of Education.
  15. Olarenwaju, A. O. (1998). Using Nigeria languages as media of instruction to enhance scientific and technological development: An action delayed. Fafunwa Foundation Internet Journal of Education.Google Scholar
  16. Oluwole, D. A. (2008). The impact of mother tongue on students' achievement in English language in Junior Secondary Certification Examination in Western Nigeria. Nigeria: University of Ibadan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Olagbaju, O. O., & Akinsowon, F. I. (2014). The use of Nigerian languages in formal education: Challenges and solutions. Journal of Education and Practice, 5(9), 123–127.Google Scholar
  18. Omole, K. (2011). English language, culture, and education in Nigeria: Issues and prospects. Journal of the Nigerian English Studies Association, 14(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  19. Sebba, M. (1997). Contact languages: Pidgins and creoles. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Taiwo, C. O. (1980). The nigeria education system. Thomas Nelson (Nigeria) Ltd. Lagos, Nigeria.Google Scholar
  21. Tok, H. (2010). TEFL textbook evaluation: From teachers’ perspectives. Educational Research and Reviews, 5(9), 508–517.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the WestRosemeadUSA

Personalised recommendations