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Background to the Study

Reading is one of the greatest skills you will acquire in other to progress in life and it a basic requirement in this enlightened society of ours. it is one area that is particularly problematic for children within the secondary school system Unoh (1986:65) points out that “a great number of children are failing  to learn to read and many more are unable to read to learn” in Nigeria, the nature of reading process is not generally understood according to Eboh and Ezekwere (1997:15) both agreed that because English language is a second language, many teachers and teachers trainers do not readily appreciate the differences between teaching English language and teaching reading

According to Hammond (1994:398) reading is not usually conceived of as something which is separated from English, and that is why in most Nigerian secondary schools, there is no reaching on the lessons time table. This means that it is usually casually and superficially alone. The general assumption is that children learn to read in the course of schooling. This equally implies that reading is caught and not taught, because of the failure to make a distinction between reading and English language. It is assumed that once a child can speak English language, he can as well read. Reading in English as a second language involves a lot of problems and that is why serious attention should be given to its definition. In the first place, reading does not mean mere verbalization of the graphic symbols or reading aloud.

Crystal (1987:209) states that even “a suitably equipped automatic machine can do that with much clarity”. He goes ahead to state that reading crucially involves appreciating the sense of what is written, in the same line of thought, the new standard encyclopedia volume 14 asserts that “the reader must know not only the meaning of isolated words, but their meaning when combined in phrases, sentences and longer groupings.

According to Agwu (2002) reading is a “process of obtaining information from printed materials”. In general, reading is a complex activity which involves mental or verbal interpretation of graphic symbols. thus teachers adopt some strategies to understand what is been read and in other to read effectively, one need not to be passive but actively constructing information making use of the textual clues together with the information stored in his memory.

According to Ajah (1996:94), “reading is not just the ability to recite the letters of the alphabet or to pronounce the words in a text, it does not stop at just been able to answer literary questions or to recall explicitly stated information which means that meaning does not just reside in the text alone but the readers should also make inferential and critical meaning out of it.

Reading as a language activity has been used to achieve various objectives and to develop varieties of skills. there are several reasons for reading which Ajah (1996) states as reading to get information, to acquire knowledge, reading to acquire proficiency in a particular language, reading for pleasure,  excitement and for remediation purposes. a lot of people read for the letters, they read only when the need is there to remedy what they feel is important.

According to Obah and Otabguruagu (1993:97) for ones reading to be meaningful, one has to develop various skills which include the ability to discover specific facts, ability to read at a responsible speed, the writers view point, vary ones reading speed based on the nature of the material been read and the ability to interpret the meaning of unknown words from the context instead of resorting to the use of dictionary.

In view of this many people have different definition and understanding of what reading is all about. Whatever their views may be, reading involves meaningful real stories to printed symbols. It is an interactive process involving what the writer has put down on paper.

The level of reader’s comprehension of the text is determined by how well the reader’s variables interact with the text variables. the reader’s variables includes interest in the level of the text, purpose for reading the text, knowledge of the topic, foreign language abilities, awareness of the reading process, and  level willingness to take risk; while the text variable entails text type, structure, syntax and vocabulary. Effective and efficient reading entails understanding of thoughts and ideas for which they stand. They are combined activities of the eyes which perceive and explore the symbols and the mind while discovers and interprets the thought beneath them.

Ajah (1998:71) asserts that there are different strategies of reading which include previews, scanning, memory and note taking. There are also common handicaps in reading which includes reading words at a time, regression, sub-vocalization, lack of concentration, lack of flexibility, lack of comprehension etc.

For one to be a proficient and effective reader one has to be effective in constructing meaning through the reading process and this means that there is some level of agreement with the original meaning of the author.

A proficient reader always seeks the most direct path to meaning and uses strategies to reduce uncertainty during reading. He is always selective about the use of cues and he uses his knowledge and experience to predict and construct meaning as he reads.


To be a skilled reader, one has to reflect on his reading progresses and he should know the type of information he wants from the material and how often it should be read. Proficient and skilled readers practice, develop, and refine their reading over their life time. Some teachers are not proficient and skilled readers and as such cannot teach reading to their students even when most teachers are skilled, they lack the strategies to teach reading. Besides, such teachers do not see it as their job to teach reading to their students.

Ihuoma (1984) rightly pointed out that many students who have problems in reading do so because of poor reading method which they carried from their teacher. She further stated that teaching reading comprehension is the job of the classroom teacher and not the job of the reading experts alone. What it means is that teachers should get their students ready to read. It gives the individual student the readiness and ability at a given age to cope adequately with the demand of a cognitive task.

To get the students ready for the task of reading Ihuoma (1984) suggested that we set purpose for that by building a background experience and teaching unfamiliar vocabularies. Something should be done before, during and after reading exercise. Those things that are to be done are: preparation – the teacher has to prepare his lessons before coming to class, he has to arouse the Students interest in the lesson by using any teaching aid which will suit their personalities, the teacher should give background information of the reading material.

He should also allow the students to anticipate what they will be dealing with and set a purpose for their reading. The teacher should as well give the students directions on how to proceed with the reading text assigned to them. Equally important is good preparation on the part of the teacher and the knowledge of what reading is to both the teachers and the students remain necessary for learning the art of reading. Reading is really an art and teachers should not assume because assumptive teaching makes teaching nothing more than combination of assigning and teaching but effective reading and teaching is a combination of guiding and showing.

To read well, one has to read exactly what is on the printed page not exchanging one word with or from another. In all the secondary schools selected for the study, it was discovered that teachers has no particular strategy for teaching reading. Most of them do not use any method at all in teaching reading. This trend is most common in schools in Ikwo Local Government Area. Students do not ask questions nor react to the method the situation is common among the sampled teachers in the study.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Teaching and learning of English language in Nigeria is hindered by many factors. The problems are many and glaring. There is the problem of poor reaching habits of the students, especially in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Many students of the post primary school level lack effective reading habits. It is in view of the stated problem that this researcher has set out to investigate the strategies that the teachers adopt in teaching reading in the post primary schools selected in Ikwo Local Government Area.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to find out the following:

  • To ascertain the strategies teachers use in teaching reading in secondary schools.
  • To find out why students in secondary schools in Ikwo Local Government Area are poor in reading skills.
  • To determine ways of improving the acquisition of reading among students in the rural secondary schools.
  • To identify the difficulties teachers encounter in teaching reading skills in secondary schools.


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