Reading difficulties in grade six learners and challenges faced by teachers in teaching reading: A case of Chadiza and Chipata districts,Zambia
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Reading is one of the basic skills that a child should master during their first school years to be able to assimilate new knowledge and skills in future. The aim of the study was to explore factors that contribute to causes of reading difficulties among grade six learners and challenges faced by teachers in teaching them how to read. The sample comprised of two hundred and six participants drawn from ten schools in Chadiza and Chipata districts of the Eastern province of Zambia was used. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative research designs. Information was derived using teacher questionnaire, checklist on reading errors, word list levels 1- 5 and reading passages levels 1- 4. The study found that most of the grade six pupils were not able to read fluently as expected of their grade level. As they read, they committed errors such as mispronouncing, substituting, adding and omitting some words. The teachers had their own perceptions of the causes of reading difficulties and these included; language and communication problems, psychological factors and others. There was also a significant correlation between teachers’ ability to identify specific reading errors and actual performance of learners. The study further revealed that teachers faced a number of challenges in teaching reading to these learners. These challenges included, inadequate teaching and learning materials, high teacher – pupil ratio and others. Reading difficulties is a problem which is wide spread although it is not receiving the necessary attention that it deserves. Based on these findings, the study recommended that apart from just providing adequate learning and teaching materials and building more schools, methods of teaching how to read such as the whole word method should be used. Diagnostic assessment methods and remedial measures on reading difficulties must be taught to teachers so that they are adequately prepared to help learners with reading difficulties.