Author Kalaimani Retnasamy
Title Linguistic difficulties faced by Secondary Four Express Stream pupils in their oral communication in Tamil.
Institute Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Year 1997
Supervisor Thinnappan, S. P.
Call no. PL4751 Kal
In 1987, Mr K. Ramiah of the NIE did a dissertation that analyzed the linguistic difficulties encountered by secondary four Tamil pupils in their Tamil compositions. While his research focused on the written aspect of the Tamil language, my objective is to identity the linguistic difficulties faced by secondary level pupils in their oral communication. It is hoped that both researches will complement each other to give a total view of the linguistic situation of our secondary level pupils. The areas investigated include fluency, pronunciation, morphology, morpho phonemics, syntax, and vocabulary. Moreover, interference from other languages such as English, Malay, Chinese and other indian mother tongues were looked into. The oral skills tested were divided into four parts, i.e. Reading, Narration, Picture-cued Description and Interview. Pupils were given a passage to read, a topic to narrate, a picture to describe, and they also role-played an interview with the researcher.

A stratified sample of 70 students from Secondary Four Express and Secondary Five Normal were randomly selected from Secondary Schools spread all over Singapore. The sample represented students from Independent schools, Autonomous schools and Government schools.

The instrumentation used was a four-component test consisting of a reading passage, a narration, a picture-cued description and an oral interview.

The analysis revealed that many pupils after ten years of second language education had many linguistic problems in their oral proficiency in Tamil language even though they possess grammatical proficiency in Tamil as proven by their examination results. Moreover, the communicative proficiency of these pupils varied widely. Top students from Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls Secondary School, who frequently score distinctions in their G.C.E. 'O' level Tamil examinations were not necessarily proficient speakers of the language. When it came to reading a passage, these pupils were proficient. But during the picture-cued composition, they had great difficulty in vocabulary and sentence structure, especially when there was cue from the tester. This study revealed that grammatical proficiency is not proportionate to communicative proficiency. There was a regular pattern in the errors made by the pupils - both in interlingual and intralingual.

A remedial program is proposed, upon on the findings in this study. Since the new educational system is based on the communicative approach, it is hoped that, bearing in mind the various linguistic difficulties the Tamil pupils face, the suggestions would be useful to curriculum developers, educationists and the classroom teachers who will be able to target on the pupils error prone areas.