Teaching Strategies that Motivate English Language Adult Literacy Learners to Invest in their Education: A Literature Review

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Deborah Severinsen
Lori Kennedy
Salwa Mohamud


Canadian English language programs have seen a recent increase in enrolment by English as a Second Language adult literacy learners. To date, minimal research has been conducted with these learners, leaving literacy teachers with little guidance. In our literature review we found that, because learners often lose motivation due to their lack of or limited education, building motivation and investment must be at the heart of lesson design when teaching adult literacy learners. Thus, we adopted a transformative and post-structuralist framework to extend proven sociocultural theories to the adult literacy learner population. Our article reviewed past literature, incorporated the autobiographical narratives of experienced literacy teachers and provided six teaching strategies for increasing investment and motivation in adult literacy learners: providing relevance, addressing settlement needs, incorporating life experiences, encouraging learner autonomy, promoting collaborative learning, and building self-efficacy. Our article will demonstrate that further research is required in the arena of adult low literacy English language learners.

motivation, investment, post-structuralist and transformative framework, teaching strategies, ESL adult literacy learners, limited formal education, English language learner, literature review.

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