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Adult Literacy Scheme

Your local ETB can help you with reading, writing and maths


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education


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Being an adult who has trouble reading and writing can be a huge challenge. If you want to make things easier (or you know somebody else who does) there are programmes that can help. The Education and Training Board (ETB) runs an adult literacy service that helps people get better at reading and writing. It’s free and open to anyone who needs it.

Should I apply?

If you have any trouble with reading, writing or maths you can apply for help. People from all ages and all walks of life use adult literacy training. They have all sorts of reasons; some want to learn for work, others so they can help with their children’s homework. Some people do it just for self-improvement. Whatever your reasons, remember that the service is for everyone and you have a right to use it.

How to apply 

You can sign up for an adult literacy service at your nearest ETB and in some local community centres. The person in charge of adult literacy at each ETB is the Adult Literacy Officer (ALO). You can contact them and start a course at any time of the year. You can find your nearest ETB at this link.

How does does it work?

You don’t need to have finished any level of education to start. You can keep using the service for as long as you want. You can also take breaks and come back as many times as you need. After you contact the ETB, the person in charge will call you in for a meeting. They’ll ask you about your needs - there are no right or wrong answers here. After talking to you, they’ll arrange a tutor for you to meet.

ETB literacy classes are based around your needs as an individual. You and your tutor will decide together what you want to work on. You then work together as equals to improve your reading and writing skills. Classes are planned to suit you and are usually around two hours long per week. Your attendance is confidential - nobody needs to know about it except you and the ETB staff.

Tutors are trained to make sure they teach in a relaxing environment. If you aren’t happy with your tutor for any reason, talk to the person in charge of the service. This is usually the Adult Literacy Organiser. They will keep what you say between the two of you and sort out a new tutor if needed.

Other ways to improve your literacy

If you don’t want to take part in an ETB scheme for any reason, there are other ways you can improve your reading and writing. The NALA Distance Education Service uses radio, television, telephones and the internet to help people improve their literacy. The website www.literacytools.ie can also be used at any time from the comfort of your own home. If you’re a member of a trade union, ask them if they provide adult literacy classes. Many of them do, for free, to their members.

National Adult Literacy Events

The National Adult Literacy Association (NALA) runs two major national events each year. International Literacy Day is a one-day conference on the work of the adult literacy service. Literacy Awareness Week is a series of events on adult literacy all around the country. Keep an eye out for them if you’re interested in learning more about the work of NALA in Ireland.

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Published November 23rd, 2016
Tags literacy reading writing maths education classes
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

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