Revisiting the Language Factor in Education in Nigeria: The Peculiar Case of Simultaneous Bilinguals and Asymmetric Bilinguals
This article explores language policy implications of the emergence in Nigeria, of children whose language acquisition sequences do not follow the mother-tongues-first order, which current language policy guidelines are based on. Current guidelines (which favour mother tongue education at primary education level), leverage on psycholinguistic and learning advantages of mother tongues education, giving the assumption that children would have developed appreciable mastery of their mother tongues at school age. Using an analytical approach, this article assesses cogent secondary data and posits that children who do not follow the mother-tongue-first order, and instead are simultaneous bilinguals and asymmetric bilinguals, have become significant components of Nigeria’s population. The article highlights the psycholinguistic peculiarities of these emergent groups, pointing out their peculiar learning characteristics, and arguing that they usuallydo not possess the mastery of mother tongue, which makes mother tongue education advantageous. In this regard, the article suggests that official policy on language of education in Nigeria must henceforth accommodate variations according to sociolinguistic peculiarities of different locales. Finally, the article recommends that accurate statistics of language use among Nigerian children is required particularly in urban cosmopolitan areas, as this is an essential precursor to any meaningful update of existing language of instruction policy.