3. Motivating pupils to read

Reading and writing can be very exciting and stimulating, but some pupils develop a negative attitude to these activities. This might be because they find reading and writing very difficult, perhaps because they are bored by reading and writing tasks that always follow the same pattern, or perhaps they don’t see much value in reading and writing. One of your challenges as a teacher is to stimulate pupils’ interest in reading and writing and keep them interested.

Case Study 3 and the Key Activity suggest activities that may help pupils to become more interested and confident in reading and writing.

Case Study 3: Reading neighbourhood signs and writing about them

Mr Sam Kawanga teaches English to a Primary 5 class in St John Primary School, Kampala. The area around Kampala is a densely populated area with many examples of environmental print around the school – mainly in English but also in several local languages.

To generate income, people have set up ‘backyard businesses’ such as grocery shops, barber shops, panel beaters and phone booths. These all have homemade signs and some also have commercial advertisements for various products. There are schools, clinics, places of worship and halls, most of which have signs and noticeboards. On the main road, there are signs to many places, including the respected Makerere University.

Mr Kawanga planned a route around Kampala that would give pupils opportunities to read and make notes and drawings about different examples of print and visual images. He also prepared a list of questions to guide their observations.

Mr Kawanga has 58 pupils in his class, including ten who have recently arrived from Tanzania. He decided to ask two retired multilingual friends to assist him with this activity. One speaks Kiswahili, the language of the Tanzanian pupils. The class went out in three groups.

Mr Kawanga’s friends participated in the classroom discussion and the writing and drawing activity that followed. By the end of the week, the three men agreed that pupils had become more aware of how information can be presented in different ways and in different languages and some seemed more interested in reading and writing than before.

Key Activity: Reading signs

Before the lesson, read Resource 4: Preparing for a community walk to plan the walk and prepare your questions. Write the questions on the chalkboard.

To begin the lesson, tell pupils about the walk and, if they are able, ask them to copy the questions from your chalkboard. If not, have the list of questions ready for each group leader to ask on the walk.

Take them for the planned walk through your local community.

While walking, they must give or write answers to the questions and draw examples of the print and visual images they see.

Afterwards, ask pupils in groups to share what they saw, wrote and drew. Ask the whole class to report back and record key points on the chalkboard.

Ask each group to design, write and draw a name, sign, notice or advertisement they think would be helpful to have in their community. Help them with any difficult words. Younger children may need to work in small groups with an adult to help them.

Ask each group to show their design to the whole class and explain the choice of language, visual images and information.

Display these designs in the classroom for all pupils to read.

2. Using packaging to help reading

Resource 1: What successful readers and writers need to know