English howlers creep into Maltese A-level oral

A minority of students coined words like "kwalifikatijiet" (instead of "kwalifiki"), "jespressjonaw" (instead of "jesprimu"), "dizadvantaggati" (instead of zvantaggati), and "advertiment" (instead of "riklam")

Most students sitting for their Maltese A-level can express themselves confidently, an examiner’s report for the latest session of A-level said, but some candidates sitting for the oral examination have been noticed making exaggerated use of fillers, while others coined non-existent words
Most students sitting for their Maltese A-level can express themselves confidently, an examiner’s report for the latest session of A-level said, but some candidates sitting for the oral examination have been noticed making exaggerated use of fillers, while others coined non-existent words

A minority of candidates sitting for the Maltese language Advanced level examination are unsure and hesitant in their command of the language, showing it is clearly not their first language.

Most students sitting for their Maltese A-level can express themselves confidently, an examiner’s report for the latest session of A-level said, but some candidates sitting for the oral examination have been noticed making exaggerated use of fillers like “tipo” (“sort of…”) and “I mean” – in English – while others coined new words that do not exist like “kwalifikatijiet” (instead of “kwalifiki”), “jespressjonaw” (instead of “jesprimu”), “diżadvantaġġati” (instead of “żvantaġġati”), “alternazzjoni” (instead of “alternattiva”), “advertiment” (instead of “riklam”), and “addizzjoni” (instead of “vizzju”).

The A-level exam includes an oral component in which students are asked to express themselves on a social issue picked from a menu offered to them. “From what was reported by examiners… the influence of English was once again felt in the speeches of candidates who were too quick to use a word or expression derived from English instead of its native equivalent,” the report said.

Common colloquial expressions included “news”, “weekend”, “mental health”, “just”, “awareness”, “skills”, “bus”, “courses”, “effort”, “series”, “action”, “once”, “loan” and ‘menglish’ terms like “jimpruvja” (from improve).

While noting that most students can easily express themselves in Maltese, a minority of students looked confused not because they had nothing to say on the theme of the discussion, but because they were unsure on the words to be used. These required a lot of help from the examiners in order to continue the discussion.

“While in some cases this can be attributed to their shy character in other cases this can be attributed to the fact that they are more familiar using another language,” the examiner’s report said.

And although most candidates had no difficulty expressing themselves in Maltese on the topics given to them, few used the kind of idiomatic expression expected in this context.

The examiner’s report also provides some insight on the views of students on social issues discussed in these sessions. One of the themes discussed was “freedom of expression in news sites and newspapers.”

Many candidates found this topic difficult and their arguments lacked depth.

A minority of students coined words like "kwalifikatijiet" (instead of "kwalifiki"), "jespressjonaw" (instead of "jesprimu"), "dizadvantaggati" (instead of zvantaggati), and "advertiment" (instead of "riklam")

“It was clear that candidates sometimes hear the news and stop there. All of them agree with freedom of expression but many fail to understand why this should be the case.”

Students found it easier to talk about charity events, social media, shopping centres, the construction industry, and drugs. Some compared charity campaigns to “auctions” where the people donate simply to enhance their reputation. Candidates also found it difficult to mention any charities apart from l-Istrina, Puttinu Cares and id-Dar tal-Providenza.

However, when talking about drugs students “were confident, speaking about the types of drugs found in the country” and were informed about the new law permitting the use of marijuana for therapeutic reasons.

Those opting for domestic violence showed a lack of awareness that this problem impacts all social classes and some even asserted that “no domestic violence exists among the rich”.

Students opting to talk about the building industry emphasised the loss of open spaces but were less confident in proposing alternatives to accommodate housing demand for young couples.

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