Helping Dagbamatey Pupils in English Language : Chapter One & Two
This chapter talks about the background of the study, the statement of the problem, the purpose of the study and the research questions to be addressed. It also includes the significance of the study, the delimitations and limitations of the study.
Background to the study
English Language plays a very important role in the development of every country. It is an international language spoken by more than half of the number of the countries in the world. It is usually referred to as the Queen’s Language. English Language is used extensively in education. It is presumably the leading language used on the internet and on the computer language.
In Ghana, English Language is the medium of instruction in all public schools. English Language is the official language in the country’s parliament, government’s ministries and departments. As an official language in Ghana, one becomes greatly handicapped if he or she cannot read and effectively use the English Language.
There are four main skills used in English Language namely; listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. To begin, one has to learn how to speak, and then learn how to read what is learnt before learning how to write such word or sound learnt.
This pre-supposes that reading helps an individual to learn writing. One’s inability to read may probably lead to poor performance in an examination. The inability to read is called dyslexia.
Reading has been defined by the Encarta dictionary as identifying of written or printed words. In other words, it is the process of identifying and understanding the meaning of the characters and words in written and printed materials.
In most public schools, all other subjects are written in English Language expect the Ghanaian Language studied in those schools. For a child who has difficulty in pronouncing words hence cannot read properly, will not be able to read and understand other subjects. This will surely bring about poor academic performance. For example, if a pupil is to solve a word problem in Mathematics and such pupils has difficulty in pronouncing words, how then can pupils be able to read, understand and solve that word problem.
A few months into the out-segment program of the researcher, she found out that more than half of the number of pupils in class five had difficulty in pronouncing words and sounds. This made it difficult for these pupils to read well. Poor reading ability is what moved the researcher into investigating reading even though there were other problems with the other aspects of the Language.
Dagbamatey is a small farming community located in Ave-Avenor constituency of Akatsi district in the Volta Region of Ghana. Members of this community are traditional believers. The town lies between Akatsi and Avenorpeme. Dagbamatey D/A Basic is the only school in the village and is managed by the District Assembly. The pupils in Dagbamatey D/A Primary five (5) were thirty – two (32). There were twenty – two (22) girls and ten (10) boys. After a month and half into the researcher’s out-segment program at Dagbamatey D /A Basic School, she found out that more than half of the pupils in primary five (5) had difficulty in pronouncing words and sounds and therefore could not read at a normal pace. Since the pupils could not pronounce words and sounds, they either skipped lines or words or paused in between reading. The failure of parents and teachers to motivate their wards and pupils to read a lot of books contributed greatly to the existence of the problem of the pupils in Dagbamatey D/A Primary five (5).
Most of the parents of these pupils are farmers who may have had little or no education at all. These parents do not see the need or importance of providing educational materials such as exercise books, textbooks, notebooks pens, story books etc. for their wards. Some even prefer to send their wards to the farm instead of sending them to school. Pupils cannot get any form of motivation from such parents, to study in school and to read a lot of books. Some parents would rather buy sweets for their wards instead of buying story books for them to read.
Low interest in reading on the side of the pupils of Dagbametey D/A primary five (5) is another contributing factor to the problem of the pupils. For instance, the pupil`s reading book 5 is just ten in number, but the number of pupils in the class is thirty – two. How can these books be distributed to the pupils for each pupil to get a copy so that he or she can practice reading at home. The books are given to the group leaders of each reading group and the books are circulated among the group members so that at least a member can also have access to the reading book. One may ask for how long would a member have to keep the reading book to have practiced enough reading in order to become an independent reader. The researcher seeks to implore the headmaster to write to the Ghana Education Service Akatsi District for more supply of the English reader book 5 to the pupils of Dagbamatey D/A primary five (5).
