How To Teach an Adult to Read

Try to put yourself in a situation where you are an illiterate person and then imagine your life without being able to read. You will not be able to do many things in your daily life. You will miss lots of pleasures in life such as reading newspaper, books or even text messages of your loved ones. Now you can understand the misery of those who cannot read.

There will be many unfortunate persons around you who are illiterate but eager to become skilled at reading and writing. Similarly, you will be one of those who want to hold their hand and guide them.

However, you may find yourself helpless as not everybody is a born instructor or motivator. Moreover, teaching an adult can double the trouble as it is not an easy task. It is way more difficult than teaching kids who have fresh/blank memory which helps them to learn quickly.

It does not mean that you should surrender as little practice a bit research work and some solid information can help you in yielding productive results.


  • 1

    First of all you must understand that being illiterate can create an inferiority complex in the adults as they might consider themselves less intelligent and dishonoured. You should perk them up and make them realise that their enthusiasm for this noble purpose is itself an achievement.

  • 2

    Give them examples from real life and tell them about the famous personalities who were illiterate in the beginning but they changed the course of their lives later. Make them realise that they also have the spark to do this.

  • 3

    Evaluate your students before starting the teaching process. You can do this by having an informal chat or assigning him or her some simple reading tasks. You will have the idea about the first step and rest of the journey will be rewarding for both parties.

  • 4

    Build your pace slowly as an adult will take his time to unlearn the preconceived things. They might get frustrated so you will have to hold their hand and keep them on right track. Adjust your teaching plan according to their pace.

  • 5

    Make sure they are applying their knowledge in practical life as it can help them to memorise everything. Develop a functional system for feedback.

  • 6

    Avoid making this teaching process a series of boring lectures. Add variety to your material. You can use audio and visual tools along with books and charts.

  • 7

    Do not address generally rather guide them individually by paying equal attention.

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