Lesson 3 - Characteristics of Adult Learners Illinois State Library

Cultural Sensitivity

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In addition to being aware of how adults learn, tutors must be culturally sensitive and open to the learners' life experiences. Culture is defined as: The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning.

Culturally competent communicators build positive relationships with adult learners. These relationships are built upon trust, respect, encouragement, and helpfulness. Above all else, it is essential for the tutor to be nonjudgmental toward adult learners. To examine concepts related to bridging cultural differences, remember the ETHNIC mnemonic device.

Everyone has a culture.
Take time to collect relevant cultural information.
Hold all judgments. Be careful about interpreting culturally different behavior.
Notice and negotiate differences in understanding of teaching and learning.
Involve cultural resources as appropriate.
Collaborate to develop objectives and educational strategies.

Permission was granted to use the ETHNIC mnemonic developed by Tim Brownlee and Kien Lee, KU Work Group on Community Health and Development. (2007). Chapter 27, Section 7: Cultural Competence in a Multicultural World. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas. Retrieved August 2, 2011, from the World Wide Web: http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_tools_1176.aspx.

Adult Learners - Reflective Activity

Each adult learner is an individual and should be treated individually. In addition, tutors should understand that adult learners have rights. Read more about working with adult learners in Chapter Five of Demystifying Adult Literacy for Volunteer Tutors.

Then provide a reflective summary of the information to your tutor trainer. The summary should include one brief paragraph discussing each of these topics:

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title, Adult Learners - Reflective Activity in the subject line. Copy and paste question into the body of the email. Then type in your answer and send it. Completing this assignment is a requirement of your training. Your trainer will respond to you through email.