Learning Progressions for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (background)


Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Tertiary Education Commission
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

This report provides the theoretical and research base behind the Learning Progressions for Literacy and Numeracy and the allied resources. It first considers the nature of adult learners and learning. It addresses ESOL learners and their idiosyncratic needs due to their cultural knowledge and language proficiency, and indicates that the Learning Progressions are not ESOL progressions. The report focuses on socio cultural practices, vocabulary, critical thinking. It provides the research bases for Listen with Understanding and Speak to Communicate; Read with Understanding, Write to Communicate, and Numeracy. There are over 160 citations of research to back up the Progressions texts. The Appendix provides a handy table that indicates the skills of native speakers and those for ESOL literacy learners for reading and writing including:

  • General
  • Read-decode
  • Read-comprehend
  • Write-encode
  • Write-plan and compose; revise and edit.

The website has downloadable companion pieces:
Teaching Adults to Read with Understanding: Using the Learning Progressions
Teaching Adults to Write to Communicate: Using the Learning Progressions

Required Training
None, however, this resource would lend itself well as a study guide or study circle. 
What the experts say

This document was written to provide the theoretical and research base behind the Learning Progressions for Literacy and Numeracy developed by the New Zealand government. Those Learning Progressions documents are themselves very useful. However, the potential value of this theoretical survey goes beyond that particular purpose. It would be an excellent study guide for instructors interested in developing their understanding of the research. It would be useful as research background for other literacy programs, not just the New Zealand program. It might even be useful with some graduate students to give them a broad perspective on the field.

It provides a relatively brief summary of important theories and research in literacy and numeracy in a form that is accessible to practitioners without talking down to them. It also integrates theory and research on oral language, reading, writing, and numeracy. These areas are too often separated in practice.

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