EFFECTS OF READING CULTURE ON THE ACHIEVEMENT OF STUDENTS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
EFFECTS OF READING CULTURE ON THE ACHIEVEMENT OF STUDENTS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
1.1 Background of the Study
The place of the English language in the Nigerian educational system has remained unchallenged over the years. Amongst other uses of the language, the English language has remained the most important language of instruction. This implies that the proper teaching and learning of whatever subject is largely dependent on a good understanding of the language of instruction which happens to be English.
Understandably, the English language is compulsorily taught as an independent subject in Nigerian schools from the earliest stage up to the secondary level. In fact the National Policy on Education (2004) lists English language as a core subject. English language is also a prerequisite for advancing through the different classes/levels. A minimum credit pass in English is usually demanded from students before they can move up to higher levels in their academic pursuit. In higher institutions of learning which include colleges, polytechnics, universities, etc, Use of English is taught across the different faculties and departments. The goal of the course is to make students proficient in the use of English language since the language can be preferably called a universal language.
Regrettably, the English language learning and teaching in the country has over the years come under heavy criticism. Statistics have shown that alongside Mathematics, the English language has remained the most difficult subject to score the minimum credit pass in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Olowolagbo (2018) reports that the number of students who scored five credits and above including English Language and Mathematics in the 2018, May/June examination is 786,016 of the total 1,572,396 students who sat for the examination. The figure represents a 49.98% pass rate. The rate is significantly lower than the previous year’s (2017) pass rate which was given at 59.22%.
According to data available, the figures further dropped in the year 2019. Announcing the results in Lagos by the head of Nigeria National Office (HNO) of WAEC, Isaac Adenipekun, said only 26.08 percent of the more than 11,892 candidates who took part in this edition of the examination obtained credit and above in a minimum of five subjects including English language and General Mathematics. This sharp decline is reason enough to begin to take deliberate and conscientious steps to discover the immediate and remote causes of this decline in order to salvage the situation.
Researchers in the field of education especially English education have over the years pre-occupied themselves with the task of carrying out empirical studies about issues that have continued to inhibit the proper teaching and learning of English language in Nigeria. One of the factors that has repeatedly been pointed out is the poor reading culture of Nigerians which has negated the development of English in the nation. Professor Lenrie Aina who is the National Librarian, National Library of Nigeria was quoted as saying, “the death of reading culture among Nigerians especially the youths is the factor affecting the quality of education, which tampers with the development of the nation ” (Makinde, 2018).
Countless other experts have continued to decry the poor reading culture in Nigeria as statistics indicate that Nigeria’s literacy rate of 59.6% is at a dismal compared to other African nations like Cameron (75%), Ghana (76.6%) Zimbabwe (86.5%), South African (74.5%), Equatorial Guinea (95.3%) etc. (Hile, 2018)
Also an article published by the Daily Trust Abuja on the 12th March, 2019 posit that the advent of information technology has in some ways impacted negatively on the quality of learning at the school level. Letter writing that in the past provided an avenue for students to improve their language skills has become almost obsolete. Free access to the text message facility on mobile phones has similarly created a wide gap between students of English and the rules of grammar. Access to the internet and free information posted on websites have equally weakened literary passions. From the above, it can be noted that the failure rate in English language has been comparatively higher than it is with other school subjects. Thus away from statistics it has also been joked that the safest place one could hide a thing from a Nigerians is to keep such a thing in a book since the book is unlikely to be opened by anyone.
Consequently, there is the need to do all things necessary to improve the reading culture in Nigeria. This is not unconnected to the fact that a better reading culture especially among the youths in Nigeria is likely to have a positive rippling effect on the teaching and learning of English language in particular and the Nigerian educational system in general.
