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Adult learners who “graduate” reluctantly from literacy programs

Uncertainty; arrows pointing in different directions.
Uncertainty; arrows pointing in different directions.Jorg Greuel/Digital Vision/Getty Images

At some point, adult learners in intermediate- and advanced-level literacy classes will gain as much English language learning as their programs can provide and “graduate.” Although this is the goal of everyone concerned—learners, educators, and programs—some adult learners graduate reluctantly. They do not feel ready.

In fact, some adult learners make very little progress toward their language learning goals by the end of their final term. This occurs for any number of reasons (e.g., absenteeism, superficial classroom participation, no practice outside of the classroom). However, keeping them enrolled in the same adult literacy program at the same level year after year is not beneficial.

Adult learners who feel shaky about their English proficiency after graduating should take advantage of available resources. The adult literacy programs that have case management counselors and partnerships with other social services agencies, employers, and academic institutions are better equipped to support adult learners who want additional training or want to transition to postsecondary education, if they have a GED. These programs provide counseling in career exploration, financial aid workshops, and time and stress management.

Finally, adult learners could join English conversation groups to practice their English-speaking and comprehension skills (e.g., at Brooklyn Public Library). They could also enroll in other literacy programs such as those offered by CUNY Adult Literacy/GED Program to continue their language learning.