Teach Reading to Adults

Adult Literacy

Teach Reading to Adults

As you teach reading to adults you will need the ability to adapt your teaching methods to suit the individual student. When you teach reading to adults with empathy, you will be rewarded with students who grow in confidence. As the adult learner develops the ability to learn independently, your input will be needed less and less. The right materials to teach reading to adults can help tremendously. This website contains a resource that will help you to teach the facts about reading and writing to adults in a way that they can grasp with ease.

‘Practice Reading and Speaking’ has been designed to be suitable for teaching any age group. When using it to teach reading to adults, you will notice that it is age appropriate for teenagers and adults as well as children. It can also be used successfully with those whose first language is not English as it contains pronunciation tips.

To teach reading to adults you will need to fill in the gaps in their understanding of phonics and how words work. By first discovering what the adult literacy student doesn’t know (through testing) or is able to do, you will be refining a starting point with your learner. As you teach reading to an adult they will discover that it is possible to learn to read.  Adult literacy skills teaching is straightforward with this course. You will be teaching the facts one step at a time, in order of difficulty.

The eBook ‘Practice Reading and Speaking’ has the unique ability to teach reading to adults in a way that helps confidence grow. Basic English skills can be taught, succinctly. (Look Inside the eBook here.) You can test their understanding of phonics with a view to filling in the gaps and helping them find a way to learn to read. Adult literacy students can monitor their own progress and see at a glance what’s left to learn. (They have their own Progress Record which covers the whole course on page 175.) With ‘Practice Reading and Speaking’, the adult literacy student is taught how to read and write English fluently. When you teach someone to read and write with this eBook, you will be left in no doubt what to teach, how to teach it and the best way to teach it. Read through the teaching notes for each Module before teaching it. This will ensure that you use as few words as possible when explaining how to segment words.

  1. First, check that your student can pronounce the individual sounds heard in the English language. (See the Pronunciation Assessment in the eBook. Pages 154-155)
  2. After reading the instructions for testing (page 156 in PRS) set the General Phoneme Assessment (Pages 158 – 159) to discover at what level the student is able to read using the sounds in words.
  3. Next, narrow down a starting point in the course for your student by setting the specific assessment for the Module where your student made their first mistake when reading.
  4. Check recognition of the alphabet and the sounds that they make. (See Modules three to seven in PRS.)
  5. Check that they know how to blend two sounds together to make a word. Use a list of nonsense words for this task. (See ‘Practice Reading and Speaking’ Module nine.)
  6. As you begin to teach reading to adults, teach phonics systematically in order of difficulty. Give attention to High Frequency words as these make up 50% of our everyday reading. (A list of these can be found on pages 75-76. They’re listed by the Module that they’re found in. Concentrate on the reading and spelling of these words whilst you teach them how to blend and segment the words found in each Module.) Being able to speed read the sample words in each phoneme-grapheme group is also important as it enhances memory.
  7. Test the adult literacy student before you teach a Module to discover what they are able to read from what you are about to teach. Test after teaching to check for improvement and assimilation. (Module Assessments for before and after teaching are found on pages 160-171.)
  8. Students should read material regularly that is appropriate for their reading level. Libraries usually contain a selection of easy reading material for adults. This will give them practice in using what they have learned, by reading sentences, paragraphs then pages of text.
  9. Work at the adult literacy student’s own pace. Encourage them to teach you, family or friends what they have learned. This will aid memory and help them discover what they need to spend more time on. (We tend to remember 90% of what we teach others and put into practice.)
  10. When you teach reading to adults, teach basic English literacy skills too. (See the ‘English Simplified’ chapter on pages 114-134 in Practice Reading and Speaking.)
  11. Continue to teach reading to adults until they have a fluent adult reading age. There are 70 Modules or pages in the course in Practice Reading and Speaking. They cover every spelling of every sound (over a thousand)  that the student is ever likely to come across in English texts in order to read fluently. A useful index demonstrating the different ways a single letter or group of letters can be pronounced is found in the back of the book (pages 176-178). This is a useful reference guide as you teach reading to adults.

