Teaching Reading Comprehension in Selected Primary Schools in Oyo State, Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

The ability to read is one determiner of students' success or failure. They must form the habit of reading to perform well in all subjects. A good reader has a better opportunity for greater achievement. Ajibola, (2006) states that a reading habit is cultivated by individuals who are ready to give their all to it.

The skill acquired in reading can promote the acquisition of language skills like listening, speaking, and writing. Some primary school pupils find it difficult to read and understand despite the fact that reading is indispensable. Some show a carefree attitude towards reading. This problem is not peculiar to primary schools, but pertains to all categories of readers. Lasisi (2007) asked a fundamental question on what books Nigerians read. His question included whether political office holders in the country read. It was clear from the tone of the question that he feels that reading is not part of the culture of the people that control Nigerian destiny.

Some English teachers are lagging behind in their approach to teaching reading comprehension. The effect is poor performance among students. These teachers lack methods of imparting reading skills to pupils. The condition is so bad that some pupils find it difficult to read and understand a simple sentence. Amutheazi (2000) notes that there is an urgent need to investigate into the causes of poor reading comprehension among our pupils with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problem.

Literature Review

Reading is a lifelong activity. Those who enjoy reading derive pleasure and satisfaction from it. Adigun and Oyelude (2003) observe that skill in reading will not only assist pupils in organizing their thoughts and jotting down important facts while reading, but also equip them to comprehend entire texts.

Adewole (2001) asserts that the aim of any reading programme is to lay a strong foundation that can benefit pupils throughout their lives in academic pursuits. Phillips (1997) commenting on the numbers of literate pupils in primary schools in Nigeria, notes that about 57 percent of Nigeria's population over age six is literate, that is, can read and write with understanding in at least one language. The literacy rate is higher among the male population (about 66 percent). While the literacy rate ranges between 50 and 82 percent in the southern states, the rate in most of the northern states (excluding Kaduna and Katsina) ranges from 32 to 50 percent. Adigun and Oyelude (2003) conducted research on the use of the public library in selected locations in Ibadan, with the aim of exploring reading habits and general attitude towards reading and acquisition of skills in reading.

Reading is a crucial form of communication through which we get most of the information required in teaching and learning situations and in everyday life. Krashen (1993) says that we learn to read by reading, not through drill and practice, but by free volition, and in this way learners become readers.

Reading is the recognition of printed or written symbols, which serve as stimuli for the recall of meanings built up through the reader's past experience. It has also been described as a process of translating alphabetical symbols into a form of language from which the native speaker has already derived the meaning. According to Lawal (1996), readers use the symbols to guide the recovery of information from their repertoires and subsequently use this information to construct interpretations of the message. Adewole (2001) describes "critical reading skill," which which students need to read, explore, and appreciate a literary text effectively. The ability to read is a crucial skill for information retrieval (Dike, 2006).

There are various factors militating against the effective teaching and learning of reading comprehension in our primary schools.

Oyetunde and Unoh (1986) list impediments to positive reading habits and attitude. …

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