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Teaching Adults to Read: Education Programs and Career Info

Learn about educational programs for individuals who are interested in teaching adults to read. This article discusses educational prerequisites, program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

Adult literacy teachers help nonnative English speakers or other atypical students learn to read and write. Requirements for teaching adults to read vary substantially by program, with some requiring instructors to be state-certified instructors. Generally, adult literacy instructors have a certificate in adult education or a bachelor's degree in education. These programs allow students to explore educational technology, adult learning theories and career development training.

Certificate in Adult Education

A few schools offer certificate programs in adult education that cover topics relevant to instructing grown-up students in a variety of subjects. These programs don't emphasize literacy training specifically, but they do instruct on techniques used to teach adult students. Certificate programs generally require students to complete about 15 hours of classroom instruction.

Since many adult literacy programs are informal and run by private organizations, licensure requirements can vary substantially. Earning a certificate isn't enough to qualify someone for an elementary or secondary teaching position, but it is adequate for some adult literacy programs.

Educational Prerequisites

Certificate programs in adult education are usually designed for education professionals or people just entering the field. Generally, students who apply to a certificate program need to hold a bachelor's degree in education or be working toward one.

Program Coursework

Coursework in adult education certificate programs emphasizes theories and practices of teaching nontraditional adult students. Techniques covered are applicable to teaching several subjects, including literacy and mathematics. Some programs also include a practical element through which students complete supervised teaching exercises. The following topics are usually covered:

  • Adult education theory
  • Adult learning methods
  • Assessment of adult learning
  • Educational technology
  • Career development training

Bachelor's Degree in Education

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in education discuss current theories of curriculum design, classroom management and learning assessment. These programs do not specifically emphasize literacy instruction or adult education, but the theories and methods can be adapted to adult literacy education. Students in education bachelor's degree programs typically complete extensive classroom instruction and a supervised internship before earning a degree.

Educational Prerequisites

Bachelor's degree programs in education seek high school graduates with knowledge of several academic subjects. Applicants might benefit by taking advanced placement courses in high school English, mathematics and science. Taking classes in speech might help students improve their communication skills.

Program Coursework

Coursework in education B.A. and B.S. programs focuses on practical skills used to instruct students. Programs are often interdisciplinary, covering topics in psychology and sociology that influence educational theory. Students usually learn about the subjects listed below:

  • Teaching pedagogy
  • Educational psychology
  • Curriculum design
  • Teaching multicultural students
  • Behavior management

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that job growth for adult literacy instructors and other remedial teachers would be about 15% between 2010 and 2020. The BLS also noted that the median annual salary for these adult educators was $48,590 in May 2012.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

City- or state-run adult literacy programs typically require instructors to be certified teachers. Certification standards vary by state, but usually include holding at least a bachelor's degree and passing a state certification test. Most states offer alternative certification programs for people who have a bachelor's degree in a subject other than education.

A few adult literacy programs require instructors to hold a master's of education. Curricula for most Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs emphasize educational leadership and research, but some classes cover topics relevant to teaching adults to read.

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