Multilingualism As A Tool For Effective Learning in Nigeria

Effective Learning in Nigeria through Multilingualism | Benefits of multilingualism | characteristics of multilingualism | solutions to multilingual challenges | multilingual challenges

Multilingualism As A Tool For Effective Learning in Nigeria

Multilingualism in Nigeria should be seen as a thing of joy because it is great tool for developing Nigerian education as well as the country at large.

You should note that multilingualism advantages as well as the benefit of speaking more than two languages in a particular nation like Nigeria can not be overemphasized.

Nigeria is a west African Black state with about 140 million citizens (2006 population census figure). The country covers area of 923,766 square kilometres with not less than 200 Ethic Groups.

Nigeria is politically composed of 36 States and Abuja, the federal capital territory. The 36 states in Nigeria is further divided into 6 Geo graphical zones which comprises of the North Central (NC), North East (NE), North West (NW), South West (SW), South East (SE) and South (SS).

Apparently, it is Estimated that over 400 languages are spoken in Nigeria of which which yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and English are the most recognized languages in Nigeria.

By multilingual, we mean a person or a state that speaks two or more languages. It is no doubt most people do not know what multilingualism is although I have just defined it in a simple way, but nevertheless, I will like to employ the Definition of two young scholars in Nigerian university’s, EBSU and IMSU precisely to defining multilingualism.

What is Multilingualism | Defining the subject matter.

Multilingualism is the use of two or more languages in a country. It is a process whereby a nation uses two or more languages as a means of spoken communication in the state, (Imsu scholar, 2020).

Meanwhile, since bilingual means a state or country or an individual with a spoken communication language of two. Therefore, multilingual is a nation, country, state or individual capable of speaking two or more languages so far multi means many, (EBSU scholar, 2020).

As we all know Nigeria is a state and also a nation state because it encompasses different languages with different culture, belief,customs and tradition and also not having one sense of belonging that’s why multilingualism is much. Below is a list of multilingual state. I bet you may just find your country among my list.

List of multilingual state (some multilingual country)

  • Russia (24 official languages across all republics)
  • India (23 official languages)
  • Zimbabwe (16 official languages)
  • South Africa (11 official languages)
  • Serbia (7 official languages)
  • Nigeria ( 4 official languages)
  • Switzerland (4 national languages)
  • The Netherlands (4 official languages)
  • Moldova (4 official languages) , and many other countries.

Regardless that we have multilingual countries, it is also good to note that some countries are Bilingual in nature while some are just lingual ( lingual in the same that they speak one official language in that country)

But we are not discussing that, we are of concern is multilingualism As A Tool For Effective Learning in Nigeria. How Nigerian education can become a better one through the use of multilingualism as an effective teaching aid.

Questions are being asked what will become the benefits of multilingualism in Nigeria Education system..what will happen?
Below are the sorted benefits of multilingualism in Nigeria education.

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Benefits of multilingualism in Nigeria Education.

Enhances learning Ability:

Not everyone is good with English language especially the Western Nigerians (Yorubas) and the northerners (Hausas) which are both taught from birth their languages; thus getting addicted to speaking their indigenous language.

In such a condition, applying a general (single) language to teaching in school may not be easy on them because learning may seem so unusual to such a person since he or she is not used to it.

Dear, Nigerian reader’s, you agree with me that they are at times a Yoruba girl wishes to address a boy but ends up saying “she is not around”. She is not wrong and that is only because she is not used to the English imposed on students in schools.

I sincerely believe that the use of multilingualism in school will serve as a sharp tool for effective learning, quick adaptation and less stress on the side of the school teacher’s and the student’s.

Effective communication with less or no barrier:

Communication skill is a need ability especially in the era we are in now. Just as some scholars of sociology had lamented about social problems bringing about social changes and vice versa, the same way ICT knowledge professional keeps scream for the need for students to learn ICT Skills in Nigeria and be effective in their communication.

Effective Communication is one of the benefits of multilingualism in Nigeria education a student will derive. This is because multilingualism in schools will opened room for students from differs places to express their opining in the language that is best known to them.

Proven has shown that many students do not speak during a class teachings not because they not know what to speak, but they just can’t figure how to speak it in the language the teacher wants it.

Multilingual education in Nigeria can be a room for students to express themselves more in a classroom. That’s is how important multilingualism is.

An exemplary is, In class where a teacher seeks for a answer to a question. Student’s refused to indicate so that they can be identified and called upon to speak. Then the teacher decides to give the question as an assignment. You will see that many students will have a pass on the question.

Also, multilingualism in classroom will enable the students to effectively communicate with one another without the need for body language and so uncalled demonstrations especially for those that are not really good in English speaking.

Ability to be multilingual:

Using multilingualism in classroom does not only stand as a tool for effective learning but as a factor which allows the students in that school to learn each others language.

Through the application of multilingualism in school, students will be able to learn other tribes languages there by becoming multilingual if they weren’t.

Using myself as a case study. When I was schooling in the Eastern Nigeria which happens to be my origin, I only know how to speak Igbo and some other local dialects (izzi, Ezamgbo and Ezza).

I moved to the West and there I learnt how to speak in English, Yoruba and also a little of French because we were taught in school.

Multilingualism advantages is so big as you are now aware it will help your communication skills, make learning more effective for you, help you to actualize the dream of being a multilingual student as you so desire.

