The Syllabic Method and Reading Competitions. Helping Primary School Pupils to Overcome their Reading Difficulties

Diplomarbeit, 2019

54 Seiten

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Background to the Study
Statement of the Problem
Purpose of the Study
Objectives of the Study
Research Questions
Significance of the Study
Organization of the Study
Definitions of Terms

Theories of Reading
Possible Causes of Reading Difficulties
How to Remedy Reading Difficulties
Empirical Views

Research Design
Sampling Technique
Research Instruments
Problems Encountered
Data Collection Procedures
Data Analysis Procedures

Results and Analysis









This piece of work is dedicated to Presentation Brothers West Africa Province and my parents Naa Bilikpe Charles and Dery. K . Marcella who are celebrated forty years of marriage.


To the Father God Almighty, to Him does my leading acknowledgment goes to for the enablement (life, health, intellect, finance) in spite of all odds to get this far. To Him alone be praised. Key among the human resources that contributed to the accomplishment of this project is my supervisor, Dr. Charles N. Annobil (Department of Basic Education university of Education, Winneba). It was worth the experience being under his tutelage. I acknowledge the humane approach and his professional insight by which he brought the best out of me and my colleagues. To Mrs. Esther Affel-Abbey (Head teacher of Axim Methodist Primary School), my colleague teachers who assisted me in my data collection, I am grateful to them for their moral support and guidance respectively. I also appreciate the encouragement, support and consistent prayers I enjoyed from the following personalities: Madam Rosina K Gabriel, Very Rev. Emmanuel E. Essen and Mr. Emmanuel Yankson Kwofie. My profound gratitude also goes to all my friends for their inspiration and tremendous help throughout my education and progress of his project. Finally, my appreciation goes to the respondents of this study. It was enervating yet rewarding at last for working with them.


This study was undertaken to investigate the causes responsible for pupils inability to read in class and to help them overcome reading difficulties. The Basic two pupils of Axim Methodist Primary School were used for the study. The study was an action research and falls under the descriptive research design. The population sample for the study consisted of forty six (46) pupils made up of twenty six (26) boys and twenty (20) girls. The syllabic method was used as the intervention.

The instrument used for the data collection were mainly observation, class test and exercises. The data were analyzed using frequency table and percentages. The use adequate of the syllabic method helped pupils to improve their reading skills. Again it showed that pupils had improved their reading skills and explore on their own words after the necessary guidelines had given them to invent new words. Once again variation of simple well-known games/activities are helpful in familiarizing children/learners with syllabic symbols. It was recommended that, teachers should use the syllabic methods in their lesson delivery.



Table 1: Pre-test result

Table 2: Summary of pre-test 1

Table 3: Post-test 1 results(The syllabic method)

Table 4: Summary of post-test 1

Table 5: Post-test 2 result (whole word technique)

Table 6: Summary of post-test 2 result

Table7: Post-test 3 scores(Dictation)

Table 8: Summary of post-test 3

Table 9: Post-test 4 results (Competition)

Table 10: Summary of post-test 4



Fig. 1: Blending of sounds

Fig. 2: Three and Four letter words



Background to the Study

This chapter comprises the background of the study, the perceived problem, and statement of the problem, purpose and the objectives of the study, research questions, organization of the study, the significance of the study, the definition of key terms. This chapter provided the reader with an overview of the research. Modern society deems person’s ability to read as one of the most requisite skills to ensure success at school and in the workplace. According to Pretorius and Machet (2004) as cited in Klapwijk (2011), all academic attainments depend to a greater degree on reading literacy. Schleicher (2008) argue that the capacity to read is the primary need for full participation in one’s society and economy.

However, developing the skills to read happily is not a simple process. Reading is more than the ability to recognize letters and decode words. Reading is ultimately about composing meaning from written text (Juel and Graves, 1998). In other words, the aim of reading is to understand what is being read. Reading is a very important skill and it contributes to the success of a learner’s school career and later life (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1998). Carneiro and Heckman (2002) described reading as a communication skill that produces many other skills and is a key part of our capacity to increase our performance. If learners struggle to read, it will be difficult for them to cope with other subjects as learning involves the understanding of concepts, the enhancement of thinking skills and the overall academic development of the learners. The key to success, national growth and development greatly depends on Education. It is an undisputable fact that English Language is the Lingua Franca of Ghana.

Basically, in our society, the ability to read is imported through the formal school system. Presently, this ability has been suffering serious setbacks. St. Raphael`s r/c Primary School is not an exception to this reading set back where the researcher is directly involved. Education is a strong foundation and the bedrock for the socio-economic development of every nation. Through education, every nation produces its human resources for both private and societal development.

