How to teach adults to read

How to teach adults to read

Teaching reading to older learners can be a challenging experience for educators in adult basic skills programs. Teachers may find that every student in a classroom requires different material and that individuals vary greatly in ability level depending on their earlier experiences with reading instruction.

Often students experience frustration and anxiety that can get in the way of learning. They may have negative associations with school or learning difficulties that have gone undiagnosed and cause them to struggle with the basics of sounding out words.

However, with the right strategies in place and plenty of patience, praise and encouragement, teachers can help adult students overcome these challenges and reach their full potential.

Working with adult students


Many adults want to improve their literacy skills so they can get a higher paying job. Acquiring stronger literacy skills can open up new careers and often leads to promotions at work. Sometimes motivation comes from children who are learning to read themselves. Parents who are strong readers are better able to assist their kids with schoolwork or even read them a bedtime story.

TIP: It’s important for teachers to get to know their students as individuals and understand the reason they have chosen to go back to school to learn how to read. Reminding an adult why he or she is challenging him or herself can make all of the difference in helping a learner stay motivated when the going gets tough.


Older learners often lack confidence in the classroom. This may be due to past failures at school or feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed about learning how to read at an older age. Teachers can assist students in keeping anxiety at bay by setting attainable goals. Help learners build confidence and increase self-esteem by recognizing them for their efforts. Just making the decision to go back to school means they are already on the path to success. Provide plenty of positive feedback and praise students for their achievements, no matter how small.


This sums up a student’s approach to learning. Acquiring literacy skills as an adult is not easy and learning how to read can seem overwhelming at times, even to the most motivated learners. However, breaking the task down into smaller, more manageable steps helps adult students reach their goal through self-directed learning. They may start by going through the alphabet and engaging in concentrated phonics review, move on to decoding and then begin memorizing sight words in order to gradually increase reading ability.


A step-by-step approach means adults have the opportunity to repeat units of learning until material is mastered. This is especially helpful in studying phonics in order to sound out words. Adult learners like being in control. Allowing them to set the pace of learning empowers them. Self-directed learning also means they can continue providing for their families and learning how to read in their free time.

Visit our posts on Adult Basic Skills Programs and Teaching Adults to Read for additional background.

How to teach adults to read

spelling, reading and writing ability, dyslexia can come in many forms. The most common is caused by difficulty hearing all of the sounds that make up a word. This impacts on decoding skills and can make it hard to sound words out – a crucial step in early reading. Learners may benefit from memorizing high frequency English vocabulary, such as sight words. Learn more tips and strategies for helping dyslexic students.


Adults who struggle with fine motor skills may have a form of dyspraxia. This makes it difficult to hold a pencil and can cause messy handwriting and even impact on planning skills. Learn how to help dyspraxic students in the classroom.


A condition that causes difficulties in writing, dysgraphia can make handwriting painful and frustrating for students. The best alternative is for learners to acquire touch-typing skills and produce written assignments on the computer vs. with a pen and paper.

Slow processing

Some adults may master decoding but still struggle with comprehension skills. This can sometimes be a result of slow processing in which they simply require more time than their peers to understand what has been read. Teachers can help by encouraging learners to engage in top-down reading strategies that activate relevant content and vocabulary and make it easier to use prior knowledge to help construct meaning.

How to teach adults to read

can sound words out until they are familiar enough with the vocabulary to recognize it by sight.

The more vocabulary an adult knows, the easier it will be to guess at the meaning of unknown words encountered. Greater units of meaning can be found at the phrase, sentence and paragraph level.

Following narratives and identifying the gist, main ideas and specific details of a text are all part of reading comprehension, in addition to making inferences about what has been read. Strong readers rely on their prior knowledge about a topic, genre and text type in order to help them construct meaning.

Improving writing

With reading comes writing ability. Writing is a cognitively challenging activity that involves translating thoughts into language, organizing ideas in such a way that a reader can follow the writer’s train of thought and accessing knowledge of grammar, spelling and written language conventions.

