The increasing use of social media and hi-tech devices is affecting the way learners respond to English language questions during examinations. According to observations made by examiners, students are increasingly using jargon even during examinations, and can hardly express themselves without applying slang.
English Language Specialists who talked to this publication say that technology and attitudes have disrupted the English language orthography and contradicted the basics of English composition and grammar, making learners run quick as opposed to running quickly.
Isaac Tibasiima, an assistant Lecturer of English Language at Makerere University cautions that if nothing is done to correct the use of English language, Uganda will most likely have a generation whose application of words is neither structured nor conventional and a population that does not know how to speak English or write the English Language to perfection.
Tibasiima also faults the teachers for killing the creativity of learners by forcing them to cram content from irrelevant textbooks and pamphlets instead of encouraging them to freely express themselves. He says the approach has resulted in poor understanding and usage of the English language.
But teachers say that most of the jargon that learners use is picked outside of the school set up, from platforms on social media, among their peers and from television programmes. Hajat Rukia Mulindwa Namirembe, the head of the English and Literature department at Kitante Hill School says students are failing because of poor attitudes, low parents involvement in their children’s education and inadequate instruction materials.
Maria Kiwanuka, an English teacher at Buganda Road Primary School says most pupils find English hard to speak at school they do not use the same medium at home.
“We have found that in some homes, no English or any sort of reading takes place. So, when we come to school they find a problem expressing themselves or even answering questions,” She said during an interview with this publication.
Richard Ouma Wandera, the Director of Studies Kololo Secondary School says the use of jargon is gradually killing the beauty of the language.
At four of the schools that our reporter visited in Kampala, English, which is compulsory at O’level, is the mode of instruction. However, the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) has observed that the English Language is becoming one of the worst done subjects both in Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) and secondary cycle examinations.