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  • Background to the Study

Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. It varies in degree of severity, no two dyslexic people are similar, and it can be very mild, mild or profound. It is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic. According to the International Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Therefore, from the foregoing, one could garner that dyslexia is a linguistic problem associated with learning difficulty in terms of reading and writing. It is a specific reading difficulty that predominantly affects reading and spelling and it is characterized by problems or difficulties in processing word-sounds and by deficiencies in short-term verbal memory; it affects in spoken and written language alike.

There are primary school pupils in Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State who appear to be normal but are experiencing difficulties in their attempt to read their textbooks, notebook, and to some extent fail to read written lesson on the board as instructed by the teacher. Dyslexia is a form of specific learning difficulty that manifests as a problem with particular aspects of learning, experiencing reading difficulties, adequate intelligence and general learning skills. The National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke (2010) defined dyslexia as a disorder that impairs a person’s ability to read and which can visibly manifest as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, and auditory short term memory. This Specific Learning Difficulties (SPLD) is also characterised by poor short term memory, poor visual sequencing, clumsiness and difficulties with spatial awareness. Difficulties experienced by dyslexic learners can lead to underachievement in school and low self-esteem not only in early childhood but also in adulthood. The availability of learning support when it is most required is therefore crucial (Reid and Kirk, 2001); early identification, diagnosis, recognition and learning support are vital to the educational achievement of dyslexic individuals. A teacher of English in primary schools in Kano will encountered a number of children with reading difficulties. They could perform relatively well in other activities like singing, drawing and could even speak fluently. A common phenomenon was the clipping of syllables while reading polysyllabic words, for example some would read the words remember as rember, or read only one part of a compound word, for example either hand or bag for handbag. Some would omit or substitute letters or sounds of the target word, for example, techer or ticha for teacher, or replace it with a completely different word, while others omitted functional words when reading phrases or sentences. Such children were considered lazy and rude, and would often be ignored or unfairly punished by the teachers. These children would finally drop out of school, or perform poorly in their national examinations. The plight of such children has not been adequately addressed within the Kano Education System, in terms of training of teachers to handle them, and, very little has been done in research on these cases in Nigeria.

A lot of research has been done on language disorders the world over, and a variety of these disorders have been identified in terms of their characteristics and possible causes. Sometimes such disorders are caused by either a stroke or an injury to the brain, affecting especially the left hemisphere to which language is lateralized. Other disorders are developmental, and occur to individuals with no history of injury or stroke. The term specific language impairment (SLI) is often used for such disorders. Radford et al (2009: 213) define SLI as “a term covering disorders in the normal acquisition of language without there being any clear primary deficit. Despite their linguistic problems, SLI children and adults have normal non-verbal IQs, no hearing deficits and no obvious emotional or behavioural disturbances.” Such disorders include dyslexia (reading disorder), and dysgraphia (writing disorder).

Some literature suggests that dyslexics have problems with long and multi-syllable words. Johnson (2015) says that “For kids with dyslexia, it can be hard to deal with multi-syllable words. They may have trouble remembering and pronouncing them correctly.” While conducting a study on Dyslexic Entrepreneurs, Logan (2009) uses the aspect of difficulty with polysyllabic words as a sign to identify dyslexics. She writes: A decision was made after exploring the dyslexia literature and undertaking the initial pilot with dyslexics and non-dyslexics that in order to be classed as dyslexic, respondents must report difficulty with spelling and pronunciation of long words…. Miles (1993) identifies spelling as a key problem for dyslexics and suggests that this continues into adulthood. He also found that over 90% of dyslexics struggle with sequencing and 66% of dyslexics have problems reading and pronouncing polysyllabic words.

The impact that dyslexia has is different for each person and depends on the severity of the condition and the timeliness and effectiveness of instruction or remediation. The core difficulty involves word recognition and reading fluency, spelling, and writing. Some individuals with dyslexia manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most debilitating problems when more complex language skills are required, such as grammar, understanding textbook material, and writing essays. People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language, even after they have been exposed to excellent language models in their homes and high quality language instruction in school. They may find it difficult to express themselves clearly, or to fully comprehend what others mean when they speak. Such language problems are often difficult to recognize, but they can lead to major problems in school, in the workplace, and in relating to other people. The effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom.

The main difficulties experienced by individuals with dyslexia are phonological awareness and establishing phoneme-grapheme correspondences. Children with dyslexia find it difficult to map letters onto sounds, which is experienced as difficulties in decoding written words (Vellutino, Fletcher, Snowling & Scanlon, 2004). It might be expected that this is the area where intensive teacher support would be required. However, reading in a language with a deep orthography like English is a complex process (Snowling & Hulme, 2011). Decoding print and understanding the alphabetic principle are an essential step towards proper reading but as Snowling and Hulme point out, children also need to ‘read fluently and with understanding’. For this reason, a narrow focus on phonological skills is likely to be insufficient. According to Rose (2009), a number of government funded reports both in England and the USA 12), as well as Section 1.25 of the SENDCP have recommended a number of approaches to address the difficulties in reading acquisition. The research will focus on some of the most influential effects of dyslexia among pupils. Next, it will attempt to identify the causes of dyslexia among primary pupils areas of reading acquisition that are most frequently affected in dyslexia. Finally, it will look at the types of reading difficulty among primary pupils on their achievement in English language of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State.

  • Statement of the problem

Kano State currently lacks available statistical evidence as proof of the percentage of people affected by dyslexia in the State. There are no existing figures to support the claim of the existence of dyslexia in Kano State, it can still be argued that there is yet no justifiable reason to suggest that dyslexia does not exist in Kano State. Dyslexia is no respecter of race; it has a genetic base and it occurs in all countries and cultures which Kano State is not an exception. Many researchers, educators, and students believed on the existence of dyslexia.

