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Oral English exams won't solve problems, says university professor

Published:Monday | November 25, 2013 | 1:02 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

University professor Carolyn Cooper says a move by the Education Ministry to introduce an oral examination in English Language will not solve the larger issue of language competence.

Last week, the Education Minister Ronald Thwaites announced that plans are being put in place to introduce the oral component of exams by 2016.

He says it is important that students are able to competently express themselves.

However, Professor Cooper says while it is important to test the oral capabilities, the larger issue of teaching language more efficiently needs to be addressed.

She says the solution lies in incorporating the Jamaican Language in the formal education system, which so far, is being resisted by policymakers.

The professor says most Jamaican students enter the school system speaking the Jamaican language yet they are being instructed in English Language without any formal use of their naturally occurring language in the learning process.

And Professor Cooper has described as bogus, the view that there is no need to incorporate the Jamaican language in the formal school system because it has no international value.

Professor Cooper who lectures at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies is a long-time advocate for the recognition and use of the Jamaican language in the formal education system.

The Government says the oral language examination is to start at the level of the Grade Six Achievement Test up to the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examination.


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