Lesson 7 - Reading Techniques for Adult Basic Education (ABE) Learners Illinois State Library


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Karen was a literacy tutor trainer. She had a group of volunteers ready to be placed with adult learners upon completion of their basic literacy tutor training. As the volunteers were progressing through the training, they often asked for examples of specific strategies that could be used to teach reading, math, writing, and English as a Second Language concepts. As Karen is preparing her training information, she is compiling a list of examples that can be demonstrated with her class.

Question for consideration as you work through this lesson

What instructional techniques can Karen use to teach reading?

Key Point

In Lesson 7 you will be introduced to a variety of strategies that can be used to help you teach reading to the adult learner. The lesson covers such techniques as language experience, story-mapping, phonics, echoing and a few other tools. These instructional strategies and techniques can be used to help your adult learner, but they are not the only strategies available. As an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will want to participate in continued training to learn additional instructional strategies.

Reading and writing are a part of the continuum of language development. When we are babies, we hear our parents and others speak to us. This is our first step in the language continuum. The sounds we hear are processed and we react to the specific sounds. It is here that our first speech patterns are formed, leading us to the next step which is speaking. We attempt to make sounds. Those sounds that are reinforced are the ones we repeat while others we forget.

Seeing sounds (words in print) is the step that follows speaking. When we read, we make the connection between the sounds we have heard and spoken with the letters that represent sounds. Once we have mastered this level, we are ready to write the language.

When you work with adult learners, it is important to realize where they are on the language continuum and to begin from that point. Perhaps the individual has always heard a sound incorrectly, he or she therefore speaks it, reads it, and writes it incorrectly. Some learners may need to go back to hearing the sounds, which is why it is important to read to them during every tutoring session. Modeling proper sounds of words while reading aloud to learners is a good place to start.

Key Ideas About the Nature of Reading

  1. The reader's thoughts and language are constantly interacting with the thoughts and language of the writer.
    • understanding meaning is the goal of reading
    • the more experience and knowledge you bring to the page, the easier it is to read
  2. If one chooses material that the learner knows something about, the material will be easier for the learner to understand.

What Do Good Readers Do?

Talking about and modeling what good readers do is valuable to your learners. To those of us to whom reading came easily, reading seems to be a natural process. But adult learners can learn by patterning their reading behavior after someone who reads well. New readers become better readers by modeling good reading behavior. New readers become better readers by practicing. It takes learners time and practice to develop and adopt the behaviors of good readers. Following are some things good readers do:

Thinking about Proficient Reading - Reflective Activity

Take a minute to reflect on the information you just read, then answer the following questions.

  1. What things do you feel are necessary to be a proficient reader?
  2. What items do you feel should be stressed when tutoring?

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title, Thinking about Proficient Reading - Reflective Activity in the subject line. Copy and paste the questions into the body of the email. Then type in your answers and send it. Completing this assignment is a requirement of your training. Your trainer will respond to you through email.