High frequency vocabulary and words that are important and useful to the individual are likely to transfer to productive use first. It’s important to read often as the more an individual encounters complex structures, ideas and less frequent vocabulary, the more likely they will be to use these elements in their own writing.

Computer skills

Many adults with poor literacy skills also struggle to use computers. Luckily, teaching writing and spelling lends itself to practice with word processors. The more students familiarize themselves with computers, the easier it will be to research on the web and access online resources, including dictionaries and flashcard apps.

Taking a touch-typing course can be a good way to introduce writing on a computer and reinforce phonics and spelling skills at the same time. It’s also an opportunity for adult learners to practice their skills without being embarrassed, as the focus of the course is to teach keyboarding.

English language learners

Beyond a certain threshold, literacy skills transfer from a learner’s first to second language. If your student was a strong writer in his or her first language, it is likely he or she will develop a similar ability level in English.

Teachers can help the process along by reinforcing spelling, which can be quite tricky for English language learners due to the high number of exceptions to the rules and lack of 1:1 sound letter correspondence (there are multiple ways of writing the same sound). Learn more about strategies for ELLs.

Do you have any tips on teaching literacy skills to adults? Join the discussion in the comments!

Twice a week we publish problems that will feature in a forthcoming Dear Jeremy advice column in the Saturday Guardian so that readers can offer their own advice and suggestions. We then print the best of your comments alongside Jeremy’s own insights. Here is the latest dilemma – what are your thoughts?

I’ve been a freelance filmmaker working in TV and education, in both the public and voluntary sectors.

Technical change is non-stop and, as I near 60, I feel my age is beginning to count against me. But I have writing and editorial, as well as technical, skills, and have always enjoyed “explain-y” projects as much as the simply creative ones.

Back in the 19’90s, I helped one of my sound assistants with his literacy (it had been constrained by his chaotic childhood in care). From zero school qualifications, he went on to get a history degree.

It was hard to find materials to work with, but it was such a straightforward and purposeful thing to do and so rewarding that I’m wondering how to do it again. There must be a way to train and then teach literacy to adults – but the obvious searches haven’t got me very far.

I’m not expecting to earn much, I never have; but the mortgage is paid, and we’ve got no children.

How to teach adults to read

A well-trained teacher or tutor in an adult literacy program should be trained in at least three methods, including the multisensory approach, which has proven to be effective for adult students with learning disabilities. A multisensory method uses a combination of visual, auditory and tactile-kinesthetic instruction to enhance memory and learning. Following is a list of multi sensory structured language programs.This list does not include every available adult literacy reading program; however, many of the programs listed are based on the “Orton Gillingham-Stillman Approach.” This approach is often described as the grandfather of many successful multisensory
reading programs.

Literacy Reading Programs

Alphabetic Phonics

Alphabetic Phonics was developed by Lucius Waites, M.C. and Aylett R. Cox. Alphabetic Phonics is based on Orton-Gillingham techniques and emphasizes intense phonetic analysis of written language. The program is presented in a structured, multisensory sequence of alphabet, reading and spelling. Contact: Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, 222 Welborn Street, Dallas, TX 75219: 214.559.7815,

Barton Reading and Spelling System

Barton Reading and Spelling System was developed by Susan Barton. The Barton System is an Orton-Gillingham based program designed for volunteer tutors in adult literacy programs. Training is provided on videotape with fully scripted lesson plans. Contact: Barton Reading and Spelling System, 2059 Camden Ave., Suite 186, San Jose, CA 95124, 408.559.3652,

Multi-sensory Teaching Approach

Multisensory Teaching Approach (MTA) was developed by Margaret Taylor Smith. MTA is a comprehensive, multi-sensory program in reading, spelling, cursive handwriting, and alphabet and dictionary skills. Based on Orton-Gillingham techniques and Alphabetic Phonics. Contact: MTS Publications at or 877.552.1090.

