Reflections from Teaching Basic Adult Literacy
Posted by Laura McLoughlin on June 22, 2021 in categoryFacts & Research

There is a lack of evidence-based programming designed for the difficult task of teaching low-literate adults how to read. In addition, the authors of “Reflections from Teaching Basic Adult Literacy” point out that comparisons of instructional approaches have yet to make a strong case for one method over any other method 

In this issue of Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy, three research teachers aim to better understand adult learners’ strengths and weaknesses and then develop and test an instructional approach to improve their skills. The teachers then share their accounts of teaching and the students’ responses. 

Read an excerpt from the article here:  

As teachers, we participated in considerable professional development before we began to implement the teacher-led components. The intervention developers conducted intensive three-day workshops, and continued mentoring was provided for over a year. Our mentors periodically observed our classes and provided constructive feedback and ongoing support. Regular phone and videoconference meetings enabled us to discuss our experiences and receive additional support.  

Delivering a scripted program was new to all of us, but with practice, we became more confident and soon saw its benefits as it became more internalized and natural. Scripted lessons ensured that delivery was fast-paced, and strategies were presented consistently. The scripted lessons also ensured that the learners got the maximum benefit from the well-documented research upon which the program is based.  

Teacher modeling of each of the skills and strategies supported correct use of strategy dialogues and applications. Adult PHAST also called for learners to respond on cue as they practiced the preskills for the strategies. Learner responses, especially with skill practice, were often voiced in unison. This has many benefits; it ensures that learners initiate their own response, helps the teacher hear if learners are articulating a sound incorrectly, allows for group corrective feedback, and maintains a fast lesson pace. Some of the more reluctant learners participated more and showed willingness to respond when prompted this way. We also found that the repetitive dialogue along with the scaffolded structure of the program proved beneficial to the learners and supported retention of newly learned material. 


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