Sign language and English language use: examination performance implications for deaf students at Kuja Secondary School, Migori County, Kenya
The study investigated the problem on poor performance by students with Hearing Impairment (HI) in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination. Efforts had been employed such as the use of Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) as medium of instruction alongside English, the language of setting and writing examination. However, switching code from KSL to English by students with HI presented a problem during examination preparation and that continued to contribute to poor performance of students with HI in KCSE examination respectively. The problem of switching code from KSL to English on KCSE examination by students with HI had not been imperially investigated. This study investigated the impact of language switching code from KSL to English on students with HI in KCSE examination. The study was based on Noam Chomsky‟s theory of language which describes language as a structure in the human mind and predicts the grammaticality of any given utterances. The study was carried out at Kuja mixed and Boarding Secondary School for the Deaf, Migori County in Nyanza Province, Kenya. The researcher employed qualitative case study design which involved in-depth investigation of the problem at hand. The researcher used triangular method of data collection named detailed interviews, participatory observations and document analysis. Participants for the study were drawn through purposive sampling. Target population of the study was 190 students and 22 teachers. A sample of 16 respondents participated in the study; 1 Principal, 5 teachers and 10 students. Data were analyzed by breaking and recording grammatical pattern of signed language and written KSL in smaller subheadings and was compared with English pattern in a note form. The study helped to explain the fact that students with HI perform poorly in KCSE examination due to KSL and English use in national examinations. However, the students with HI have learnt to survive through application of regional signs observed and learnt from parents, peers, teachers and the recommended texts. The study concluded that failure to implement the use of KSL during instruction as well as examination writing would continue to cause examination performance implications for students with HI in KCSE. The study recommends that KCSE examination content be written in KSL and ensure adequate interpretation of examination language for students with HI, to improve performance in KCSE examination.