Teach Reading to Adults who have Failed to Learn to Read and Write

Adult Literacy students, who need help with reading, phonics, writing and basic literacy have a variety of reasons why they haven’t learned to read and write fluently. When you teach reading to adults, before you can banish their fears of text and motivate successful learning, try to isolate the reason why they failed to learn to read well. It could be that the English skills needed for life, weren’t taught because the student missed school regularly. Maybe, dyslexia unrecognized in childhood, prevented them from making reading progress. Perhaps, a heavy workload looking after a sick parent meant that as a child they missed school regularly so teachers were unable to help them catch up. Lastly, when you teach reading to adults be aware that sometimes a brain injury can interfere with the usual learning process. When you help someone learn to read, remember that adult literacy students need an understanding teacher who will teach reading to adults with sensitivity.

Before you begin to teach reading to adults, assess pronunciation then their knowledge of phonics and the ability to read simple words. This will ensure that when you teach adults to read you help rather than hinder their progress. Teach one fact at a time. If you try to teach too much at a time, the adult literacy student’s ability to process what they are learning will be impeded. All you are doing is building a brick wall in their mind and reinforcing the negative thought that they can’t do this. Remind them at the beginning of the lesson how far they have come. Track progress consistently. Aim to understand your adult literacy student’s learning strengths. Keep lessons positive and give lots of praise when you teach reading to adults. (A mind with a smile can learn for a while.)

Teach Reading to Adults to Improve Life Skills

Reading relates to life skills for a variety of reasons. It’s a way of communicating with each other. From reading the instructions on packets, filling in forms, searching for information on the internet or reading for pleasure, reading relates to many life skills necessary to cope with everyday life. Even map reading would be of no use if we couldn’t read the road names or the names of places. Even a car manual still needs instructions to be read.

The key when you teach reading to adults, is to motivate the adult literacy learner to see how reading and writing relates to life skills. Help adult literacy students to list situations where knowing how to read or write would be useful. When you teach reading to adults, give them ways to make progress when you are not there to help them. Adult literacy students need to know that learning to read is an achievable aim. Also, that learning new things with a teacher who will not criticize but support, is a positive experience. In turn, the ability to recognize and correct their own mistakes will flourish.

Set Goals when you Teach Reading to Adults

While you teach reading to adults, set reachable goals. Maybe they want to be able to write a letter to a friend or a letter of complaint. It could be that the adult literacy learner would like to be able to fill in forms without fear. By setting goals when you teach reading to adults and helping them to reach those goals one at a time, you will be giving them the ability to manage reading and basic English in everyday life. As you teach reading to an adult the student will likely begin to set their own targets. If they have a hobby, they may have reading material that they need help with. Half the battle is won if the student wants to read a text.

Motivate Adult Learners

When you teach reading to adults and teach adult literacy skills, students often make remarkable progress in the workplace. It may be that the adult has been offered a job and knows that they will have to go through some sort of test in the interview. This could raise motivation enough for the adult literacy learner to speed up the process of learning to read and write more efficiently. (Reading without fear improves comprehension too.) Yet others have come to a point in their life, when what others think of them is no longer an issue.

Give Adult Literacy Students Clear Brief Explanations

Man Reading
Learn to Read Well

When you teach reading to adults and they begin to read for the first time in their lives, they need clear brief explanations of how to separate and pronounce the sounds in the words that they have been speaking their whole lives. When you teach reading to adults, they also need to be given decoding and spelling strategies that work consistently when reading. Learning to write well should also be included when teaching adult literacy students to read. Adult literacy students need to feel a sense of fulfilment knowing that what they have left to learn is achievable. Remember small successes will help the adult literacy student to stay motivated and involved in the learning process.  When you teach reading to adults, If you assume that the adult learner has no prior knowledge of learning how to read and write, testing will help you to discover at what point in their lives learning to read and write stopped. It will also give the adult literacy student a chance to show off what they can do. Starting where they initially stopped learning allows them to build on what they know. Sometimes comparisons can be made to everyday sounds. For example, a mechanic has learned to differentiate between different engine sounds and the sounds in his everyday environment. He will recognise voices. He now needs to learn the’voices’ of letters.

