An update: LLN links for vocational trainers


Why this post?

If you are a VET practitioner, you will know of the many recent and ongoing changes to Australia’s VET sector.  As a result, there have been changes to how to access LLN (and foundation skills) information online.

In this post, we list up-to-date links for LLN and foundation skills information, resources, and tools. 

Of course, we also hope you’ll visit the resource links pages of our website, which have the links we’ll post here, and much more!

All links listed below are current at the time of writing.

See LLN teachers in action – video links

Ideas that work

Ideas that Work is an organisation that produces a range of professional development videos for use in a variety of industries.  A series of short LLN-targeted videos, called What Works for LLN is available for free online viewing.

What Works for LLN videos offer something for everyone—for trainers and assessors, for other RTO staff, for LLN specialists, and for people studying how to address LLN in training.

National Foundation Skills Strategy Project

One outcome of the 2014-2015 National Foundation Skills Strategy (NFSS) Project was a set of four video resources demonstrating different approaches to building foundation skills in a vocational context.

The different contexts and learner cohorts provide a valuable source of planning and delivery approaches.

National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults (New Zealand-based)

You may be wondering ‘why a New Zealand site’? New Zealand’s National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults provides a valuable source of strategies and resources to support the development of foundation skills within workplace training. You can read the latest outcomes of the NZ Adult Literacy focus here

One resource example is a You Tube channel that contains an extensive library of videos. There are 86 videos addressing aspects of Literacy! Below is just one example from their suite of videos covering Numeracy:

Self-paced online activities to build LLN skills

BBC Skillswise website

This site features various self-serve, self-paced activities that help people develop:

  • English skills
  • Literacy skills
  • Numeracy skills.

You may want to direct your learners to this site.

Khan Academy

This is a great site to help you or your learners build numeracy skills.

The Khan Academy is particularly good to watch and hear someone explain mathematical concepts and processes, from simple to complex. Learners can practice, check their attempt, and get immediate corrective instruction.

Examples of how to conduct ACSF assessments

Example 1 IBSA Pre-training Assessment Video on the IBSA video channel

Observe how these trainers approach  an LLN pre-training assessment.

Example 2 – videos created by Linda Wyse and Associates, in conjunction with Great Southern Communications

These videos let you observe how ACSF core skill assessments may be conducted. You will see:

  1. An ACSF assessment interview of an adult learner (Paul or Zoe), conducted by LLN specialists. As you watch this interview, consider how the learner responds to questions.  Identify the level of ACSF core skills you think the learner demonstrates.  Then watch the second video:
  2. A video of a discussion between LLN specialists as they discuss the levels of each core skill demonstrated by the learner. This video gives you an insight into how LLN specialists reach decisions about the core skill levels held by a learner.  You can also compare your thoughts with those of the specialists.

These videos are copyright (©) to the Commonwealth of Australia.  Please read the terms of use you’ll find when you visit each link.

ACSF assessment of Paul (Paul works in industry)

  1. View Paul’s ACSF assessment interview
  2. Listen to foundation skills specialists as they discuss the ACSF core skill levels demonstrated by Paul

ACSF assessment of Zoe (Zoe wants to learn English)

  1. View Zoe’s assessment interview
  2. Listen to foundation skills specialists as they discuss the ACSF core skill levels demonstrated by Zoe

Where to find LLN assessment tools

Precision Consultancy

Precision Consultancy has produced a suite of freely-available, LLN industry-validated ACSF assessment tools.  Some tools are generic (i.e. relevant to any industry) and others are industry-specific.

Each tool includes instructions for assessors on how to use the tool and lists the core skills and levels covered.  These tools also give terrific examples of what you might expect at each core skill level. So even if you don’t need them as assessment tools, you may use these as examples to help you write your own instructions for learners.

Other LLN assessments

At the time of writing, the Precision Consultancy ACSF assessment tools were the only tools that meet our criteria of being BOTH free, and validated by the adult literacy industry.

Keep your eye on the horizon for the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT).  We are waiting for the Department of Education and Training to release it (hopefully soon).

General LLN information and research

If you’re interested in staying up to date with latest research on LLN and foundation skills, we suggest:

Foundation Skills POD by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER)

NCVER has set up this POD as a ‘hub’ of information and resources relevant to foundation skills and LLN skills in vocational education and training. The POD offers a collection of recent research across the different foundation skills related aspects. You will also see links to key international bodies also tuned into the development of ‘essential skills’, ‘adult literacy’ skills, or ‘foundation skills’.

