Paper Title
POOR READING SKILL: A BARRIER TO THE STUDY OF FRENCH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN HIGHER INSTITUTIONS IN IMO STATE
Author
Utah Nduka David
Section
Arts, Language, and Communication
Abstract

Reading is one of the four language skills universally recognized by linguists and language educators. It is a process by which written words are decoded in order to gain meaning from the printed text. Reading is an important aspect of French as a foreign language (FLE) and the students are expected to acquire the skill. The students are said to have acquired the reading skill if they are able to pronounce the letters, sounds/symbols, words and also decode the meaning of ideas, thoughts from the printed text. Reading in FLE is an excellent way to learn new vocabulary and get familiar with French syntax, while at the same time learning about some topic, be it politics, culture, or a favorite hobby, thus enabling them to communicate meaningfully and effectively in the language. It is however sad to note most French students in the higher institutions possess a bad command of the language; a factor that is directly linked to poor reading culture, which is a product of wrong teaching methods and insufficient use of instructional materials for teaching reading by the teachers. Thus, this paper examines the methods used by the teachers for teaching reading in FLE and identifies the instructional materials used by the teachers for teaching reading in FLE. It was recommended among other things that during reading lessons, the teachers need to use cooperative, discussion and dramatization methods to allow the students participate and interact among themselves.

Keywords
French as a Foreign Language, Teaching Methods, Instructional Materials, Reading Skills, Reading in French

Introduction

Reading is one of the four language skills universally recognized by linguists and language educators. It is a process by which written words are decoded in order to gain meaning from the printed text.  It is an activity in which the eyes, the mind and the brain interact in the process of perceiving, analyzing, reasoning, interpreting, and integrating a problem. Reading is an important aspect of Français Langue Étrangère (FLE) and the students are expected to acquire the skill. The students are said to have acquired the reading skill if they are able to pronounce the letters, sounds/symbols, words and also decode the meaning of ideas, thoughts from the printed text.

The acquisition of the reading skill is very important for the students. It aids them to develop general language competence.  Reading also increases the students’ intellectual powers.  Reading is necessary for understanding the other subjects in the school curriculum including Mathematics, the natural Sciences and the technical subjects.  Reading also supports the students’ writing skill.  For example, through reading, students learn to use the knowledge from reading to write their own pieces.

Aina, Okusaga, Taiwo and Ogundipe (2011) opine that reading stimulates imagination, encourages quick learning, widens views, expands horizons and helps learning about different people and places. It encourages imagination and curiosity. Reading equally enhances acquisition of skills for handling complex ideas or issues. Carson (2000) affirms that reading continuously helps the students improve on their spelling, vocabulary building and comprehension skill.  From the above, it can be said that reading is basic to learning.  Therefore a student’s ability to read is the center of the student’s educational process and is the bedrock of academic success.

It has been observed that many French students in higher institutions do not read effectively. Studies by Adebayo (2013) and Tar (2013) show that many French students in  tertiary institutions perform poorly in French due to many factors of which inadequate reading habit is among. They further remark that students lack some reading skills required for effective study of FLE. From the researchers’ experience as a lecturer in Alliance Française, Owerri, a French Language and Cultural Centre that welcome and teach French language students from various tertiary institutions in Nigeria – there is also provision for and private candidates – it is obvious that many French students in higher institutions possess a bad command of the language, a factor that is directly linked to poor reading culture. It is also observed that French students are unable to read a given passage within a stipulated time frame and they are not accurate and fluent in their pronunciations. 

These observations show that the students find reading difficult. In order to help the students surmount this difficulty, there is need to identify the factors that influence their reading. The researcher is therefore interested in identifying the factors that influence higher institutions students’ reading in Français Langue Étrangère.

 

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