teacher of adults

5 great teaching strategies for adults

Developing reading and writing skills can be difficult for anyone, particularly adults, who lead complex, busy lives. That’s why keeping adults motivated to persist can be one of the most difficult aspects of running an adult literacy program. Below are five great teaching strategies for adults that can be easily incorporated into your current literacy program offerings.

1. Provide a Flexible Learning Experience

Your adult learners come from a variety of life stages and have different viewpoints and values. For example, workers with years of experience in Canada will be more knowledgeable about financial and workplace literacy versus newcomers to the country. As a result, program leaders must be able to adapt their teaching methods to be as inclusive as possible.

Provide learners with options regarding the course’s pace, method, content or assessment. Offering learning opportunities via small groups and individual assignments is a great opportunity to address different learner needs. The same goes for offering course material in different formats, including self-directed study.

2. Ask for Feedback

Allow learners to contribute to their learning experience to help keep them motivated and engaged. Have them make meaningful choices regarding their course material and delivery method, such as asking for feedback on a reading selection.

Throughout your program, regularly check in with participants to see what can be done to improve their learning experiences. You may be the only advocate the learner has for pursuing their literacy knowledge, so show that you genuinely care about their success in your program.

 3. Create a Safe, Welcoming Environment

Create a learning space where learners feel comfortable to share and respond to questions. Even when incorrect answers are given, use the moment as a teaching opportunity that allows the learner to learn from mistakes rather than take errors personally.

Learners should always feel safe, respected and encouraged during their learning. Offer context-sensitive feedback during course discussions, tests and assignments. Provide students with equal access to all resources and consistently give clear explanations about course material.

4. Keep Learning Practical

Use a how-to approach that covers only one topic at a time and links to concrete examples and situational practices. For each learning point, provide adult learners with a chance to demonstrate their knowledge with a simulation, worksheet or discussion. Use a learner’s personal experiences (such as financial mistakes they’ve made) as a valuable learning resource in your program.

Getting a clear understanding of the learner’s expectations at the beginning can ensure the learner is matched to an appropriate program. This helps minimize any feelings of frustration, distraction and possible disinterest that may be experienced if the adult doesn’t view the course content as being valuable.

5. Make It Fun

Adult learners who are engaged in fun learning environments are more motivated to learn. Keep your course content fresh and interesting, yet incorporate some mystery, too. Encourage learners to want to find out more by revealing only a little bit of a topic at first.

The use of humourous characters and experiences to demonstrate familiar personalities and situations is another great way to keep learners motivated. Laughter helps us relax, and when we’re relaxed, we are more receptive to learning and retaining information.

For more resources regarding adult literacy programs, browse our website or contact our team.