The Use Of Phonic And Word Recognition Strategies In Improving Poor Reading Skills

Project And Seminar Material For English Education

The Use Of Phonic And Word Recognition Strategies In Improving Poor Reading Skills


Education in general also focuses in assisting learners to acquire all the three main domains in life which are the Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor domains, according to Martin et al (1994). This project investigated whether the phonic method of teaching reading would assist in improving reading comprehension, pronunciation as well as the processes of word recognition of pupils, especially during reading and comprehension lessons. During the researcher’s stay as a subject teacher, he found out that some of the Junior Secondary School Two ( JSS 2 ) pupils of the school were performing poorly or abysmally in reading and comprehension especially in reading such as poor pronunciation and recognition of common words during reading and comprehension lessons. The researcher in order to address this situation, decided to use the phonic method of teaching reading and develop its associated appropriate teaching and learning materials to aid in improving the reading and comprehension skills of the pupils with difficulty in reading for example poor pronunciation and recognition of common words during reading lessons. Data was well collected through pre-test intervention and post-test intervention. Finding shows that the students’ reading comprehension, pronunciation as well as the processes of word recognition improved after going through the intervention and they were also able to read with understanding and speak English fluently on their own with less intervention. The researcher recommended that teachers should use appropriate teaching and learning materials and methods to arouse pupils’ interest and improve the teaching and learning of reading and comprehension in Schools.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Language by nature is an intricacy of learning and relearning which extends a communicative sphere. It wanders off the borders of linguistics even to involve almost every cognitive capability of man who is the only wielder of it. In it’s learning, it involves four skills namely listening and speaking on the one hand and reading and writing on the other. While listening and speaking are the most basic and hence, the most important language skills, reading and writing require the most attention and conscious learning process. For Akwanya,

Reading is another very important context of encounter with language. As in listening, encounter with language in reading involves a range of attitudes, from reading, say, a newspaper to reading a poem. There is a shift whereby one becomes a participant in an activity (Akwanya, 119)

The reading skill is acquired, quite ironically, through it’s practice. However, in the face of a poor reading habit, teachers tend to focus on the material and make the child reread the passages severally so that what is achieved is a memorization of a particular passage. The implication is that such a teacher is forgetting that the reading skill involves layers and layers of activities and intricacies that might be the source of the reading problems.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

There is a list of things that could conspire to deter a fluent learning of reading as a language skill. From a pathological lack of concentration to a full blown case of dyslexia. Often when a teacher is faced with this; a child who is having challenges reading or who had a total aversion towards the exercise and the skill, it is often very frustrating for the teacher.

This is majorly owing to the fact that the entire educational process is predicted upon this skill without which the learning process is fatally stalled even in the highly potential child. And each peculiar case requires a specific set of strategies to combat it with. This is the problem that has called the present research work into being: to explore the use of phonics and word recognition strategies in improving poor reading skills.

1.3 Research Questions

The practical questions of this research work include:

  1. Can phonic and other word recognition strategies be used in improving poor reading skills.
  2. To what extend can they be relied upon in combating poor reading skills.
  3. Are their specific strategies for particular reading inabilities or does it just depend on whichever works on the child in question.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

Purposes of this research work include filling up a practical gap in the educational process. The entire aims and objectives of formal education which deductively aims at eradicating illiteracy is often defeated by the inability to instill in a child this skill without which he cannot be lettered. This research work aims at mapping out the various phonic and word recognition techniques that can be employed in the improvement of a bad reading skill.

Like we mentioned in the background, it usually isn’t result oriented making the child repeat the reading material. For instance, sometimes merely making them go through the sample reading material and recognizing the words and attempting to distinguish them phonetically from others before reading the material through will help improve a child reading skill.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research work is aimed at providing alternative and working panacea to poor reading skills. Therefore, every institutions of basic learning will find it of great importance. Governmental school boards in their bid to draft an updated curriculum and module can go through this research work and appropriate its finding into their own work. Not to say the least, teacher’s trainee programmes.

