This research work deals with the causes of poor performance of students in J.S.S.C. English Language Examinations. It lists out some causes and their efforts on the performance of J.S.S. students. It goes further to offer suggested solutions. It looks further at the method of gathering information on the research work, analysis of the data collected on the work and the final conclusion and recommendation to solving the problems facing learning of English language in the J.S.S class.



Title Page                                                              i

Certification                                                           ii

Dedication                                                             iii

Acknowledgement                                                  iv

Abstract                                                                vi

Table of Content                                                     vii


  • Introduction 1

1.2  Background to the Study                                         3

1.3  Statement of Problem                                      6

1.4  Purpose of the Study                                        7

1.5  Scope of the Study                                          9

1.6  Limitation of the Study                                     10

1.7  Aims and Objectives of the Study                      10


2.0  Review of Literature                                                14

2.1  Factor Affecting Teaching–Learning of

English Language at J.S.S Levels                        23

2.2  Causes of Poor Performance of J.S.S

Students in English Language                            24

  • Attitudes of Students Towards

English Language.                                            27

  • Attitude of Teachers Towards

English Language.                                            30

2.5  Learning Environment                                      38

2.6  Laboratory Equipment/Instruction Materials         40

2.7  Poor Family Background                                   42


  • Methodology 47

3.1  Research Method                                             47

  • Population 47
  • Sample                                                        48
  • Student Questionnaire 49
  • Instrumentation Construction and Administration 50
  • Method of Data Analysis 51


  • Analysis of Data 53


5.0  Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation              71

5.1  Summary                                                       74

5.2  Conclusion                                                      75

5.3  Recommendation                                             76

References                                                             79

Appendix                                                               81








In Nigeria today, English Language is regarded as the language of instruction, communication, education commerce and politics. It is therefore evident that, the great need to improve on the study of English language as a second language by the students cannot be overemphasized. Most students particularly in our junior secondary school classes are very weak and have nonchalant attitudes towards the study of English language and this subsequently affects their good performances in other language skills such as hearing, listening and writing English Language as a second language (L2).


English Language became the second language in Nigeria at the colonization of Nigerians by the British. With English as a second Language (ESL), everybody, especially the students in schools, those who seek public post, e.t.c have to learn English. It becomes necessary for the people to have a good command of the language in terms of lexis and structure and the actual pronunciation of English words.


As children began to attend school and as they graduated from one class to another, the reality of the importance of learning English as a second language began to be felt to the extent that they do not only need to learn English in the school as second language, but also as a means of communication  between students and teachers. In the student’s desperate attempt to do well in English and be able to use English effectively some factors either consciously or unconsciously facilitate and neglect these students’ efforts and abilities.


Some of these factors are the ones this work will be researching into.



Language is a medium of communication; it is the meaningful communication of a message to a receiver. There are a lot of languages spoken throughout the world and English is one of them.


English language is the language of the English (1150–1450) and modern English (1450 – percent). It is the most widely used language in the world either as mother tongue or second language. It is the mother tongue for more than three million people. It is the main commercial language for no fewer than 1,200 million people (Kolawole, 2000).


This emphasizes how important English language is in our world. In our day to day report, millions of people around the world use English either at work or during leisure. English is often the only language that links together people from different countries when they meet. It is the official language of various international organizations.


The imperative nature of English language is a unifying force in a highly populated nation like Nigeria, where there are over 450 ethnic groups that have their own languages, cannot be underestimated. English language has been made our official and business language and that it has gone a long way to grossly reduce these problems of cultural diversity that has militated against our national unity. English is essential not only for educational instruction but also for business, political and economic purposes both nationally and internationally.


The speaking of English language has been a big problem to Nigeria and individual citizens of these nations. It has made it very difficult for a lot of people to interact through the use of English. Some do it with a lot of construction of grammar and some with the interference of another tongue (L1). It is quite important to note that the poor use of English language will go a long way to dent out image both nationally and globally since the youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow and if our children in the secondary schools later qualify in their fields, it becomes absolutely problematic for them to practice effectively since they will need English in their operations and business interactions.