The Herman Method

The Herman Method was developed by Renee Herman. Teaches decoding, sight words, structural analysis, contextual clues and dictionary skills with consistent emphasis on comprehension. A remedial reading program that can be taught by trained paraprofessionals. A phonetic, structured, sequential approach based on the Orton- Gillingham Method and specifically designed for students with dyslexia/specific reading disability. Contact: Romar Publications, 4700 Tyrone Ave, Sherman Oaks, CA 94123: 818.784.9566.

Landmark Methodology

Landmark Methodology is a structured multi-sensory reading, spelling and writing program. Contact: Landmark Outreach Program, P.O. Box 227, Prides Crossing, MA 01965, 968.236.3216,


Lindamood-Bell was developed by Patricia Lindamood and Nancy Bell. Lindamood-Bell program offers intensive treatment to develop reading, spelling, language comprehension, visual motor processing, and the ability to follow oral directions. Contact: Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, 416 Higuera, San Luis Obispo, CA 9430: 800.233.1819 / 805.541.3836,

Orton-Gillingham Method

Orton-Gillingham Method was developed by Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham. Orton-Gillingham Method was developed and published in 1935. A multi-sensory, structured reading and writing program. Contact: Academy of Orton Gillingham, P.O. Box 234, Amenia, NY 12501: 914.373.8919,

Project Read

Project READ was developed by Dr. Mary Lee Enfield and Victoria Green. Project READ is a method of teaching that is systematic, multi-sensory, concrete and involves direct instruction. It is a language arts program based on the theories of Samuel Orton. Contact: Project READ, P.O. Box 20631, Bloomington, MN 55420: 800.450.0343,

Slingerland Approach

>Slingerland Approach was developed by Beth Slingerland. The Slingerland Approach is based on Orton-Gillingham techniques. All learning takes place through the involvement of the auditory, visual and kinesthetic motor channels. It is the linkage of these channels that individuals with dyslexia often find challenging. The Slingerland Approach starts with the smallest unit of sight, sound and feeling – a single letter. Expanding upon that single unit, students are taught through an approach which strengthens inner-sensory association and enables the strong channel of learning to reinforce the weak. It is thorough and integrated, providing a complete language learning experience. Contact: Slingerland Institute for Literacy, 12729 Northup Way, Suite 1, Bellevue, WA 98005: 425.453.1190,

Starting Over Starting Right

Starting Over Starting Right employs multi-sensory phonics, whole words, and language experience techniques to teach the building of words, vocabulary, and sentences. Assessment tools are included. Contact: Knight Education, Inc., 212.769.2760,

Wilson Reading System

Wilson Reading System was developed by Barbara Wilson. The Wilson Reading System is a 12-step remedial reading and writing program for individuals with language-based learning disabilities. The system specifically teaches strategies for decoding and spelling. It also includes oral expressive language development and comprehension. Visualization techniques are used for comprehension. Based on the Orton-Gillingham teaching techniques. Contact: Wilson Language Training, 162 West St, Millbury, MA 01527-1943: 800.899. 8454,

Training Video

Dyslexia Training Program

Dyslexia Training Program was developed by the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Laboratory. The Dyslexia Training Program (DTP) + Rite Flight: A Classroom Reading Rate Program (RF Rate) and Rite Flight: A Classroom Comprehension Program (RF Comprehension) is a two-year dyslexia intervention that meets the National Reading Panel recommendations as a comprehensive Tier III reading intervention program. This video-based series provides expertise and classroom instruction delivered by a trained professional while an onsite facilitator provides attention to individual needs. he multisensory lessons target six instructional components which include both explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and spelling. For more information, go to

Note from editor: There are multitudes of materials available online regarding teaching with multisensory instruction, far too many to list here. For more ideas, search for multisensory instructional materials and/or videos on your web browser.

Download Adult Literacy Reading Programs

© 2014 Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA). LDA encourages the distribution of this information. Please provide appropriate credit if portions are cited. Information may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale.

