Teaching Literacy Using The Popular Education Method

Information on teaching literacy that will outline some of the basic principles used when teaching literacy using the popular education method.

Teaching adults to read is a challenging task. Many adults who cannot read are too embarrassed to come forward to get help to learn how to read. Many centres offer Popular Education literacy courses at an affordable price. In many cases the courses are given free of charge.

The Popular Education method focuses on using the participants' existing skills and life experiences as a starting point for their learning. This gives the participants more confidence because we stress that what they already know has worth and meaning.

Groups are small, informal and supportive. Desks are rarely used. Chairs are often set around a table or are simply placed in a circle so everyone is on equal footing with one another regardless of which level they are currently at in their learning.

A topic of discussion is chosen based on the skills already possessed by each participant. Key words and points are written down on a flip chart so everyone in the group can have a chance to look and see what the words look like, how to spell them, and how to read them. Naturally, there wouldn't be enough written down for a "novel" especially for beginning readers. The idea is to go slowly so no one ends up feeling intimidated by the whole learning process. These words are reviewed at the end of the session and at the beginning of the next session. Each person has the opportunity to make comments on what they have learned and what they wish to do during each subsequent session. Topics of discussion often revolve around current events or community issues such as poverty, welfare, job hunting, budgeting and single parenthood.

In some cases, people who need more specialized instruction for daily tasks such as taking the subway, reading labels or street signs are actually taught to do these things by using real objects in the classroom. (i.e. the labels on household products, or pictures of street signs)

Popular Education also focuses on helping people use their present skills and the new skills they learn within the group to improve their lives. After all, what good is learning how to read if you cannot use this skill to improve the way you live? If someone needed to find a job, he or she would be taught how to make a resumé. If a person had difficulty managing his or her money, he or she would be taught how to make a simple budget. They would receive continued assistance with their literacy skills during the process.

Support for each person is ongoing and discussion is always encouraged. Popular Educators strive to make people feel comfortable with their own style of learning. Popular Educators know that each person has a unique style of learning and that each person learns at his or her own pace. Popular Educators can also provide referrals for people in difficulty, such as the locations of food banks or shelters.

The aim is to help people learn to read, put their skills to good use in today's world, and to help give people confidence in themselves, as well as faith in their ability to go out and use their new and existing skills.

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