Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Nicola McClung

Second Advisor

Susan Katz

Third Advisor

Sedique Popal


Nigerians lack access to effective mother tongue education (MTE) at all levels of their schooling. It is well established that cognitive and educational benefits are achieved if one’s mother tongue (MT) is used as the medium of education. This study aimed to determine how adult Nigerians around the world who had been deprived of using their mother tongues (MTs) in their education reflect on their past experiences with negative messages or colonial language ideologies received in school. Also, it explored how these past experiences have shaped their positive MT identities, their MT experiences, and their perspectives on MTE. In this context, MTE is defined as using MT and English side by side as mediums of instruction at all levels of the Nigerian education system.

An online survey was posted to adult Nigerians on WhatsApp social media. This survey was designed to examine the extent to which colonial language ideologies impacted a positive MT identity, MT experience, and perspectives on MTE. In addition, the survey measured the extent to which respondents believed students should be educated in both English and their MTs. The purpose of the survey was to test the relationships between the variables involved. These Nigerians (194) met the criteria of having had their elementary and/or their secondary education in Nigeria. Respondents were asked to respond to 22 survey questions (18 quantitative closed multiple choice and four qualitative open-ended). Fully completed responses (139) were analyzed using summary statistics (mean, standard deviation, histogram, and bar graph), regression analysis, Chi-Square statistic tests, boxplots, and correlation coefficient matrix. The results showed significant differences and variability in the distributions and relationships among the variables of interest. That is, respondents received varying levels of colonial language ideologies: some low, some high, but the majority in the middle ranges. Surprisingly, most respondents had higher positive MT identity and MT experience than was expected, but they reported different perspectives about the levels of education students should use MT and English as mediums of instruction in Nigerian schools.

These results suggest that Nigerians overwhelmingly support MTE, and more awareness of colonial language ideologies or language oppression is needed by some Nigerians to help them see the importance of their MTs alongside English at all levels of their education system. On this basis, the implementation of egalitarian multilingualism should be considered in the Nigerian educational context. Egalitarian multilingualism allows for the coexistence of English and all the indigenous languages of Nigeria to be used as mediums of instruction.