Thus researchers have since sought to make recommendations through which these problems can be addressed. This they have done through the publication of books about different factors in order to contribute to the teaching and learning of English language. Some of these publications to mention a few include, Theories of Second Language Learning and their Implications on Language Teaching (Garridau, 2016), Teaching Reading Comprehension Skills in English as a Second Language through Poetry (Jimwan, 2016), Effective Reading Skills as Catalyst for Rebranding Nigeria (Igwe, 2004) etc. In all of these studies, diagnosis of the problem and proffering solutions to such problems has been the watch word.
It is against this background that the study of the effects of reading culture on students achievement in English language is justified. The topic is such that seeks to present in measurable terms, the effects that an increased reading culture (or otherwise) will have on English Language education thereby revealing the gains (or losses) a reading culture has on English language.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There is the problem of a steep decline in the performance of students in English language in particular and in the education in general. Naturally, as stakeholders and/or custodians of language education in Nigeria, language experts especially those in the academia owe it a duty to investigate this problem thoroughly and in the end suggest solutions that will put an end to this deterioration and ultimately put the Nigerian educational system back on track.
In view of this, several efforts are currently being put in place in order to curb the worsening condition of literacy rates in the country. Perhaps the first point to tackling this problem is in diagnosing it properly and clearly so that issues related are put in proper perspective.
Since the reading culture in Nigeria has already been identified as a major source of the problem, it goes to say that all issues that connect with reading and reading culture in Nigeria should be investigated. Such areas that need investigating include among others, the causes, effects problems inhibiting good reading cultures, ways of improving reading cultures, what efforts are currently being made to improve the reading culture and so on.
In as much as the things that need to be done are much, not everything can be done at the same time. For the purpose of effectiveness, the researcher singles out the problem of establishing the effects of reading culture as they relate to students achievement in English language.
This research shall select four senior secondary schools in Jos South Area of Plateau State and subject the students to a study that would reveal the effect of reading culture on the students’ achievement in English language. In other to identify potential problem areas and deficiencies in the research instruments and protocol; prior to implementation during the full study, a pilot study would be conducted, which will reveal the particular effects that reading culture has on the students’ achievement in English language.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this research is to investigate the effects of reading culture on the achievement of students in English language.
Other specific objectives of the study are:
i. To establish the relationship between reading culture and students achievement in English language.
ii. To establish whether or not there is a need to improve the reading culture in Nigeria from what it currently is.
iii. To outline the effects of reading culture on students achievement in English language.
1.4 Research Questions
This research is geared towards finding answers to the following questions:
i. Is there a relationship between students’ reading culture and their achievement in English language?
ii. Is there any need for improving the reading culture in Nigeria from what it currently is?
iii. What are the effects of reading culture on the achievement of students in English language?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of this study cannot be overemphasized especially now that the society has become a global village were literacy is judged through writing, reading and speaking skills. Therefore, the study will be beneficial to government, teachers, parents and students.
To the government they will come to understand the importance of reading on the performance of students, therefore, they will make available reading materials in the school which will enhance the reading culture of the students.
Teachers will benefit from the study as they will know where they are lacking in engaging students in extensive reading. Therefore, they will take measures to encourage students to develop reading culture in order to enhance their performances in reading comprehension passages.
This research will help students discover the importance of developing a good reading culture in order to improve their abilities in reading and answering comprehension passages in both internal and external examinations. It will help improve students’ language proficiency and make work easier for the teachers of English.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study covers the effects of reading culture on the achievement of students in English language in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The study however shall draw its sample mainly from SSII students in selected secondary schools in the local government area. 25 students are randomly drawn from the following schools to give a total of 100 students.
i. Government Secondary School, Hwolshe.
ii. Government Secondary School, Kufang.
iii. Government Secondary School, Anglo-Jos.
iv. Government Secondary School, Hei-Rayfield.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined as they relate to the study:
Effects: a significant or strong influence: an impact.
Reading culture: The habitual and regular reading of books and other information materials.
Achievement: An award for completing a particular task or meeting an objective.
Pilot study: A small study to test research protocols, data collection, instruments, sample recruitment strategies and other research techniques in preparation for a larger study.
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