Using learning materials that are adult-oriented and relevant to learner goals and needs is important for learner retention. Practitioners should use a wide variety of relevant resources that are geared to adults.
Unfortunately, it can often be hard to find adult-oriented learning materials for low level learners.
Some good resources do exist, however. It is just a matter of knowing where to find them. There are many ways to gather effective learning materials. Community Literacy of Ontario has listed just a few of these ways here.
- Program-based Learning Materials. Your literacy program probably has tried and true learning materials. Other programs have also developed some great material over the years, and most literacy programs are willing to share, so ask around!
- Adapt your own materials. Since all materials should be based on the needs and goals of adult learners, adapt learning materials suited directly to their individual needs. For example, complex documents can be rewritten using plain language. Also, it isn't necessary to tackle an entire document at once. You can work on individual sections. For example, you can use just the table of contents to learn how to locate important information. Or on an application form, you can just focus on the personal information section. Be creative!
- Talk to your regional literacy network. Ontario's regional literacy networks are a wonderful source of information and resources. Most have built up a library of various literacy resources and they are eager to help.
- Talk to other literacy practitioners. Effective learning materials can be shared at regional or provincial meetings and conferences or at Literacy Services Plan meetings. Or, simply call or email your colleagues. Working in a caring profession is useful – literacy practitioners are usually extremely helpful to their colleagues!
- Talk to your local library about what material they have for low level adult readers and suggest reading materials or places to order such resources. Libraries are naturally concerned with public access to books.
- The National Adult Literacy Database (www.nald.ca) provides diverse online resources for learners and practitioners. NALD's resources are easy to find in their searchable online database and these resources are from across Canada and around the world.
- Visit the website of Laubach Literacy Ontario to order learning materials from the highly acclaimed “Voyager”, “Challenger” and “Laubach Way to Reading” series. Please visit: www.laubach-on.ca/ and click on “Bookstore.”
- AlphaRoute is an online literacy learning environment developed by AlphaPlus Centre. AlphaRoute has four separate but virtually linked learning areas, one for each of the four streams of Literacy and Basic Skills delivery agencies in Ontario: Anglophone, Deaf, Native and Francophone. AlphaRoute features a variety of learning exercises for all levels. It allows learners to learn computer skills at the same time as they are enhancing their literacy skills. AlphaRoute is a self-directed learning environment but it can also provide feedback from mentors. Please visit: http://alphaplus.ca/alpharoute.html.
- The Learning Edge is a project of the Wellington County Learning Centre. The Learning Edge is a highly rated online newspaper for adult learners packed with interactive learning activities. Check out: http://thewclc.ca/edge/. The Learning Edge is also available via AlphaRoute.
- As well, computer-based learning on CDs can be valuable for some learners. Try out programs such as “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing”, “Money Matters,” “Measuring Up”, and the “Everyday Living” software (Math for Everyday Living, How to Write for Everyday Living, How to Read for Everyday Living, etc.). Again, search the Internet and talk to your fellow literacy practitioners to find out your options!
- The Golden Oak Reading Program is another great resource for adult learners. This award is sponsored by the Ontario Library Association and it provides new adult readers with the opportunity to read specially-chosen Canadian books geared to them. They can read the books by themselves, with their tutors, or as part of a reading group. Readers can also share their thoughts in an online discussion. The winning author is chosen based on the ratings given by the readers. The awards are presented in June of each year. For more information, please visit: www.accessola.com/reading.
- Grass Roots Press provides a variety of adult literacy resources for practitioners and adult students: www.literacyservices.com.
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