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Teaching an Adult to Read: After your First Meeting

Updated: Feb 6


Step Two!


Okay, you have had your first meeting. You have an idea of your student’s goals, a general idea of where to begin, and you have learned a little about them. The next step is to develop a lesson plan template to use as you begin to plan your sessions.


Here are things to consider when setting up a template for lesson planning:

  1. What resources are you going to use?

  2. Digital or online resources. There are many great online resources that can be used to supplement instruction. Look online for free programs that can help you accomplish your instructional goals. Things to consider:

  3. Does your student have internet access and devices that would allow independent online work at home? Do they have the time and ability to use computers or smartphones?

  4. Are there ways you can use a computer to enhance your face-to-face meetings?

  5. Is your student comfortable with computers or are they willing to learn?

  6. Are there online tutorials that can help or inspire the student?


Basic Computer Use
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b. What workbooks or other books are available that you might use? Be aware that using children’s books to teach adults can be insulting. Only use children’s books if that is the stated goal of your student to be able to read to their children.

c. Flashcards can be useful in teaching new words, the alphabet, or phonics. What do you have available, what can you create, how will you use them?

d. With beginning readers one of your first focuses should be on sight words. Adults also need a vocabulary of “safety words.” Words like danger, stop, poison, help, safe, enter, exit, help, etc, can all be very important for a beginning reader to understand. Make sure to introduce this vocabulary into your lesson plan if you think it is necessary. Pictures of signs with these words can also be helpful.


Teaching Signs
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2. Create learning blocks of time within your lesson. These days it seems like we all have shorter attention spans so take this into account as you prepare your lesson plan. Divide your time into blocks no longer than ten minutes each and plan a different activity. You might begin with a review of your last meeting, have a computer segment, work on flashcards, do a walk around looking at words and signs that surround us, maybe an inspiring or instructional YouTube session, etc. Keep the lesson lively and moving so your student does not get bored or frustrated.

3. End each session with an activity the student enjoys. The goal is to have them leave wanting to come back for more so take note of what they like to do and put that in your last time block.


This will give you a basic framework for your lesson planning. You will need to adjust as you progress with your student. Be flexible about the order of instruction methods, time allowed for each activity, etc. Pay close attention to when your student becomes mentally tired or begins to lose interest.


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