WMCETT and the Essential Skills Resource Centre (ESRC) at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Warwick ran a Word Level Training day for adult literacy and functional skills tutors.
The aim was to allow them to explore ways of supporting and developing some word level skills. The morning session, run by WMCETT’s Priority Area Co-ordinator for Skills Elaine Goodall, from ESRC, looked at spelling skills, exploring the myths and misconceptions around spelling and looking in detail at ways to develop learners’ spelling skills and knowledge. Participants were asked to bring along a word they had had difficulty spelling or some words their learners had trouble with so they could try out some practical strategies.
In the afternoon they looked at using phonics to teach reading to adults, exploring the issues and difficulties as well as identifying good practice in using a more structured approach. Lucy Pates from Leicester College joined the session to share her experience of using a structured phonic approach to teach adults to read.
Around 20 people attended each session, from a mixture of colleges and local authority adult and community learning services around the Midlands.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive with the majority of people finding it very useful and enjoyable, and with comments that they had learned new strategies to work with learners on their individual spellings. Others said they had learned to “try and give useful tips individually – be more aware of who is audio/visual aware”, and “to get learners to highlight the specific errors and develop a personal strategy for addressing it that is relevant to them.”
There were also comments about what they will do in future: “Each method was very helpful; I will try all the activities” and “I will try harder next year with the weaker spellers – in a big group it is tempting to give up!”
The teaching in the afternoon session was also praised: “It was wonderful to hear the tutor talk so positively about this system; I feel inspired to review my practice and try some of these methods.”