Effective Communication in Nigerian Languages


No communication means no survival. The communication process means information flow from a source or a sender through a channel to the receiver or destination.

Language is central to the teaching-learning process. Nigerian language is important to the protection, preservation, and promotion of Nigerian cultures and the enhancement of human dignity.

The necessity of learning a major language to promote national unity and integration has constitutional backing.

The importance of the mother tongue in education is emphasized by Orimoloye (1977) when he states that the ‘mother tongue in a child is psychologically a system of meaningful signs that in his mind works automatically for expression and understanding.

The use of Nigerian languages for effective communication is beset with problems. The problem has affected every facet of speaking, writing, and thinking of Nigerians.

The problems can be traced to governments in all areas, historical constraints, pedagogical constraints, socio-linguistic constraints, and economic constraints.



The language policy in the National Policy on Education is a statement of intent rather than a serious program for implementation. There is no definite chronogram for all states to follow.

There are no legal or other sanctions for defaulting federal, state, and local governments that control the schools. The government has not provided the materials, funds, and teachers for effective implementation.

Historical constraint

The inheritance situation whereby the colonial language, English, is the language of wider communication affects the development of Nigerian languages.

The dominance of English in news broadcasts, special features, talks, documentaries, politics, public service broadcasts, and government activities hinders the development of the Nigerian languages.

Opubor (1973) corroborates saying, ‘Media content in Nigeria is oriented towards the elites that on radio and TV, news bulletins in English are three times as long as the equivalent in any other languages and that media coverage in minority languages is virtually non-existent.

Most languages don’t have newspaper patronage. How can the masses read and acquire information for their development if the information is given in a foreign language?

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Pedagogical constraint

The conditions and facilities for teaching these languages are inadequate. The 3 years of JSS L2 (second language) are not enough for cultural immersion and the political unity envisaged. How can we develop and accommodate other languages for effective communication?

There are inadequately trained teachers, in most cases, they are underutilized and told to teach their second subject. Some states retrench some teachers including Nigerian language teachers.

In most cases, the states don’t employ them at all. How can the policy be implemented in this situation where the government pays lip service to the policy and there is no progress beyond the pronouncement?

Socio-linguistic constraint

The status of the language, the size of the speaker, the state of the language development, and adequate terminology for teaching affect some of these languages that are a minority in the region where they are spoken.

In this case, it will not be used for effective communication of government programs. This affects the survival of the language which the child needs for initial literacy.

Economic constraint

There are too many languages in the country and most of them lack written literature. Language is a currency, the more it can buy, the greater value it has.

It will take excessive funds to provide education in all the languages when the government cannot even pay teachers, provide employment, and essential services to the 120 million Nigerians. The adult literacy program is not well organized.

In most cases, the instructors, inspectors, and teachers are not available. When available, the materials, funds, and infrastructures are inadequate. The media, electricity, newspaper, and all the communication media are non-existent in most rural areas.

How then can they be involved and participate fully in the country when information is not disseminated to them in the languages they understand?


Attention should be given to professional linguists and media educators and get them involved to get the best for the adult through airing more programs in the Nigerian languages.

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The curriculum should incorporate the teaching of the mother tongue in the syllabus of the media education department in the tertiary institution for qualitative education and moral training.


Many entertaining and educative plays in Nigerian languages should feature more films, home videos, and television can be provided by the government in the rural setting.

Materials for training

Government should produce materials for the training of teachers. The Nigerian language teachers should be given employment, and incentives and be employed on a part-time basis to give literacy talks to the rural dwellers. Government should also provide orthography, materials, and translation services for some minority languages.

Term implementation

The language policies are couched in the most general terms implementation should be vigorously pursued in schools and even in the National Assembly where there is provision for conducting business in the major Nigerian languages.

There should be the production of texts in most languages through the use of computers which can provide a wide variety of characters.

There should be terminology for official use in different fields of endeavor in Nigerian languages. These will be made available to rural dwellers.

Qualitative and Quantitative Increase

There should be a quantitative and qualitative increase in the intake of L1 and L2 students in Nigerian languages. There should be aware of the role of Nigerian languages, initial literacy, mass literacy, mobilization, and adult literacy.

Language Inspectors

Priority attention should be given to the recruitment of language inspectors. There should be more courses offered in Nigerian languages in tertiary institutions.

Electronic and Print Media

There should be more air-time in electronic media for Nigerian languages. Also, there is more print space in the print media for Nigerian languages.

Local newspapers in Nigerian languages should be published at least once a week in most languages. This will help them discuss peculiar problems and be enlightened about government programs.

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Finally, for an individual to realize his or her whole potential, become informed, enlightened, learned, and properly educated, he or she should be given this information through the language which he or she is more familiar with hence his or her mother tongue.

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