For adults, learning to read and write for the first time can be just as challenging as it is for children. For an adult who is interested in learning to read and write, there are steps that he can follow to reach his goal.

Be patient. The teacher and the student must realize that no one learns to read over night, but if you remain patient and persistent, over time you will both be happy with the student's progress.

Assess the level of knowledge that the learner already possesses. Determine how much of the alphabet she knows, as well as how many consonant sounds and vowel sounds she already recognizes and understands.

Select the learning materials you will use. Determine whether the learner would mind using children's learning materials or if you must use adult-oriented learning materials to hold his interest. Some examples of adult materials with simple language include magazines and books on sports, cars and fashion.

Teach the one-vowel and two-vowel sounds to the student by either writing the short and long vowel sounds down on paper or by using flash cards and holding them up. Short vowel sounds consist of one vowel letter. Long vowel sounds consist of two vowel letters. Show the student the card and then say the sound of the vowel and have her repeat after you. Once the student has mastered all of the sounds, she can move to the next level of sounding words.

Teach the student to blend consonant and vowel sounds together to make words. Explain to the student what a syllable is, so that he can learn to break the word into portions as he sounds the word. This will help the new learner to feel less intimidated by the word.

Read magazines and books to the student. Encourage her to pay close attention as the teacher reads and points to each word. This will help the new learner to recognize words by sight.

Begin to work on writing words on paper. The new learner can either use children's writing materials that encourage tracing letters and words, or he can work with his instructor to learn to write new words.

Related Articles


  • Adding a phonics-based program may be very helpful in helping your adult learner to learn to read and write.


  • If the student appears to be having a problem learning or distinguishing between letters, it may be a good idea to have the student checked for eye trouble or learning disabilities.
  • It is important to note that the same learning method is not for everyone. People are different and require different learning techniques and sometimes a combination of various learning techniques can be a very successful approach.

Things Needed

  • books
  • magazines
  • phonics cards
  • phonics program
  • alphabet cards
  • alphabet writing book
  • pencils
  • paper

About the Author

Claudette Pendleton runs a virtual company from home. She performs quality work for several companies. Her areas of expertise include transcription, elementary essay assessment, title editing, freelance writing and editing as well as website user testing and real estate. Claudette enjoys the variety of her work and has been working in these areas for over 7 years.