Reading operates interdependently with other language skills (writing, listening and speaking). All skills are taught concurrently to emphasize understanding of different concepts in language and other disciplines.
However, there are always hindrances that are met when performing the related activities among students.
Language barrier is a major hindrance in Rwanda, given the country’s shift to English as a medium of instruction.
Inaccessibility to reading materials that looms in the country has played a significant role in defining the reading culture of Rwanda.
Currently, it is as expensive to purchase a book as it is to buy an internet modem for individuals and schools alike. It is a challenge to get a reading book in Kigali unless you visit Nakumatt Supermarket or a few bookstores in town.
The dot.com era has changed the world of traditional reading. A number of able youth have shunned the traditional way of reading hardcopy books for the soft copy books found on the worldwide web or the e-reader.
It has killed the reading spirit in the sense that the poor African child will almost never access such facilities if there is no electricity.
Food for Thought: ‘It’s good to know how to read, but it’s dangerous to know how to read and not how to interpret what you are reading.’ –Mike Tyson.
The skills applied in fostering good reading culture applies to all languages in the world.
The basic rules of reading
Some basic rules can be followed in order to have productive reading.
• Sit upright as you read in order to avoid hurting your back.
Place the book or newspaper at a comfortable distance to avoid straining your eyes.
• In case of academic reading, skim to get the gist of the text then scan to extract particular information. Summarizing each paragraph of what you’ve read is a good way to comprehend.
• If you are reading for leisure, find a comfortable place to read.
• Spare time to read something every day. It can be a magazine, newspaper, online articles,
posters or notes. This can also improve speed of reading per minute.
• Silent reading is the best way to read.
• Don’t use an aid to read, like your finger tip, or pencil.
• Don’t move your head as you read. Let your eyes do the movement.
• Don’t read aloud. It will irritate you and your environment, unless you’ve been instructed to.
• If it is for academic purposes, don’t read the same course unit/ subject for a long period of time.
Use a timetable.
• Don’t worry about vocabulary you don’t understand. Just read, the context will help you understand the meaning of new words.
The author is a professional English and Literature teacher.