How to teach adults to read

There are tons of apps and web-based programs that help kids learn to read, but precious few to help low-literacy adults. And it’s not due to a lack of need: One of every six adults in America–36 million people–struggle with reading and comprehension, and federal funding for adult education has plummeted 20% over the past decade.

So how do you use tech to teach reading to adults who can’t? How can design help adult learners develop skills to get better jobs? EdSurge asked adult digital education experts what they’ve discovered. Here’s what we found out:

1. Design for adults, not children

“We can’t treat them like kids,” says Matt Robinson, director of distance learning at Goodwill Community Foundation Learn Free. So, no butterflies and flowers. Instead, GCFLearnFree, which has 10 million users annually, uses original art that’s made for adults, like this grocery store scene.

2. Make it pertinent to their lives

Adult learners are trying to build skills to get a better job, so designing for their real-life challenges and ambitions is key. In educational circles, it’s is called “contextualization.” This creative job application tutorial from GCFLearnFree gives students practical experience filling out forms.

3. Respect their time

“Adult learners tend to have busy lives,” says Robinson, and often “have less time” than many other adults. So GCFLearnFree tries to keep learners engaged longer when concepts require more concentration, but cuts them loose early when an idea is quick to comprehend. And, in the interests of respecting a learner’s limited time, Robinson says, “You need to give them a user interface that works really well, that’s clean, that shows the intent, that keeps people from getting stuck or confused.”

4. Inject humor

Adult learners can be apprehensive about working on computers–but as Robinson says, “humor helps break down barriers of fear.” The GCFLearnFree team has made reading comprehension texts funny, when possible, and added humorous graphics (like this line drawing of George Washington on a laptop) that can help relax the learner and keep him or her coming back.

5. Use all available tools

People are responsive to different kinds of teaching, so GCFLearnFree uses video, sound, art, storytelling, icons and text–often all of the above–to help reinforce a concept and make it memorable. This is one funny video (combining Tips 4 and 5!) that teaches the difference between the words “literally and figuratively.”

6. Talk back to the critical internal dialogue

Adult learners can be hard on themselves! They often have a critical internal narrative that pops up when they encounter a hard academic problem, says David Goldberg of Core Skills Mastery. “They’ll often put down their pencil and tell themselves, ‘I can’t do this because I’m not smart enough, or they never taught me, or worse, they taught me and I forgot it,’” he explains. All too often, this “learned helplessness” leads a student to give up.

To redirect this mindset, Core Skills Mastery shows each student encouraging data, like this pop-up which says, “only 40% of all adults and 70% of 4-year college graduates can complete this skill.” Ideally, the data will prompt students to realize that they are not alone, they are not stupid, and that the problem is hard for most people. Goldberg says that with the right encouragement, the internal narrative can then change to, “If I spend 5 minutes on it, I can learn it, and then I can do a fist pump because I can do a skill most people can’t.”

7. Praise the effort and the process, not the skill achieved

Instead of showing simple green checkmarks for skills achieved or red “x” marks for incorrect answers, adult learning sites should “be specific in encouraging the behaviors–like persistence, confidence and self-reliance–that give rise to success,” says Goldberg of Core Skills Mastery. “It parallels best practices in parenthood and teaching.”

One way CSM encourages persistence is by temporarily guiding students to an easier problem set when they are struggling with a hard problem. This way, Goldberg says, the student will regain confidence and return to the tough problem with more grit.

8. Make the text adaptable

Adult learners may not be native English speakers or may have trouble seeing words on a screen. Dr. Jill Castek, part of the Portland State University development team of LearnerWeb recommends features that allow for simultaneous translation and font adjustments, enabling easier reading.

9. Build for the tech they have

Lots of adult learners have phones, but they don’t necessarily have laptops or computers. Gabe Martinez Cabrera, a program manager of Adult Education Initiatives at Digital Promise says, “Embrace the tech they have, don’t build for what they don’t. Adult students are often mobile but [without access to] Wifi.”

