A snapshot of the use of reading methods in primary schools in three provinces of South Africa

Keywords: reading methods, foundation phase, intermediate phase, teachers' use of reading methods


The teaching of reading is not as easy as it may seem. It requires specific knowledge and the use of reading methods by teachers. Learners’ reading needs and learning styles also have to be considered. According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) results for 2016, the reading abilities of South African learners are far below the international standard as set out by PIRLS.There is a lack of research about the strategies and methods that primary school teachers use to teach reading. In this article, the feedback regarding reading methods – gathered from 36 primary school teachers in three provinces – is discussed. The data revealed that most of the Grade 1 to 7 teachers who participated in the research knew and used some of the six reading methods under discussion. However, the results did not indicate how well the teachers applied these methods and how versatile they were in using the different reading methods. The data revealed that Foundation phase teachers used some of the methods statistically significantly more often than the comparison group of Intermediate phase teachers in a nonexperimental static-group observational design study.According to Spaull (McBride 2019:1), a well-known researcher in South Africa, one of the three main reasons why Foundation phase readers are struggling with reading is that their teachers do not know how to teach reading systematically. Teachers do not know how to change and adapt the methods that they use to teach reading and not enough research has been done to address the problems with the teaching of reading in the classroom specifically. Often the reading problems experienced in the Foundation phase are carried over to the Intermediate phase. 

Author Biography

Anna Johanna Hugo, University for South Africa
Anna Hugo is a research associate and emeritus professor in the Department of Language Education, Arts and Culture in the College of Education at the University of South Africa. Her research foci include reading in the Foundation phase and the teaching of a second language in the Foundation phase. Her fields of interest are the teaching of a language and inclusive education. Email address: annajohugo@gmail.com