1.6 Research Hypothesis

The research we have taken up here is based on a hypothesis: that lasting and several options are open to teachers in tackling poor reading skills through the use of phonic and other word recognition techniques. It is also assumed here that these options can be tailored to each definite cause of the mentioned lacks.

1.7 Scope of the Study

Lack of a fluent reading skill is found usually among children and illiterate adults. However, this research work would focus broadly on the manifestations of this inability in children with little lights now and again on adults. This is as the case is much more diverse in children than in adults. At any event, the phonic strategies discussed here are predicated upon the learning dispositions of children than those of adults.

This work is divided into five chapters with the following chapter examining previously carried out researches on related topics and briefly addressing their inadequacies which this present research work hopes to correct. The third chapter would tailor down the methodology of the research while chapter four discusses the various strategies properly.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

Time and a controlled subjects for a good study are the recognizable limitations experienced in the course of this research work. The want of space is also another.

1.9 Definition of Terms


Phonics is the scientific study of sounds. It is the method of teaching learners of a language how to read and pronounce words correctly from correct pronunciation of letters to letter groups up to the syllabic level. It tries to show learners how to associate the graphical representation of letters and words with the sound version of those words.


Technically, reading is one of the four language skills where a language user tries to derive meaning or codes of meaning from a graphical representation of thought. The aim of this skill is to communicate through the written medium or merely to gain and understanding of thought preserved in the written form.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

In this chapter, a summary of the study is presented, conclusions are drawn on the basis of the research questions and findings of the study and recommendations are made.

5.1 Summary

Reading is essential to success in a society. A society suffers when citizens cannot read adequately. People with low reading levels comprise many of the unemployed, high school dropouts, the poor and those convicted of crimes. The growth of poverty and the loss of family values all show some association with poor reading (Richeck et al. 1996, p. 3). Parents and teachers should identify clear and specific worries concerning how well children are learning to read. Large numbers of school-aged children including children from all social classes, have significant difficulties in learning to read (Snow, Burns and Griffin 1987, p. 17). Many children in schools Basic and Junior High schools lack proper reading skills and cannot read properly. Some learners have dropped from schools without acquiring necessary reading skills while others read without understanding what they read (Kuutondokwa, 2003, p. 8).

5.2 Summary of the Study

The researcher, in order to address this situation, decided to use the phonic method of teaching reading develop and its associated appropriate teaching and learning materials to aid in improving the reading and comprehension skills of the pupils with difficulty in reading such as poor pronunciation and recognition of common words during reading lessons.

The main objective of this study is to assist the JSS Two pupils to improve upon their performance in acquiring reading and comprehension skills so that they can solve their reading and comprehension difficulty such a pronunciations and recognition of words during reading.

This research is an action research aimed at improving pupils reading and understanding on the aspect of reading and comprehension of JSS two students of JSS Lugbe. These pupils are experiencing difficulties in pronunciations as well as recognition of words.

The population for this study was limited to Thirty seven (37) JSS Two students of JSS Lugbe and teachers. The population for this study was made up of fifteen girls, seventeen boys and five teachers.

The researcher focused on this particular population for the study because they were found in the class which the researcher was handling during the student fieldwork program and also the class within which the aspect of reading and comprehension can also be found in the English language syllabus for JSS in Nigeria.

The researcher used user test intervention in collecting his data. The user test is made up of Pre – test and Post-test. The Pre-test was conducted to find out the how well pupils understand the concept before the intervention was used. The post- intervention test was conducted to find out pupils‟ performance after the intervention has been done.

The researcher used a teaching learning method known as the phonic method of teaching and its appropriate teaching and learning materials to help pupils to improve upon reading and comprehension after the Pre-intervention test results was obtained. Pupils were taking through and its teaching learning materials by the researcher and they were also allowed to practice using the teaching learning materials themselves at some point in time to ensure they can read and understand better. After the intervention had taken place, a Posttest was conducted to find out pupils‟ performance after the intervention had taken place.