10. Make it social

The best adult learning programs build in social support with other real people. “A program where adult learners can interact with other people supports engagement,” says Dr. Castek. “We believe live and in-person connections are especially important with adult learners.” Or as Cabrera of Digital Promise says, “Use tech to the limit, then use people when tech falls short.”

A Special Message from President and CEO British A. Robinson

I hope this finds each of you healthy and well. The past few weeks have certainly been full of changes as we all settle into a “new normal.” At the Barbara Bush Foundation, we are committed to using our 30+ years of experience in family literacy to help parents and children continue to learn and grow during these extraordinary times.

Last week, our in-house team of literacy and education experts curated a toolkit to support the millions of parents who have unexpectedly found themselves in the role of teacher due to school closures. But, with 36 million American adults unable to read or write at a basic level, we know that there are many parents with their own unique educational needs. Now, more than ever, it is critical that our nation’s parents have the literacy skills necessary to support their children’s learning.

With that in mind, our team has pulled together a new toolkit, which features trusted, high-quality, free online resources for adult learners. I hope you’ll share these resources with any parents or caregivers in your life who might value the opportunity to learn alongside their children during this period of uncertainty. We’d also appreciate you helping us spread the word about the toolkit through your social media platforms and professional networks.

Together, we will get through this. Until we do, our team will continue seeking innovative ways to help families keep learning. We are rooting for you!

Wishing you continued good health,

British A. Robinson
President and CEO

PS: With schools closed, we are more committed than ever to providing hope and help to millions of families across America. If you can, I hope you’ll consider supporting our work to keep our nation’s parents and children on track for a bright future.

At-Home Learning Toolkit for Adults

ReadWorks: ReadWorks offers free content, curriculum, and tools to power remote learning resources for families. While the reading comprehension curriculum was developed with K-12 students in mind, the topics are relevant and engaging for adult learners as well. Access the resources.

Marshall Adult Education: This site features a wide variety of high quality lessons on topics relevant to adult learners, including civics, employment, housing, health, and money. The materials, combined with research-proven teaching strategies, can help adults become better readers, as well as more informed consumers, parents, employees, citizens, and community members. Visit the site.

Pumarosa: Pumarosa is an interactive, bilingual, phonics-based site designed to help adult students learn English as quickly and easily as possible. Students can both read and listen to the lessons, which use a bilingual technique specifically developed to help native Spanish-speakers master the basics of English. Start learning now.

LINCS Learner Center: Created by the U.S. Department of Education, the LINCS Learner Center connects adult learners to free online resources to help them reach life goals. Learners can choose a goal to learn how to read, acquire job skills, and more. Access the resources.

TedEd: TedEd’s award-winning education platform features a library of original animated video lessons that will spark curiosity in learners of all ages. Visit the “Discover Lessons” section to build literacy skills while learning about fascinating topics including history, psychology, and health. Visit the site.

TeachRock: TeachRock is a free, standards-aligned, arts integration curriculum that uses the history of popular music and culture to help teachers engage students. Innovative lesson plans developed by experienced educators and top experts in the field foster genuine learning in areas including social studies, language arts, geography, science, STEAM, general music and more—for learners of all ages. Start learning.

Unite for Literacy: The Unite online library provides free access to more than 400 original picture books—1/4 of which are written in Spanish. The digital books provide audio narrations in more than 40 languages, spoken by native speakers in warm, expressive voices. The languages of narration include indigenous and endangered languages along with languages most widely spoken in the U.S. These are high interest, all level books for adults and children. Visit the online library.

Looking for resources to help your children learn at home? Access our At-Home Toolkit for Children.

If you’re a member of the media or would like more information, you can reach Lauren Sproull, Vice President of Communications, at 850.562.5300 or [email protected]

You can help us solve some of our country’s most pressing issues. Learn how.

