The major purpose of this study was to find out the strategies for teaching and learning of French language at the junior secondary school level. The influence of gender and school location was also explored. To carry out this survey research, twelve research questions and eight hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. Population of the study consisted of 39 teachers and 1030 student from six government owned secondary schools ( 3 in urban and 3 in rural areas) in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. Questionnaire and Observational Rating Scale were used for data collection. The instrument was face validated by experts and it’s reliability index was 0.64. The instrument was administered to the teachers and students and collected at the spot. The analysis was done using mean and standard deviations. Major findings of the study are: Most of the metacognitive strategies are in use by the learners of French language, French language teachers used cognitive learning strategies, students of French used cognitive learning strategies, students made use of some socio-affective learning strategies, there was slight influence of gender on teachers’ use of cognitive learning strategies it was not significant, there was no significant difference in the mean rating of learning strategies used by male and female French language students, school location had significant influence on cognitive strategies used by the French teachers and there was a significant difference between the mean ratings of urban and rural French students on the usage of learning strategies. Based on the findings, it was recommended among other things that French language teachers in the rural schools, should be trained and encouraged to employ different teaching and learning strategies in order to enhance teaching and learning of French language.
Background of the Study
Teaching could be seen as a process of inculcating worthwhile knowledge by the teacher into the learner. This is to train the learner so that he or she can stand on his or her foot in the society. In teaching, three aspects are involved; they are the teacher, the learners and the learning materials. Theodore (2014) refers to it as the process of impacting knowledge and skills from a teacher to a learner. To him it encompasses the activities of educating or instructing. It is an act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. Ugwu and Eze (1999) are of the same opinion as they saw teaching as the act of educating, training and molding of the character and attitude of an individual towards a desired goal.
Teaching cannot take place without the participation of the different persons, the teacher who is a mature and experienced person that is capable of combining different skills, techniques, and strategies to impact knowledge to the immature individual who is at the help of the mature one to learn. In the light of this Aguokogbuo (2000) opines that teaching is a deliberate effort by a mature or experienced person to impart information, knowledge and skills to an immature person. The act of teaching is a highly skilled professional activity which involves curriculum design, exposition of information and knowledge through diversified teaching strategies and using of variety of instructional materials to get the message across to the learner. An acceptable teaching brings about learning.
Learning has been variously defined by various authors. It could be seen as acquiring information, knowledge and skills that will bring about a change in behaviour. The learner learns from a more experienced person. Kirkpatrick (1985) saw it as a knowledge gained from teaching. Nsude (1998) argued that learning is much more than that. To her learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour which occurs as a result of experience or some level of practice. It is worthy of note here that any learning that does not bring about a change in behaviour is not learning. This is because if any learning has taken place it is expected that it will influence the behaviour of the learner either positively or negatively. It is the outwardness of what is learnt that will help anybody around to know that learning has taken place. In our schools today learners learn different subjects taught by the teachers such as English language, mathematics, music etc which French language is one of them.
The teaching and learning of French language in English speaking Africa was not wide spread until 1960 when most African countries got their independence. It was not until around 1960 that Nigeria began to feel a great need for a change in the language teaching policy. Nigeria like other new independent African nations realized that they are surrounded by fellow Africans with whom they could not communicate due to language barrier.
It was during the colonial era that most of the communications between French speaking and English – speaking countries of Africa were channeled to the respective European capitals, thus creating a state of isolation between the two linguistic groups. Therefore a cultivation of the languages used by the groups in their interactions is necessary and French language is one of them.
Nigeria is an Anglophone country surrounded by French speaking nations such as; Niger in the north, Chad in the north-east, Cameroon in east, Republique du Benin in the West and then the Atlantic ocean in the south. “So Nigeria can be described as a “Linguistic Island” surrounded by “French sees” (Offorma, 2009:13. To her there is need for neighbours to live harmonious with one another and this will be effective if the parties have a common medium of communication. She opines that “the co-existence of Nigeria and these countries revolves around economic, political, social and cultural exchanges “ (Offorma, 2009:!3).
Ogah (1984) opined that after the independence, the new African nations reacted swiftly against this state of isolation of African Nations from their neighbours because of the differences in their languages. The West African countries led the movement of technical co-operation African nations, the objective of which was to break the language barrier and within a few years, they were joined by the East African countries. In 1963, the Organization of African Unity (UAU) now African Union (AU) officially approved a policy in Addis Ababa which advocated French-English bilingualism for all African Countries.
Offorma (2009) expatiated on this by saying that “the Addis-Ababa conference on Education and the Yaounde Conference of 1961 recommended that Anglophone African introduced French language as a mandatory subject in her school system and Francophone African introduced English as the second European language as a means of communication and understanding between the people of these two linguistics sectors”. That was important for African countries more so as no African language was developed to meet the purpose. The two most developed African languages are Hausa and Swahili which are still regional language in west African and East African respectively” (Offorma, 2009;14). It is based on this that Nigerian government declared in the National policy on Education (2004:10)
For smooth interaction with our neighbours, it is desirable for every Nigerian to speak French. Accordingly, French shall be the second official language in Nigeria and shall be compulsory in primary and junior secondary schools but non vocational elective at the senior secondary school.
Mbuko (2001) noted that there were about 4000 secondary schools in Nigeria that allowed the teaching and learning of French language in their schools including those of the private schools who even taught it at the primary school level.
In Enugu state French is taught to primary 4, 5 and 6 pupils as it is compulsory. This is important as one cannot engage in inter-regional and intra-African affaires without the knowledge of French. People complain that this language is difficult but notwithstanding the difficulty involved, it has numerous advantages.
There are many French establishment in Nigeria such as Peugeot Assembly of Nigeria (PAN), Michelin, Total, la Belief saving Nigeria limited, banks like la Societe Generale, le Credit Lyonnais and (ECOBANK) Nigeria Public Limited Company, a subsidiary of ECO-Transitional incorporated. To be employed in one of these establishments, the knowledge of French language is required. French language is a diplomatic language. The air and marine transporters make use of it.
So Nigeria needs French language not only to communicate with her Francophone neighbours but also to communicate with other nations of the world. It is also seen as a language used in business and working places. It is a living and modern language. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) records that French language is one of the principal world language used for communication. This is why after independence in Nigeria, efforts were made and are still being made to train French language teachers to teach the language in primary and secondary schools and other schools of higher education.
Some colleges of education admit even students who have no pre-knowledge of French language to train as future French language teachers to see if there will be enough teachers of French to help educate the people in the language. It is because of the importance of this language, that undergraduate French language students are made to undergo compulsory one year abroad programme in order to improve on their proficiency. Of course, it is not possible for all Nigerians to learn to speak French but it is necessary that as many Nigerians as possible should know how to speak and write sound French language.