For this reason, English language has been made a compulsory subject to be passed at Junior Secondary School level as it is the Nigerian official language. Moreover, it is more compulsory as it is the main commercial language in the country and even the most compulsory as it is the second most popularly spoken language in the world.


Unfortunately, its necessity does not approximate to the level or rate at which J.S.S students pass it. Does this mean the subject is too complicated to understand or the teachers are not merely good enough?


These questions and other more are the burden of concern that incites the researcher into carrying out this research.



The study will base its findings on the causes of mass failure in English language in Junior Secondary School Certificate examination (J.S.S.C.E). The researcher will also focus attention on the areas such as:

(i)    How unserioussness of students affects their performance in J.S.S.C.E examination?

(ii)   How inadequacy, insufficiency or non-availability of language laboratory and/or equipment result in mass failure of J.S.S Students in English?

(iii)  The methods or techniques adopted by some teachers in teaching English language, as it contributes to mass failure in English language in J.S.S.C.E

(iv)  How does qualification of teachers influence the performance of J.S.S students in English language in J.S.S.C.E?

(v)   The effect of family background on J.S.S students’ performance in English language.



The basic objective of this study is to carry out an investigation into the causes of mass failure of students in English language J.S.S.C.E and the specified objectives are stated in the following paragraphs.

Firstly, it is to find out how the unseriousness of students causes mass failure in English language J.S.S.C.E.

Secondly, is to ascertain the problems encountered by some teachers in the teaching of English language Junior Secondary School level.

Thirdly, is to discover the extent to which inadequacy of laboratory equipment causes mass failure in English language J.S.S.C.E.

Also, to determine how the attitude of some teachers in teaching English language contribute to the mass failure of students in English language J.S.S.C.E examinations.

Lastly, to offer suggestions and likely solutions on how the performance of J.S.S students in English language can improve.


This research focuses attention on the causes of mass failure in J.S.S.C.E English language examinations, but due to time factor and financial constrain, the researcher will limit the finding to the following areas:

  • The unserioussness of J.S.S students towards English language;
  • Method used by the same teachers in teaching English language;
  • The inadequacy of laboratory equipments used in teaching English language;
  • Effects of unqualified teachers teaching in our junior secondary schools, on the performance of their students; and
  • The effect of family background on the performance of J.S.S students in English language.


The researcher would have extended the study to other schools but for time constrains, it would be limited to the above suggested areas (those listed under scope of the study).


The aim of this study is to examine the causes of mass failure of students in J.S.S.C.E English language examinations. The result of this research will be interest to the school who are continuously searching for techniques to improve the over all performance of students in English language J.S.S.C.E examinations.

It is also believed that the result of this study will be of interest to parents, guardians, students, and teachers and to the schools as a whole because of the emphasis being placed on the use of English language in the country.


The research would be based on the following:

  1. Will students’ unserioussness result in their failure in English language of J.S.S.C.E examinations?
  2. Can non-availability/inadequacy of laboratory equipment cause mass failure in English language     J.S.S.C.E        examinations?
  3. Can attitude of English language teachers cause mass failure in English language J.S.S.C.E examinations?
  4. Will the employment of unqualified teachers causes mass failure in English language J.S.S.C.E examinations?
  5. Will poor family background result in mass failure in J.S.S.C.E English language?



This research finding would be based on the following assumptions:

  1. The mass failure of students in JSSCE English language examinations is not caused by unserioussness of the   students.
  2. Non-availability or inadequacy of laboratory equipment in our laboratories would not cause mass failure in        English    language JSSCE examinations.
  3. Mass failure of students in English language JSSCE examination is not caused by attitudes of the English   language teachers.
  4. Mass failure of students in English language JSSCE examination is not caused by unqualified teachers       handling the subjects in our schools.
  5. Poor family background of the students does not have any influence on the students’ performance in English  language JSSCE examinations.

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