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Despite large-scale interventions, significant numbers of adults worldwide continue to have problems with basic literacy, in particular in the area of reading. To be effective, adult reading teachers need expert knowledge at practitioner level. However, practices in adult reading education vary widely, often reflecting the individual beliefs of each teacher about how an adult can learn to read. In this study, phenomenographic analysis was used to identify categories of approaches to teaching adult reading, used by a group of 60 teachers in Western Australia and New Zealand. Four approaches were identified: reassurance, task-based, theory-based and responsive. It is argued that for teachers to become effective and consistent in responding to learner needs, they must understand their own beliefs and the consequences of these. The identification of different approaches in adult reading education is an important step in this process.
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