Home » College and University » 3 tips for teaching an adult how to read

When we mull over the topic of illiteracy, it would be fair to say that most of us associate it with children.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in the slightest. In fact, the statistics in relation to illiteracy are bordering on the staggering, with an estimated 757 million adults across the world unable to read. Want to drill further down into that statistic? It equates to around 1 in 10 people in the world.

As such, this is a major problem. One of the big obstacles is that learning to read as an adult is a lot different than as a child. Sure, the way in which the brain deciphers words is the same, but in terms of the actual learning process there are some stark differences.

This is why we have penned today’s article. Let’s now take a look at some of the key tips you can implement if you are attempting to help someone older learn how to read.

Understand the differences in learning approaches

As we have already alluded to, teaching an adult to read can be much different to a child.

When we are young, our brain picks up new skills really easily. Unfortunately, as the years catch up with us, this is something that we aren’t as efficient at doing.

It means that adults typically struggle to remember the letter sounds that children pick up so quickly.

There’s a small issue around practicality as well. While children might be sat in a classroom for hours upon end learning how to decipher letters, adults typically don’t have this luxury. This in itself is a huge disadvantage.

Provide relevant reading materials

Something that can make the reading process all the more easier is by providing relevant materials. Unfortunately, unless you turn to leveled reading resources, a lot of the books which try and target non-readers are quite childish in nature. Naturally, this is very off-putting for an adult and is something that can quickly make them turn their back on their learning journey.

As such, search long and hard for your resources. Once your student has mastered the basics, try and progress onto day-to-day materials that they are going to find interesting. This might be theatre booklets, if that’s their thing, or even the television listings.

Some kids rules still apply

A lot of today’s article has focused on the differences between teaching adults and children how to read.

Even though these differences are quite blatant, there are still some similarities that you need to tap into. For example, things will always start with the alphabet, regardless of the student’s age. Then, your teaching might move onto sounds, before eventually progressing onto one syllable words and eventually beyond.

If you have ever taught children you will notice distinct similarities between the above approach, but sometimes it’s the way in which you present these learning mechanisms and making them more relevant to the older audience you are attempting to educate.

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