Statement of the problem
During the researcher’s teaching practice in an English reading comprehension lesson, she observed that most of the pupils in Dagbamatey D/A primary five had difficulty in pronouncing words during reading. Some of the pupils skip words because they do not know the sounds of the letters that made up that particular word. In effect, they move to the next word they can easily pronounce and continue reading. While others skip words because the words are too long which makes it difficult to pronounce? The pupils do not know how to break down longer words into syllables for easy decoding. Due to the pupils’ problem, the researcher decided to use the phonic analysis and modelling methods to help the pupils to be able to pronounce words with much ease and hence improving their reading ability.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to find the causes of pupils’ inability to pronounce words and to find measures to put in place to help pupils pronounce with ease.
What are the causes of Dagbamatey basic five pupils’ inability to pronounce words easily during reading?
Did the class teacher of Dagbamatey basic five (5) use the appropriate method in teaching reading?
To what extent will pupils be able to improve their reading skills through the use of phonic analysis and modelling methods?
Significance of the Study
This study will help pupils to learn to how to pronounce words and sounds with ease so as to improve to improve upon their reading skills.
Another group which this study will help are the teachers. Even though there are several methods of teaching reading at the basic level. Most teachers do not implement such methods in teaching reading. In this effect, this study will create an awareness of the use of phonic analysis and modelling methods to improve pupils’ reading skills.
Circuit supervisors will also benefit from this study since they can use it to organize in-service training for teachers.
This study will help headmasters of public basic schools to ensure that the teachers at the kindergarten classes fully implement the policy of teaching sounds of the alphabets and blending the sounds to form words, given by the Curriculum Research and Development Division of Ghana. The study will also bring about the importance of using the phonic analysis and modelling methods in teaching reading.
The study was limited to Dagbamatey D/A primary five because that is where the researcher carried out her out-segment. Reading is the aspect investigated because most pupils in the above mentioned class found it difficult to pronounce words or decode prints in English Language.
This research work was on the use of the phonic analysis and modelling methods to improve the reading ability of pupils in Dagbamatey D/A primary five.
During the research, some teachers were not ready to answer the questionnaires given to them simply because they taught the researcher was investigating into their ways of teaching.
Pupils’ reluctance to assist the researcher find possible solutions to resolve this problem. Pupils did not participate in reading for fear of being ridiculed and mocked at by friends and would therefore remain silent.
Organization of the Study
Chapter one has presented a brief introduction which includes background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions to be addressed. It also included the significance of the study, delimitations and limitations of the study.
Chapter two reveals the related literature of the study.
Chapter three comprises the description of the methodology, the population and sample, sampling procedures, instruments used in collecting data and data collection processes.
In chapter four, the data collected is analyzed and presented while in chapter five, an overview of research problem and methodology, summary of key findings, conclusions and recommendations are presented.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter discusses the views of various authories concerning reading and the phonic analysis and modelling approaches of teaching. The related literature has been considered under the following sub – headings;
What is reading?
Importance of reading
Methods of teaching reading
Meaning of decoding in reading
Methods of teaching decoding
What is reading?
According to Rockets (2011), “reading is a multifaceted process involving word recognition, comprehension, fluency and motivation”. In addition, reading is about decoding, comprehension, narrative, familiarity with books and other printed material (House of Commons, 2004). From these two definitions, it can be deduced that without words recognition one will not be able to read or decode a word. Word recognition involves phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle and decoding. The phonemic awareness has to do with the ability to know what each letter sound stands for in a word and how to pronounce the word when the letter sounds are blended.
Reading is the process of translating print into speech by rapidly matching a letter or combination of letters sounds (phonemes) and recognizing the patterns that makes syllables and words.
Rudolp Flesch defines reading as “getting meaning from certain combination of letters. Teach the child what each stands for and he can read”. This definition has to deal with word recognition which involves phonemic awareness that is when the child knows what each letter sound stands for, that child will be able to decode a word when those letter sounds are combined to form a word. For example, if the child knows that the letter sound for c is /k/, a is /a/ and t is /t/. Then when the letters are combined to form word CAT, the child will be able to pronounce the word ‘cat’ easily.
Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics defines reading as “saying a written text aloud (oral reading). This can be done with or without understanding of the content”.
This definition goes hand in hand with Amu Djoleto (2003) who says in his book English Practice that “if a child reads without understanding, he/she is doing and understanding everything. He/she reads to add factual knowledge but there is no increase in vocabulary”. This definition implies that once a child can decode words in a text during reading and that child does not understand what he/she said, the child is still reading because reading involves the ability to decode words and getting meaning as well. Again, decoding can be done through breaking words into their syllables for easy pronunciation. A child who is unable to decode words because the words are long can be helped to identify the mono-syllabic words he knows already in the long words. He is assisted to break the words into various syllables form in the words, pronounce the syllables individually after which he blends them and read the word.
According to Cline étal (2006), “reading is decoding and understanding written texts”. Decoding requires translating the symbols of writing into spoken words which they represent. Decoding involves the combination of letters into their sounds and recognizing the patterns that syllables and words.
English Dictionary (2015) defines as “to look at and interpret letters or other information that is written”. “To look at” in the definition involves words recognition which entails phonemic awareness.
According to Jackie Holderness, “reading is an activity characterized by the translation of symbols or letters into words and sentences that communicate information and meaning to the reader”.
Reading is making meaning from print, which requires identifying the print (word recognition), construct an understanding from them (comprehension) and co-ordinating identifying words and making meaning so that reading is automatic and accurate. This definition has something in common with Harrison and Dolan (1979) who stated that, “reading is a set of related skills which include; words recognition and mastery of vocabulary, the ability to see in the material, the structures of the sentences and paragraphs that form the whole units”. From these two definitions it can be concluded that without word recognition one cannot read or decode words.
The teaching and learning materials used in teaching reading includes; word and sentence cards, magazines, phonic wheel, pictures of passages, tachistoscope (word slide). Word and sentences cards are used for teaching reading aloud and recognizing words. Magazines and pictures of passages are used for teaching reading aloud whiles the phonic wheel is used for teaching word attack.
Importance of Reading
According to inspiration boost.com the importance of reading include;
Reading exposes oneself to new things.
Good reading skills, especially in a phonic reading program improve spelling.
Reading is importance because words that are spoken and written are the building blocks of life.
It improves understanding.
Reading helps to improve one’s self that is through reading; one begins to understand the world better and helps one to better his or her life.
It helps to boost ones imagination and creativity.
Reading helps an individual to learn from the mistakes others have made and use it as a form of direction for one’s life.
According to Royer (2008), “reading difficulty refers to a situation in which a reader has difficulty or problem in meeting reading milestone for a given age or grade”. A child can have difficulty with one or more aspects of the reading processes. A reading difficulty may also be referred to as a reading problem, reading disability, reading disorder or dyslexia.
Reading difficulty has many causes which includes; poor vision, hearing loss, improper directional tracking, poor comprehension skills, issues with decoding and dyslexia. The improper directional tracking is when the child tries to read numbers and words from right to left instead of from left to right. Tracking issues also occur when a student will confuse the order of the letters in a word or see them in reverse. Example is seeing a “d” instead of the letter “b” in the word “bed”.
Poor comprehension skills occur when a child has an issue with following directions, remembering a series of numbers or words, or not being able to understand what someone is saying to him or her.
When a child has issues with decoding, he or she may be unable to break a large word into syllables or smaller words. This can often be because he or she has problems with phonetics. A child who has problems with phonetics will be able to read.
The researcher observed that the pupils in Dagbamatey D/A Basic five (5) had problems with decoding hence their inability to read at a normal pace. She decided to use the phonic analysis and modelling method to improve the pupils reading skills.
Methods of Teaching Reading
The first method is the phonic method of teaching reading. This method relies on children being taught the letters of the alphabet first. They learn the names of the letters and the sounds they make. Once they have learnt the letter sounds, they will begin to blend tow letters-sounds to make simple words then three letters, then four letters – sounds and so forth.