16.4% of adults in England, or 7.1 million people, can be described as having 'very poor literacy skills.' They can understand short straightforward texts on familiar topics accurately and independently, and obtain information from everyday sources, but reading information from unfamiliar sources, or on unfamiliar topics, could cause problems. This is also known as being functionally illiterate.

Many adults are reluctant to admit to their literacy difficulties and ask for help. One of the most important aspects of supporting adults with low literacy levels is to increase their self-esteem and persuade them of the benefits of improving their reading and writing.

Adult literacy statistics

Adults with poor literacy skills will be locked out of the job market and, as a parent, they won’t be able to support their child’s learning. Find out more.

These are the latest available statistics for adult literacy levels in England (2012), Scotland (2009), Wales (2010) and Northern Ireland (2012). Each nation has a different definition of basic literacy skills, so country comparisons are not possible.


1 in 6 (16.4% / 7.1 million people) adults in England have very poor literacy skills.


1 in 4 (26.7% / 931,000 people) adults in Scotland experience challenges due to their lack of literacy skills.


1 in 8 (12% / 216,000 people) adults in Wales lack basic literacy skills.

Northern Ireland

1 in 5 (17.9% / 256,000 people) adults in Northern Ireland have very poor literacy skills.

Books Unlocked

We work with the Booker Prize Foundation and National Prison Radio to engage prisoners and increase their enjoyment and frequency of reading through our Books Unlocked programme.

How to teach adults to read

Learn more

The Adult Literacy program teaches reading, writing, spelling, and math to adults who read at or below a basic skills level. This program serves approximately 50 students per year. Students come to Literacy Together because they want to improve job prospects, help their children in school, enroll in a High School Equivalency Program, and better navigate the world around them.

Although English is their native language, Adult Literacy students struggle with recognizing individual sounds, written words, and comprehending a sentence or longer passage. They comprise a diverse group in terms of educational background, socioeconomic status, personal goals, and learning styles. Many are challenged by learning differences such as dyslexia. All Adult Literacy students courageously take the step to give reading another chance. Learn more about volunteering with this program.

Read these Adult Literacy Program success stories

This video portrays some of our students. Please watch it.

Sing up to volunteer!

Instructional Tools

Literacy Together first assesses Adult Literacy students to determine their reading level, learning barriers, and personal goals. Then, students are matched one-on-one and in small groups with trained volunteer tutors who provide highly individualized instruction to meet students’ unique needs. Literacy Together trains tutors in the research-based Orton-Gillingham methodology and uses the Wilson Reading System curriculum. Tutors use a multi-sensory approach to reading – using sight, sound, touch – to make learning both fun and relevant to a student’s everyday life. Tutors often help students practice new reading skills in their day-to-day lives.

How to teach adults to read

READ/San Diego is a free literacy instruction service for adults 18 years and older. This award winning program has become a model for the country. It is staffed with literacy professionals, who work with community organizations and coordinate the efforts of volunteer reading tutors to teach adults to read and write, and improve literacy in San Diego

Regular Hours

Why Literacy Matters

How to teach adults to readIn San Diego County alone, there are over 450,000 adults who cannot read and write well enough to take care of the everyday tasks that we take for granted. That means they can’t read medicine labels, recipes or even the guide on the television. Many cannot read to their small children, which puts the children at a disadvantage when they begin school.

READ/San Diego is working every day to make a difference in people’s lives by empowering them to read. Our professional staff of literacy experts coordinates the efforts of volunteer reading tutors. They also cooperate with local adult schools, community colleges and other literacy education providers in making and receiving student referrals.

Families for Literacy Program

How to teach adults to read

In addition to providing individual one-on-one tutoring for adults, READ also conducts Families for Literacy. This program is designed to break the cycle of intergenerational low-literacy. They do this by teaching low-literate parents and caregivers with preschool children the skills they need to be their children’s first and most important teacher. Families for Literacy also provides age-appropriate books to help families build home libraries – a critical component for improving literacy for the whole family.

