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  • General Introduction

French Language, without any iota of doubt plays a vital role towards the development of Nigeria. This is so because Nigeria has merged with her counterparts in the trend of bilingualism, which without doubt, has many benefits. We must understand that being bilingual has a positive effect on our intellectual growth and enhances our mental development. According to Nanduti (2009), “being bilingual opens the door to other cultures and helps an individual understand and appreciate people from other countries.” Not only has our political leaders  interact better with our francophone counterparts, they are also able to exchange better knowledge with their Francophone counterparts without interpreters having the knowledge of both French and English languages. Nanduti also affirms that being bilingual increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset.

The ill attitudes of people towards French language has left the researcher to wonder if they are aware that the English language is not the only official language of our country Nigeria. According to the National Policy on Education (2004), it avers that the government appreciates the importance of French language as a means of promoting social interaction, national cohesion and preserving cultures. Hence, for the smooth interaction with our neighbors, it is desirable for every average Nigerian to speak French. French shall be the 2nd official language in Nigeria and it shall be compulsory in schools” (NPE, 2004). The Nigerian language policy has favored the French language by upgrading its status from that of a foreign language to a second language. The outcome of this second language status is that, it has become a compulsory language in the school system from basic 4-9 and optional at the senior secondary level. Undoubtedly, it could be compulsory at the tertiary levels if the policy implemented works out as planned at the secondary level. By being compulsory in all level of education, it will form parts of the education process of the Nigerian child.

This research study, therefore, examines the French language education and the National Policy on Education. The privileged position enjoyed by the French language has exposed it to serious controversies of whether the policy is practicable or not especially in the light of the current, emergent, socio-cultural and linguistic issues surrounding the National language policy. Again, it reveals the contemporary issues facing the implementation of the policy. Also, it discusses the attitude of Nigerians towards the teaching and learning of French language, demonstrate the impact of the policy on the French language in Nigeria. Then, predict the future of the language in the country

It will also reveal problems facing Nigeria as a country for not utilizing the best of the language under study especially before its acceptance as a second official language. Therein, It also accounts for the importance of French Language and its relevance toward Nigeria putting into consideration that Nigeria is an Anglophone society.  It will also show ways through which French could be used to promote the development of Nigeria.

In the proceeding sections of this proposal, the background of study, statement of the research problem, aim and objectives, significance of study and scope of study are discussed.

1.1 Background of Study

There is needs for humans to interact, communicate, share ideas, transfer knowledge and get different information from other people and the only way of doing these is using language. Languages is considered as indispensable in human communication and Interaction. The importance of communication to man cannot be overemphasized especially in Human daily interactions.   The word, ‘language,’ has been defined in various ways by various language scholars. To begin with, Osundare (2003:36) sees language as the supreme tool or means of communication among humans. This definition implies that language is a tool or a code system that all human have in common. Language is made up of sounds or graphic symbols, which users or speakers have accepted to use as units of communication. Atchison (2007:17) submits that language has many functions, of which the major ones are to convey information, designed to be used to command, persuades or express feelings and particularly, for the promotion and maintenance of social contacts reflecting the issue of identity. Fishman (1996:81) affirms that “if we lose our language, we are essentially losing a way of life, of thought, of self-value and a particular human reality.” These assertions exposed the fact that humans use language to speak, write, listen and read and this is a fundamental capacity that distinguishes normal humans from any species existing in the world. The use of language is not restricted to only human beings but for the purpose of this study, this researcher is concentrating on a particular type of language used by human beings.

Language is indispensable in the process of education. This is so because language of what ever medium is used to educate young minds. Education, on the other hand,  is the bedrock of development of any nation and has a formative effect on the mind, character and physical capacities of the nation. Through education, a nation deliberately transmit accumulated knowledge skills and values from one generation to another, and in a way, evolves a national culture, character and identity. For this reason, education and educational change should serve as a symbol of our revolution towards a better society.

The French Language in Nigeria is learned as a language. Ajiboye (2002) stresses that “When we study language, we are approaching what some might call the human essence, the distinctive qualities of mind that are, so far as we know, unique to man.” Danladi (2005) shared in this view when he opined that, “To learn a language is not only reaching out to others but to maintain a variety of social bond, a shared sense of values and communal awareness.” The imperative of shared values of language is indispensable to general development of human society, be it political, economic, social and cultural values. Francois Hollande, the former president of France, emphasized this shared value of French Language when he said at the opening ceremony of La Francophonie , March 20th 2015, in Dakar Senegal ―La langue Françaisen’est plus une langue de la France ouune langue parlée par les anciennes colonies de la France maisc’est un langue de partage.(Today French has moved from the language spoken in France and spoken by the former French colonies to a language to be shared by all mankind), that is, French is a language to be shared. This could be true because of the inherent values in French language.