The second method is the look and says method. With this method children learn to recognize whole words or sentences rather than individual sounds. The pupils look at a word which the teacher sounds and in turn will repeat the sound after the teacher. Flash cards with individual words written on them are used for this method.
Other methods include, language experience approach, multisensory approach, reading comprehension support and neurological impress technique. Even though these other methods can also help the child to read, the phonics and look and say method are the best methods that will help a child to be able to read and improve his or her reading skills faster.
Meaning of Decoding in Reading
Decoding means translating the symbols of writing into the spoken words which they represent. Decoding involves the combination of letters into their sounds and recognizing the patterns that syllables and words.
The teaching and learning materials used in teaching decoding includes; alphabet or letter cards, sounds poster, tachistoscope (word slide), bead slide (it helps in phonetic awareness and blending words), hide – and – seek words (which helps in letter recognizing, letter sounding and sound blending).
How Decoding is taught
Phonic Analysis is a way of teaching decoding. It teaches children the phonic relationships among words. Children are taught to analyze letter – sound relationships and look to decode words based upon spelling and letter patterns and their sounds. For example, if the child knows “bat”, “cat” and “hat”, then the word “mat” will be easy to read. This is because the child knows the letter sounds for “a” and “t” and when blended “at” the child can pronounce it. Hence when the child sees any word that ends with “at” it will be very easy for that child to pronounce that word.
How phonic analysis method is used:
First, the students must know all the letters of the alphabet and their sounds. The child will need to be able to identify the sounds in the beginning, middle and end of a word. Once the students are able to do that, the teacher then selects a text that has a lot of letter sounds.
Next, the teacher presents the words to the students. For example, the teacher writes these words on the board; light, bright, night or green, grass, grow.
The teacher then asks the students how these words are like. The students respond, “they all have “ight” at the end or “they all have “gr” at the beginning.
Next, the teacher focuses on the sound of the words made by saying, “How does the “ight” sound in these words?” or how does the “gr” sound in these words?”
The teacher picks a text for the students to read that has the word family “ight” (light, might, fight, night) or choose a text that has the word family, “gr” (green, grass, grow, gray, great, grape).
Once the pupils are able to decode or pronounce the words, the will be able to read.
Another method of teaching decoding is modeling. In this method, children learn to recognize whole words rather than individual sounds. The pupils will looks at a word which the teacher sounds, and in turn will repeat the sound of the word. Flashcards with individual words written on them are used for this method. Again, it is also recommended with this method to use whole short sentences rather than individual words. For example, the teacher writes a short sentence, read the sentence and asks the child to repeat the sentence while the child pointing to and looking at each individual word as he or she repeats what the teacher said.
Word cards can be used to create different sentences again and again. Modelling is also used to teach the pronunciation of sight words. Sight words are words that are read as a whole because, if the letter sounds are separated, they will not make sense. Examples of sight words are; my, the, like, girl, here, etc.
In conclusion, from these authorities; Hoh L. Carrad, Amu Djoleto (2003) and the Longman Dictionary of Applied Linguistics. It can be deduced that without decoding, a pupil will not be able to read. This indicates the importance of teaching decoding, to pupils to enable them to learn how read.
Dyslexia occurs when a reader has difficulty or a problem in meeting reading milestone for a given age or grade. This is according to Royer (2008).
One who is able to read on his or her own gains more knowledge about things in the world and how to develop himself or herself. It also prevents one from danger, if one should see a notice and he or she can read.
The researcher chose to use some findings in these authors’ definitions to help improve the reading ability of the pupils of Dagbamatey D/A Basic five. According to Cline étal (2006), Rudolp Flesh and Jackie Holderness definitions, teaching the child the letter sounds and blending them to form words will help the child to be decoded and hence read. The researcher chose to use the phonic analysis and modeling methods to teach the pupils how to decode words and to improve upon their reading skills.