What are the Different Types of Adult Literacy Programs?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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The inability to read proficiently can negatively impact many aspects of an adult’s life, limiting career prospects, inhibiting parenting abilities, and sometimes even making everyday tasks such as going to the grocery store difficult. Unfortunately, illiteracy is a pervasive issue that affects adults in many nations around the world. Adult literacy programs can help those with low literacy levels strengthen their reading skills, in turn empowering them. These programs are often governmentally funded, and may be offered in a one-on-one format, or may take the more traditional form of a class with multiple students. The exact content of adult literacy programs tends to vary based on students’ preexisting literacy levels as well as their specific goals.

Many adult literacy programs are governmentally funded. Such programs are often offered for free or for a nominal fee. State-funded adult literacy programs are commonly based in public buildings such as libraries or community colleges. Some privately owned learning centers also offer literacy training to adults. These programs, however, may require payment of a tuition fee as well as the purchase of textbooks.


Generally, adult literacy programs take one of two forms: one-on-one tutorial sessions or a more traditional classroom format. One-on-one tutorials are often advisable for those with very low literacy levels. As an adult’s literacy level improves, he may cease having private tutorial sessions, instead continuing his learning in a classroom among other adults who have achieved a similar literacy level. Often, program coordinators seek to protect the privacy of students in literacy classes by maintaining a certain level of anonymity.

Specific content of adult literacy programs tends to vary based on students’ preexisting literacy levels as well as their specific goals. A student with a very low literacy level, for instance, may begin his literacy education by focusing on fundamental concepts such as spelling and punctuation. As the student’s literacy level improves, he may choose to continue his training with classes that address specific types of literacy. For instance, if the student wishes to improve his employment prospects, he might take a career literacy class. This type of class may give him the knowledge he needs to successfully fill out job applications and to use a computer.

Other mid- to advanced-level adult literacy program options can include classes which prepare students to obtain a high school diploma via a qualifying examination. Also commonly offered are classes which can enhance students’ parenting skills by teaching them to successfully read basic first aid and medical instructions. Those who wish to find out about adult literacy programs in their area might consider speaking to a staff member at their local public library.


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