Currently, the teaching and learning of French language in Nigeria has made a shift from the language to be taught to Nigerians for the purpose of interacting with its francophone neighbours. French language is not only a foreign language but foreign and international language with its enormous potentials in terms of economic, political, technological, social and cultural benefits. It  has made Nigeria, an Island in the sea of francophone countries to tap into these unfathomable benefits by giving accelerated attention to the implementation of French language teaching and learning in its National Language Policy.

Importantly, National Language Policy (NPE) refers to official efforts to determine the status, use, domains, and territories of language(s) in a nation-state and the rights of the speakers of the languages in question. Peculiar to this research is the French Language and French Language Education in the National Policy of Education. Explicitly, some articles has written about the importance of French in Nigeria and it has been revealed that the language has played some significant roles in the development of Nigeria socially, culturally, economically, politically and technologically. It is worth knowing that its status has undergone a remarkable positive transformation. It has moved from non-recognition to recognition and from mere foreign language to a second official language in Nigeria.


Furthermore, it has become a compulsory subject in the primary schools and at the JSS levels (NPE, 2004). This transformation of French language not only testified to the fact that it provides job opportunities but, the fact that it has become a core subject in the primary, secondary, colleges of education, polytechnic and universities. French language in all its glory also has its own place, power and influence in the management of the contemporary society both in the world and Africa in particular. It is important to note that French Language and the contemporary society are inseparable as the modern world sees it as one of the major languages upon which civilization and technology depends on. This is glaring in the overwhelming number of English lexical items that are traceable to French language and the early study of French in the British school system. For instance, words like  ‘government’, ‘bureau’, ‘etiquette’,‘restaurant’, rendezvous’, ‘grand’, ‘grandiose’, ‘letter’, ‘envelope’, ‘toilette’‘lieutenant’  and so many others are borrowed from French language. However, it is worth mentioning here that the influence and prestige of French Language goes beyond the (English/French words borrowing) its influences can be seen in the body of literary, scientific and technological developments in Europe that were traceable to France. At a time, France became the centre of development in the area of the advancement due to human quest for better, improved means of coping with the world. Then, it was believed that Paris was the only locus of the intellectual pulsation of Europe (Ajiboye, 2002). Undoubtedly, intellectuals like Descartes, Boileau, Rousseau, Pasteur, Lavoisier, Pieget, Voltaire, to mention a few, left their footprints on the sand of history. These individuals constitute important landmarks in human development. Their works and contributions can only be appreciated when the language used is known.

It is important to note that, the teaching of French was introduced into Nigeria by the first generation missionaries a long time ago but it has suffered a great setback in the area of teaching and learning probably as a result of defect in the National Policy on Education. In the beginning, the politics of policy making in Nigeria, present her as unsafe water” for the French language to swim. Such policy include and are not limited to The 1979 and 1999 constitutions. These constitutions maintain that the business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in the three major languages of the country while English is up hold as the lingua franca of the country. Also, The National Policy on Education provides that children be taught in their mother tongue in the primary school during the first three years with English as a French Language was introduced to Nigeria as a foreign language. Students seem not to have the Opportunity of listening to French Language speakers before coming into contact with the subject in The school. Therefore at the secondary school level, the teaching of French begins with the Rudimentary aspect of French Language which seems to be a replica of the way they learnt their Mother tongue and English Language as school subjects in their primary school classes. subject of study, while in the last three years of primary education, English takes over as medium of instruction. This policy does not in anywhere support or encourage the teaching/learning of French in the Nigerian school system. This defect in the National Policies on Education as regards the teaching and learning of French has made education one-sided in Nigeria. This has been the researcher to question what roles French language plays in the national policy of education.

