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The role of Nigerian pidgin English in secondary schools

Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE), simply referred to as “broken English” or “pidgin” is a dynamic and widely spoken creole language that has become an integral part of the linguistic landscape in Nigeria. NPE has evolved over centuries through interactions between various ethnic groups, indigenous languages, and European colonisers.
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Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE), simply referred to as “broken English” or “pidgin” is a dynamic and widely spoken Creole language that has become an integral part of the linguistic landscape in Nigeria. NPE has evolved over centuries through interactions between various ethnic groups, indigenous languages, and European colonisers. Today, it is spoken and understood by millions of Nigerians across different regions and social strata, serving as a common language for communication in different contexts. Although NPE was traditionally seen as a language of informal communication, recently, there has been a growing appreciation for the cultural and linguistic richness of Nigerian Pidgin English. This has led to its increased use in entertainment, media, literature, everyday communication, as well as education (including secondary schools).

Nigerian Pidgin English is deeply rooted in Nigerian culture, history, and everyday life. Integrating NPE into the curriculum provides students with an opportunity to explore their cultural heritage, understand the nuances of Nigerian society, and engage with authentic texts and materials written in Pidgin. Incorporating culturally relevant content and examples helps educators make learning more meaningful and relatable to students.

Another benefit of incorporating Nigerian Pidgin English into secondary education is its ability to promote linguistic inclusivity and accommodate students from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Many students come from homes where NPE is the primary language of communication, and integrating it into the curriculum can help bridge the gap between home and school languages, fostering a sense of belonging and cultural identity.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Nigerian Pidgin English is not a “broken” or inferior form of English but rather a unique and legitimate linguistic variety with its grammar, vocabulary, and rules of usage. Exposing students to NPE in the classroom can help them develop a more in-depth understanding of language variation, language attitudes, and sociolinguistic norms. Studying Nigerian Pidgin English alongside Standard English, can enhance student’s language skills and make them more proficient communicators in both formal and informal contexts.

Nigerian Pidgin English is often used as a medium of communication among students, especially in informal settings such as break times and social interactions. Introducing NPE into the classroom environment can facilitate better communication and engagement among students, particularly those who may struggle with English as a second language. By allowing students to express themselves in a language they are comfortable with, teachers can create a more inclusive and participatory learning environment.

Although incorporating Nigerian Pidgin English into secondary education has many advantages, it also possesses several other challenges and considerations that must be addressed. Effective implementation of Nigerian Pidgin English in secondary schools necessitates adequate training and support for educators. Teachers need opportunities for professional development, language proficiency assessments, and pedagogical training to be able to effectively incorporate NPE into their teaching practices and create supportive learning environments for students.

Nigerian Pidgin English is often stigmatised and marginalised in formal educational settings due to negative language attitudes and perceptions. Overcoming these biases requires advocacy, awareness-raising, and community engagement to promote the value and legitimacy of NPE as a language of instruction and communication.

Developing standardised curricular materials and educational resources for teaching Nigerian Pidgin English in secondary schools requires careful planning, collaboration, and research. Educators require access to high-quality textbooks, instructional materials, and teacher training programmes tailored to the specific linguistic and educational needs of students.

In conclusion, with collaborative efforts, policy reforms, and investment in teacher training and curriculum development, Nigerian Pidgin English can play a transformative role in shaping the future of education and empowering students to thrive in a multilingual society.

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Ikechukwu Onyekwelu
Ikechukwu Onyekwelu
2 months ago

Nigeria Pidgin English is versatile, Temitope. I like that you have taken an interest in it.

Some say Italian is ‘broken Latin’, Portuguese is ‘broken Spanish’ and French is ‘broken Latin’ too.

In all the cases, the pidgin or broken evolved to serve the needs of a wider society, not a reclusive elite.

Nigerian Pidgin English is so adaptable, it takes the colouration of its environment.

Well done!

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