Lesson 8 - Writing 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 adult 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 writing?

Key Point

In Lesson 8 you will be introduced to a variety of strategies that can be used to help you teach writing to the adult learner. The lesson covers a wide range of techniques for a wide range of learners. The techniques include dictation, controlled writing, semantic webs, using prompt words and journaling. These instructional strategies and techniques can be used to help the adult learner learn to write, 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 strategies.

Writing cannot be separated from reading:

Adult learners who lack confidence in their reading skills may also lack confidence in their writing skills.

Writing Basics

New learners may need help learning the first steps of writing -- holding a pencil or pen. If this is true of the learner you are tutoring, try to find larger pens and pencils since they are easier to use when one is not used to holding pens and pencils. There are sleeves that can be placed over regular sized pens that would also work. The tutor may also want to use a large pen to make the learner feel comfortable.

In addition, some adult learners will not have mastered the skill of cursive writing. It is appropriate to accept printed or typed material. A tutor should watch whether a learner is printing rather than using cursive writing. If the learner is printing, the tutor should print.

For about five to ten minutes each session, practice writing key words or making lists for those learners who are not accustomed to writing sentences. Sending a birthday or holiday card, including addressing the envelope can be a joyful accomplishment for some beginning writers. The instructional textbook Laubach Way to Reading has additional writing practice suggestions for beginners.

Thinking about Writing - 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 writer?
  2. What items do you feel should be stressed when tutoring writing?

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title, Thinking about Writing - 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.