On the account of this background, This research will investigate the role of French language in the national policy on education.1

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Nigeria is the most populous black nation of the world, with a population that was placed at about 162.5 million as at 2011 (World Bank, 2013). However according to Olaniyi and Ajibade (2012), it has been identified as the least advanced of all the West African countries in terms of the development in the teaching of French language. Nigeria is intellectually and materially endowed, but it was observed that the implementation of French language as the second official language still suffers tremendous set back, most especially when the country thrived to be one of the twenty most developed nations in the year 2020.  Nigeria is indecisive on which language to adopt as the national language. This is why the position of the three main indigenous languages i.e. Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba is uncertain. And the position of the French language is unpredictable owing up to the fact that Nigeria does not have an explicit national language policy,

It is heart-warming to note that the Government and several millions of Nigerian speakers recognize the role of French in national and international development, the language is not viewed as global language but as the official language of African and international organizations. However,  some Nigerian speakers, however, refuse to recognize or accept the status of French as Nigeria’s official languages. They rather view it as “foreign” or “colonial” language that should be replaced with a suitable mother tongue as official language. Evidently, In Nigeria today, the status of English language is however much better than that of French, the latter being the language of instruction and taught in most primary, secondary and tertiary schools across the country. As a second official language, French should also enjoy all the rights and privileges of every official language such as compulsory teaching and learning at all levels of education, use in government offices, churches, National Assembly, schools, Colleges and universities.

Owing to the fact that French Language was introduced to Nigeria as a foreign language, students seem not to have the opportunity of listening to French Language speakers in their natural environment before coming into contact with the subject in the school. Therefore at the secondary school level, the teaching of French begins with the rudimentary aspect of French Language which seems to be a replica of the way they learnt their mother tongue and English Language as school subjects in their schools. Convincingly, some students has the belief that learning French was not as important as the learning of English Language, and as such, seem not to be interested in learning the French language.

Based on a participant observation survey by the researcher, few records of teachers’ qualification seems to show that graduate who are French teacher are not many. Likewise, in Teacher’s training and retraining, French Language teachers seem not to have the privilege of being retrained like their counterparts in English Language. Therefore most of them rely on the experience acquired during their school days, this implies that they have no access to modern techniques of teaching French Language and this will affect the implementation of the programme. There seems to be an inadequate supply of textbooks. The French Language Curriculum seems not to be stable as new items are being included very often without corresponding training of the teachers. It seems there is lack of effectiveness and monitoring of every segment of the curriculum, which makes the achievement of French language as one of the core subjects difficult.

Based on the issues identified above, the researcher deemed it fit to investigate the French language and National Policy on Education. It is important to investigate the role of French language in the National Policy on Education (NPE). Therefore, this study will set to investigate the role and status of the French Language in the National Policy on Education.


1.3 Aim and Objectives

This study will investigate French language and the National Policy on Education. Explicitly, the aim of the study will be to account for the role and status of French Language in Nigeria and its place in the National Policy of Education. The researcher has the intention of achieving the following specific objectives when carrying out the research work:

  1. To account for the objectives of the National policy on education as regards to the French language.
  2. To reveal the contemporary issues facing the implementation of the policy
  3. To reveal the attitude of Nigerians towards the policy on French language
  4. To demonstrate the impact of the policy on the French language in Nigeria.
  5. To predict the future of the language in the country.
    • Research Questions

In achieving the set objectives of this study, the study will try to answer the following questions  raised:

  • What is the status and role of French language in the Nigeria and in the National policy of Education?
  • What are the objectives of the National Policy on education as regards French language?
  • What are the contemporary issues facing the implantation of the policy on the language?
  • What are the attitude of Nigerians towards the policy on French Language?
  • What is the future of French language in Nigeria?
    • Significant of the Study

This study, titled “The French Language and National Policy of Education” is embarked upon because even with reference to the provisions in the National Policy on Education (2004), Nigeria is still battling with language priority decision. This is a situation where two exogenous languages are given the status of official languages but one is given a superior status of a core subject, while the other is left as almost at the verge of extinction. Hence, The findings of this study would be of immense benefit to the government at all levels and relevant stakeholders in the teaching-learning process such as State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), National Education Research Development Commission (NERDC) in order to guide policies to be made.  Finding of this study would provide the needed insight so as to know the attitude that effective teaching and learning of French Language in secondary schools, and possible strategies for effective teaching and findings of this study would assist French Language learning.


Students would benefit from the findings of this study by helping them identify attitudes that hinder their effective learning and thereby adjust. Teachers would benefit from the findings of this study because it would educate them about the attitude that affects their effective teaching and lead them to the solutions of the detected problems.