English is the medium that connects other subjects in the teaching and learning process. A sound grip of the English language leads to better understanding of other subjects, since it is used as a medium of communication throughout the basic level of education. There is therefore, the urgent need for all teachers to use the right approach to combat the problem of reading to meet the requirement for the changing world. In advanced world where a pupil has to read prints, search for information on the internet, read instructions and apply them on daily basis as he is confronted with reading into other materials for knowledge and understanding.

Reading is a method by which literates communicate effectively with the society. Learning to read effectively is the greatest asset one has if one wants to live literate and meaningful life. To be able to research for wealth of knowledge worldwide through books and other related documents require the ability of one to read effectively. English language is an aspect that cuts across all disciplines (subjects) in one’s educational career. It is a useful and instrumental communication medium through individuals; groups, institutions and organizations decode messages and information meaningfully from teachers, friends, family members, known and unknown persons as well as workers at work places.

The main concern of the stakeholders, especially at the lower basic school, is the pupils’ ability to read fluently. Reading is a difficult and complex activity which involves a lot of skills. It must be taught and practiced very often like any other skill to be learnt. In Ghana, much more emphasis is laid on English language for all transactions being it official or business and so pupils must be exposed to systematic instructions based on diagnosis of individual needs throughout their educational career. It is of a necessity, therefore, that every teacher pays special attention to reading difficulties of pupils at the basic level by teaching the right skills in reading. It is sad to note that many pupils in our basic schools cannot communicate fluently in English language. It is on this reason the researcher conducted this research to find out why basic two pupils of St. Raphael`s R/C Primary School have reading difficulties and designed interventions to salvage the situation by using the following tools:

a) Observation - most pupils could not read well in response to instructions.
b) Dictation - most pupils performed below average in dictation exercises.
c) Reading assignment - most pupils do not read at home.
d) Reading competition - Pupils could not read well to compete with others.

The causes could be attributed to some of these issues:

- Poor method of teaching by teachers.
- Improper use of teaching/learning materials (TLM) by teachers.
- Pupils absenteeism.

Statement of the Problem

The problem identified was that about seventy percent (70%) of Basic two pupils at St. Raphael`s R/C Primary could not read fluently during English language lessons. English is an indispensable ingredient in one’s daily life. For that matter, for one to be respected in the society, one needs to have absolute command to express himself/herself fluently in the English language. The poor reading skills of the pupils clearly has translated itself into their inability to communicate fluently among their peers and comprehend simple passages. It also makes them less active during reading instructions. This requires that positive measures be taken to help the pupils develop an early interest in the reading before they cross over to Upper Primary. I therefore, used the syllabic method, whole word technique; dictation and reading competition to assist pupils overcome their reading problem.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to help the Basic Two (2) pupils of St. Raphael`s r/c Primary School to overcome their reading difficulties using syllabic method and reading competition.

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study included the use of:

- The Syllabic method to remedy pupils reading difficulty.
- The Whole (sight-word) technique to improve upon pupils’ reading skills.
- Dictation to promote pupils’ reading skills.
- Reading competition to enhance the pupils reading abilities.

Research Questions

The research questions designed to guide the study were as follows:

1. To what extent does the use of the syllabic method help to remedy pupils’ reading difficulty?
2. To what extent does the use of whole word (sight word) technique help improve upon pupils’ reading skills?
3. How does the use of dictation promote pupil’s reading skills?
4. In what ways does the use of reading competition enhance pupil’s reading abilities?

Significance of the Study

It is hoped that the outcome of this research would go a long way to improve upon the reading abilities of the pupils studied. Similarly, teachers would be guided by this research to use new approaches to teaching reading in the basic school level since this research would spell out the right methodologies. Again, the researcher hopes and believes that findings and suggestions made could aid teachers to employ right methods of teaching reading.

Also, the result from this research would serve as an eye-opener to all stakeholders, educationists in educational institutions, such as training colleges (second cycle schools) and other researcher’s in education to come out with useful strategies and methods to be adopted at the lower basic level schools to improve reading skills. Finally, it is the researcher’s wish that this study could serve as a guide to stakeholders who might like to write books on English reading and make reference to this research study.


The research study concentrated mainly on reading instead of any other aspect of the English language. The research was undertaken using the Basic Two pupils of St. Raphael`s r/c primary school, was limited to pupils in the class who lacked the ability to read.

Organization of the Study

The project work consists of five chapters which are as follows: They are chapter one: this chapter is the introduction to the study. It covers the perceived problem, statement of problem, purpose and objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study as well as the organization and definition of terms. Chapter two deals with Review of related literature. It talks about what other researchers, educationalists and other scholars have discussed on similar works, and also serve as a guide to research questions hence creating a literature review summary. The Chapter three is the Methodology of the project work and it involves the sample size, action research design, interventions using observation questionnaire tests and interview. On the other hand, to obtain correct data for presentation, research design and methods are employed in the work. Chapter four is the presentation of data and analysis. The data collected are based on the researcher’s questions, discussions in chapter one of the project work. Chapter five: Summary, conclusion and recommendations. A general overview of phonetic problems and methodology are included here for future study.

