Igbo is one of the official languages of Nigeria and a member of the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. It is spoken by about 18 million people in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. It is an insignia, a trademark and a common identity amongst the Igbo people.
There are numerous Igbo dialects, some of which are not mutually intelligible. The standard written form of Igbo is based on the Owerri and Umuahia dialects and has been in use since 1962. In Nigeria, Igbo language is spoken in Anambra, Eboyi, Enugu, Imo, Abia States and parts of Delta and Rivers States.
The National policy on Education stipulates that students should learn one of the three major Nigerian languages (Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa), other than their first language. Hence the need to learn Igbo as non-speakers of the language becomes necessary.
Curriculum includes the total environment in which education occurs for it embraces not only the students and the teachers but most importantly, the subject, the content and the method of evaluating students. Experiences outside the classroom are equally an integral part of the curriculum.
In the teaching of Igbo language at “Handmaids”, it is deemed important to expose the leaner not only to the paralinguistic cues of the language but also to the speakers of the language outside the classroom environment. Hence the language curriculum is well-planned to include the teaching of Igbo moral values, social etiquette, cultural traditions, and most importantly, Igbo pride as well as the teaching of vocabulary, syntax, morphology and orthography. Attention is particularly paid to:
- » Tone (present in all dialects and standard form)
- » Down-drift (compulsory in all dialects and standard form)
- » Nasalisation (For Imo and Abia & adjoining dialects)
- » Aspiration (For Imo and Abia & adjoining dialects)
Special events are organised throughout the school year to showcase the Igbo culture and facilitate communication in Igbo language outside the classroom environment. Such events are:
- » The cultural day celebration
- » The graduation day celebration
- » The annual Christmas party celebration
During these events, pupils read the news in Igbo language, exhibit cultural dances, parade the Igbo fashion and sing in Igbo language.