Adult Learners

All about adult learners in our programs

Adult learners come from all backgrounds and with many different experiences and goals. Last year we served over 300 learners between our two sites. These learners were from ages 25 through 80 and represented a wide range of educational backgrounds and ethnicities. Learners come to the literacy program for many reasons, such as not being able to write messages at work, having difficulty helping children with homework, realizing an inability to fill out forms, or experiencing challenges communicating with doctors. Remember, some learners have hidden their low literacy skills from family, friends, and work and for this reason literacy services are confidential.

Most learner goals will fall into one or more of these broad categories:

  • Self (read a newspaper or magazine, write a thank you note, follow a recipe, take a class, communicate with a doctor)
  • Family/Home (read/pay bills, communicate with landlord, help children with homework)
  • Work (read directions, communicate with manager or clients, take phone messages)
  • Community (find an address, read and communicate in stores, register child for school, pass citizenship exam)

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Adult Learners:

  • are used to making decisions
  • are often juggling work, family, and other demands
  • have to deal with emergencies and unexpected situations
  • learn by building on what they already know
  • are motivated by goals
  • need skills to help in their everyday lives
  • are sensitive to criticism
  • need patience and respect
  • have their own values and beliefs
  • might be reluctant to ask questions
  • might pretend they already know something
  • sometimes feel insecure about using new skills on their own
  • have learned a lot from life experiences

Watch these videos on adult learners

Next Steps/Tutor Training Module

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