Enhancing ESL learners' understanding of reading comprehension: An action research

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Zeenat Shariff

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Lilian Vikiru


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


A growing body of research suggests that one way to improve teaching and learning in schools is to involve teachers in doing research in their own classrooms (DarlingHammond & Mclaughlin, 1995; Herndon, 1994; Lieberman, 1995). The regular classroom teacher as the provider of instruction helps to explore more thoroughly how reading strategies can be integrated into the regular reading class. The teacher researcher can gain an emic (insider) and etic ('outsider') view of classrooms (Freeman, 1998). Teachers, may, as Cohen (1998) proposes, assume the roles of diagnostician, learners, coachers, coordinators, language learners and researchers. The investigation into classroom teaching helps teachers to examine what they do as teacher researchers, how the work is structured and how they carry it out on a daily basis, why something works or does not work for the learners, and how in large and small ways the work can be done differently or better (Freeman, 1998). The new direction in reading research is to focus on teachers' direct instruction of comprehension strategies. These strategies are intentional plans which define reading as a problem solving task. The philosophy underpinning this view is that reading comprehension is teachable and through a process of teacher demonstration, modeling, scaffolding and guided practice, students will be able to reach that point of self regulation or independence. This qualitative, classroom based action research focused on how to improve the ESL students' reading comprehension in Tanzanian context using Question-Answer Relationships, and student-generated-question strategies. Data was collected through semi structured interviews, classroom observations, reflections, reflective discussions, and document analysis. The findings revealed that, Question Answer Relationships and student generated Questions enhanced the students' understanding of reading comprehension by improving their thinking process and making them active, confident and collaborative. These findings support research carried out by other researchers in the field of reading comprehension instruction in the English language

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