of the Work:
Adult literacy and remedial education teachers instruct adults and
out-of-school youths in reading, writing, speaking English, and
math skills to equip them to solve problems, improve their job opportunities,
and further their education. The instruction provided by these teachers
can be divided into three principal categories: adult basic education
(ABE), which is geared toward adults whose skills are either at
or below an eighth-grade level; adult secondary education (ASE),
which is geared towards students who wish to obtain their General
Educational Development (GED) certificate or other high school equivalency
credential; and English literacy instruction for adults with limited
proficiency in English. Many students in these adult education classes
traditionally have been those who did not graduate from high school
or who passed through school without acquiring the knowledge needed
to meet their educational or career goals. Increasingly, students
in these classes are immigrants or other people whose native language
is not English. Educators who work with adult English-language learners
are usually called teachers of English as a second language (ESL)
or teachers of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL).
basic education teachers teach basic academic courses in mathematics,
languages, history, reading, writing, science, and other areas,
using instructional methods geared toward adult learning. They teach
these subjects to students 16 years of age and older who demonstrate
the need to increase their skills in one or more of these subjects.
Classes are taught to appeal to a variety of learning styles and
usually include large-group, small-group, and one-on-one instruction.
Because the students often are at different proficiency levels for
different subjects, students’ skills must be assessed beforehand.
This assessment may be performed by the teacher, but is often performed
by another member of the program staff. In many programs, the assessment
is used to develop an individualized education plan for each student.
Teachers are required to formally evaluate students periodically
to determine their progress and potential for advancement to the
next level. However, they informally evaluate their progress continuously.
in adult basic education may assist students in acquiring effective
study skills and the self-confidence they need to reenter an academic
environment. They also may encounter students with learning or physical
disabilities that require additional expertise. These workers should
possess an understanding of how to help these students achieve their
goals, but they also may need to have the knowledge to detect challenges
their students may face and provide them with access to a broader
system of additional services to address these challenges.
secondary education or GED teachers provide help in acquiring the
necessary knowledge and skills to pass the test required to earn
a GED. Earning a GED requires passing a series of five tests in
reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies; most
teachers instruct students in all subject areas. To help students
pass the tests and succeed later in life, teachers not only provide
subject matter instruction but also focus on improving the communication,
information-processing, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills
necessary for further education and successful careers.
teachers or English Language Learners Teachers help adults to speak,
listen, read, and write in English, often in the context of real-life
situations to promote learning. Students learn writing and conversational
skills or may focus on learning more academic or job-related communication
skills depending on their skill level. ESOL teachers work with adults
from a wide range of backgrounds. They need to be prepared to work
with learners of all ages and from many different language backgrounds.
Some students may have extensive educational experiences in their
native countries, while others may have very little. As a result,
some students may progress faster than others, so teachers must
be able to tailor their instruction to the needs and abilities of
their students. Because the teacher and students often do not share
a common native language, creativity is an important part of fostering
communication in the classroom and achieving learning goals. These
workers teach students from a variety of cultural backgrounds and,
therefore, they must be sensitive to differences in culture and
at all levels assist their students with finding additional resources
in the community. This may include helping them find community resources
such as healthcare, job placement agencies or other educational
institutions for additional education, like community colleges or
other postsecondary institutions.
adult literacy and remedial teachers must prepare lessons beforehand,
do any related paperwork, and stay current in their fields. Attendance
for students is mostly voluntary and coursework is rarely graded.
Because computers are increasingly being used to supplement instruction
in basic skills and in teaching ESOL, many teachers also must learn
the latest applications for computers in the classroom.
Because many adult literacy and remedial education teachers work
with adult students, they do not encounter some of the behavioral
or social problems sometimes found with younger students. Adults
attend by choice, are highly motivated, and may bring years of experience
to the classroom—attributes that can make teaching these students
rewarding and satisfying. However, some students may have had difficult
experiences learning particular subjects or material in the past
that creates roadblocks to learning that teachers must work to overcome.
Also, many adult education programs are located in cramped facilities
that lack modern amenities, which can be frustrating for teachers.
number of these teachers work part time. Some have several part-time
teaching assignments or work full time in addition to their part-time
teaching job. Classes for adults are held on days and at times that
best accommodate students who may have job or family responsibilities,
so evening and weekend work is common.