The Best Way to Help Pre-Literate Adult ESL Students

Do you have a few pre-literate adult ESL Students in your classroom (or adult ESL program)? Fantastic! This is your chance to change the world—making a huge difference in someone’s life. How? 

By teaching your pre-literate adult ESL Students to read. But that’s hard to do, you might say. You don’t think I know that. 

Before you get stressed out, let me share something with you. See, I have done it many times and I am sure you can do it, too. So, relax.

All you need is the right tools and strategies and some patience and perseverance, of course. Where can I find them, you may ask?

Sorry I can’t help with patience and perseverance. That’s on you. However, I can support you with some teaching resources and strategies.  

Let’s cut to the chase.

3 strategies for helping your pre-literate adult ESL Students

Strategy 1- Forget about teaching ESL. Rather, focus on doing literacy work. What’s that supposed to mean? Keep on reading...

Strategy 2- Use two proven methods. Mix phonics instruction with some whole-language strategies. In other words, teach your learners all 42 or 44 sounds of the English language in a systematic way. Why? Because more than one-hundred research studies confirm that doing it that way works.  

And give your learners lots of opportunities to read or give them practices so they connect their phonics instruction with authentic reading (whole-language strategies). This is what I call learning to read by reading.  

Strategy  3- Make reading progress visible and help adult students track it themselves. You can do so by using a portfolio or binder (whatever you like) of evidence. For example, your learners can record their reading and use the audio file as evidence. 

Literacy Teaching Resources

A- Materials that can help you teach phonics in systematic way:  

  1. Fast Track Phonics (Student Book) Student Edition

  2. Phonics Pathways: Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling, 10th Edition

  3. Reading Horizons, Student Workbook, Third Edition (this one is a workbook for classroom practice)

B- Materials to help your pre-literate adult ESL Students practice reading: 

  1. Laubach Way to Reading 1

  2. Laubach Way to Reading 2

  3. Laubach Way to Reading 3

  4. Laubach Way to Reading 4

By the way, you should also explore online resources and phonics Youtube channels for pre-literate adult ESL students.

Well, as always, I did my part. The application is now up to you!

Go change your pre-literate adult ESL students for the best!

Do me a favor. Could you share this post with your favorite adult ESL teachers. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new teaching insights.

The coach

Teddy Edouard is a Learning Consultant & an Instructional Coach with a passion for Teaching, Learning, and Cognitive Science. He is on a mission to help institutions, teachers, and training professionals maximize the effectiveness of their instructional and non-instructional interventions. Teddy translates adult learning theories and other research into ready-to-use classroom teaching tips and strategies for the benefits of adult learners and instructors.

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