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Adult literacy help

Many adults are reluctant to admit to their literacy difficulties and ask for help. One of the most important aspects of supporting adults with low literacy levels is to increase their self-esteem and persuade them of the benefits of improving their reading and writing. They may also need help to recognise what they can do and acknowledge improvements to their skills, however small.

Many may need support and encouragement with the process of finding and joining a class. Some local authorities and colleges use "learning champions" to reassure adults about the benefits of signing up to improve their literacy skills. Offering a range of options about how support is provided - for example, face-to-face or over the telephone, formal class or more informal, community-based learning - can also help to put learners at ease.

To find out more visit the website, or call the National Careers Service helpline on 0800 100 900. 

If the adult is employed and has access to a union, their union learning representative will be able to provide confidential advice. Information is on the Union Learn website.

You could also contact a local adult education college directly, for information on courses, or your local library, which can also provide support such as appropriate reading materials and reading groups.

Adults can also get literacy support in their role as parents, through family learning activity provided by colleges, libraries, schools and other organisations. Being able to become more involved in their children’s learning can be a powerful motivator to adults to improve their literacy skills.

Other resources available can be seen at these websites:

Other useful links are included in our resources section. View links filtered for adult literacy.


The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.