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How to speak to a non-reader about Alta

Thursday, October 12, 2017

After a successful student recruitment campaign, Alta registered and welcomed over 800 new students to literacy classes around the country. Walk-in students are still being accepted at select 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? In September, Alta shared some guidelines for potential situations which may be helpful when speaking to non-readers about Alta classes.

Today, the column explores two other situations which can assist.

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 2 – This situation is best if you notice the person has a spelling problem but it can be used in almost any other situation, as it is generally more socially acceptable to admit to spelling problems than reading or writing problems. This can work for both strangers you interact with and persons you may know well.

“English spelling is real tricky. I always have problems with the word (x,y,z). The good thing is that there are options out there to help adults who want to work on their spelling. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. Would you be interested in finding out more?’

Situation 3 – This is suitable for an informal talk with a friend, family member, co-worker etc. in a high paced environment.

I’ve noticed that you require some help to do X (reading-related task).

It’s not a big’s just another skill like sewing, cooking or driving. Many people have these issues and have struggled with reading for years.

If you want to work on these skills there are options out there to help. It may not be easy but it will be worth it. Would you be interested in finding out more?

If the person is interested in finding out more, tell them about Alta! Contact Alta at 624-Alta or 741-9454.


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