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  • Background to the study

English has now acquired the title of the world’s leading global language because it is used for business, science, and politics (Ioreber, 2018). English is a living subject which reflects the quality of education a student received at any point in time. The quality of vocabulary items students possess ensures their proper use of the language. Since English language teaching and learning has great implication of use in the society. A good English teacher must appreciate the need to update his methodology for motivating the students to learn the language.

The rate of English language failure in external examination such as WAEC and NECO is very disheartening. Therefore, this work attempts to find workable approaches to reducing this rate of failure by using intensive reading as experimental yardstick to test the effectiveness on vocabulary development of students from the SS2 level. It is hoped that a rich vocabulary base from the SS level of education would culminate into better performance of students in English

Hornby (2020) postulated that reading is a developmental skill which can never be fully acquired and one should therefore, make a conscious effort to continue to improve on reading throughout his life. Reading also involves looking and understanding the meaning of written or printed words or symbols. Reading is a unique human activity that is characterized by the translation of written symbols or letters, words and sentence to get information that mean something to the reader. The reader seeks to understanding the meaning of a written text: evaluates its significance and uses what he has read to enhance his knowledge effectively or pleasure.

There has been great concern by the government, language teachers, parents, public examination bodies and the general public on the declining performance of students in English at the senior secondary school level. The situation has been one of the disturbing aspects of the Nigerian education system.

            Adeyanju (2019) observes that students in secondary schools have low standard of expressions and scanty, illogical, incoherent and irrelevant ideas. The inability of students to involve in intensive reading in English language has contributed to the poor performance in English language at senior secondary school. The reason is because most of the students lack ability to comprehend what they read. Most Nigerian secondary school students do not read intensively, and therefore, lack adequate vocabulary items to express themselves both in spoken and written English (Azikiwe, 2017).  Studies by White, Graves, and Slatter (2020) have shown that poor readers often lack adequate vocabulary and this affects their understanding of what they read from a text. Consequently, reading is difficult and tedious for them. Hart and Risely (2018) observe that students who do not have large vocabularies or effective word-learning strategies often struggle to achieve comprehension as they read. Their poor experiences with reading set them in to a cycle of frustration and failure that continues throughout their schooling. Research has also shown that often students with reading disabilities have lower than average vocabularies. This can be a consequence of the effect of linguistic problems or limited exposure to print (Pressley, 2002).

The meaning of intensive reading is to read with full concentration and complete focus. Intensive reading is one of the most critical skills you can develop to get a better understanding of information. When you have to read a report for work, for instance, you cannot just skim it and call it a day. Student have to get a deeper understanding of what is written, assess the purpose and evaluate the results to make sense of it. Reading intensively will help tackle complex texts. Students will be able to strengthen their reading comprehension, vocabulary and language skills. Intensive reading as a methodology, have long advocated that direct vocabulary instruction is the most efficient means of vocabulary building. Brown (2017) sees intensive reading classes as a place where bottom-up and top-down processing are used interactively to achieve reading comprehension. In other words, attention should be given to phoneme, root and word recognition to progress toward meaning (bottomup) as well as to the (top-down) process of starting with background knowledge and general meaning and working from there to more specific comprehension. As part of the top-down process, he advocates skills building and fluency exercises, such as identifying the purpose of reading, skimming, scanning, guessing from context, semantic mapping, and genre studies.

Ability to comprehend written texts is crucial in order to meet the overall purpose for English language teaching in our national context: to give students a tool to directly access scientific, technological and humanistic information and, in this way expand their knowledge of the world, as well as to allow them to fulfill personal needs and interests that may go from wanting to comprehend the written message of their favorite lyrics in English to engaging in intellectual practices such as reading literature classics (Mep, 2017).

As a response to this reality, many language instruction programs have placed reading comprehension at the forefront of their curricula; and research has emerged that calls for a shift in the way we view and teach for this component. Some scholars such as Alyousef (2015) rank reading comprehension as one of the most important skills in academic and professional success in general, and in second and foreign language education in particular.

It has been observed that for learners to be fluent and proficient in the use of any language, a good knowledge of the vocabulary of that language is required. The ideas and expressions students convey both in oral and written communication is enhanced by their knowledge of words, and meaning. Without that, it will be difficult for students at the senior secondary level to express their ideas coherently in their external examinations. The inability of students to involve in intensive reading of materials in English has contributed to the poor performance in English at senior secondary school (Attarzadeh, 2019).

Imhabekhai (2019) observes that poor performance in English language is attributed to candidates’ poor reading skills. This attitude has prevented so many students from acquiring new words to express themselves both in spoken and written English. Attarzadeh (2019) opine that words are the tools students can use to access their background knowledge, express ideas and learn new concepts. Students’ word knowledge are linked strongly to their academic success. Most students in secondary schools find English difficult because they do not know how to express their ideas using correctly written sentences. To this end, vocabulary becomes an integral part of language development in students’ lives. Charles (2016) opines that effective and efficient use of a language demands adequate knowledge of it. This use of language can only be seen and recognised by others when the user is rich in its vocabulary. However, it is expected that students who involve in intensive reading of books, would be able to apply the knowledge from reading such materials in writing their English examinations.

