4 adult teaching strategies for newcomers

The English language can be confusing enough for native speakers to learn. So when you deliver your adult literacy programs to non-native speakers, it’s only natural that additional effort, commitment and practice are needed.

Below, we’ve outlined four adult teaching strategies for newcomers.

  1. Create a welcoming learning environment

Beginning anything new can often be nerve-wracking, but these feelings can be heightened even more as a newcomer. In addition to being anxious about embarking on a new learning program, newcomers are also often adjusting to a new language and culture. As a literacy practitioner, you play a large role in bridging this unknown culture and learning system.

To help make a newcomer’s transition as smooth as possible, make them feel welcome in your classroom. Learn how to pronounce their names correctly, offer one-on-one assistance whenever possible, and assign a peer partner – preferably someone who shares a similar first language. Use learning materials such as books that relate to your newcomer’s culture and label classroom objects in multiple languages.

  1. Select appropriate learning programs and services

Remember that no two learners will have the same foundational skills when they arrive at your literacy organization. You may need to spend more time than usual performing learning assessments to determine their current knowledge level.

It’s also crucial to explore what teaching method helps each newcomer learn best (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic). Using this information, you can help select an appropriate learning program that will set each learner up for success.

  1. Provide appropriate learning supports

You’ll also need to provide proper assistance to newcomers in accessing required content for classroom understanding or communication. Use a combination of modelling, feedback and questioning to ensure learners grasp the program material you’re teaching. Incorporate supports through multiple modalities, including sensory supports (physical activities, pictures and photographs, and videos), graphic supports (charts, graphs and timelines), and interactive supports (the Internet, small groups or partners) to promote the development of each newcomer’s skills.

 Encourage their involvement

Often, a newcomer is too shy to speak in a group setting or is afraid to make mistakes in front of other learners. Try to include them in conversation as much as possible in a non-threatening manner. Consider having learners work cooperatively in pairs or small groups. This learning strategy is effective for all types of learners – not just newcomers – since it promotes learning while developing respect and friendships. By observing how their peers learn and solve problems, newcomers can develop their own abilities.

As a literacy program leader, your goal is to help every learner at your organization achieve their learning goals. For newcomers, literacy programs are especially helpful in improving confidence about health issues, developing financial literacy, and strengthening employability skillsContact us today for more information about our free programs and resources for community literacy organizations.