How Do Adults Learn To Read?

My Google-fu is failing me.

I want to know what an [English, if it matters] adult literacy program actually looks like. Just any random page of any book that an adult in a literacy program would use will do. I want to see how this information is presented to adults without being condescending (I’m guessing Dick & Jane books are out).

Sorry, not English, but when I took Catalan classes, the same school offered literacy lessons in Spanish. They used the exact same books as little kids, the so-called cartilla Anaya. Like everybody else, the first sentences they read were mi mamá me mima and mi mamá me ama (“Mom pampers me” and “Mom loves me”, used to teach the concepts of “vowel”, “consonant” and “syllable”; per Mafalda, those two are also the same ones used in Argentina back when I was learning to read). What was different from children’s classes was the other reading materials: rather than simplified fairy tales, what the teacher handed out was comic strips, paragraphs taken from the newspaper or from any kind of books… which sometimes included fairy tales.

Nava would you be a peach and translate that comic on the website? My Spanish isn’t much these days.

Here’s what I get:

First panel: “Tell me Dad: In the movies forbidden for children…”
Third panel: “So? Yes?”
Fourth panel: “No, forget it. It’s something very fat* Better to ask [something] at school.”

*“Gordo” is “fat,” but in this context it appears to mean “tricky” or “difficult” or something similar.

… something very complicated…

…better ask someone at school.

Congratulations, your Spanish may not be much these days but it works quite well.

Yes, adult literacy programs go to great lengths to avoid using traditional child-oriented materials that a 60-year-old adult learner might find condescending and embarrassing. I was a tutor with Literacy Volunteers of America – a great group, by the way – for years and taught several adults to read. They have many resources that are designed for adults, from the complete non-reader who doesn’t even know the alphabet to others with some ability.
Maintaining dignity and not condescending to the learner is a very important part of tutoring illiterate adults. It’s not easy, but there are resources specifically designed for that purpose. No Dick and Jane chasing the fluffy kitty. More real world stuff, like ordering off a menu and reading a bus schedule.

There was a website I ran across about 5 years ago that was for learning German as a second language for tourists that had a sort of comic like that - just googled and can’t find the specific one. I suppose all the podcasts and such have taken its place =(

I remember during an “intermediate level” French language class at my US high school (year 2 of the standard 4 years for each language offered) we would watch videotapes of this French children’s show strarring a talking pineapple who seemed to be the French equivalent of Barney or Big Bird. None of us could keep up with what it was saying. If we weren’t competent students when it came to our own language, it probably would have seemed awfully demeaning.

Good for you, Dingbang. I volunteered for them also, but after a couple of years, had to stop as my eyes just got too bad.

The training was very interesting, and lasted for a week. The first time I was just as nervous as the elderly couple I worked with for a year, but we did just fine.

Their spoken English was not that good either, and before each weekly session, I had to prepare a lesson plan. They were from Iran, and well educated people. They had been in the U.S. for six years, and it was their kids who persuaded them to sign up. It must have taken a lot of nerve for them to do so, and I respected their bravery.

This is true for every client. It is amazing how they manage to get to adulthood by faking it and being very careful not to get in a situation where they will be exposed.

One of the first things we worked on was the Drivers’ Manual, which was good training. When they finally passed the test and got their licenses, they were as happy as though they won the lottery.

I recommend this organization to anybody who wants to volunteer but are not sure where.