The Post Assessment of the English Language Proficiency of Level 200 Students in the University of Buea
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Succeeding in the English Language in Cameroon is considered very difficult and challenging. It is argued that a dimension/academic language proficiently can be empirically distinguished from interpersonal communication skills such as accent and oral fluency in both LI and L2 and that cognitive’/academic proficiencies in both LI and L2 are manifestations of the same underlying dimension. This analysis of language proficiency and its cross-lingual dimensions is applied to the interpretation of data on the effects of bilingual education programs and on the age issue in second language learning. This explains why English has added at the advance level. The this University of Buea has recently launched the English language proficiency test to everyone who is to be re-enrolled into the school and not only to Francophonie’s. The main purpose of this research is to find out how students who have done the GCE Advanced Level English Language differ from those who wrote the proficiency test in the University of Buea, given to the university and also to business. Our results were analysed using a descriptive method (percentages, tables and charts). Our major finding was that the students need vocabulary, grammar and other language requirements like reading comprehension and listening to boast their language performance as this section has poor performance or average at the ordinary level where up to 45% failed grammar, 48% failed reading comprehension and 58% failed listening comprehension at the ordinary level. So, these sections need emphasis at the advanced level to boost the performance. Since all these aspects are handled in A’ level English, we can then confirm our hypothesis which says that A’ level syllabus matches learners needs.
English has become the second language to almost everybody in the world. Some authors even say that, in many parts of the world to be educated means to know English (Maydan, 2007). As the world continues to become interconnected, the importance of English on every continent becomes increasingly more pronounced. The most powerful aspect of the role of the English language, as the linguist David Crystal (2004) points out, is the speed at which the language had spread on the globe. The power of the English is seen in educational, political and economic sectors. The global significance of English contributes to the efforts of donor agencies such as the British Council in funding programs targeted at improving the proficiency of non-native speakers in developing countries. To Anglophones in Cameroon, English is the language of instruction and will continue to play a vital role in their social, educational and political progress (Fontem, 2012). More so, the language is facing stiff competition with French which marginalizes it in most spheres of national life. To enhance English Language studies in Cameroon, we need to intensify our reflections on ways to improve studies in this Language. We need to redress the issues of falling standards as seen in Jikong 2002; Etchu, 2003; and Fontem and Oyetade, 2005.
Linguistic background of Cameroon
Cameroon is a Central African country where fewer than 20 million people speak close to 250 languages. This country owes its uniqueness to its colonial history. After the First World War, with the defeat of the Germans, control over this territorial shifted from the Germans to the British and the French. According to the partition, Northern and Southern Cameroons were given to the British while East Cameroon was given to France. At independence, Eastern and Southern Cameroons came together to form a federation, while Northern Cameroon opted to join Nigeria.
However, the two partners in the federation enjoyed rather an unequal status as four-fifths of the territory was French and only one-fifth English. Given this initial imbalance, coupled with the clearly recognized differences in cultural heritage in one reflecting the British pattern of colonization and the other French, it is not surprising that attempts to merge the two systems educationally, politically administratively and even in the judicial fields are a major cause for concern (Kouega 2007).
Another school of thought holds that English owes its origin the run-up to the scramble for Cameroon. With the coming of the English Baptist Missionary Society (EMS), schools were set up where this language was used as s medium of instruction. About thirty-years after German colonization of Cameroon, English language once again became the Lingua-franca in British Cameroon (Fanso, 1989) with the reunification of British and French Cameroons, this language was adopted as one of the official languages in the federal constitution which was the basis of the union between French and British Cameroons relegated the language to a second class status (Ngoh, 2001).
The language question, therefore, continues to preoccupy our minds especially with the status and quality of English in the territory. The advent of globalization has fundamentally upgraded the status of this language to the extent that Francophones who have hitter to treat the language with disdain, flood Anglophones educational institutions in high rates. The language question in Cameroon has degenerated to a problem no one wants to talk about. Of all the burning issues that continue to plaque Cameroon, the language question is the thorniest. The problem has degenerated to the level that it is now branded as an identity crisis. More than fifty years after independence Cameroonians do not have a language policy that protects indigenous languages (Achuo, 2012). French and English dominate the country.
Background of Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board (CGCEB)
The Cameroon GCE board was founded in 1993, according to a book titled “The Cameroon GCE Crisis: A Test of Anglophone Solidarity.” the creation of the board was spearheaded by Anglophone community groups such as Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC) lead by Mr Andrew Azong-Wara and, churches, Confederation of Anglophone Parents’ Teachers’ Association of Cameroon (CAPTAC) led by Peter Chateh, and other trade union groups which played a pivot role for the creation of the board. It took 10 years from 1983 to October 1993 for an agreement to be made between the groups mentioned above and the Government of Cameroon to create an examination board to award certificates to Anglophone Cameroonian students.
Before the Cameroon GCE board came to existence in 1993, a certificate was awarded to Anglophone Cameroonian student by the General Certificate of Education in the UK because it was a Trust Territory under British administration (British Cameroons) from 1922 to 196. Cameroon GCE Board known as Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) is a public examination body which awards certificates to the Anglo-Saxon Cameroonian secondary school students of two stages; Stage 1, GCE “O” Level is a 3-year course beginning in form 3 and by form 5 students are qualified to take the GCE Ordinary Level exam, while stage 2; the GCE “A” Levels is written in High School upper sixth for the student who had successfully passed in the GCE ordinary level in at least 4 subjects. The General Certificate of Education is a pure UK system of education adopted by the English speaking Cameroonian educational system.
Statement of the Problem
It is a common knowledge that English language proficiency and performance of the secondary school and university students both in the classroom and everyday communication has experienced a decline over the years. Fonka and Ayafor (2014 and 1996 respectively), assert that the English language among Anglophones on our campuses is on a steady decline and these campuses are gradually becoming “frenchified”. The manifestation of this poor performance could be seen at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) Ordinary level which has experienced continuous poor performance for more than a decade. A number of studies have attributed this continuous downtrend to a number of factors ranging from inability to express themselves linguistically, lack of motivation on the part of the learners (Fonka,2014), the influence of Pidgin English and French, (Chumbow and Simo-Bobda, 1996) to issues of teacher performance. Despite this appalling situation the Cameroon General Certificate of Education board went ahead to introduce Advance levels English Language program as a remedial and supplementary program so as to improve proficiency levels before students get to the university or higher-level institutions. Thus it becomes necessary for us to assess the proficiency levels of post GCE Advanced level students in order to see if the program actually meets its objectives.
Aim and Objectives
The aim of this study is to measure the proficiency levels of GCE Advance level English language holders. Specifically, this study shall;
To describe the Advanced Levels English Language Program showing how it differs and complements the GCE Ordinary level program.
To describe learner needs of English Language students at the Advanced levels.
To assess student’s proficiency levels visa vies other students who did not take English at the Advanced levels.
To analyze the implications of the findings for English Language teaching.