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Foreign Language


Generally speaking, a language that is not indigenous to a speaker is a
foreign language. This is why Akindele and Adeg bite (1999: 52) say
that a foreign language “can be defined as the sequentially second
language of a bilingual person”. They proceed further to say that it could
be “the second, third, fourth...language of a multilingual person”.

Strictly speaking, however, a foreign language is that which a bilingual
or multilingual person uses for restrictedpurposes and in which he
possesses only partial linguistic competence. In other words, the speaker
of a foreign language has very limited linguistic facility in the language.
If you compare a second language with a foreign language, you will
realise that a foreign language is of less utilitarian importance than a
second language. Technically speaking, a foreign language ceases to be
foreign when it is used for wide-ranging purposes. Going by this, we
shall regard English as a second language in Nigeria and not a foreign
language, although the language is not indigenous to Nigeria.
An important feature of a foreign language, therefore, is that it is used
for certain restricted or specialised activities like foreign travels, tourism
and contact with foreign cultures (Alo,1995: 2). The fact that the
speaker’s exposure to a foreign language is minimal accounts for his
inadequate linguistic facility in the language. In Nigeria, French may be
used as a foreign language, while English may be used as a foreign
language in France, Germany, Japan, Togo etc.

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