Mind Your Language

In May 2016, 34.5% failed their English Advanced level MATSEC examination, while 53.6% obtained a grade C and D (students who sat for the Intermediate level obtained similar results). 48.1% of the student who sat last for English and 50.3% who sat for the Intermediate last May, along with individuals who obtained a 4 or 5 in their SEC English language exam are currently being used as guinea pigs for a newly implemented programme.



The English Communication Aptitude programme aims to ‘enhance [ones] communicative skills in the English language as to perform in your studies at university and in your future employment’. In a letter sent by the University’s Rector, just before the end of the first semester (prior to exams), it is stated that this programme targets students who have failed to obtain a high grade in the subject which is deemed essential for educational attainment at university level.

According to a report published by the Ministry for Education and Employment in 2014 ‘In Education, English is considered a language of instruction, and knowledge of the language is indispensable to benefit fully from the teaching and learning experiences and to pursue tertiary education’. Throughout the past weeks I have read many ongoing debates and pleas for assistance from student run organisations in order to dodge this mandatory course. So far, meetings have been held and time slots for this two hour credit is being established between students and CELP (Centre for English Language Proficiency).

Students feel they are being treated unjustly as they are being forced to take on extra work half-way through the first year of their studies. Some argue that the programme should have been an optional credit or at the very least, presented to the targeted students at the beginning of the scholastic year. One of the major issues, or so it seems, is that the university has failed to streamline the students who have to take the course and those who are exempt.

While it is the case that some students reach tertiary education without an adequate level in English, some students may have obtained a poor grade because they chose to eliminate some of their study bulk and sit for their English A or Intermediate level in a short period of time. On the other hand, some students who are being forced to take the CELP programme are being judged on a mark they have obtained some years ago, which is the case for individuals who enter university at a later age than 18.

This upset in a portion of the university student body may lead one to question our how the system currently evaluates and determines entry requirements. If the university is striving to give students the tools to better their oral and written English because they consider a 5 or a D to be an indication of poor English skills, then why isn’t the bar set higher initially rather than inflicting further stress to students after they have chosen their studies?

This programme is most definitely a step forward to bettering and increasing tertiary educational attainment, however I strongly believe that in the coming years a better system should be put into practice to dictate who will or will not be forced to take on extra work. It should be taken into consideration, at every stage in educational advancement that grades and marks may not directly indicate or reflect how intelligent or able one is said subject.