Over the years there has been a steady drop in the usage of commonly used words despite 81% of Kenyan households having dictionaries. Students, especially in the counties, have difficulty in spelling, according to a research conducted by OUPEA.
Speaking during the regional Book Fair held in Kericho County, OUPEA general manager, Mr John Mwazemba called for key players in the industry to develop strategies to aid with transition of students by improving their vocabulary. He said that there is a massive word gap with research showing that kids today spell 5,000 words less than their counterparts.
In May 2016, OUPEA conducted a research to determine whether there is a linkage between the use of dictionaries, smartphones and computers on spelling performance among secondary students in Kenya. It was noted that those who had dictionaries in school had an average score of 79% in the spelling test compared to those who did not have dictionaries.
Oxford University Press educational business advisor, central region, Mr Peter Miugo (middle), explains the importance of reading books at the Kericho Book Fair
“As a leader in the field of education, OUPEA has made efforts to meet the growing demand and new thinking to help the learner develop 21st century skills, our intention is to promote a reading culture and help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary and develop English usage to help them in their studies and beyond” Mr Mwazemba.
Language underpins progress, impacts on a student’s achievement throughout primary and secondary years, affects self-esteem and behaviour and plays a huge role in a child’s future life chances. Without enough language – a word gap – a child is seriously limited in their enjoyment of school and success beyond.
“We believe that promoting a reading culture will play a major role in narrowing the word gap, this can only succeed if we encourage pupils, parents and teachers
and the and the community as a whole to participate more in the process,” he said.
According to OUP the top three practical takeaways for helping to close the word gap are: Bringing vocabulary practice into mainstream class teaching;
Focusing on key subject vocabulary, and learning language in the context of use and; The importance of conversations and wider r
eading in the classroom and at home.