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close this bookFunctional Adult Literacy (FAL) - Training Manual (DVV, UNICEF; 1996; 106 pages)
View the documentAcknowledgment
View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsUnit One: Functional Adult Literacy and Its Implications
close this folderUnit Two: Facilitating Adult Learning
View the document2.1 Characteristics of Adult Learners and Qualities of a Good Instructor
View the document2.2 Methods of Facilitating Adult Learning
View the document2.3 Communication Skills to Help Adults Learn
Open this folder and view contentsUnit Three: Facilitating FAL Classes
Open this folder and view contentsUnit Four: Organising and Managing FAL Programmes
Open this folder and view contentsUnit Five: Integrating Functional Adult Literacy in other Development Programmes
Open this folder and view contentsUnit Six: Monitoring and Evaluating Functional Adult Literacy Programmes
View the documentAnnex 1 - Sample Lesson Plan for Luganda Learners
View the documentAnnex 2 - Sample Lesson Plan for Runyankore/Rukiga
View the documentAnnex 3 - Sample Lesson Plan for Lusoga

2.1 Characteristics of Adult Learners and Qualities of a Good Instructor

a) Introduction:

Many adult literacy programmes often teach adults in the same way as children are taught. This topic highlights the most important characteristics of adult learners as well as qualities of a good instructor which must be borne in mind while handling adults in training programmes.

b) Objectives:

By the end of the topic, the participants should be able to:


• describe the main characteristics of adult learners.
• identify the qualities of a good instructor.
• explain the implication of applying each characteristic.

c) Time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

d) Learning Aids: Hand-outs on characteristics of adult learners, newsprint, blackboard, markers, chalk, role cards, etc.

e) Procedures and Learning Points:

1) [30 min.] Ask the participants to identify the characteristics of adult learners.

Learning Points:

Some characteristics related to an adult as an individual:


- slowness in learning.
- hate being blamed or ridiculed.
- forgets quickly.
- requires recognition and respect.
- tends to be shy.
- needs to be acknowledged.
- loses temper quickly,
- needs closer and personal attention.

Those related to the adult’s experience:


- Has a lot of knowledge through past interactions.
- Prefers to be involved in planning activities.
- Prefers to share, exchange ideas and experiences.

Those related to what should be learned:


- Prefers to learn things related to key interests.
- Requires learning for quick results.
- Cannot sustain learning interests for longer time.
- Prefers to learn new areas and skills.

Those related to time when different activities are performed:


- Prefers to learn things related to current concerns.
- Likes to learn those things that do not hinder current concerns.

To be able to facilitate well, the necessary attitudes and skills are vital.


(Adapted from UCBHCA: Training of Facilitators Manual).

It is essential for the trainers to have an open and friendly relationship between themselves and the learners based on respect and equality. This brings about an atmosphere of respect, acceptance and encouragement where people feel free to ask questions and share ideas.

This creates an atmosphere which makes learning interesting and worthwhile and also encourages the learners to decide what topics to discuss. In this way, the topics discussed are relevant and useful to the learners.

2. [40 min.] Use two role plays followed by a discussion.

Role Play One: Have one participant to act as an instructor with “a group of learners” in class. Let him/her be rude to and disrespectful of the adult learners. Instead of learning from the experience of learners, he is totally negative of their contributions. The learning situation should be very poor indeed - poor physical structure, poor seating arrangement, etc.

Role Play Two: Another participant plays the role of a good instructor - ready to share with the learners in what they contribute, is respectful, asks them what they want to learn, and abides by the previous characteristics already mentioned in the brainstorm.

Then have a discussion on the best learning situation conducive to adult learning based on the two role plays.

Learning Points:

Instructor must develop qualities such as being:


- knowledgeable about the subject matter.
- able to set a conducive physical learning environment.
- well-dressed, composed and approachable.
- audible and uses simple language.
- conversant with the learners’ needs and problems.
- able to improvise learning materials and equipment.
- able to use participatory techniques of instruction.
- able to have positive attitude towards development of the community.

f) [20 min.] Assessment:

Participants are asked how the mentioned characteristics facilitate or discourage adult learning.

g) Follow-up:

Ask participants to design tools (personal assessment forms) which they will use in improving their performance like the one below:

Date: _______________________


Name of Instructor: ________________________


Class: __________________________

No. of Learners: ________


• Audibility or Clarity

Good √



• Time consciousness

Good √



• Personal appearance


Fair √


• Knowledge of Subject matter

Good √



• Involving participants



Poor √

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