Definitions of Terms

The terms that follow are defined to clarify

Reading – is the cognitive process of understanding a written linguistic message. It can also be defined as a simple, passive process that involves reading words in a linear fashion and internalizing their meaning one at a time (Graham and Harris, 2000).

Reading literacy: Refers to understanding, using and reflecting on written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential and to participate in society (Programme for International Student Assessment PISA, 2006).

Cognitive skills: These are any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge. These skills include reasoning, perception, and intuition. Midcontinent Research for Education and Learning (1998) describes the importance of cognitive skills in acquiring literacy skills as follows: "Reading and writing rely on a specific set of cognitive skills such as attention, memory, symbolic thinking, and self-regulation‛.

Reading methods: A reading method is a set of teaching and learning materials and/or activities often given a label, such as phonics method, and syllabic method. (International Reading Association, 1998).

Phonic: a method of teaching reading and spelling based upon the phonic interpretation of ordinary spelling. It is related to speech sounds.

Syllable: one or more letters representing a unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound.

Syllabic method: it is a method of breaking words into syllabus. For instance, individual- in-di-vi-dual, etc.




This chapter reviews related literature to the study. The literature review covered the theoretical views, empirical views and summary.

Theories of Reading

I. Meaning of Reading
II. The possible causes of Reading Difficulties.
III. How to Remedy Reading Difficulties.

The study needed to benefit from the theoretical ways in which the teaching of reading is understood. Vaezi (2006) identified three main theories of reading. These are the traditional, the cognitive and the metacognitive views of reading. The traditional view focuses on the printed form of a text while the cognitive view looks at the role of background knowledge in addition to what appears on the printed page and the metacognitive view is based on the control and manipulation that a reader can have on the act of comprehending a text.

According to Dole, Duffy, Roehler and Pearson (1991), in the traditional view of reading, novice readers acquire a set of hierarchically ordered sub-skills that sequentially build toward comprehension ability. Haven mastered these skills, Readers are viewed as experts who comprehend what they read. According to Nunan (1991), the traditional view is the 'bottom-up' (language-based process) view of reading which involves the decoding of a series of written symbols into their aural equivalents in the quest of making sense of the text. According to Harris (2006), the bottom-up theories argue that meaning is embedded in the text and that meaning travels from the ‘bottom’ (the page) ‘up’ to the eyes. This theory defines reading as beginning from letters that form the printed words, and then form sentences, sentences form texts. The steps here explain that the combining of small parts will eventually form a whole text from which meaning will emerge. According to this theory the reading process consists of a number of skills and that children need to be taught to be able to hear and identify sounds in words (phonemic awareness), match sounds and letters (phonics), and recognize words in isolation with automaticity (Moller, 2013).

Smith (1978) cited in Nunan (1991) stated that reading works in the reverse order from that proposed by the bottom-up theory. He believed that in order to identify words we need to comprehend meaning. I partly agree with Nunan but also feel that this theory displays that knowledge of linguistic features is also necessary for reading comprehension to take place. Nunan stated that it was time consuming to teach reading in chunks, whereas the teacher should just teach the top down theory of getting the learners to understand the content before they are taught the sounds. Learners should be able to identify sound in order to correctly understand words. It is the over dependence on this theory that might limit learning to read with understanding. If learners are taught reading focusing mostly on the bottom up theory/process they would only know how to decode letters and not understand the words that they are decoding.

The cognitive view is the 'top-down' (knowledge-based process) model which directly opposes the 'bottom-up' model. According to Goodman (1967) reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game, a process in which readers sample the text, make hypotheses, confirm or reject them, make new hypotheses, and so forth. The cognitive view encompasses the schema theory of reading which is used in the process of interpreting sensory data, in retrieving information from memory, in organizing goals and sub-goals, in allocating resources, and in guiding the flow of the processing system. The schema is necessary to make connections before reading, while reading and after reading (Dilbeck, undated). Harris (2006) stated that the top-down theories emphasize that reading begins in the head of the reader-claiming that the reader moves from the ‘top’- the brain – down to the text on the page. Readers use their prior knowledge stored in their memories to unlock the text. According to this theory, without background knowledge meaning cannot be made from the text. This theory proposes that the objective of reading is making meaning of the text by using the readers’ background knowledge. Harris, Turbill, Fitzsimmons and Mckenzie (2006) stated that the top-down theory adopts a constructivist stance and links reading comprehension to factors both inside and outside the reader. The metacognitive view according to Block (1992) defines the control readers execute on their ability to understand a text. Metacognition involves thinking about what one is doing while reading (Klein, Peterson and Simington, 1991). Sloan and Whitehead (1986), Ruddell and Speaker (1985), and Rumelhart (1994) cited in Harris (2006) suggest that while reading is predominantly a meaning – making process that is embedded in the top-down view also requires that readers focus on skills – a position more aligned to a bottom up view. This model of reading has taken a more social view of reading. Readers in this view can be taught to adjust their reading strategies in a flexible manner to choose the best strategy to meet the purpose of the current text and their purpose for reading it. Each view of reading can help to develop the reading capacity of learners differently if approached correctly. All these theories are integrated and used in the training of teachers.

