Marang: Journal of Language and Literature

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A Study of Students’ Metalinguistic Competence and Its Probable Effect in the Cambridge School Certificate Final Examinations

P Mhundwa


The aim of this study was to investigate the extent to which students’ understanding of key words in examination questions might influence their performance as illustrated by the number of subjects in which they obtain pass grades in the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate Examination (COSCE). The term used to refer to key words in this study is ‘metalinguistic’.It is a term that means more than what Kemp (2006, p.1) refers to as ‘grammatical metalinguistic awareness’. In the context of this study it refers to words or phrases that are used to describe language as an object of study. Procedurally, questions were designed to assess students’ understanding of metalinguistic terms. The percentage scores of the metalinguistic tests were calculated and then compared with the number of ‘O’ level passes obtained by students to determine whether high scores in the metalanguage tests were comparable to the number of ‘O’ level passes obtained by the research subjects. It was discovered that high metalinguistic test scores were associated with greater ‘O’ level passes and low scores, with fewer ‘O’ level passes.

Keywords: metalinguistic awareness, linguistics metalanguage, metalinguistic incompetence, metalinguistic competence variable, idealization, metalinguistic score
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