“No one’s ever taught me English like this before!”
Ground Level Literacy brought literacy teaching to two formerly homeless men in 2017. The men became tenants of Common Ground Tasmania, a dignified apartment facility to accommodate people who have been sleeping rough.
The pilot program involved the Common Ground Tasmania (CGT) concierge team intentionally supporting the men, whose skills on the literacy continuum were at a level below that which is needed for managing the reading and writing demands of daily life.
The CGT support workers were specifically coached by a speech pathologist, in the presence of the tenant with whom they were each paired. They were coached to deliver incisive literacy-skills practice, to develop the tenant’s literacy skills in accord with that tenant’s specific learning profile.
The aims of this project were to build the participants’ access to skills and information, personal growth, aspiration, independence and dignity. And secondly, we wanted to gather information about what works, and what obstacles exist, when providing such intervention in a residential setting for the formerly chronically homeless.
Both men entered the program with skills low on the literacy continuum. They made the kind of fabulous gains we now expect when skilled, direct instruction, with warmth, kindness and no judgment are packaged up together with enjoyable, regular practice.
The men learned much, and so did we.
Comments from the men about the program:
- “I want to improve my literacy and help my kids with homework – especially through high school; because I didn’t have anyone to help me”.
- “I’ve noticed that reading relaxes you. It kinda gets your mind off things!”
- “Yeah, I got my library card. I just went and got it.”
Comments from the Common Ground Tasmania support workers about the program:
- “I’ve learned so much. I had no idea all of this was behind reading. But when you explain it, I can see why”.
- “Obviously, going through the program processes with him has contributed to relationship building as well. This has definitely led to, not just me, but other members of support, having a greater understanding of who T1 really is. So we can then help and support him in other areas of his life – as well as literacy.”
- “I can’t see any failing in what T1 has learned. He’s come from a very low level to now reading so well – and he still wants to do more. He’ll sit up at night and write things. How can that not be a huge success?!”
Read the report here.
Much gratitude to our partner in the pilot, Common Ground Tasmania, and of course, to the men.