Meaning of reading?

In order to assess the manner in which the Teachers applied the teaching methods of reading, we need to understand what reading is. According to Goodman (1967) cited in Paran (1996) reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game, a process in which readers sample the text, make hypotheses, confirm or reject them, make new hypotheses, and so forth. Reading also means making meaning from print. In addition, reading is also about decoding, comprehension, narrative, familiarity with books and other printed material and a culture of wanting to and enjoying reading. Reading is ultimately about composing meaning from written text (Juel & Graves, 1998. In other words, the aim of reading is to understand what is being read. Reading comprehension requires the integration of meaning across words, sentences and passages. This goes hand in hand with (Derchant, 1993) who stated that reading involves the recording of the printed words in the brain by the visual and perceptual processes, converting the written symbols into language, and through cognitive and comprehension processes creating meaning by relating the symbols to the readers’ prior knowledge. Moreover, Harris (2006) stated that reading could be defined as the understanding of the written text. This simply means that the end result of any act of engagement should be comprehension of a text. She emphasized four principles of effective readers. These are that:

- Effective readers do a lot of predicting.
- Effective readers use certain strategies to help them with reading difficulties and blockages. These include sounding out letters in words and breaking words into parts.
- Effective readers dwell heavily on their background knowledge. This includes past experience with reading, knowledge of sounds and words, most importantly knowledge about the content being written in the text.
- Effective readers are typically confident enough to read difficult text.

Burns et al (1990) also opined that acts of reading are a highly complex process and this process composed of two parts; the reading process and the reading products. Sakyi– Baidoo (2003) says reading is not merely a physical or visual contact with written symbols. It is rather a way of decoding, interpreting or making meanings from these symbols. Teneja (1998), on the other hand states that reading is a perception of written symbols as meaningful, involving recognition of words, fluency and comprehension. Barr et al (1991) explains that the act of reading is a complex process in which the recognition and comprehension of written symbols are influenced by the readers perceptual skills, experience, language background, mindset and reasoning abilities as he anticipate meanings on the basis of what has been read. The uses by which one makes his reading largely determines what he reads, why he reads and how he reads. Reading is very important to every individual no matter ones academic status or career. Lyewuran (1994) expresses his view about the importance of reading since the ability to read and comprehend a subject is so important to the attainment in all content areas; a solid foundation should be laid at the Basic school level. Sakyi-Baidoo (2001), states the following as some of the reasons why we read, to gain access to information and to cross check information we get from other people. He goes further to say that for students, reading helps them to do revision and to know the demand of questions and other instructions.

Char and Deboer (1978) categorized the importance of reading in two ways; the individual and the society. To the individual, it helps him to be competent in vocational and professional spheres, helps him access resources in print, entertain and refresh himself. To the society it helps the people in a democratic society to read critically and avoid being manipulated by the unprincipled who may solicit their time, attention or vote. It will help them to contribute intelligently by participating in various and other worthwhile and significant activities.

Uno (1985) observes that under proper guidance, pupils could develop permanent interest in intensive reading for recreation, enrichment of their experiential background and development of their responsibilities. According to him through reading, the child is introduced to the world of events which happened in the past and those happening in the present times. Tsadiday (1993) sees “reading as most effective self reliance tool for learning; a key skill that opens the door to physically, emotional, intellectual and moral self improvement”. Besides the intrinsic values, the activity to read has economic consequences. Furthermore, Sakyi-Baidoo (2000) has it that direction and directive sign posts, bill boards, places and names are generally written and have to be read. It is therefore, of great concern that parents, teachers and all stakeholders in education play their role effectively, so as to help pupils overcome reading difficulties. Glazer and Searfoss (1988) explains that reading is receiving ideas, experiences, feelings, emotions and concepts. It is an activity that permits one to gain vast knowledge. Through reading we can live and travel vicariously and become familiar with people and events of the past that have shaped our world. Reading creates for us mental images of events so that ideas can be transmitted from the mind of the author to the mind of the reader.


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The Syllabic Method and Reading Competitions. Helping Primary School Pupils to Overcome their Reading Difficulties
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Franklin Bilikpe (Autor), 2019, The Syllabic Method and Reading Competitions. Helping Primary School Pupils to Overcome their Reading Difficulties, München, GRIN Verlag,


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