Sociolinguistic Consciousness and Spoken English in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Ekpe, Mfon Brownson


The present status of English as a global language has led to the proliferation of many varieties of English all over the world, which according to Achebe (1965: 29) “is the price a world language…must pay in submission to many kinds of use”. English as a global language has developed many varieties, which differ from the “standard” to the ‘non standard’. Based on the extent of research thus far, there is no doubt that Nigerian English exists. To show its importance, it is made compulsory to every student in tertiary institution, no matter the student’s field of study. Every student is expected to speak simple and correct English as it is the language of instruction and communication. On the function allocated to the use of English in tertiary institutions, everybody tries mastering the language both the written and the spoken forms. In our tertiary institutions, it is common to hear the students exhibit their proficiency in the language in relation to multidimensional space of level of education, ethnic background, discipline and style. In the teaching of English in our tertiary institutions, the argument is that the teachers of English have to be conscious of the sociolinguistic variables that may affect students’ performance before embarking on effective teaching. We adopt ‘Accommodation Theory’ (1991) by Giles and Coupland as our “Theoretical Frame”, while our analysis of ‘the selected Sociolinguistic variables are based on “Labovian Quantitative Method (1972: 181). Our analysis shows that for effective learning to take place, language instructors must be conscious of the social factors that may affect the learning and speaking of English in a second language situation.

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English Language and Literature Studies   ISSN 1925-4768 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4776 (Online)   E-mail:

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