How to teach adults to read

See real life stories about how families’ lives have been changed:

  • Maria Federico
    Maria Federico brings her youngest children to the library twice a month to attend the Families for Literacy programs – an activity that is making a big difference for her son, Oscar Acevedo. Read more about Maria’s story (PDF).
  • Erika Sayas
    “Thanks to this wonderful program, my kids have become early readers, all of them!”Read more about Erika’s story (PDF).

Tutor Conference

How to teach adults to readREAD/San Diego hosts an annual tutor conference open to all volunteer tutors as well as professional adult teachers at the University of San Diego. This exciting event is full of workshops and lectures given by literacy experts at major leading institutions around the country.

EAEA manifesto outlines the challenges where adult education can play a key role.

New European Agenda for Adult Learning

EAEA calls for a strong adult education and learning policy at European level.

Include adult learners in Erasmus+ mobility actions – but do it right!

EAEA strongly supports the inclusion of adult learners in mobility actions in the new Erasmus+ programme from 2021 to 2027. However, first experiences from some European Member States show that the implementation of mobility actions for adult learners suffers from ‘teething problems’. We addressed this issue in our new statement, alongside a set of recommendations, to improve the programme.

Europe needs a coordinated approach to financial literacy

EAEA welcomes the Financial competence framework for adults in the European Union presented by the European Commission and the OECD as a positive first step towards the promotion of financial literacy, appreciating both the detailed account of the competences presented and the opportunity to develop targeted programmes based on the most relevant competences for certain learners. A comprehensive, integrated and holistic approach to life skills for adults in the EU is needed.

European adult learning community is ready to support refugees from Ukraine in their learning pathways

Counting on the long-standing experience of adult education actors in welcoming and empowering newcomers, EAEA reiterates the important role that non-formal adult learning and education can fulfil in supporting refugees. In our statement, we make several recommendations to policymakers for short-term, but also mid-term and long-term actions to support refugees in their learning pathways as well as to support adult learning structures in Ukraine for reconstruction and reconciliation.

How to teach adults to read


“I’ve found that even when I’ve had the most stressful day at work, seeing my reader beam with pride when he has read something makes it all disappear.”
Emma – volunteer Reading Coach with Read Easy Bristol

Volunteer at your local reading group

You’re volunteering to help people who want to take control of their lives.

Our readers have often kept their literacy struggles a secret – too embarrassed and ashamed to seek help. Their bravery in coming to Read Easy means that you can help spark the transformation in their lives.

Find out about and apply for volunteer roles in your area.

If you don’t have time to volunteer you can still support us with a donation.

As a child growing up in Jamaica, Daminan was often needed to help his grandad on his farm.

What’s involved?

How much time would I need to give each week?

Reading coaches are asked to provide two half-hour sessions each week, plus any travelling time involved. If you take up one of the many interesting roles on a local group Management Team, the time commitment will vary according to the role and is also likely to vary each week. Ask your local Volunteer Recruiter for more details.

What skills do I need to have?

For most roles, Read Easy does not insist on any particular set of skills, but looks for enthusiasm, commitment and a willingness to learn what’s needed for that role. However, skills and experience in a particular area may be useful. For brief individual role descriptions click here.

What’s the application process?

If you’re interested in a role, start by having a chat with your local Volunteer Recruiter. If you then want to proceed, there is an application form to complete, which will ask you for a couple of references, and you will be asked to attend an informal interview.

What training would I get?

Reading Coaches receive two one-day training sessions, one before they start and one a few months after starting coaching. Training and/or induction is also provided for Management Team members.

What ongoing support would I receive?

As a Reading Coach, your Coordinator and local Literacy Specialist would provide you with whatever ongoing support you needed for your coaching sessions. If you become a member of a local Management Team, you would be supported by your Team Leader as well as Read Easy UK’s Regional Adviser.

“I can fit Read Easy work around my other interests and commitments, but mainly I believe what I am doing is very worthwhile and gives me the same sort of purpose in my life as when I was working. I also enjoy being part of a team with a common aim.”