The problem of the study is to investigate problems, causes, and effect of dyslexia (reading difficulties) on the academic achievement in English Language among on primary pupils in Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State. Reading Difficulties is a process that requires coordination, recognition, interpretation of graphics symbols and association of the graphic symbols meaning which the writer put across. Dyslexia is a disorder in children who despite conventional classroom experience fail to attain the language skill of reading, writing and spelling commensurate with their intellectual abilities. The three aspects can be phrased in the following questions: Do dyslexic children encounter the amount of difficulty with both monosyllabic and polysyllabic words? Do they encounter the same amount of difficulty with content words and functional words? And do they experience different levels of difficulty depending on whether those words they are reading occur in isolation or in context?


Reading is an activity characterised by the translation of symbols/letters, into words and sentences that have meanings to the individuals. The ultimate goal of reading is to be able to understand written material, to evaluate it, and to use it for one’s needs. Therefore, reading is central to the child’s intellectual development because a child who is a poor reader is likely to be a poor learner. No notion can aspire to achieve its full development potentials unless its entire people including children with dyslexia participate in this process of development. However, while most children find the learning processes exciting, others develop fear and anxiety about school and may not likely cope adequately with schooling. This is not because they are blind, impaired of hearing and speech nor are they unintelligent or lazy, but they have a learning difficulty as dyslexia. English language is the most important subject for every learner. This is because language is used as a medium of instruction in schools and communication in all areas. Children with dyslexia who have impaired phonological awareness seem to experience difficulties in abstracting letter-sound correspondences and thus fail to develop phonological recoding of letter patterns into spoken words. These children do find it difficult to identify words, blend words or segment them as well as have difficulty in understanding rhyming words. They also have poor language skills and poor rapid automatic naming letters and words. The researcher sought to determine the reason behind poor performance of these pupils in English language.

The question on the lips of parents and teachers have always been why is it so easy for some pupil to read, spell and write effectively while some other pupils of same age and in same class struggle endlessly to achieve a pass grade on any reading, spelling and writing tasks?. The greater part of this problem has been how to effectively understand these disabilities and subsequently manage them. Unfortunately for pupils living with dyslexia the most popular examination structures are based on time limit which pupil must adhere to, and demands speed and high levels of literacy. This makes it difficult for dyslexic pupil to achieve as much as their counterparts who are not dyslexic. Pupils with dyslexia are continuously seen as failures or performing below average in virtually all academic evaluations. There are lots of misconceptions about dyslexia amongst teachers and wider society. These misconceptions shall be investigated by the researcher because the misconceptions might have adverse effect on academic performance of the pupils.

  • Objectives of the Study

The purpose of this study is to establish the effects of dyslexia on the reading abilities of primary pupils in English Language of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State. The aims of the study include:

  1. To find out the effects of reading difficulty (Dyslexia) among primary pupils of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State.
  2. To determine the causes of reading difficulty (Dyslexia) among primary pupil of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State.
  • To determine the types of reading difficulty (Dyslexia) among primary pupil’s achievement in English Language of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State.
  1. To determine whether there are greater reading difficulties in polysyllabic words than in monosyllabic words
    • Research Questions

            This study specifically sought to answer the following question:

  1. What are the types of reading difficulty (Dyslexia) among primary pupils of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State?
  2. What are the causes of reading difficulty (Dyslexia) among primary pupils of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State?
  • What are the problems and effects of reading difficulty (Dyslexia) among primary pupils of Tarauni Local Government Area in Kano State?
  1. What determine whether there are greater reading difficulties in polysyllabic words than in monosyllabic words?
    • Research Hypothesis

H0 there is no significant relationship between dyslexia and reading abilities of primary pupils in English language of Tarauni LGA

  • Significance of the Study

            This study helps to highlight the plight of dyslexics, a majority of whom go through primary and even secondary schools unrecognized, and unassisted, with, as a consequence, shattered dreams and unexploited talents on that part. The findings of this research are of importance to teachers, parents and policy makers. They help the teachers understand language factors that affect dyslexics, and adjust their teaching approach for the benefit of all their learners.

This study therefore informs and educates the readers that dyslexics should be treated with respect, just like any other member of society. The findings of this study are expected to inform the Education Ministry of the situation, so as to enable them to formulate appropriate policies and devote funds to the benefit of this group of neglected disabilities.

This study is also a contribution to the body of knowledge on the language disorders. The findings of this research especially on the subjects’ performance on functional and content words call for a re-evaluation of the view that dyslexics perform better in content words than function words-especially in a multilingual situation where the target language is a second language as was the case in this study.

  • Scope and Delimitation of the Study

As the title of the study shows, the research study will specifically deal with the effects, causes, types and to determine if the students are facing difficulties in the reading syllabus either polysyllabic or monosyllabic or even both in English language on their academic performance among primary pupils of Tarauni Local Government in Kano State.

  • Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms are been defined as used in this work:

Effects: These are results or consequences of dyslexia on the reading abilities of primary pupils in English language.

Dyslexia: This refers to a learning disability that is neurobiological characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Reading Abilities: This refers to the ability to process text, understand its meaning, and to integrate with what the child with reading difficulty already knows.

Reading skills: This refers to the ability of a dyslexia child to read, comprehend and interpret written words within a period.

Learning Disabilities: This refers to a condition in which children who despite appearing ‘normal’ are unable to perform commensurate with their age and their actual intellectual ability in oral, listening comprehension, reading and written expression skills.

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