Improving primary ESL students reading through whole language approach

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


The study focused on the implementation of the Whole Language Approach (WLA) to improve students' reading in a primary ESL classroom, in one of the private schools in Karachi, Pakistan. The purpose of the study was to explore the effectiveness and possibilities of implementation of WLA for improving ESL/EFL students' reading, in a context, where both the learner and teacher have low language proficiency in English language. The study was conducted through the qualitative action research. The duration of the study was five and half weeks. The targeted population consisted of forty-one students of Class III, with the regular classroom teacher acting as an observer and critical friend. Data was collected through teacher (researcher) classroom observation tool, whole class discussion and informal talks with the students, interview and post-lesson discussions with the classroom teacher, document analysis and reflective journal. My analysis of the data started from the first day of my fieldwork in the form of reflections. I played a role of a teacher and researcher simultaneously. The findings at the reconnaissance phase indicated that students were not able to read the reading materials with understanding, rather they relied on the dictionary to comprehend the text. The approach to teach reading mainly used whole word approach (go get the words with correct pronunciation and intonation), which did not facilitate students' reading with understanding, and the class was dominated by teacher talk' and those students who were linguistically stronger than their peers. The study suggests that there were some possibilities and some challenges in implementing the WLA in Class III. The major findings from the implementation phase were; teaching reading through WLA gave me, as an ESL teacher, new insights to teach reading more effectively and proved to minimize teacher-centered approach and increase child-centered approach. Reading from whole' to part gave students opportunity to read for meaning' and to understand the holistic picture of the reading materials. Using WLA in teaching reading in the English classroom increased students' motivation and achievement. Ethical issues were also taken into consideration for maintaining confidentiality of the institution, students and the teacher. Challenges were identified and implications were drawn that provided recommendations for future practices for implementing WLA in the teaching of reading.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library