Yoruba is one of the three major languages recognised by the government of Nigeria
as a medium of instruction at school. It is the language of the people living in the
Southwestern part of Nigeria. As part of the Nigerian government’s responsibility to
promote indigenous language as a medium of instruction in schools, the National
Policy on Education (FGN, 2004) stipulates that the first three years of primary
education should be taught in learners’ mother tongue. This study was aimed at
investigating how teachers experience the use of Yoruba as a medium of instruction
in primary classes. Furthermore, the study wanted to determine if these experiences
promote learning or not.
The study was qualitative in nature and made use of a case study research design.
Ten teachers participated in the study and two primary schools were purposively
selected. Teachers were interviewed and observed during teaching to determine how
they experienced the teaching of Yoruba in primary classes.
The study was premised on the theoretical framework and related concepts which
included the two schools of thought that argue for and against the use of mother
tongue in teaching and learning. Concepts of culture, lived experiences and funds of
knowledge were also examined from this perspective. The theories of identity and
empowerment were examined to support the study.
The data were analysed through themes which were categorised into subdivisions.
From these themes and categories two main groups emerged, namely a positive and
negative group. The positive group outweighed the negative group. Teachers were
passionate about Yoruba through their identification with the language in the way
they dressed and styled their hair. They transmitted the values in the language to
learners through songs, riddles, rhymes, proverbs and excursions to traditional
places. In conclusion, the teacher as the facilitator of knowledge was examined through
interview and observation. The results revealed that primary school teachers used in
the study experienced many challenges while using Yoruba as a medium of
instruction in schools but despite these challenges, they were able to teach Yoruba
It is recommended that the training of indigenous language teachers need to be
intensified and encouraged. The government should provide enough policy
documents for schools for teachers to understand the stipulations regarding the use
of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction in the document and be up to date.
The government should also embark on the production of relevant textbooks in
indigenous languages for teaching in primary schools in Nigeria.