It would also provide a frame work for future researchers who may want to explore more knowledge about the policy on language in Nigeria, role the French language is playing in the nation both nationally and internationally wise coupled with attitudes of students towards the teaching and learning of French Language in secondary schools. The findings in this study could also be useful to other researchers, who may want to undertake similar research in future as it will serve as a foundation on which they build on.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of this study is limited to French teachers and students of Government  owned secondary school in the five Local Government Area in Lagos State, Nigeria. Ideally, the study should cover more French teachers and students to make for representatively but this could not be possible because of certain constraints. One of such constraint is time. This study has to be written and submitted within a given period and alongside academic pursuit.


  • Literature Review

The purpose of this chapter will be to supply information on what has been discovered in previous works of related scholars by carrying out a general review on concepts related to the study. To achieve this, books and articles followed by empirical studies undertaken by some researchers and scholars will be reviewed and the gap which this study will fill, will be revealed.


  • Method of Data Collection and Analysis

This study will adopt a descriptive survey research method. It will sample the opinion of different people by selecting and organizing data from selected people who will be meant to represent the entire population for the study. The population consisted of a reasonable percent of French teachers and students of French language in the Junior Secondary Schools in South West Nigeria. The sample consisted of 100 students and 100 teachers. Five local government in Lagos state, Nigeria will be purposively selected for the study. Stratified random sampling technique will be used to select ten (10) schools in each of the selected local government areas.

Specifically, the study will adopt the administration of questionnaire as its method of data collection. While the data will be analysed in quantitative method using simple percentage.














Working Reference

Adeniyi, F.O. (2010). Researches and materials for teaching English Language in Nigeria primary and secondary schools. In applied social dimension of language use and teaching in West Africa Festschrift in Honour of Professor Tunde Ajiboye (pp 240-244) Ghana: University Press.

Ade-Ojo, S. (2006). Venezparlerfrançais avec moi. An Inaugural Lecture Delivered atthe University of Lagos, University of Lagos Press.


Ajiboye, T. ( 2002). Nigeria and French: A Paradox of Closeness and Distance. Internet Journal of Education. Internet source. Accessed 9th October, 2022.


Ajiboye, T. (2004).Language teaching in Nigeria schools: Where the odds lie in Jimoh

Y.A.A.(ed) Journal of General and Applied Linguistic, 2. 1-8.


Akoha, B.A (1999) “ Le Francais et la promotion des languesBeninois “ in Langue et Pedagogue. Le Francais au Benin (Actes de la table ronde sur I ‘enseignementduFrancais au Benin). Cotonou Centre Beninois des languesEstrangeres (CEBELAE) June.


Ansa,  S. (2003); Language and the politics of integration in Nigeria. In O. Essien and M. Okon (Eds.) Topical Issues in Linguistics: The Nigerian Perspective (343-352) Emhai. Port Harcourt.


Brooks, N. (1969). Language and Language Learning. 2Nd ed. Harcourt Branch World Inc.


Crystal, S. (1999), cited by Danladi, S .(2005) in Nigeria and the Role of English Language in the 21st Century.


Danladi, S.(2005), Language Policy: Nigeria and the Role of English Language in the 21st Century. ISB4. Proceeding of the 4th International Symposium of Bilingualism. (ed.) James Cohen, Kara et al.


Federal Ministry of Education (1998). National Policy on Education. Lagos: Federal

Government Press.


Federal Ministry of Education (2000). Universal Basic Education (UBE) Implementation

Blueprint. Lagos: Federal Government Press. Fourth Edition.


Federal Ministry of Education, (2001). National curriculum for junior secondary schools

French language. Ministerial committee on the Review of French Language Syllabus and Curriculum, Abuja.


Federal Ministry of Education (2002). National Policy on Education. Lagos: Federal

Government Press. Fourth Edition.


Federal Republic of Nigeria, (2004).National policy on education.(4thed).Lagos: NERDC Press.


Obanya, P.A.I.(2002):Understanding and using English. Onitsha: Lead way Books Ltd.


Offorma, G.C. (2002): Overview of Modern Foreign Language (MFL) Methods and techniques. International Journal of Arts and Technology Education.2(1):25-30.


Opara, C.C. (2001). “ French Language Education for Intercultural Understanding:Implications for National Development” in Journal of the World Council forCurriculum and Instruction. Nigerian chapter, 3 (1).15



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