English was introduced in Nigeria with the establishment of British trading contacts on the West African coast in the sixteenth century and began to be formally studied from the middle of the nineteenth century on. In the 1880s, the missionary stations were ordered to teach English in their schools to Africans who would serve British colonial and trade interests. In Nigerian education today, English plays a key role. There is no uniform accent of English spoken throughout Nigeria. Nigerian English is usually divided into several sub-varieties, with a continuum of degrees of competence in English as a typical characteristic of a country where English functions as a second language.