Adult Literacy FAQ

 Q1: Need help reading and writing? 

A: Classes are provided through local ETB's for adults who need help with basic skills like reading, writing, spelling and maths. English as a Second Language and basic computer skills are also taught. Classes are usually small groups or one to one tuition.

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 Q2: What courses are available in Adult Literacy.

A: There are may courses in Adult Literacy to choose from around the country. To view these courses click here.

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 Q3: What is NALA?

A: NALA stands for the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). It is an independent membership organisation and is a charity. NALA  has over 600 members and has been in existence since 1980 and is committed to making sure people with literacy difficulties can fully take part in society and have access to learning opportunities that meet their needs. To view the NALA website click here

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 Q4: What is literacy?

A: Literacy is defined as listening and speaking, reading, writing, numeracy and using everyday technology to communicate and handle information. Literacy includes more than the technical skills of communication: it also has personal, social and economic dimensions. Literacy increases the opportunity for individuals and communities to reflect on their situation, explore new possibilities and initiate change.

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 Q5: How important are good literacy skills?

A: Literacy and numeracy skills are part of everyday life. Think of all the notices and signs around us, how we use money every day, use the internet and send text messages. Everywhere we go we are faced with text, numbers and technology.

Literacy has an important role for the individual, the worker, the family member and the citizen. Most people have some literacy and numeracy skills, but they can vary in different situations. For example, a person might have high levels of literacy in completing a form but low levels of literacy when figuring out the instructions for using the DVD player.

Those with significant literacy difficulties are likely to have difficulty carrying out day-to-day talks that involve literacy. These might include:

• writing a shopping list,
• reading a health and safety notice, or
• filling in a driving licence application form.

Literacy is clearly linked to economic development and employment, it must not be limited to issues of economics. Literacy is deeply connected with the rights of individuals and communities: it is about their right to have a voice in society; to continue and extend their education; to read and to be read.

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 Q6: How long will it take for me to learn how to read and write?

A: This is a hard question and depends on different factors such as:

• how much you can read and write or work with numbers now
• how much effort you put in
• how much help you get
• how good that help is.

An important English report said that a student would need many years to get a basic level. In the USA, research shows that between 550 and 600 hours of instruction are needed to becme fully literate and numerate.

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 Q7: Why should I return to learning?

A: Returning to learning has many benefits. You will improve your skills but also gain confidence to go on to learn new ones. It means hard work but it is a great experience that opens up a whole new world in a friendly and relaxed environment. It's nothing like going back to school, because everyone learns at their own pace and there aren't any exams at the end though you can go on and work towards a qualification if you want to.

Throughout Ireland, lots of people are returning to learning and brushing up on their reading, writing and maths skills. They are people who want to catch up on the skills they may have missed at school, workers who would like to go for promotion (but don't have the confidence to sit an exam) as well as those who would simply like to write a letter or send an email.

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 Q8: Are adult education classes only on during the daytime?

A: No. There are classes during the day and every evening.

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 Q9: How is adult literacy financed in Ireland?

A: National Development Plans:

The National Development Plan 2000-2006, provided €93.7 million to the National Adult Literacy Programme in line with its commitment to provide full and diverse education and training opportunities, particularly for those who are socially disadvantaged.

The National Development Plan 2007-2016 has committed €2.2 billion for the further education sub-programme with priorities on addressing low literacy levels in the adult population and the large number who have not completed upper secondary.

It also made commitments to reduce the numbers of children with serious literacy difficulties in primary schools in disadvantaged areas by half, from 30% to 15%.

The Department of Education and Science:

The Department of Education and Science funds the bulk of the further education sector through the Education and Training Boards throughout the country.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment:

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment funds workplace basic education programmes.

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