Reading is an intellectual activity directed towards extraction of meaning from a written piece. It is the act of giving meaningful interpretation to printed words. The student view it as a tedious task, which must be “done” in order to pass their examinations.
“Reading” in Nigeria has posed many problems to secondary school students because of the bad reading habits they display. Many of them were never introduced to formal instructions in reading.
The purpose of this write-up therefore, is to identify some bad reading habits among Nigerian students and to propound some solutions to eradicate or at least minimize them.
Head movement: some students move their heads unconsciously from side to side as they read. Such movement is both unnecessary and wasteful. Students should have friends, observe them while they read to discover whether or not they are wasting time and energy through head movement.
Tracing with a finger or any object: Another group of students trace or point to words with fingers, ruler, pencil, pen or any other object as they read. Reading is slowed down considerably by pointing or tracing and more importantly comprehension is adversely affected. This habit can be eliminated through determination. Students should consciously avoid tracing or pointing to words by any object.
Vocalization: Any movement of the tongue, throat or vocal cord during reading constitutes vocalization. Some students often whisper or say the words to themselves as they read. This habit also affects reading speed and comprehension. Students should train themselves and consciously avoid vocalization by reading faster.
Subvocalization : This differs from vocalization in that the reader does not actually move any part of the vocal instruments, but he still pronounces the words to himself. Reading and comprehension are done by the eyes and the brain and not necessarily pronouncing the words. The eyes perceive the printed words and the brain interprets the meaning. Students should be reduce sub-vocalization by reading a lot of materials and reading them faster
Regression and lack of concentration: Regression refers to going back and re-reading words and sentences that one has already read. It often results from lack of concentration and many students exhibit this habit even when reading aloud (learning to read). Students should force themselves to move forward at all times in their reading.
Restlessness: This is as a result of lack of purpose and lack of interest in reading. Many students cannot sit down for long while reading because they are restless. They often engage in talking, playing or listening to music. This habit definitely reduces reading speed because it affects vocabulary development and acquisition of experience. Students should set a target before reading. They must determine their aims and objectives of a particular reading exercise. Students should force themselves to reach the set target and make sure that the aims and objectives are accomplished. They must be disciplined.
In conclusion , parents are advised to set up mini-library in their homes equipped with modern books. They should also buy or present books to their children as gifts. Parents should always encourage their children to read interesting novels. Students on their own should cultivate the habit of buying books from their pocket money. They should always visit libraries both at school and their Local Government Areas. They can also visit bookshops or bookstores around them to find out newly published and interesting novels. Reading is a gateway to other disciplines and improvement in the general performance of students. In the light of this, reading must be given a considerable attention
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