APPENDIX A - INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR INITIAL
It is expected that the initial interview would be done
over several sessions. It is not expected that you would use every question in
every section. The questions are only samples of the kinds of questions that
you could ask.
The instructor can start the interview by talking about the program and how
it is different from other "school programs." The instructor should
talk about how important it is to find out as much as possible about the learner
so that materials and learning activities can be, selected that reflect his/her
needs, interests, and learning style.
The instructor should talk about how they will work together to set learning
goals, choose materials and decide how to measure progress.
The learner needs to know that they will make frequent checks to see how
well things are going and that plans and goals can be changed or adjusted
whenever they decide that it is appropriate.
It is important at this time to encourage the learner to ask questions about
the learner-centred approach so that the role the learner is to play in his or
her own learning will be better understood.
AFTER THIS INFORMATION SHARING, IT SHOULD BE EASY TO START A DISCUSSION ON
THE FOLLOWING TOPICS:
TOPIC A: EDUCATION/TRAINING
The following questions are a guide to questions you might ask learners
about their previous learning experiences.
Tell me something about your school years:
- Where did you grow up?
- Did you go to school there?
- What was school like for you?
- Did you have any specific difficulties?
- What were they?
- Did you get any special help?
- What did you like best about school?
- How were you taught to read and write in school?
- Why do you think you didn't learn?
- Did you miss a lot of school? If so, why?
- Did you change from school to school? If so, why?
- What grade did you finish?
- When did you leave school?
- Why did you leave?
- Did you speak the same language at home and at school?
- Did anyone else in your family have difficulty in school?
Questions to ask non-Native speakers of English and immigrants:
- What is your first language?
- How old were you when you learned to speak English?
- When did you come to Canada?
- Did you have a chance to go to school in your native country?
- If so, for how many years?
- Do you read and write in your own language?
- What language do you speak at home?
2. Adult Education:
Have you ever been to classes for adult education before? If so,
- Where have you been?
- When did you go?
- Why did you go?
- What was it like for you?
- What did you like best about that schooling?
- How do you feel about coming back to school now?
TOPIC B: LEARNER NEEDS
The following statement and questions could be used to begin a discussion
about the kind of supports the learner might need, it also encourages the
learner to begin to think about ways that he/she could assume ownership for
his/her own learning.
Some adults really want to come to class and improve their skills, but
things get in the way. Some of the things that come up are:
- problems with transportation
- child care
- looking after other family members
- getting sick a lot
- having problems with drugs or drinking
- working long hours
- too much going on at home.
- What kinds of things do you think might make it hard for you to come to
class and study?
- How much time and effort do you think you can give to learning now?
- What do you think you could do to make it easier for yourself to come to
all the classes and study?
- What can we do to make it easier for you to study and come to all the
- help figure out a bus route
- find information on child care
- fill out forms...
- Can you read and write (study) where you want to at home?
- Can you read and write (study) when you want to at home?
- What changes can you make to help you read and write (study) when and where
you want to?
- 8. Have you ever had any of the following physical problems: poor eyesight,
hearing loss, speech difficulties?
- If so, how old were you when the problem was found and what was the
- Do you have any other physical or health problems that might affect
TOPIC C: ACQUIRED SKILLS
A discussion about work experience and literacy tasks that the learner is
currently performing will provide information about skills and strategies that
the learner can build on. It will also help the learner recognize his strengths
- Do you have a job now?
- If so, what kind of work do you do?
- If not, what kind of jobs have you had?
- Do you need to use reading and writing at work?
- What reading and writing do you do at work?
- How are you coping with these tasks?
- Do you do any reading on your own now?
- What kinds of things do you read at home, in stores, on the street?
(examples: TV schedule, mail, newspapers, stories to children, labels, street
- Do you do any writing on your own?
- What kinds of things do you write? (examples: shopping lists, cheques,
- How do you feel about your spelling?
- How would improved reading, writing and spelling skills help you at home
and at work?
TOPIC D: GOALS
- What are your educational goals?
- What are your work/career goals?
- What is your most important reason for wanting to learn to read, write and
- What are some things that you want to do right now that being able to read
and write better will help you to do?