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Becoming self employed:

Through the introduction of multilingual education in Nigeria schools and learning other languages, one can teach other people who doesn’t know the language thereby getting some penny as an appreciation of the services rendered.

It is no doubt that the benefits of multilingualism in education is far fetched as it does not end in the classroom where it is taught but also follows the individual to the business sector. See the next point for clearer understanding of what I mean by multilingualism in business development and growth.

Helps in the international environment.

A market or point of sales where there is free language is not just ad developed and growing one, but also a sweet one. One importance of multilingualism is the tendency it has to make the market place a success.

With multilingualism, people who have gathered to either sale or purchase goods and services can easily transact since communication will no longer be a problem especially in a multinational market.

Take for instance, a multinational market having Nigeria, China and Turkey as the country coming together to transact. A Chinese man is equipped with Igbo Language, a Nigerian man is also learnt in the Chinese speaking and the Turkish man is one who understands Nigerian language.

Due to this factor, making transactions and communications become easier and simple for the three parties. Aside for easy transaction, understanding, cheating and other form that may weigh the business partnering would surely be lesser.

There is no denial to the fact that multilingual advantages are way numerous, the way these advantages are, lies the factors of multilingualism in Nigeria (country of study).

Before the factors of multilingualism in Nigeria society, it would be best to remind you of the characteristics of multilingualism so you can easily identify a multilingual person or community.

According to some scholars, multilingualism definition is something that can not taken into one side. Just as sociology and other courses in the school/university, multilingualism does not have a single definition, but with these characteristics of multilingualism, you should be able to identify a multilingual person or community through the following features.

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Characteristics of multilingualism

1. Multilingualism is the use of two or more than two languages either by an individual speaker or by a group of individual speakers. Notably, it is believed that the use of multilingualism outnumbers.

2. Multilingual person must have at least maintained one language during birth which is often referred to as mother tongue or first language (FL).

With these two characteristics of multilingualism, you can now easily identify the features of a multilingual community without much stress. Really, there are many People who often have a misconception concerning multilingualism. Below are some of the misconceptions placed on multilingualism.

1. That exposing a child to more than one language is likely to cause language impairments.

2. That students/children do not have time to learn more than one language, therefore it is best to focus on one.

3. Students/children who speaks above one language are likely to be confused of the language to use during interactive process.

4. That bilingualism can lead to cognitive issues thereby producing poor academic performance.

5. Another myth often associated with bi/multilingualism is that, the individual’s vocabulary tends to be a mess compared to a monolingual individual or community. It is important to know that monolingualism is most common with the Europeans.

Also note the following concerning the topic discussed before we go the problems of multilingualism to development of Nigeria and the solutions.

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Multilingualism can also be refereed to as a polyglot as these mean one or community through that speaks several languages. Individual or group of community that speaks a single language is considered as monolingual while the speaking of three languages is knowns as Trilingual.

Multilingual challenges in Nigeria

The problems of multilingualism to development in Nigeria must be considered. Just as we all know, anything good must be bad. Bad in the sense that it has a problem or issue faced by the community involved.

The following are some of the challenges facing a multilingual society.

  • Multilingualism creates a problem in the societal and individual level.

When we talk of the problem of multilingualism, we should take a country as a case study. A country like Nigeria has been a victim of language problem since her independence.

Also in the life of a multilingual person, the person may develop a cognitive issue as a result of thought of which language to use which may trigger the brain.

  • The choice of language to use.

Just like I have said earlier that more than a language In a student or individual life may become a challenge for the individual during the choice of word or language to use during speech.

In Nigeria, Igbo specifically, it is a high disrespect for a young person to reply an elder in a language he or she is not spoken to.

An example is, a situation whereby Robertson is spoken Swedish to, Robertson knows more than four languages including Swedish, but he is expected to respond back with that same Swedish be is spoken to.

  • Communicational challenges

Communication skills is very vital in the society. One who is equipped with lot of languages may start misunderstanding the communication style and ethics of the language involved.

  • Multilingualism could destroy nationalism.

Introducing a new language could just be another big problem and a threat to the nation of a particular state. It is better to embrace nationalism than to kill it off in place of multilingualism.

Solutions to multilingual challenges

It is of a truth that multilingual challenges are there and can not be completely ignored, but one thing is sure, and that is the good multilingualism has offered us.

From the words of (Kosmidis, 2006), non monolingual students develop larger vocabulary over ages. Below are some of the solutions to multilingual challenges in a society.

  • Develop a national language

To succeed with multilingualism, the nation state must come up with a plan to develop a national language which we become an official language for the whole community.

  • Spread nationalism beyond the grounds of language.

Also, nationalism which entails the feeling of belongingness, struggle and fight for ones country due to the love he or she has towards it must be common in the life of most of the members over the love of language. By embracing nationalism over language, the citizens will be more solidified.


Effectively using multilingualism can help us promote peace, love and understanding especially in a country like nigher which has hundreds of known languages and unknown languages.

Students, teachers and every member in the society today can become benefactor of multilingual offerings which is a room for quicker understanding, speaking of many languages and also making our business sector a strong firm.

I thereby employ Nigerians, non Nigerians, Africans, Americans and the world globally to picture and make use of multilingualism because it has great things to offer us than it’s disadvantages.

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