A new journey for Accelerated Literacy 


A literacy program designed for school children is showing promising results for Yolngu men.

Accelerated Literacy is a teaching method that teaches the ways of thinking, or cultural knowledge that underpins the meaning of text. The method has been particularly effective in rapidly improving literacy for marginalised school children.

After just three months of Accelerated Literacy teaching as part of their workplace training, participants of a pre-employment program run by mining company, Alcan, have shown a noticeable improvement in their reading and writing skills.

Fifteen Indigenous Yolngu men, aged between 19 and 41, are taking part in a training program based at the Alcan bauxite mine and refinery near Nhulunbuy on the Northern Territory’s north east coast.

As part of the program, participants learn skills for participation in the wider workforce, as well as regular Accelerated Literacy teaching to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.

Herbert Howell, Accelerated Literacy consultant with the Charles Darwin University’s School for Social and Policy Research, has spent the past year supporting and training local teachers to deliver Accelerated Literacy in an adult classroom. In addition to using narrative texts, Herbert has expanded the method to include factual texts, which are often used in vocational training programs. This has allowed the Yolngu men to receive literacy instruction as part of their workforce training.

“When the men started the course, most of them had very poor literacy skills,” Mr Howell said.

“Most of them could read only at a lower primary level or not at all. Those who could not read had little understanding of the sound-to-letter correspondence.”

But after just three months Herbert is thrilled at their progress.

“Those who could read at a middle primary or lower secondary levels are now reading at a lower or upper secondary level, and those who couldn’t read are now decoding simple words,” he said.

Cautious not to read too much into the results, he says the men will be assessed again at the seven month stage, which will give a much better indication of Accelerated Literacy’s effectiveness in improving their literacy skills.

To learn more about Accelerated Literacy, go to www.cdu.edu.au/sspr/acceleratedliteracy.htm