Promote Adult Literacy by Teaching Reading Skills
Adult illiteracy can have a devastating effect on a person’s quality of life. Imagine the frustration of not being able to perform basic literary tasks such as reading the newspaper, deciphering a bus schedule, understanding a drug label, completing an order form, or balancing a checkbook. Besides making everyday life extremely difficult, an inability to read may cause depression, stress, and a lack of self-respect.
Furthermore, adult illiteracy can impact the entire family because inadequate reading skills usually result in limited earning power. Approximately 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate, and over 80% of unemployed parents lack a high school diploma.
Nationally, one in five people have difficulty with very basic reading skills. Improving reading skills and achieving a higher level of literacy can result in more effective functioning in society and a better quality of life. Because of social stigma, however, many adults go to great lengths to conceal that they are non-literate and fail to seek the help they need.
Fortunately, you can help, because it is never too late for a person to improve his or her reading skills. Even individuals who have never learned to read can attain an acceptable level of literacy with the one-on-one help of a caring volunteer tutor.
I Did This!
Without realizing it, you may already know an adult who cannot read. Non-literate adults are often very adept at concealing their lack of reading skills. If someone you know regularly "forgets" his or her glasses, or never "has time" to fill out a form or to read instructions, it is possible that this person is unable to read. Help him or her acquire literacy by offering personal tutoring.
Do you know any recent immigrants or low-skilled tradespeople who speak English as a second language? They may welcome your offer to help them improve their English and reading skills.
Be sensitive that your future student may be embarrassed and self-conscious, or may even deny having a reading problem. Do not make any quick assessments or judgments. Remember, your goal is to determine what you can to help this person achieve a higher level of literacy, a new measure of self-esteem, and a more fulfilling life. Here's how to get started:
If you would prefer more structure and support, you can find literacy centers and reading skills programs available in nearly every community. Usually sponsored by the local library, these adult literacy programs depend on volunteer tutors to help a broad spectrum of students 16 and older learn to read. Most of these programs provide professional training and all of the materials you will need. Once training is completed, a volunteer usually makes a time commitment of 1½ to 2 hours per week working with an adult student.
You can also help improve literacy in your community in many other ways, such as:
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