How to Teach the Alphabet to Adults

Updated April 17, 2017

Teaching adults the alphabet can be a difficult process because adults may feel embarrassed that they don't already know how to read. When teaching the English alphabet, it's important not to sound degrading or insensitive. Be patient while the students learn and try to avoid exercises that make them feel like a child. With the right environment, most adults can pick up the alphabet very quickly and may even know all the letters after a few days.

Teach at whatever rate the student(s) can handle. In some cases, often with otherwise uneducated students, this means teaching only two or three letters at a time. With more motivated students, or with students who have other forms of education, the learning is likely to go very quickly.

Begin in alphabetical order. Write the shape of the letter and then make the sound. Tell your students to repeat, first drawing the shape, then making the sound. If they do not know the alphabet because they are learning a English as a second language, tell them to translate the sound into their own alphabet beside the English character.

Use the alphabet song. It's a proven fact that songs and rhymes help memory. Using the song may sound childlike but if your students are clear on the benefits, it can be a useful tool during alphabet education.

Write down the alphabet with gaps of missing letters in several different places. Tell your students to fill in the gaps as best as they are able. This helps reinforce alphabetical order.

Ask around the room and tell each student to say the next letter in the alphabet. This is good practice because it forces the student to listen to the letter that came before and then think quickly to supply the next.

Practice alphabetising with different objects or words, placing them in the correct alphabetical order. Spelling contests can also be useful tools for adults to learn the letters.


Create a safe classroom environment where the student doesn't feel embarrassed learning. Treat your students with respect and equality.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

William Carne started writing professionally in 2009 and has been published around the web, including inTravel Mag, Hack Writers and He has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in art from the University of Calgary.