Read and Spell Blog

Computer basics for adults to help at school and in the workplace

Computer basics for adults

For adults who lack familiarity with computers, life in the modern age can be a challenge. That’s because technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: we need it for work, school, keeping in touch, day-to-day task management, remote education and even online shopping.

Being able to use a word processor is required for students and working professionals because formal assignment and written reports must be typed. Referencing and research that used to be done in a library is now largely undertaken via online searches of the worldwide web and academic databases.

You need an email address to sign up for new services, make online purchases, apply for jobs and education programs, and communicate with friends and family. Even something as simple as locating a suitable local tradesman is more efficient when done through an online search vs. looking in the yellow pages.

And while tablets and smartphones account for a large portion of our daily technology use, computers are still an important tool.

Thankfully adult basic skills courses exist to help learners achieve the tech-fluency they need to feel more comfortable using computers and many local libraries and community centers offer free introductory programs too.

Learn more about adult dyslexia

Where to find help for adult dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect an individual’s ability to correctly identify and manipulate the sounds that make up spoken language. This in turn can negatively impact on reading and spelling skills.

Dyslexic adults are not less intelligent than other people, their brains simply process language in a different way. But because not everyone who has dyslexia is aware they are struggling with a specific learning difference, some individuals may believe they are stupid, not cut out for school, or are simply not skilled enough when it comes to reading and writing.

For dyslexic children and adults who don’t get the help they need, this can lead to feelings of low self-worth and a lack of confidence in the classroom or workplace. That’s why diagnosing dyslexia is an important first step, followed by seeking out support from local groups and national organizations, such as the British and American Dyslexia Associations.

There are different types of dyslexia and no two individuals will have exactly the same needs, but with access to the right accommodations and an effective strategy program, dyslexic adults can boost literacy skills, increase confidence and gain a better understanding of their own strengths and abilities.

How common is functional illiteracy?

How common is functional illiteracy?

Functional illiteracy is different from illiteracy. Adults who are functionally illiterate have some reading and writing ability, whereas a person who is illiterate has never been taught how to read or write. Thanks to government regulations that make school attendance mandatory, there are fewer illiterate people today compared to in past centuries. However, functional illiteracy is more common than you might think.

Some estimates suggest that 1 in 7 people in the United States and the United Kingdom struggles with literacy skills. Functional illiteracy is defined by the extent to which difficulties with reading and writing prevent an adult from serving as a functioning member of society.

Literacy skills are the key to graduating high school, getting a job, pursuing further education, accessing job training and advancing in your career. You also need to be able to read and write in order to use a computer, send emails and text messages to friends and family, engage on social media, and navigate the web.

3 Causes of spelling difficulties

3 Causes of spelling difficulties

English spelling can be a source of great frustration for a child who is learning how to read and write. But when difficulties persist beyond the first few years of school, a language-based specific learning difference could be the cause of the trouble. Estimates suggest 1 in ten people struggles with some form of dyslexia, which also affects reading ability.

Dyslexic children may be able to spell a word one day and not the next and can find high frequency service words, such as prepositions, articles and conjunctions, particularly difficult to learn.

Literacy blogs for adult education teachers

5 Literacy blogs

Teachers in adult education know that every learner brings a unique set of skills to the classroom and there is no one size fits all approach. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 5 literacy blogs to help educators exchange ideas and keep abreast of the latest research findings.

One of the most important things we learn at school is how to read and write. Literacy skills allow us to be functioning members of society, working and living productive and informed lives. Everything from the directions on a bottle of medicine to a job application requires reading.

That’s why it’s crucial for adults who struggle with literacy skills to have access to education opportunities. Moreover, programs should not only provide reading instruction, but also take into account the emotional and social aspects of returning to school as a mature learner. 

When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed

When learning disabilities in adults go undiagnosed

Learning disabilities are neurological differences in the way the human brain processes, stores and communicates information. Some estimates suggest that over 10% of the world’s population is affected by a learning disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and/or attention deficit disorder (ADHD). In extreme cases, they can cause individuals to miss out on literacy skills development, particularly when schools do not recognize the symptoms early on.

For adults, having an undiagnosed learning disability can affect career choice, limit job advancement and lead to a number of psychological and emotional issues, including depression and feelings of low self-worth. This is particularly true when the person interprets his or her past educational failures as personal faults and experiences feelings of embarrassment and shame because of a perceived intellectual deficiency.

The tragedy is that with the right diagnosis, coping strategies and accommodations can be put in place to help every individual with a learning disability achieve their full potential.

For parents and teachers ideas on how to help with spelling

How to help with spelling

Being able to spell correctly depends partially on phonemic awareness, which is the ability to hear the sounds that make up words. But as a lot of English vocabulary is pronounced differently from how it is spelled, there is also a bit of memorization involved. When spelling becomes a source of difficulty or stress at school, it’s important to remind students that it is just one aspect of knowing a word.

Computers and mobile devices can help them increase their accuracy in writing and they may want to try a phonics-based program of strategy instruction to improve their skills. Additionally, learning how to touch-type is a useful intervention, particularly when specific learning difficulties like dyslexia are present. This is because typing harnesses muscle memory in the hands to encode spelling as a pattern of keystrokes.

Writing in all caps

Writing in all caps

Capital and lower-case letters can look similar, like 'O' and ‘o,’ or they can look very different, like ‘A’ and ‘a.’ Nonetheless we still recognize that they are the same letter. This is because when children first start reading and writing they learn to associate two forms with the same sound. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that upper and lower-case letters are processed by the brain in the same manner.

3 Dyslexia Strengths

3 Dyslexia strengths you should know about

People with dyslexia possess many strengths thanks to the unique way in which their brains process stimuli, including language.

Many individuals with dyslexia are right-brain dominant. 

The right and left hemispheres of the brain are organized in a slightly different way. On the right, cells are more evenly distributed (vs. in clusters).

This means connections have to cross larger distances, which helps dyslexics with big-picture thinking, spotting patterns, and taking a more open and creative approach to problem-solving.

Dyslexics are often holistic rather than linear thinkers.

While memorizing facts may not be their strong suit, children and adults with dyslexia often have the ability to integrate personal experiences with acquired knowledge to generate new ideas.

They can make great team players and be extremely creative students who are artistically gifted and have an intuitive sense of spatial organization.

That's because visual thinking and spatial reasoning are both associated with right-brain thinking.

Developing spelling skills in learners

Developing spelling skills

Spelling skills are not something people are born with – we learn to spell at the same time as we learn to read and write. For individuals who struggle with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, spelling can pose a particular challenge as it requires the ability to split words into sounds and then match those sounds to letters and letter combinations.

This is easier said than done because in English there are many ways to spell the same sound. There are also plenty of silent letters, words that break the rules, and foreign words with unintuitive spellings.

Tips for adult learners

9 Tips for adult learners

Adult learners approach education in a very different way than younger students. Many will be studying part-time as they continue to work and support their families. They tend to know more about their individual strengths and weaknesses as students, have set attitudes toward school, and be more intrinsically motivated.

An adult can bring real world experience into the classroom, which often enriches lessons. Older learners may also carry negative emotions, including reservations about entering college later in life and some fear and anxiety about being students again. However, with the right approach to study, every learner, no matter what their age or situation, can reach their full potential in the classroom.