Original Research

Improving the reading proficiency of mature students through a task-based language teaching approach

Susana Adjei-Mensah, Naomi Y. Boakye, Andries Masenge
Reading & Writing | Vol 14, No 1 | a406 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v14i1.406 | © 2023 Susana Adjei-Mensah, Naomi Y. Boakye, Andries Masenge | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 September 2022 | Published: 29 August 2023

About the author(s)

Susana Adjei-Mensah, Department of General Education, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Valley View University, Oyibi-Accra, Ghana
Naomi Y. Boakye, Unit for Academic Literacy, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Andries Masenge, Department of Statistics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Mature age admission at universities is increasing rapidly all over the world and Ghanaian universities, both private and public, are no exception. The language proficiency of the admitted mature students, especially in reading, is often low, which affects their comprehension abilities and academic work.

Objectives: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a task-based language teaching approach to improve the reading proficiency of mature students.

Method: An intervention using a designed instructional model was undertaken with a group of mature students. Control groups were included and instructed through the traditional mode. The study used a convergent parallel mixed-methods design, with pre and post-tests, interviews, and observations. The quantitative data were analysed using t-tests in combination with effect sizes, and the qualitative data were analysed through content analysis.

Results: The results showed that the mature students who participated in the intervention obtained higher post-test scores than the control groups. The improvement in their reading proficiency as shown in the test results was statistically significant, with large effect sizes. The qualitative data supported the findings of the quantitative data and provided further insight into the improvement of the experimental group. For example, frequent feedback, an enabling classroom environment, motivation, and collaborative learning were some of the factors that emerged as contributors to the experimental group’s improved post-test results.

Contribution: The research has been beneficial in providing an alternative teaching pedagogy for mature students.

Conclusion: Based on the findings, recommendations are made for the use of an adapted task-based language teaching approach for improving the reading proficiency of mature age students.


task-based language teaching (TBLT); reading proficiency; mature students; intervention; instructional model.


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