This a good point at which to conclude the first
portion of the initial interview. You could now do a reading and writing
assessment with the learner to get more specific information about skill levels
and strategy use before going on to set definite learning and instructional
Procedures and tools for doing the assessments are in Appendix B.
After the reading and writing assessments it would be useful to continue
with the interview and engage the learner in a discussion about the skills and
strategies the learner uses and \or needs for successful reading, writing
spelling and learning.
TOPIC E: CONCEPTS ABOUT READING AND WRITING THAT THE LEARNER HAS
- What do you think you need to learn to improve your reading and writing?
- What do you do when you are reading and you come to a word you don't
- What do you do if you don't understand what you have just read?
- What do you do if you don't know how to spell a word that you want to use
in your writing?
- What do you do if you have to write something and you are not sure how to
- What do you think will help you learn to read and write better?
- How did you learn to do something or memorize something? -- (it's a good
idea to use a specific skill like driving the car as an example.)
TOPIC F: LEARNING STYLES AND PREFERENCES
Information about the learner's style and preference for learning can be
obtained through a discussion, or by using the questionnaires and checklists
included in Appendix D. The learner may need assistance with these forms.
The following questions can also help identify learning styles and
- Do you like to work by yourself or with other people?
- How do you learn best? Alone? With other people? With no noise? With
music or with the TV on?
- Where do you learn the best?
- When do you learn the best?
- What makes it difficult for you to learn something.?
- What do you like to do when you read and write? (take regular breaks?
nibble on snacks? smoke? listen to music?)
- What do you need to do to remember something?
- Do you understand something easier if you hear about it? see it written
down? use the word or idea yourself?
- How do you feel about making mistakes when you are learning something new?
- How do you like to have your mistakes corrected? figure it out yourself?
have the teacher correct you? ask another student to correct your work?
- Think of a recent learning experience that was good and one that was bad.
What made the good experience good? What made the other experience bad?
- How do you like to find out how well you are doing?
- What would you like the instructor to do to help you learn?
- What kinds of things do you like to do in a group?
- What would you do figure out how something like a machine works? (ask
someone? read about it? take it apart? watch someone else take it apart? other?)
TOPIC G: INTERESTS, ACTIVITIES, HOBBIES
Engage the learner in a conversation about favourite recreation, sports and
leisure activities. Talk about any organizations or groups that the learner
belongs to. Talk about the kinds of things that he/she likes to learn, watch on
TV or read about. Also ask about the things that he/she would like to read and
write about in class.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SAMPLE QUESTIONS THAT CAN BE USED TO INITIATE THIS
CONVERSATION. YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO USE THE INTEREST INVENTORY INCLUDED IN
APPENDIX D. IF YOU USE THE INTEREST INVENTORY, YOU MAY NEED TO READ IT TO THE
LEARNER AND RECORD THE ANSWERS.
- What kinds of activities do you like to do the most?
- What kinds of activities don't you like to do?
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
- What is the best holiday you ever had?
- If you could spend a whole day doing anything you wanted, what would you
- Tell me about someone you really admire?
TOPIC H: ATTITUDES AND READING HABITS
The following questions taken from Effective Literacy Assessment by
Sarrancino, Herrmann, Batdorf and Garfinkel can be used to engage the learner in
a discussion about reading attitudes and habits. In addition, two checklists on
attitudes and habits have been included in Appendix D.
- Do you read every word in a piece of reading material no matter what it is?
- Do you read everything at the same speed?
- When you read to yourself, have you ever noticed that you move your lips?
- Do you tend to avoid reading if you can get the same information in another
- Do you feel it is necessary for you to read things over more than once?
- Do you skip graphs, charts, pictures, or diagrams in reading material?
- Do you often read a page and then realize that you really do not
know what you have read?
- Do you believe that you must never skip any portion of a reading
- Do you read any newspaper or magazine on a regular basis?
- Do you believe that understanding what you read is more important than how
fast you read?
- Can you remember the main point or the plot of the last book you read?
- Do you believe that people with large vocabularies are better readers than
people with limited vocabularies?