  • Statement of the Problem

Most students at the secondary school level are uninterested in wide reading; their reading culture is limited. Some of them only read for examination purposes. Thus, most students limit themselves to reading only notes given to them by their class teachers and only few of them have time to read books and other materials outside their class texts. For that reason, Akinbode (2016) discovers that most of them perform poorly in reading comprehension, summary and essay writing during their terminal examinations due to inadequate vocabulary usage.

This is because most of the students lack adequate words to express themselves in written compositions to satisfy the demands of the examiners. Observations have also shown that since the entry of mobile phones, video films and internet into Nigeria, students have concentrated more on phone calls, watching films and browsing irrelevant information from the internet than reading their books. These habits have distracted most students from developing reading culture. Edom and Ofre (2020) highlighted that the growing incidents of students using the internet is not necessarily for academic purposes but for antisocial activities. Igwe (2019) identified poor reading skill as a problem of Nigerian students attributed to difficulty in distinguishing main ideas from irrelevant details and inadequate vocabulary or word power. These probably mean that lack of students’ participation in intensive reading has contributed a lot of problems in acquiring vocabulary or new words which they could use in expressing themselves in written essays. Frank (2017) reports that over the years experience has confirmed that students offering literature only memorized names of the authors and major characters for the purpose of passing examinations without necessarily reading the texts. Students at the senior secondary school level are expected to comprehend a variety of expository text types, to develop study and information gathering skills, as well as higher level of comprehension skills for better performance in their public examinations. These skills are largely not acquired because most students have poor reading habits which limit their vocabulary knowledge.

However, the main problems of the study are to determine whether the low level of vocabulary acquisition by senior secondary students can be improved through intensive reading. It is also to determine whether the acquisition of vocabulary through intensive reading could equally enhance the poor performance of students in English language in senior secondary school.

  • Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this research is to determine the effect of intensive reading on students’ reading comprehension in English language at the senior secondary school level in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State. Other specific objectives are to:

  1. Determine effects of intensive reading on students’ learning of literal message in reading comprehension.
  2. Discover the effects of intensive reading on students’ ability to answer comprehension questions
  • Find out the effects of intensive reading on students’ making of referential thoughts in reading comprehension.

1.4. Research Questions

            The following questions have been raised to guide the study:

  1. What are the effects of intensive reading on students’ learning of literal message in reading comprehension?
  2. What are the effects of intensive reading on students’ ability to answer comprehension questions?
  • What are the effects of intensive reading on students’ making of referential thoughts in reading comprehension?

1.5. Hypothesis

For the purpose of this study, this null-hypotheses is formulated

H0: There is no significant difference between the performances of students exposed to intensive reading and those who were not exposed to it.

1.6. Significance of the Study

The benefits of this study cannot be overemphasized especially now that education stakeholders are finding lasting solutions to poor performance of students in reading comprehension. Therefore, the study shall be beneficial to students, teachers, government, curriculum planners and future researchers.

The study hopes to be significant to students since it is expected to expose them to the benefits of intensive reading programme for vocabulary acquisition from different materials written in the English language.  Exposing students to intensive reading would be of help in moving their reading ability from frustration to independent level, instead of turning to a dictionary for meaning of every difficult word they can gain the meaning of such word from the contextual clue. The research would definitely assist students to develop their vocabulary skills by reaching the level of automatic word recognition through intensive reading of different materials in English.

On the side of the English language teachers, it would help them in building the culture of reading in students and at the same time help in improving students’ vocabulary development. These are expected to make teaching and learning of the English language in the secondary schools easier.

Similarly, the Ministry of Education, Plateau State Government would find the research useful because it would give an insight on how to improve the language performance of students by making available relevant books and materials in school libraries so as to give students ample opportunity to read intensively and improve on their comprehension ability.

Finally, when this study is completed, it will serve as a reference material to future researchers who will want to carry out similar research. It will add to the already existing body of literature on effects of intensive reading on students’ performance in reading comprehension since there is limited literature on intensive reading.

 1.7.Scope of the Study

This study covers effects of intensive reading on Senior Secondary School Two (SS II) students. It therefore, covered all the SS II students in Mangu Local Government Area. It was conducted to find out, through experimental research design whether intensive reading of such materials could improve the performance of students in reading comprehension. However, despite the fact that the study is restricted to the selected local government, its findings will be generalized to other parts of the state and the country at large.

1.8. Operational Definitions of Terms

Effect: this is the result of the clash of two phenomena.

Intensive: to undertake a task carefully with the intension of understanding.

Reading: This refers to the process of interpreting written materials. This could be silent reading or reading aloud.

Intensive Reading: This is interpreting a written material with critical or concentrated attention in order to get both literal meaning and inferential meaning of the comprehension passage.

Reading Comprehension: This refers to a reading passage found in an English language textbook or constructed by a classroom instructor for the consumption of the secondary school students

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  • Chapter 1 to 5
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