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Teaching Adults to Read

Updated on April 26, 2015

Teaching adults to Read-Difficult yet Rewarding

Although teaching adults to read involves teaching the same progression of skills, adults have other life and social issues which can slow down the learning process. Although the academic process and skills are the same, adults don't have the luxury of sitting in a classroom several hours a day. At most they are able to spend a few hours a week after work. Many adults who go to school are working towards a GED while others are working to improve their job skills.

Adults bring many emotional factors to the classroom. Many adults who wish to improve their reading skills lack self esteem and motivation. Lack of success in a traditional classroom is a primary reason for lack of self esteem. They have spent years, sometimes decades hiding their lack of reading ability from relatives, friends, and coworkers.

For those who are motivated to improve their reading skills, the rewards are great: such as improved job prospects and better self esteem. All that's needed is a good program, motivation, and lots of perseverance.

Assessment tools for adult learners - A Guide to Intervention Strategies

This is a great book for tutors or reading specialist who have tested their students and need specific strategies and quick ideas of what to do next.

Why do adults have reading problems?

It's Not What You Think!

There are many reasons for poor reading skills in adults. An adult may have had a learning disability as a child such as dyslexia. Sometimes a reading disability is misdiagnosed. As a result there may have been insufficient instructional strategies to boost reading skills. So what happens? The child falls farther and farther behind.

Another reason for poor reading is poor preparation for school such as little or no preschool experience. Also, if adults at home do not value books and reading, there is little chance that a child will be prepared for learning the alphabet. If there is insufficient one on one or small group remediation in the classroom then again, the child gets off to a poor start and falls farther behind.

Another population of adults who may lack poor reading skills is the non native English speaker. Finishing high school may not have been an option in their native country.

What is the Next Step?

As with any group of struggling readers, the first step is to find out where to start. In other words, if fluency practice is needed, why teach phonics? Using appropriate assessments will help the teacher/instructor discover what kind of instruction is needed.. Assessment is also important for another reason. Every adult has different life and educational experiences. Assessment will give the instructor an idea as to where to start and what to teach. Reading skills develop over time and every person learning how to read has different strengths in each reading skill as explained below.

Alphabetics: Figuring out unknown words while reading

Fluency: Being able to identify thousands of words at a glance while reading smoothly with expression

Vocabulary: Understanding the meanings of the words

Comprehension: Thinking about meaning while reading and enjoying the passage (or not)

Multiple Intelligences and Adult Literacy

Includes teacher reflection and lesson plans based on the multiple intellligences

Do you know of an adult that needs literacy skills?

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    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      No, but I perfectly agree that reading keeps one better informed than watching TV.

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