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Adult student

Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:12 pm
by LGP
Hi. I've been wanting to start teaching adult struggling readers for a while and have just started with one today :grin: . Her daughter is struggling with reading at school a bit and she wants to help her (unfortunately I don't have space for her daughter at the moment due to school hours and no free slots with me after school). So I suggested I help her first and see if that helps them both, or at least gives her the confidence to read with her daughter, something she gets her older daughters to do at present.

I assessed her (the mum) this morning and came across some interesting things. Are these quite common in adult struggling readers?:
- poor phonics skills (blending particularly)
- poor alphabet code knowledge (especially vowel digraphs)
- word reading (via Burt Reading test) is worse on 'easier' short words than on longer, multi-syllable words. Her reading age came up as 10 years, 11 months and although her longer word reading was fairly accurate, it was slow and I'm not yet sure how well she understood them as she was working hard to sound them out.

I suspect that the complexity (1 sound=many spellings, 1 spelling=many sounds) of the alphabet code is leading to the inaccuracy of her short word reading, and that she may have a good sight memory and good guessing skills for the longer words (as well as some decoding ability).

I'd welcome any input on adult readers. I think I also need to look into vocabulary/comprehension tasks.
Thanks, Lucy

Re: Adult student

Posted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 10:34 am
by FEtutor
I hope you find teaching adult students is enjoyable and rewarding, like I did! I retired from 1:1 teaching adult beginner and struggling readers a few years ago, and still miss it.

What you have found out from your assessment checks does sound typical of most students I taught, and training in linguistic/ synthetic phonics in 2001 certainly transformed my practice. I think all adult students (and most members of the general population!) should be given a copy of the alphabetic code and an explanatory overview of how it works, and I would recommend using schemes such as That Reading Thing or Sound Reading System (or others which lend themselves to adult use). When I think of some students I wish an SP adult reading scheme such as MRI had been fully published at the time, there was good response to the few books I tried out.

I also found it valuable to explain how memory/review timing works. I used a short relaxation routine at the start of teaching sessions, if students wished, as many arrived for their teaching harassed by everyday life, or with anticipatory anxieties from their lifelong struggles trying to read a code without the benefit of a code book.

Good luck and may this student be the first of many!

Re: Adult student

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:19 pm
by LGP
Thank you Joan, that's very reassuring. I trained with Sounds-Write and I've got a small amount of adult resources but I'll take a look at the MRI books you mentioned.

We had the first lesson this week and I learnt a lot! eg. their pronunciation was sometimes poor prior to blending but then fine when situated in a word; the pace was slower than I expected and I can see how even quite basic phonics in school now is a real asset for my younger students for getting into good pronunciation/sounding out habits.

The lesson was tough I think, but they are motivated so I'll do my best to keep that going and help build up accuracy and fluency on the shorter words first.

Thanks again.

Re: Adult student

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:55 pm
by FEtutor
Sounds-Write is similar in approach to TRT, SRS and the American programme I trained in, so should be fine. I often found that auditory processing/ sound manipulation exercises could be of benefit to new students, using real or nonsense words. Some people (tutors) object to the use of nonsense words, but I found that they can free the adult of negative feelings ("I should know that! Why don't I know that!") so they can concentrate on strengthening the skills of segmenting and blending the sounds.

Re: Adult student

Posted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:19 pm
by LGP
That's good, we're doing those and I can see why nonsense words takes the pressure off the learner.