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Adult literacy: taking it as read

Published on 24/02/2022 by SGLAS


Image removed.If watching the recent BBC1 documentary Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 has finally prompted you to tackle your own reading issues, it’s good to know that Blackpool and the Fylde College offer an inspirational range of adult literacy programmes that will have you reading in no time.

Of course, we understand that for many people the biggest obstacle to them learning to read is not reading itself but being able to ask for help in the first place. Whilst not being able to read can sometimes feel like being in a minority of one, a staggering 16% of the UK adult population are thought to be functionally illiterate according to the National Literacy Trust with literacy rates actually falling nationwide and one in five adults currently acknowledging that they struggle to read and write.

So whilst you might have endured a lifetime of embarrassment as a result of not being able to read, it is comforting to know that there are lots of other people who are in exactly the same position as you. It’s also good to know that our tutors are very sensitive when it comes to helping people overcome what might have been decades of feeling ashamed. Joining a group of like-minded individuals all of whom are working towards the same goal and who can provide just the right kind of support and encouragement because they understand exactly what you’re going through can also be a real boost to your confidence.

As one tutor says:

“Learning to read is as much about being willing to try, make mistakes, try again, make more mistakes until you finally get it right. Being in a supportive community of students who are all willing you to succeed, makes this process so much easier as students aren’t afraid to speak up, test out what they’ve learnt and steadily make progress.

“As tutors we’re aware that some students will have been shamed at school not just by their classmates but also by their teachers. For them, the whole learning environment can feel hostile so it’s important we break down those barriers immediately and their fellow students can play a vital role in doing this.”

So what does it feel like being able to read for the first time?

This is what one student said about their experience:

“I came to college to learn to read and spell because I didn't learn at school. I can now read things in shops, outside and at home. It has given me confident that I can do it and I can learn. I can now read with the kids which is fab. Seasiders is good and its very friendly. The staff help a lot.”

Whilst people often manage to hide their inability to read even from those close to them, it can prove to be a lifelong frustration which impacts so many different aspects of everyday life. Simple activities like reading a menu, following a recipe, replying to an official letter, all require strategies to avoid ‘being found out’ so the relief of not having to do this any more must be palpable. And then, as the BBC documentary quite rightly highlights, there is the joy that comes with reading. Seeing Jay reading a bedtime story to his grandchild(ren) at the end of the programme and witnessing the sheer delight he experiences as a result, underlines why picking up the phone today and signing up to one of our literacy courses could completely change your life.

For more details about this and many other functional skills courses for adult learners, please call our course enquiries team on 01253 504343 or visit our website at