The researcher used frequency tables and pie charts to analyze data. This was used after pupils have been taken through the pre-test and the post test. Paired comparison t-test was used by the researcher to find out if there was a difference in pupils performance in the pre-test and post-test.

5.3 Key Findings

The data was collected based on some test conducted. Hence, the pre – intervention and the post intervention test. The pre-intervention test produced a fair result. The post intervention test was far better than the pre-intervention test.

  1. Taking a critical look at table 4.1, one will agree that 32 pupils took part in the pre-test. Out of 10marks (100%), only 4 pupils scored 6 marks (60%) which represent 12.5% of the total class, 10 pupils scored 4 marks (40%), which also represent 37.5%, 12 pupils scored 2 marks (20%) while 4 pupils scored 0 marks (0%) which also represent 37.5% and 12% of the total class respectively. This implies that pupils performed poorly when they were not introduced to the phonic method of teaching and appropriate teaching learning materials hence obtaining lower marks in the Pre– test results.
  2. From table 4.3, the same 32 pupils took part in the post-test. Out of the 10 marks (100%), 10 pupils performed excellent by scoring 10 (100%) which represents 31.25% of the pupils, 12 pupils scored 8 marks (80%) representing 37.5% of the pupils whiles 10 pupils scored 6 (60%), representing 31.25%. This clearly shows that the introduction of the phonic method of instruction helped pupils to score higher marks after had been taken through with appropriate teaching learning materials.
  3. Considering the calculated scores for both the pre-test and the post-test is the Σf = 96 and Σf =256 marks, thus the difference between both test is 256 – 96 = 160. The mean difference (M D) = 160. This means that the average of pupils who took part in the pre-test and post-test score is 160th higher in the post test than that of the average score in the pretest(96th). This means that using the phonic method of instruction and its appropriate teaching learning materials enhanced pupils‟ reading and comprehension.

5.4 Conclusion

For the teaching of English language at all levels of education to be successful, it is based on the use of teaching and learning materials and the effective methodology used by teachers. From the results of this study, the following conclusions could be made.

  1. It is clear that the use of teaching and learning material help children to understand and acquire pronunciations as well as word recognition skills very well. This is because, they get the opportunity to practice and manipulate the teaching learning materials.
  2. Comparing the pupils‟ performance before and after the intervention, the researcher concludes that pupils can read and understand better when appropriate teaching and learning materials are used. Hence teaching aids are very useful.
  3. The intervention for this action research (phonics method of teaching reading and learning materials) was implemented and yielded good results. The pupils benefited a lot as a result of the intervention used. This has built a solid foundation in the pupils reading and comprehension hence pupils can read, understand and solve problems pertaining to reading and comprehension with the guidance and knowledge acquired from the use of the phonics method of teaching reading and its learning materials.

5.5 Recommendations

Reading is the beginning of formal education at all levels of education in our country and the whole world. It is a fact that success in any formal education, training and work in general in our country rests on the ability to read and comprehend in the English Language. The following recommendations were put forward based on the findings of the study.

Recommendation for Policy and Practice
  1. When teaching reading and comprehension, teachers must find time to prepare their pupils by taking them through activities and this can be done by the preparation of enough appropriate Teaching-learning materials.
  2. The approach to teaching in English language should be flexible where pupils are made to have enough practice, explore, discover and come out with their own findings and possible solutions.
  3. Again, teachers have to be patient, tolerant and have sympathy towards pupils‟ efforts and needs in learning English language aspect such as reading and comprehension. This would enhance teacher-student relationship, which is very vital in contributing to students learning and understanding.
  4. Also, English language teachers should include phonics exercise and other skills when teaching word recognition and pronunciation.
  5. English teachers when teaching reading with the phonics method should also judiciously combine other reading teaching methods (eclectic) since it help achieve maximum result.
  6. It is also recommended that parents see the need for their wards to study at home and cultivate the habit of reading because their wards cannot reach any significant height in formal education without intensive reading after class‟s hours.
  7. The government should make available reading textbooks and supplementary reading books in the school. This will enable pupils to always have reading materials anytime they want to practice reading on their own.

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