Enhancing the Acquisition of Basic Reading Skills in Kiswahili Using GraphoGame

Damaris Ngorosho


Many primary school children in Tanzania are failing to learn basic reading skills. Despite unprecedented efforts to improve the learning and teaching of literacy skills in the early grades made by the Tanzania government through its Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), between 20 and 25 percent of grade seven (Standard[1] VII) learners complete primary education without having mastered the basic literacy skills in Kiswahili.  As computer-assisted programmes have been proven to provide promising opportunities for the training of initial reading and spelling skills, an experimental study was conducted to establish the usefulness GraphoGame-Kiswahili (an ICT enabling tool) in assisting the learning of basic reading skills and spelling skills in Kiswahili. The study design followed a pre-test (baseline assessment)-intervention (training)-post-testing procedure. One hundred and eight first grade (Standard I) children from two schools—one experimental school (n = 49) and one reference school (n = 59)—participated in the study. The sample from each school was randomly divided into two groups—a control group and an intervention group. The control group learnt how to read through teacher instruction (CI) and the experimental group received reading instruction via the GraphoGame-Kiswahili. Lexical decision tests of written items (letter-sound knowledge, syllable and word recognition) and decoding competence (spelling skills) were used to determine the children’s orthography knowledge. The results from the experimental school indicate that there was significant improvement (t (22) = -3.008, p<.01) in performance in the spelling test in the pre-test for the GraphoGame group and the size of difference in the means was large (eta squared = 0.291). Results further show that there was significant difference in letter/syllable identification mean scores for the CI group (t [22] = 13.692, p<.05, eta squared = .894).Repeated measures (ANOVA) analyses performed on game data logs, revealed significant improvement (p<.05) in all the reading-related skills assessed. The most effective intervention combined exposure of both the teachers and the children to the game. These findings support the use of GraphoGame-Kiswahili as a technology-assisted education game that could be applied in the real learning environment in Tanzania’s primary schools.


Key words: GraphoGame, intervention, children at risk for reading difficulties, Kiswahili, Tanzania.

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