The English Language in the ESL Classroom in Nigeria


  • Dare Owolabi
  • Mercy Adenike Bankole


Teaching challenges, ESL, GPE, ESP, acquisition, learning, adult classroom


Language holds the key to knowledge acquisition, thus making its teaching-learning process central to any educational system. Nigeria, Babel of many languages that include English, Pidgin English and the various indigenous languages, has no clear language policy and this continues to make the educational system wobble, even at the tertiary level. This poses a serious challenge to language teachers generally, but particularly to teachers at the tertiary level, who should blaze a trail in second language English teaching. This work looks at the shortcomings of the present traditional General Purpose (GP) approach to English language teaching, and recommends the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) approach in the teaching-learning process in the ESL adult classroom in Nigeria as a way of stemming the tide of the continued decline in proficiency in English with its ripple effects on other subjects and courses that are taught and learnt in the English language medium. This will enable adult learners achieve the needed academic and professional empowerment via the vehicle of English.


Adedimeji, M. A. (2004). The unifying role of English in a multilingual nation: The case of Nigeria.In Ndimele O. (ed.), Language and Culture in Nigeria. Abia:National Institute for Nigerian Languages. Pp67-74.

Akere, F. (2006). The English language in Nigeria: The sociolinguistic dynamics of

decolonization and globalization. Keynote address presented at the conference of the Nigerian English studies association at the University of llorin, Nigeria.

Aliyu, K. (2010). Language for academic purposes-a learning-centred approach. Zaria: Ahmadu

Bello University Press Limited.

Atkinson, M. M. (1992). Formality and informality in the communicative classroom. Language

Learning Journal, 5, 6-7. Ayodele, S. O. (2004). The language question and Nigerian education. 4th Annual Public Lecture, Oyo State College of Education. Nigeria: Research and Publications Committee.

Attah, M. (1995). Towards functional teaching of English courses in Nigerian universities. Maiduguri Journal of Educational Studies, 3(1), 67-76.

Ballard, K. (2007). The framework of English (2nd edition). Palgrave Macmillan.

Barduhn, S. (2009). What keeps teachers going? What keeps teachers developing? TTED

Newsletter. 1:17-24.

Belicka, L., & R. Svetina (2009). Learning from life. Voices, 207: 10.

Carroll, D. W. (2004). Psychology of language 4th Edition. Australia, Canada: Thomson


Coffey, B. (1985). ESP-English for specific purposes. In Kinsella, V. A. (Ed.). Cambridge

Language Teaching Surveys 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dada, S. A. (2012). Language policies and planning in Nigeria: Issues and perspectives. In Kuupole, D. D., Bariki, I. & Yenna, R. (Eds.) (2012). Cross-currents in Language, Literature & Translation. Porto-Novo: CUREF/IESSAF & ESAF

Dao-zhi, Y. & S. Chiang-hua (1987). Chinese perspective concerning LSP. In From Office to

School. Papers presented at the 6th European symposium on LSP at the University of Vaasa, August 5-7. Pp. 86-91.

Ebrahimi, P. (2008). Raining over a desert: A critical review to language teaching and learning in

Iran University of Zanjan. Accessed 17 August, 2008.

Ellis, N. C. (2005). At the interface: Dynamic interactions of explicit and implicit language knowledge. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 27, 305-352.

Ewuzie, K. (2009). Academic success is hinged on standardization of teaching methods. In

Business Day, 8 (115) Tuesday, 15 December, p. 28.

Finnegan, E. (2008). Language, its structure and use. USA: Wadsworth.

Hyland, K. (2002). Specificity revisited: how far should we go now? English for Specific

Purposes. 21 (4),385-395.

Jackson, H. & Stockwell, P. (2011). An introduction to the nature and functions of language:

Continuum international publishing group .

Jesperson, O. (1922). Language: Its nature, development, and origin. London: Allen and Unwin.

Jowitt, D. (1991). Nigerian English Usage. Ikeja: Longmann Nigeria Limited

Jowitt, D. (2009). English language teaching: A view from the millennium. Lead paper

presented at the 7th National Conference of the National Association of Teachers and Researchers m English as a Second Language, Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa, Nigeria, 6-9 October.

Kirkpatrick, B. (2007). Correct English. Scotland: Geddes & Grosset, David Dale.

Kirsch, R., & Basak, R.(2009). Tailor-made courses when you don't know who the tailor is!

rd annual conference of Iatafel.

Lenneberg, E. H. (1967). Biological foundations of language. New York: Willey.

Lennon, P. (1993). The advanced learner, effective, social and motivational factors. Language

Learning Journal, 8: 39-43.

Mangubhai, F. (2006). What do we know about learning and teaching second languages: Implications for teaching. Asian EFL Journal. file://localhost/Documents%20 retrieved 11/25/2009.

Nishanth, S. (2008). The English curriculum in India. Voices 203 :8.

O'Donogue, R. (1984). Introducing the principles of good writing into an engineering

curriculum. Engineering education. 74: 664-665.

Ogunsiji, A. (2004). Status, features and functions of English in Nigeria and their implications for EL2 teaching/learning. In Oyeleye, L. (ed). Language and Discourse in Society. Ibadan: Hope Publications

Orisawayi, D. (2007). Knowledge, technologies, language teaching and classroom development. English Language Teaching Today. 6, 1-10.

Radzka, K. (2009). Spice up your grammar. Voices 210: 12

Sullivan, P. & Girginer, H. (2002). The use of discourse analysis to enhance ESP teacher

knowledge: An example using aviation English. English for Specific Purposes 21 (4), 397-404.

Thorne, S. (2008). Mastering advanced English language. Hounmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Svartvik, J. & G. Leech, (2006). English-One tongue, many voices. Basingstoke: Palgrave


Yildz, S. (2004). Teaching English for Specific Purposes.




How to Cite

Owolabi, D., & Bankole, M. A. (2013). The English Language in the ESL Classroom in Nigeria. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies, 1(4). Retrieved from