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1.1   Background of the Study

The teaching of reading in Nigeria until now has left many puzzling questions among educationists and stakeholders owing to the growing number of learners with reading difficulties. Some studies have been conducted to investigate the problem – one of which was the Nigeria-England Teacher Education Partnership. As a teacher trainer, through experience in training teachers of language and through monitoring of students on school teaching practice, I have always observed that the literacy methods seem not to work well for whatever reason and do not favour children with reading difficulties except the so called ‘fast learners’. This is seen in the growing number of learners with reading difficulties who are segregated according to their abilities. The so called “slow learners” seem to outnumber the “fast learners”. It is on this basis that this study has been undertaken.

It is important to state that acquisition of reading skills is very important in the life of every child and in one's adult life. McIntyre et al., (2011) says that children will be inadequate in life if they do not acquire reading skills. They further assert that children who read proficiently generally do better in school including mathematics and science. These children will have a positive self-image and are likely to excel into college with much knowledge about the world better than those who are not proficient readers. Reid (2003) reports that in a longitudinal study, NICHD through the National Reading Panel (NRP) found out that, individuals with reading difficulty often face discrimination, low-self- esteem and do not progress well in life to find meaningful employment. This study has been motivated by the aforementioned factors.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Reading difficulty is a major challenge facing most students in schools especially pupils of public schools. It is alarming to say (yet it is true) that more and more learners seem to be excluded from the learning of reading skills today in Nigeria. But the pending questions are: Is it the methods that are exclusive? Is it the teachers that do not know how to use the methods? As the saying goes: ‘A good method is as good as the teacher who uses it’. Given that teachers are trained to teach reading, another question is: are they taught the rationale behind the kinds of strategies and methods they use to teach reading and writing? Therefore, this study sought to investigate the process of implementing these methods for developing reading skills in children with reading difficulties. It was seen as noteworthy to appreciate the teachers' level of knowledge in the use of these methods in accommodating learners with reading difficulties. By so doing, their experiences and practices in teaching reading skills may provide a basis for a way forward.

1.3   Objectives of the Study

The study sought to know the effect of phonic and syllabic method of teaching in improving the reading difficulty of pupils.Specifically, the study sought to;

1.  Ascertain how different approaches impact on the application of phonics and syllabic method of reading in pupils beyond the early years

2.  Determine the proportion of literacy teaching that should be based on the use of phonics and syllabic method in schools.

3.  Discover other reading strategies used in teaching pupils with reading difficulties.

4.  Determine the effectiveness of phonics and syllabic method of teaching reading.

1.4   Research Questions

1. How do different approaches impact on the application of phonics and syllabic method of reading in pupilsbeyond the early years?

2. What proportion of literacy teaching should be based on the use of phonics and syllabic method in schools?

3. How can teachers help to improve reading in pupils using phonic and syllabic methods?

4. How effective is the use of phonic and syllabic method in teaching reading?

1.5   Research Hypotheses

Ho: Phonics and syllabic method of teaching reading does not improve reading difficulty of pupils.

Hi: Phonics and syllabic method of teaching reading improves reading difficulty of pupils.

1.6   Significance of the Study

Undertaking this study was worthwhile as it contributes to existing research on reading difficulty and literacy development. The study sheds more light on how to help children with reading difficulties especially in Nigeria where much research has not been done so far. The findings of the study could help teacher training colleges to understand how best to prepare student teachers with practices that are effective in teaching children. The findings act as a feedback to teacher trainers on how their graduating teachers have been prepared to handle children with reading difficulties. Consequently, they could help teachers, teacher trainers and policy makers to design new, appropriate and effective teaching strategies and policies that meet the diverse needs of children with reading difficulties. Above all, the study opens opportunities for future research into reading disability and dyslexia which have not been fully explored in Nigeria, at least until now.

1.7   Scope/Limitations of the Study

This study is on improving the reading difficulty of pupils using phonic and syllabic method with St. John Paul School, Uyo as the case study for this study.

Limitations of study

1.        Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

2.        Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8   Definition of Terms

Reading disability: This is a condition in which a sufferer displays difficulty in reading resulting primarily from neurological factors.

Phonics:This is a method of teaching reading and writing of the English language by developing learners’ phonemic awareness.

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