Effects Of Pidgin English On The Academic Performance Of Students In Colleges Of Education

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The advent of the colonial master in African presumably marked the beginning of the use of the English language in the West Africa sub-regions. In other words, English which is also Nigeria’s official language was brought to Africa by her former colonial masters.   Nigeria, being a multilingual nation, is one of the reason why English is accepted as the language of official communication. The fact that most Nigerians are illiterate and semi-illiterate made the using of English language as the language of official communication a big problem. As a result, the English language started having varieties, among which is, Pidgin English also known as Nigerian English.

Adedoyin (2009. 40) is of the opinion that Pidgin English is developed from a contact English (ce). He sees it as a first variety of the Nigerian English. He stressed that when two people come in contact, the necessity for communication would necessitate the evolvement of a language of communication, a kind of inter-language, which will be a mixture of the two languages in contact. He stressed that Nigeria Pidgin English is a variety which is very strong among the less educated and educated people too. Pidgin English is therefore defined as a language variety used for inter-ethnic context. The oxford advance learners dictionary defines pidgin as any of several languages resulting from contact European traders and local people, for example, in West Africa and the far east, containing elements of the local language(s) and French or Dutch, still used for internal communication.

Yule (2006.) is of the view that it is a variety of a language which was developed for some practical purposes, such as trading among groups of people who had a lot of contact, but who do not know each other’s language.   According to Opara (2009.52), pidgin English in Nigeria originated as a trade language that is made up of foreign language and the local language. It also originated as a result of the need for communication among Nigerians living in towns and cities from different ethnic groups who have no common language. Spencer (2001) opined that Nigerian pidgin English developed as a result of intertribal marriages. The importance of Pidgin English in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized.

This version of English cuts across institutions, establishments and societies yet it remains the unofficial lingua-franca in Nigeria. It is the most effective means if interaction among the illiterate servants of the learned masters, the market women, and several other groups of people. The popularity of Pidgin English can be seen in the various ways in which Nigerian business world and the media use it. Apart from using pidgin English for advertisements on radio and television, some bill boards disseminate their information using the pidgin English to communicate to their readers.

For example, Ken Saro Wiwa (2005) in his work, Sozaboy (2005) used pidgin English. Also the work of Amos Tutuola, the Palm Wine Drinkard is also written in the Pidgin English.   Soyinka (2004.65) in his work, The Trial of Brother Jero and The Road respectively used the pidgin English to accent the socio-economic aspects of Nigeria of them. In most of his works, the level of pidgin compared with English seems to increase in favour of the former with the degree of informality of its speakers particularly worth mentioning is the road.   Notwithstanding, pidgin English though plays an important role in Nigeria, it also has some adverse effects on students’s learning of the English language. They learn this language early in life too. They may learn it from their parents of within the environment which they live. Subsequently, they carry the language to school where it becomes difficult for them to learn the proper language.

Often, several families live in the same compound or in a geographical area who do not understand one another’s language; Pidgin becomes a convenient means of communication among them. Children growing up in such area use the Pidgin English officially and do not anything wrong in it.   At school, especially in the southern Nigeria, where we have different ethnic groups residing in same settlements, for instance, cities like Lagos, port Harcourt, Warri and other urban areas, Pidgin English is the commonest means of communication especially outside the classroom.

This makes it difficult for the children of such settlements to use the correct or proper English in the class room because they have learnt Pidgin early in life. It is against this background that analysts have expressed concern over its continued use. They believe that students who speak the Nigerian Pidgin English stand the risk of losing fluency in the standard English going by the fact that the English language is not just Nigeria’s official language but an internationally recognised medium of communication in the contemporary world.


Nigerian Pidgin is a language just as English and there is enough room for both languages to co-exist and be mutually enriching. Despite this – and the fact that Nigerian Pidgin English appears to be the most popular means of communication among diverse groups and is easier to learn than any other language in the country today. The problems that could lead to poor performance of students as regards to the use of pidgin English could be that that was the language they grew up to learn maybe depending on the environment they found themselves and so could be difficult for them to differentiate between pidgin and standard English both in their spoken and written form. Another could be that the use of pidgin impeded proper communication in the sense that the students have limited language as a means of communication in the country. Finally, several researches carried out on the effect of Nigerian Pidgin English on Nigerian students, but not even a single research has been carried out on the effect of pidgin English on the academic performance of tertiary students in Nigeria (A case study of Adeyemi college of education Ondo).


The main aim of the study is to determine the effect of pidgin English on the academic performance of tertiary students in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;

1.          to determine the extent to which pidgin English affect the academic performance of tertiary students.

2.          to determine the factors enhancing pidgin English amongst tertiary students.

3.          to determine the relationship between pidgin English and standard English and its effects on the academic performance of tertiary students.

4.          to proffer possible solution to the problems.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS               

1.          What is the extent to which pidgin English affect the academic performance of tertiary students?

2.          What is the factors enhancing Pidgin English amongst tertiary students?

3.          What is the relationship between pidgin English and standard English and its effects on the academic performance of tertiary students?

4.          What is possible solution to the problems.


H0:   Pidgin English does not have any significant effect on the academic performance of tertiary students.

H1:      Pidgin English has a significant effect on the academic performance of tertiary students.


The study on the effect of pidgin English on the academic performance of tertiary students, will be of immense benefit to the entire students of Adeyemi college of education, Ondo state in the sense that it will enable them discover that pidgin English has some limitations; for instance they cannot write their examination using pidgin English, they cannot also communicate their ideas in the midst of educated people. It will help them begin to use Standard English so as to be conversant in it and at the same time meet their academic attainment. This study will benefit the teachers in that it will move them to use simple and correct English in teaching instead of Pidgin English. The school management board will also benefit from this study since it will help them to understand the causes of failure in their written examinations. The authors of textbooks at all level of learning are not left out among the beneficiaries. This study will enable them to realize that using Pidgin English to express themselves will not in any way build up the students whom they are trying to build.


The study on the effect of pidgin English on the academic performance of tertiary students in Nigeria is limited to Adeyemi college of education.


Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


Effect a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.

Pidgin English is an English-based pidgin and creole language spoken as a lingua franca across Nigeria.

Academic Performance performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals

Tertiary StudentsThese are set of people that acquire knowledge in the third stage, third level, and postsecondary education.

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