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Teaching Reading Comprehension in Secondary Schools: A case study of Nsukka, Urban Area of Enugu State; is a descriptive survey research work. All the English school Teachers and students in the area made up the population of this study. Five research questions were raised to guide the study. A set of research instrument known as structured questionnaire for teachers and students was drawn from the research questions and used for data collection. Data collected through this medium was analysed using the mean and standard deviation. Based on the findings, recommendations and suggestions for further study were made and a conclusion drawn.




Background to the Study

Reading, according to Gray (2000), is a highly complex activity, including various important aspects, such as recognizing symbols quickly and accurately comprehending clearly and with discrimination the meanings implied by the author. It also involves reacting to and using ideas secured through reading in harmony with the reading purpose and integrating them to definite thoughts and action patterns. According to Herns 2000, reading and comprehension have come to operate as one concept due to their synonymous relationship. Comprehension is a by product of reading. It does not occur in the absence of reading neither is reading interesting or meaningful without understanding.

According to Oyetunde in Agwu (2004), Reading is one area that is particularly problematic for children within the school system. A great majority of them are failing to learn to read and many more are unable to read to learn.

Ngwoke (2006) defines it as the recognition and conscious reproduction of written or printed symbols, letters words, word group and sentences either mentally or vocally by means of eye or finger contact. It can also be seen as one’s ability to acquire information by identifying written symbols. Here “eye contact” relates to humans that have no visual impairment whereas finger contact relates to the blind who make use of the Braille writing.

Reading is one of the four basic communication skills, others being speaking, listening and writing. Reading is an important activity in a child’s education because it is a major process towards successful educational pursuit, he must first of all learn how to read, he must develop skills in reading like most other skills (listening, speaking, writing and reading) that require practice.

According to Sybil in Maduabuchi (2006) Teaching Reading in school E.A.S. 211 unpublished thesis;

Reading is the process of communication through which most formal learning takes place. It involves understanding of written languages. Through reading when an author has written, you (the reader set out to  understand and respond to the author’s message (page 4 and 5)

Maduabuchi (2006) says that: the reading process is never a passive process rather a dynamic process in which the reader is not only involved in information search, but he/she is engaged in information, reformation, summarizing, editing, confirmation or rejection and criticizing where necessary. Research has however, shown that proper language use entails proper manipulation of the four language skills namely, listening, speaking reading and writing.

Even normal child acquires the listening skill without much conscious effort.   At a very early age the child begins to speak his mother tongue. This situation is different for the learning of a second language. Until the learner of a second language passes through organised and formal instructional stages, the sounds of the language are mere noise while the graphic are mere scratches.

When learners are eventually exposed to formal instruction in the learning of the language, such learners complete the primary and secondary education with little or no knowledge of the spoken form.

According to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Reading is the “skills or activity of getting information from books” Ogayi (1999) sees reading as the means of perceiving and understanding written communication.

Experience, however, has shown that most students in senior secondary school level encounter many reading problems in the teaching and learning situation. These reading problems can be classified into two:

  • Those of nature and (2) those that are not of nature

Reading problems that are natural arise from physical defects or emotional imbalance since the problems are natural. Therefore, they cannot be easily remedied. An example is intelligence. Not all children posses high intelligence, and so while some are very brilliant other are not. Reading and comprehension are learned activities hence, among the two groups mentioned above that is, bound to be difference in academic performance. Another example is defect of speech, a stammer is not expected to read fluently. Somebody with brain damage cannot read and comprehend effectively.

Reading problems that are not natural are those that effect a normal school child in the learning environment. Arua (1987:99) states that: “There is no motivation on the part of both the teachers and the students some of the student have acquired a number of faulty reading habits.”

This development, has adversely affected the performances of our students in English language.

Also, in as much as poor reading abilities or habits may cause poor performances in examinations, failure in English language has been a factor in the disqualification of many students from getting admission into universities. Over the years and these faulty habits are examined in following section.

Vocalization and sub-vocalization word recognition

The inabilities of students to understand what reading is all about, form the problem we are going to study in this work. Teaching Reading Comprehension in our secondary schools, is a destructive issue militating against education efficiency. Research findings have it that poor reading abilities have led to poor achievement of the students in various examination such as WAEC and NECO. The Chief Examiners Report (2001) on students’ performance in reading comprehension have been reviewed and discussed. It is observed from the report that student perform very poor in reading comprehension. However, in the year (2001:11) he observed in the comprehension that:

Candidates did reasonably well in those questions whose answers are identifiable in the passage. The problem is that many still copy out chunks from the passage, in hope that the correct answer will be found in them. The advice here is for candidates to read the passage, and try to understand what they say. They can refer to the passages whenever they are in doubt about the correct answer, but they should try and answer the question in their own words.


In the words above by the WAEC Chief Examiner, the problem with the question on replacement of words is that candidates failed to put their option back into the context to see whether they fit in. Thus, they lost a lot of marks, although it was clear that many of them know the meanings of the words.

