The effectiveness of communicative approaches and traditional methods on reading and writing achievement in English in grade eight in selected Zambian Basic Schools

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Lungu, Effron Chakupa
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This study gives empirical evidence on the effectiveness of traditional teaching and learning methods and communicative teaching and learning approaches on Grade Eight pupils' academic achievement in reading and writing in English in selected basic schools in Zambia.The investigation was set in Lusaka urban (Lusaka district) and Lusaka rural (Chongwe district) schools involving two cohorts of learners: the 2001 cohort of 413 pupils and the 2004 cohort of 150 pupils, bringing the total number of pupils involved in the study to 563. The pupils were drawn from both the low socio¬economic sector and the high socio-economic sector represented by Lusaka rural schools and Lusaka urban schools respectively.The study was carried out because in the past two decades, in the field of English language teaching and learning and classroom management, linguists and language teachers have argued that there is a direct relationship between pupils' academic achievement in the skills of reading and writing and other skills such as listening and speaking and the types of teaching methods or approaches used. The assumed assertion that one method produced better results than the other was tested by null and alternative hypotheses by creating an intervention programme whereby one group of Grade Eight pupils was taught using traditional methods for one school term, and another group was taught using communicative approaches for the same period. A pre-test, a post-test and a post-post-test were administered and the average means achievement of the two cohort groups were compared and computed at 0.01 level of significance using the t-test.Data was collected by the use of questionnaires, classroom observations and testing the pupils after going through the intervention programme. The data was analysed using the t-test and the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) computer package and cross-checked by hand.The findings revealed that the communicative approaches were better than the traditional methods in many categories of pupils' mean marks achievement, ie urban compared to rural or rural compared to urban. However, pupils' academic achievement cannot be totally dependent on methods or approaches used alone. Other variables or factors identified such as teacher motivation and teacher effectiveness, pupils' home and school background, availability of adequate teaching aids and materials also play a part. It is in this vein that a holistic approach is needed to really understand the complexity of pupil academic achievement. In conclusion, the researcher gives recommendations on how pupils' academic achievement in reading and writing in basic schools in Zambia can be improved.
Reading -- Ability testing , Reading -- Aids and devices , Reading -- Language experience approach , English language -- Writing