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Girl reading book surrounded by books at library - Blueprint Career Development

Getting serious about adult literacy and numeracy

The recent Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) survey indicated that around 1 in 7 Australians (14%) have very poor literacy skills. An additional 1 in 3 (30%) Australians have literacy skills, which are at a level that makes them vulnerable to unemployment and social exclusion in a modern knowledge-based economy and society.

Further, that with the exception of the 15-19 year age group, each generational group had lower literacy skills than its younger counterparts. In other words; lack of language, literacy and numeracy is not confined to the young or to job seekers but impacts across the lifespan.

Four tips for trainers working with students with low literacy are:

  • Be patient – students may take longer with their reading, give them plenty of time and provide opportunities to mix and match the learning.  Use resources which are relevant to the job or context that interests them.
  • Be positive – don’t let your students get discouraged, create a warm and welcoming learning environment, make the learning fun.  Positivity rubs off on others in the classroom.
  • Be respectful – recognise the skills and experience that the students have, provide support rather than direction.
  • Be creative – Make reading fun, bring in content that the learners can relate to, sports magazines, cooking recipes, song sheets, shopping catalogues.

Encouraging reading helps students grow their vocabulary, start to build word lists relevant to their job environment.  Encourage the students to ask about words they don’t understand.

Using technology – there’s lots of free sites on the web – here’s a few that you can trial and share with your students.

Skillswise – A collection of free videos and downloadable worksheets to help adult learners improve their reading, writing and numeracy skills.

ReadingWritingHotline – A free national referral service for adults including resources and links

Here’s a list of 50 great word games for kids and adults

and last but not least – 13 fun literacy games for adults

These are only some of the resources we navigate and use in our TAESS00009 Address Foundation Skills in Vocational Practice Skill Set