The Effects of Accentual Variations in English on the Academic Performance of Some Selected Students of the Nigerian-Turkish Nile University, Abuja

Sunday Okakwu Ape, Nigeria, ID CLEaR2016-311;      This paper is an investigation into the effects of accentual variations in English on the academic performance of students in Nigerian universities. Some three-hundred level students of Electrical-Electronic Engineering in the Nigerian-Turkish Nile University, Abuja have been used as a case study to generate data for the study. The students were of different nationalities including Nigerians, Turkish, Egyptians, Nigeriens, etc. They spoke the English language with some marked accents, showing a deviation from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) accent of the language. To collect the required data for the study, the researcher embarked on surreptitious recording of lectures in some lecture theatres and halls. The essence of  the surreptitious recording was to avoid unnecessary distractions to both the lecturers and their students. Care was however taken to control noise in the process of the recording. The recorded lectures were transcribed and built into a set of questionnaires, which were ultimately tested on the selected students-respondents. Useful data were generated, studied and analyzed. The data collected show that there are accentual variations in the English speech of both the lecturers and the students and that they lack adequate attunement to one another’s accents. The Nigerian found the Turkish accent relatively strange and the Turkish also found the Nigerian accent of English strange to some level. The students' notes or writings show some serious levels of misperception of the lectures as a result of the variations in the accents. Some have gaps unfilled in their notes from the recorded lectures. In clear terms, the students sometimes perceive their lecturers wrongly and fail to answer questions correctly. Their academic performances are thus affected negatively by the availability of accentual variations. The data have been generated using the sociolinguistic method of research initiated by William Labov of the United States of America, Peter Trudgill of the United Kingdom and Mark Attah of the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. By statistical analysis, the study has found out that the Nigerian accent of English is the most understood by the students in Nigerian universities, and that other accents like the Indian, Turkish, American, do not help much. It is therefore recommended that students and their lecturers, both Nigerians and non-Nigerians, in Nigerian universities should endeavour to conquer inhibiting issues in their communication. They should endeavour to be attuned to one another's accents of English. By this, the pedagogic communication will improve and reflect handsomely on students' academic performance.