Help Adult Literacy Students Overcome the Fear of Text

It takes courage to try to get to grips with a skill as an adult that you have always found difficult.There is often a fear of text that needs to be overcome when teaching reading to adult literacy students. So teaching sensitively and with empathy is a must. Allow the adult literacy student to show you what they can do. Rather than make them feel that they have a long way to go, remember to keep your comments positive. As you teach reading to adults, praise consistently. They have been very brave to be willing to bare their soul to a teacher. So praise their courage and determination to succeed. This will motivate the adult literacy student to continue allowing you to teach them to read.

Give Adult Literacy Students Time to Think

Give adult literacy students time to think. When you teach reading to adults, stop teaching when they are tired. They won’t be taking anything in.  Regular breaks when you teach reading to adults are necessary to be able to take in and understand new concepts. Pause regularly to allow new ideas to be meditated upon. Thinking time is just as important as learning time. Due to the enormous amounts of effort it takes for an adult literacy student to learn to read as an adult, it’s easy to tire quickly. Your student’s brain will virtually shut down at times, making the student feel sleepy. Short sessions with lots of breaks, is vital. Teach only what can be readily absorbed in each session. Although it’s tempting to try to cram as much as you can into when you teach reading to adults, what will keep them coming back is the simple method you use to teach reading and teach phonics along with the student’s ability to grasp and memorize basic principles. When you teach reading to adults, at the end of the lesson wet their appetite for what they will learn in the next lesson in order to motivate them to return. The book ‘Practice Reading and Speaking‘ can be used with any age group to teach reading and teach phonics to adult literacy standards. It also includes a brief but thorough overview of the skills needed to write well as an adult.

Teach Phonics to Adult Learners

Employ the method of teaching phonics systematically in order of difficulty to adult literacy students. This will give them the best possible chance of reading success. Whenever you teach reading to adults by means of phonic decoding skills or setting homework, give the adult literacy student a means of remembering new facts learned in lessons. Use images, spider diagrams or prompt words that will help the adult literacy student remember the new phoneme-grapheme learned. As you teach reading, employ memory techniques to aid retention. Teach them how to monitor their own progress and recognize developmental steps. Give the adult literacy student the confidence they need to recognize that they are still able to learn. Point out even the smallest of successes and praise achievement regularly. Above all, don’t treat them like a child. Preserve their dignity.

Teach Reading to Adults alongside Writing and Basic English

When you teach reading to adults, the student needs to engage as many senses as possible to enhance memory. Teaching phonics involves looking at letter symbols, recognizing patterns within words and translating them into the spoken word. By learning to write the words, the adult literacy student will be helped to memorise what they are learning. Your students will need to learn the following:

  • Recognise letters, say their sounds and write them in words
  • Combine words to make sentences that are structured in different ways
  • Spell all of the most used words in English without mistakes
  • Learn how punctuation and grammar works
  • Learn to change the way we structure language for different purposes
  • Learn about alphabetical order in order to use a dictionary and increase understanding of vocabulary
  • Learn how to scan or search for words, phrases or sentences in a text
  • Learn how to read to extract meaning

All of these adult literacy skills have been included in ‘Practice Reading and Speaking’. The aim of the book is to teach reading to adults until they are fluent at reading and writing. The book helps the adult literacy student to gain a thorough understanding of basic English. This will give them the confidence to write whenever they need to without fear of embarrassment. When you teach reading to adults with this book you have all that you need to hand in one book. You can test adult literacy students reading, teach them phonics help them learn to write and spell to adult literacy standards. Teach pronunciation to adult literacy students whose first language is not English. English learners can learn to recognise how to pronounce words by learning phonics.

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