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How to speak to non-readers about Alta

Thursday, September 21, 2017

After a successful student recruitment campaign, Alta is excited to welcome over 800 new students to literacy classes around the country. Walk-in students are being accepted throughout the month of September at most venues and you are encouraged to share this information with persons who may need it.

Many persons know someone who needs Alta – it may be someone you work with, someone you meet while running errands or they may be a friend or family member. Fortunately, there is still space in Alta classes around the country for them but sometimes it’s a difficult topic to broach – especially with someone you may not be familiar with. How should you tell them about Alta? Over the next few weeks Alta will share some guidelines for potential situations which may be helpful when speaking to non-readers about Alta classes.

It’s important to remember that students are easily scared back into “hiding” due to the stigma of low literacy, so:

• Be discreet: Once you can, choose a private place and time to talk and stay away from the words ‘illiterate’ and ‘slow’. Use ‘difficulties with reading or writing’ or ‘improve your reading & writing’ versus ‘learn to read and write’

• Be relatable: Draw from personal challenges with mastering a new skill and show the parallels between this and the skills of reading/writing/spelling. Normalise the idea of going from a state of not-knowing to knowing.

Situation 1 – This situation is ideal for a workplace or when dealing with someone you may not know very well.

“I’ve noticed that you need some help to (insert reading related task, eg complete this form, sign your name, write report).

“Lots of times we struggle to master a task, even when it comes easy to others. I remember having difficulty with Y (insert something here, eg three-point turns, sewing, learning dance steps, reading or spelling). Would you say that’s true for you when it comes to reading/writing?

“Reading, spelling and writing are skills and some have a talent for it, others don’t – the same way some people can sing or kick a football better than others. If you don’t have a talent for reading and writing, you can still become a good at it, you just need more teaching than those with a talent for it.

“There are options out there to help adults get better at this. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. How does that sound? Would you be interested in finding out more?”

If the person is interested in finding out more, tell them about Alta! Here’s a guide if you need it:

Alta has free classes around the country for adults who want to improve their spelling/reading/writing. All the students in the class are adults and there to learn. It’s a happy space because the students are doing something positive for themselves. It’s not like the classroom you remember from school. Alta tutors are volunteers who want to be there so they take their time and ensure you understand what you’re being taught. Many Alta students are successful business people or talented individuals who just have difficulty with reading or spelling. Alta can teach you skills and show you strategies to improve your reading. Contact Alta at 624-Alta or 741-9454.


Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor-a-student. Call 621-5708 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with Alta on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: Alta TT


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