I signed in frustration, planning to give up right at this point. This was my first Junior Secondary School 3 mathematics class, as a Delta born corp member, and here I was, facing the all formidable language barrier.
Barakat, one of the students has brazenly told me to use Yoruba to teach them; else they wouldn’t understand anything I teach. I would have flared up at such impudence, or tell her that their not understanding due to me not teaching in their native tongue wasn’t going to be my fault, but then, this was me; a lover of kids, and one that loves impacting knowledge to the younger generation, any challenge that comes in between me and dishing out knowledge must be surmounted.
I quickly rummaged my brain for solution, while still holding her gaze which was strangely defiant for a student, I was guessing she was aware of the backing of her classmates, probably that gave her more morale. I smiled as I hit upon a solution in my mind.
I swept a gaze at all the students in the class slowly, before resting it on this young, bold, and innocent antagonist of mine, “Why do you feel that learning only in Yoruba language is what’s best for you?” I asked her.
“Because that’s what we grew up with here; that’s what our previous teacher taught us with, and we enjoyed it”, she answered proudly.
“Do you ever plan on going outside the country some day, like going to maybe Canada, or USA, for holidays or something?” I threw at her.
She looked at me queerly, “Of course, who doesn’t want to travel out?”
I nod my head, preparing to drop my missile, “Good, now let’s say that dream of yours comes to pass, you’re in Canada on a holiday, and something comes up, where you have to explain to some white kids how to go about a little problem, how do you plan on doing that, if all the teachings you have received have been in only Yoruba language? Remember white kids don’t understand your language.”
“Ermm, ermm”, she stuttered, obviously thrown back by my question, “I will just tell them that if they can’t understand Yoruba, they should go away.”
I smiled, “Would that portray a good image of you as an intelligent person that I believe you are?”
She bent her head, obviously defeated, no sir.”
“Of course not.” Few minutes later, I was explaining to them the importance of the universal language, English language, and why they needed to understand it, along sides their native language. I smiled as they all listened with rapt attention.