Teaching an adult to read, while a worthwhile and rewarding endeavor, presents challenges not found in teaching the child or adolescent reader. With a little practice, sound advice from reputable sources and some background information the process of teaching an adult to read can be rewarding for both teacher and student.
Earn the student's trust. Learning to read can be a difficult process for the adult student. As a result of feeling "behind" or somehow less intelligent than those who already know how to read, the adult reading student might be a little defensive or guarded at first. It is important to create a feeling of trust between teacher and student by engaging in everyday conversation, asserting authority and credibility without being condescending and treating the student as an equal and important partner in the learning process.
Assess the student's abilities and attitudes. When teaching an adult student to read it may be helpful to employ some diagnostic tools. A number of academic publishers and various institutions that specialize in continuing education offer materials to measure a student's abilities. This process may also be carried out in a less formal and less costly manner by simply engaging with the student about her history and experiences and trying some reading exercises.
Take it slow. Learning to read as an adult is quite different from learning to read as a child. While the child reader often learns quickly and carries no bias, an adult reading student may have to deal with more frustration or preconceived notions than the novice child reader. Assess a student's frustration and energy level throughout reading lessons and adjust your instruction accordingly.
Make the material applicable to daily life. Reminding students to carry their new knowledge into everyday life is a great way to encourage students to practice reading. For instance, ask them to pick out three examples of a particular word or phrase throughout the day and report back on it later.
Amass a variety of teaching materials. By exploring the somewhat overwhelming variety of teaching materials available you may run across things you never considered. Sources for teaching materials may be educational publishing companies or as easily accessible as your local library. Some materials to keep in mind include easy reader and picture books, workbooks that included scaffolded reading exercises and flash cards.
Address the needs of individual learners. Just as elementary, middle or high school teachers address the needs of visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners, it's important to do the same when you teach an adult to read. Pay close to attention to the student's retention and comprehension to try and discover whether they respond better to visual material, listening situations or hands on learning activities.