How Adult Students with Learning Difficulties are taught to Spell in Adult Literacy Classes

How Adult Students with Learning Difficulties are taught to Spell in Adult Literacy Classes

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This qualitative study will investigate the question of how adult literacy students of various ages (19 to 70 years), with learning difficulties, are taught to spell in literacy classes. I will examine strategies the tutors employ to teach spelling and if the students feel that these are effective. Firstly, I am going to justify my reasons for choosing this very specific technical skill. Secondly, I will then outline my central research question and the sub-questions that arise from it. Thirdly, I will discuss the relevance of the research publications identified to the problem of teaching adults with learning difficulties to spell and how they have helped to contributed to clarifying my research question and sub questions. Fourthly, I will look at the proposed methodology of the study and my choice of data sources and how they could further my understanding of the subject while considering the ethical issues involved and how they may affect the way the data is gathered. FinalIy, this study intends to link research to practice and be of benefit to both literacy tutors and their students.

While I believe that literacy difficulties should be looked at from a socio-cultural perspective (Green and Kostogriz, 2002), the subject of my investigation is a technical skill. Spelling can have a personal and social value as it may influence an individual’s ability to gain employment and participate fully in society. (Sawyer and Joyce, 2006). A recent Mencap survey (2012) tested Britain’s spelling ability and highlighted its poor spelling and also argued that this had implications for employment. The students I have worked with have expressed a clear desire to improve their spelling. Surprisingly, this aspect of literacy teac...

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...Online]. Available at (Accessed 16 January 2014)
Viise, N.M. and Austin, O.F. (2005) ‘Can Adult Low-Skilled Literacy Learners Assess and Discuss Their Own Spelling Knowledge?’, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 48, no. 5 [Online]. Available at
(Accessed 16 January 2014).
Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Wexler, J., Swanson, E.A., Edmonds, M. and Kim A.-H. (2006) ‘A Synthesis of Spelling and Reading Interventions and Their Effects on the Spelling Outcomes of Students with LD’, Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 39, no. 6 [Online]. Available at (Accessed 16 January 2014)

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