The English Language Examination Tests

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1. Introduction
Over the last 10 years the Caribbean Examinations Council has reported that in the English Language Examination which tests students competence in understanding and expression, there are increasing problems. Among these are the ‘low level of ability to differentiate between a descriptive essay and a story’, ‘fewer candidates showed an understanding of the requirements of a descriptive essay’ and ‘organisation was weak’ (CXC, 2014). Although the performance the year before was more favourable, again the report revealed the at there was a ‘serious issue of a lack of understanding of sentence structure’ and formatting. The report also revealed that there was a significant amount of ‘interference from the local
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Jamaican Creole (JC) is an oral language, Mair (2003) provides a distinction between the two through orthography and phonology, where JC is spoken and Standard Jamaican English (SJE) is written. Even though English remains the official language, JC is predominantly used with in the home by minimum wage earners. There is an ongoing project known as the bilingual Education project now being conducted in selected primary schools in recognition of the need to introduce bilingual teaching strategies and role of JC in the classroom. However, he was not clear on its use in the classroom, which could be any of the following: as a stimulus, for motivation, as a bridge to literacy, or as the official language of instruction (Blank, 2003). Currently both teachers and students use patois in the classroom and according to the MOEYC it is very difficult for students to make the transition hence the recognition of the need for a dual situation. This demands retraining of teachers to be able to facilitate any changes in teaching strategies which currently is deemed inadequate. The World Bank (2005) reports that Jamaica has always been characterised by high educational ‘inequality’ and ‘riddled with underperformance’ which creates a further divide in the social
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