Friday, December 7, 2012

Teaching English to Emergent Adult Readers

Teaching emergent adult readers presents unique challenges, including knowing which fundamental skills to teach and how to appropriately deliver these skills in ways that are accessible, practical, and motivating. Adults who lack print literacy also lack essential pre-literacy skills, including phonemic awareness and phonics skills (Gombert, 1994; Kurvers & van de Craats, 2007; Vinogradov, 2010; Young-Scholten & Strom, 2006). These adults may be able to name the letters in a word, but they are often unable to assign correct sounds to the letters, combine them to decode the word, or attach meaning to the word (Vinogradov, 2012). This research suggests the critical need for teachers to provide explicit phonemic awareness and decoding instruction in their classrooms (Evans, 2008; Trupke-Bastidas & Poulos, 2007).

However, since reading is more than simply knowing the alphabet, how do teachers know which fundamental phonemic awareness and decoding skills should be taught and how to implement these fundamental skills with limited instructional time? Teachers need to be equipped with a toolbox of teaching strategies that can be employed to effectively address the varying needs of their students, as well as be provided with a framework to know how much instructional time should be spent to develop these skills.

Visit my teaching tips page for specific strategies that can be taught to students in adult education contexts (or students learning to read for the first time). Visit also for free access to an online teacher training workshop.

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