Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Volunteer with the Illiterate

Literacy Volunteer Training and Duties

Before you start sounding out syllables with a student, most literacy organizations require you to go through an orientation and training program that lasts 12 to 21 hours. The training and materials are usually free and offered on weekends.

The training program will include topics like sensitivity training, designing lesson plans, goal setting, dyslexia and the most effective methods for teaching word identification, vocabulary and writing.

Because most illiterate adults have spent years trying to cover up the fact that they don't know how to read, the sensitivity training is designed to help you deal with any shame, frustration or negativity about school that comes up during your tutoring sessions.

The instruction on lesson plans will give you an idea of how to structure a tutoring session, including what workbooks to use depending on the student's reading level or learning disability and how to keep your lessons lively and fresh.

Before getting started with a new student, it's important to set goals by asking what the student wants to accomplish by improving his or her reading and writing. In some cases, it may be to take a driver's test. Others may want to be able to fill out a job application or be able to help their children with their homework.

You can incorporate those goals into your tutoring sessions by spending some time every meeting working on that specific project, such as spending 10 minutes reading the driver's license manual to prepare your student for the test.

You'll also learn techniques for teaching things like phonics, sight words, vocabulary and comprehension.

Read on to find out what requirements you need to meet to become a literacy volunteer.