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We are back on campus of the University of Ibadan. We have already missed our fellow students, so today we have some more meetings planned. First thing in the morning we participate in an English phonology class from Dr. Osisanwo. Suprasegmental analysis is not easy. We just sit and watch, and admire the way the lecturer manages to engage everyone in the lesson, although the class is quite full, with at least 30 people. The Nigerians really value the opportunity to go to university, so they don’t waste time just sitting around, they ask questions and follow everything that the lecturer says very carefully. The lecturer himself is very young and energetic, after the class he receives us in his office and tells us a bit about his own education and his duties as professor and supervisor. Unbelievable but sometimes there are over 100 students in a PhD seminar!
At 2 o’clock we meet with Prof. Igboanusi’s linguistic students in the gardens of the Arts faculty. This is a great occasion for us to learn about the linguistic situation in Nigeria and, at the same time, teach them about the linguistic situation in Germany. The biggest difference between our countries is that Nigeria is multilingual and Germany is mainly monolingual. The students are quite surprised to hear that we don’t speak English in our everyday life in Germany, but only make use of it in school, university or certain professional fields. Nigerians in comparison, especially those with a higher education, speak English almost all the time. Although they have an indigenous mother tongue, English is the media of instruction in school and university (except for the first three years in primary school). When we ask them, if it annoys for them to learn Biology, Mathematics and etc. in English, they disagree. Since Nigeria has over 500 languages, kids who go to the same school together may not speak the same language. Hence they need English as a lingua franca to communicate. Moreover they explain that some native languages have quite a limited vocabulary, so certain words of the educational context simply don’t exist.
Surprisingly, they personally prefer to speak English over their native language, since English in Nigeria is linked with literacy, power and prestige. “If you can’t speak English here, you will not have any career chance.“ Still, most of them speak several native languages to communicate with their surroundings. The salesmen on the market and the elder in Ile-Ife for example couldn’t speak English. Quite impressed by all this new informations, we head to the local market and relax in the sun with fresh coconuts and pineapples.
Text: Sandra Hesse, Anna Korneva und Valerie Pobloth
Published online by: Alina Grünky
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