Nevertheless, home background of the students is another factor that mar students reading problems. Illiterate parents who do not know the importance of reading, because of this when they get home after school or during the holidays instead of parents encouraging their children to read, they rather send them hawking or occupy their time with other domestic works. This particular problem of home background keeps the students mind away from reading.

Mother tongue interference is seen as another problem encountered by students in reading. Since English is a second language in Nigeria, it is assumed that every child has acquired a mother tongue because of this, some consonants and vowels sounds in their mother tongue interfere with the consonants and vowels in English sounds. This particular problem of interference makes the students to perform very poor in pronunciation. Teachers should then encourage the students to read loud in the class to know where their problem lies. In addition to this Sheilla (1998) said that teachers do not necessarily pay attention to phonies but instead, will give the children a sight vocabulary containing some unphonies examples.

The usefulness of reading is quite apparent to any educated person. The type of education that can be acquired without reading in informal. Therefore, if a child cannot read, it means he cannot fully read about other people’s ideas. Such a child is bound to have limited knowledge of the world. It is expected that education as a life long process should be continued outside through individuals learning of a reading and understanding.

Another factor contributory to the problem of teaching reading comprehension in our secondary school is that proper attention has not been given to teaching reading in our schools. This is true because secondary schools do not have reading in the school time tables. Even in situations where there is reading exercises in the time tables, teachers do not utilize them effectively instead, more attention is given to teaching writing.

Maduabuchi (2002), suggests that reading of the passage by a teacher, should include all the necessary accompanying paralinguistic strategies (such as gestures and facial expression which can provide in reads to comprehension especially through the rhythm of his reading and the particular emphatic way he pronounces diaphonic words . But on contrary this cannot hold because 25% out of 30% of the teachers in secondary schools were not properly trained for their job.

This could have be an easy way to improve reading in secondary schools. It is said that teachers in Nigeria secondary schools do not make use of supplementary readers, without knowing that one of the ways of improving teaching reading comprehension among secondary schools, students is through the use of supplementary readers.


From what has been said earlier, it is clear that the state of reading among Nigerian students is poor. The problem that arises is on what should be done to improve the state of teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka Urban area. These has led the researcher to investigate the problem of teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka Urban area.

Statement of the Problems

Inspite of the numerous past research works carried out on teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools reading problems continue to persist among students.

It has been observed that a lot of factors cause poor reading in our secondary schools. These problems of teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools goes on in Nsukka urban area of Enugu state. Problem of reading comprehension continue to persist among our secondary students which continues to be associated with poor performance in the school certificate examinations, especially, in the area of English language papers.

It is in view of this, that this research intends to find out the problem of teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka urban area.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the problem of teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka urban area. Especially, the problem that confront English language teachers during teaching reading comprehension lesson. However, a lot have been said and written on about the problem in Nigerian. The researcher has in mind to investigate into the problems and prospects of teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka urban area of Enugu state. The study is set out to:

  • Find out how poor attitude to reading contribute to poor academic performances.
  • Find out some factors underlying the low performances in teaching reading comprehension in the area.
  • Find out the extent teaching methodology is associated with poor reading performance.
  • Find out the extent these poor attitude to reading can be remedied.
  • Find out the extent of mother tongue interference affect on learning reading among Nsukka secondary student.

Significance of the Study

The research would also go a long way to help teachers. Teachers, who pilot the ship of the teaching reading process will through this research, know those aspects of teaching reading comprehension that are caused by them and make effort to improve. For instance, like in the aspect of teaching methodology, teachers through this research will be made to improve and also vary their methods. Parents on their own part, through this research would be able to see how they constitute part of their children’s problems and also make effort to find solutions.

Then general public, especially the people of Nsukka urban area would benefits immensely from this research. The discussions on the problems and prospects of teaching reading comprehension and suggested solutions by the researcher will help the general public to make for a better reading culture.

Moreover, this research would also be f help to educationists who would venture into a related topic to research on it. The findings of this research will help them to make a head-way and will also serve as a guide to them as they research.

The government and curriculum planners are not left out of this. Through this finding, they will be encourage to create awareness of teaching reading and make effort to include it in the school curriculum to enhance the reading in our students. The government will also know the part to play and provide needed finance for reading enhancement in our society.

Scope of the Study

The topic of this study is teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka urban: problems and prospects. It is within the scope of this research to examine the problems caused by inadequate qualified teachers, poor reading attitude in Nsukka urban area with emphasis laid on senior secondary schools and their effects on teaching reading comprehension in secondary schools in Nsukka urban area.

Research Questions

    • To what extent can the poor attitude to reading contribute to poor academic performances?
    • To what extent are some factors underlying the low performance in teaching reading comprehension in the area?
    • To what extent is teaching methodology associated with poor reading performance?
    • To what extent can these poor attitudes to reading be remedied?
    • To what extent can mother tongue interference affect on learning reading among Nsukka secondary students?


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