Adult Literacy Tutors

The reasons for literacy deficiencies in adults can be many and varied but it has been suggested that a significant contributing factor is dyslexia. 10% of the population of Scotland are dyslexic and the Scottish Executive estimates that as many as 30-50% of people in adult literacy programs may be dyslexic. The unfortunate reality is that many of these people will have developed literacy difficulties because traditional teaching styles and curriculums have failed to engage with them. Thus, adult literacy programs are starting to consider alternative approaches to teaching in order to help adult dyslexics.

Teaching adult dyslexics
Generally, when teaching adult dyslexics the most important thing is to be patient, be positive and to try different things. Remember that adult dyslexics may have failed before and will need constant encouragement. Also remember that they will have well developed coping strategies which may be an impediment to learning. It is often a good idea to work out what these coping strategies are, and if suitable, to work within them to assist learning.

There are a few generally accepted teaching principles when working with dyslexics. The first of these is to break up the lesson into manageable chunks. Dyslexics learn far more easily when confronted with only small pieces of information. Too much information at once can potentially overload the dyslexic learner.

Secondly and most importantly is to take a multi-sensory approach. This explores different learning styles, described in detail below.

Visual Learner
Learns best by seeing. Use pictures and multi-media material. Stick spelling words and post-its anywhere in view. Look at pictures in a book before reading, draw mind maps, use different colour e.g. syllables in words, use good visual software programmes. Keep the work area uncluttered.

Auditory Learner
Learns best by hearing. Talk about the book / information to be read or learned. Make sure instructions are orally clear and not too long or complicated. Get the student to record the information to be learned him/herself. Use software which has good auditory input.

Kinesthetic Learner
Learns best by doing. Trace letters in sand or in the air. Use concrete objects which can be handled, eg wooden letters, numbers etc. Memorise facts while moving about.

Learning aids
There are numerous aids which will work with dyslexics, including mind-mapping, software such as voice recognition programs or reading pens, memory aids such as cards etc. Simple things like using lined paper and spell checkers can have a beneficial effect. Each dyslexic is different but will usually gain some benefit from external aids.

More Information
The Dyslexia Scotwest Resource Centre has a significant collection of books and other resources which you can use to learn more about teaching adult dyslexics. Five books that may be immediately useful are:

  1. Practical Strategies for Living with Dyslexia – Maria Chivers
  2. Adult Dyslexia Assessment and Training – D. McLaughlin, E. Fitzgibbon, V. Young
  3. Adult Students and Dyslexia – Vicki Goodwin
  4. Helping Adults to Spell – Sue Abell
  5. Dyslexia in Focus at 16+, An Inclusive teaching approach – Jeanne Holloway

There are over 800 other resources in our Resource Centre which may be able to help you. We also have books for sale.

Specialist Training

The Dyslexia Working Party, of which Dyslexia Scotwest is a member has developed two units which will be of use to professionals and volunteers working with adult dyslexics.

For further information about this please see the link below.

Also, to purchase a copy of the resource pack aimed at tutors who will be teaching the course (£55 plus postage and packing) please contact us on 0141 331 2121