Depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge and English language reading comprehension among selected standard eight pupils in Meru Central District, Kenya
Rwanda, Stella Mukiri
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Since English language is the medium of instruction in Kenyan schools, it is pertinent that pupils are proficient in the language of instruction and testing. Lack of competency in language would inadvertently affect the performance in examinations. The better the vocabulary knowledge (VK) of the pupils, the better the reading comprehension ability of the pupils among other skills. Vocabulary acquisition is a key component to successfully develop communication and reading skills. The need to do this research resulted from the realisation that a lot of resources are used in the teaching and learning of English language, yet the pupils continue to perform dismally in English language. Previously issues on both breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge have not been addressed in research to show the important role they play in reading comprehension. The researcher was thus inspired to carry out this study because there was lack of information on the significant value of depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge as reflected in reading comprehension. The study adopted a descriptive survey design and was carried out in Miriga Mieru East Division, Meru District, Eastern Province, Kenya. The target population was 21 public primary schools which were purposively sampled from which a sample of 6 schools was randomly selected. Standard eight pupils in the selected schools were the test subjects. In each school, a total of 36 pupils were selected randomly from for the study. The total sample size tested was 216 pupils. The data were collected using three tests; cloze test, a matching test and reading comprehension test. Both quantitatively and qualitatively data were generated. Using Statistical Package for the Social Scientist (SPSS), it was then coded, analyzed and presented using frequency tables, charts, graphs and percentages. Data were summarized according to research objectives and the variables of the study. The study found out that majority of the pupils had above average breadth of VK and that less than half of the pupils had above average depth of VK. Also there was a positive significant relationship between depth and breadth of VK and reading comprehension although depth of VK had a slightly higher relationship. The study concluded that depth and breadth of VK are key in improving reading comprehension ability and that inadequate breadth and depth of VK contributes to poor performance in reading comprehension and vice versa. In addition it was concluded that depth of VK is more significant in reading comprehension ability than the breadth of VK. The study recommends that both depth and breadth of VK requires equal attention in vocabulary teaching in classroom and teachers should teach words in meaningful contexts and encourage learners to read and write widely among other recommendations. Lastly the study recommends further research.