At the heart of the matter, recent FS social media ‘Grabs’


Heart of matter 3

It’s now normal to regularly receive a range of information updates, enewsletters, tweets, social media posts, blog posts, and emails. Each one offering information, advice, snippets, suggested follow-up actions, or best ways’ to do something. Each one, prodding us to tweak our knowledge and practice.

AT the heart of the matter for us – LLN and VET meeting place – is  Foundation Skills. This post presents the top 5 recently received ‘grabs’ from various sources that speak to foundation skills

Quick reminder: 

  • Foundation Skills (defined by the National Foundation Skills Strategy NFSS) LLN skills (ACSF) + Employability skills (CSfW)
  • ACSF = Australian Core Skills Framework
  • CSfW = Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework
(1) A BookTeaching in teh VET sector

This book is written for people undertaking further study in VET teaching and is written from the perspective of ‘what does a VET teacher need to know?’.

Don’t brush this aside – each chapter holds content relevant to each of us, with contextual information, current developments, pedagogy considerations (where relevant) and reflective questions. The exploration of VET teaching practice is taken from a wide angled lens, presenting constructive information and strategic advice.

Chapter 6: Language Literacy and Numeracy in VET Teaching, was written by Keiko Yasukawa, a long-standing and influential Australian leader and researcher in the LLN domain, currently based at University of Technology Sydney. Keiko has much more to say, but these insights or questions are the pick for this post

P98 As a VET practitioner …………… actually have much to offer in the practice of integrating LLN into your teaching because it is the LLN demands of the your vocational discipline and work practices that the students are learning.”

P101 There are multiple literacy practices involved with completing a course (Ivanic et al, 2009)

  • Literacy practice for becoming and being a student
  • Literacy practice for learning content
  • Literacy practice for assessment
  • Literacy practice for the workplace

P103 Reflective question: How explicitly were you taught about these different practices? How does it feel when they are not explicitly taught and you cannot figure it out yourself?

P104 The basis of the ’embedded’ or ‘integrated’ approach is  ………….  focus on making the LLN that the learners and workers encounter explicit and teach it to all of the students.

P107 A Reflective question: Whose interests are at stake when I am making decisions about my approaches to practice?

(2) A websiteSkillsone


If you are looking for a resource with videos to inspire or encourage learners  pondering what vocational course? or direction? SkillsOne has ‘Hundreds of Videos about getting a trade or skill.

Videos can be helpful for showing what’s involved with the work, and the underpinning foundation skills. The videos are from different sources, so are different lengths. Some a ‘bites’, and others more detailed.

If you have access to a TV – search the Channels tab for TV programs featuring specific trades and skills, or future developments.

(3) AN EBulletinACER

Teacher | ACER updates are sent each week. Although they are directed at school teachers, we share a lot in common when it comes to teaching/training/delivering instruction.

Our goal is to reveal the foundation skills at the heart of the task, and know if the delivery approach was effective for the learner:

  1. Two of the biggest blockers ………are fear of failure and fear of hidden criteria – they’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for. So, if we can make it really clear……..then they’ll move forward. (21/5).
  1. Taking an inquiry approach to the effectiveness of your teaching. Ask the learners, what kind of feedback helps you? Many reply – ‘Step by step guidance’. Some learners will need more detail – what seems to be obvious to some learners, may remain a mystery to others.
(4) An infographicIf learning was water
  • The core skill Learning underpins the development of all foundation skills (ACSF and CSfW).
  • Learning strategies are interlinked, often invisibly, within training/delivery instruction and support.
  • Delivery or instruction strategies are critical to facilitating learning.

Enjoy this simple Infographic; nothing new. a simple metaphor to tempt deeper reflection!

In your context, how are learners assisted to learn, so they can build and develop necessary foundation skills?

(5) A Blog

workplace learning

The range of strategies to  assist learners to build and develop foundation skills is vast. The range of strategies to build specific foundation skills eg Reading or Numeracy , is also vast. Generally we build skills over time.

It’s easy to be locked into the same information bubbles feeding our professional skills and knowledge. What are the impacts of consuming what comes in through the same sources over and over? Have you progressed with confidence to approach or embrace foundation skills within your practice?

Jane Hart’s (C4LPT) framework captures the variety of ways a trainer  might continue to evolve their professional expertise.

With  foundation skills in mind, where do you go to find:

  • what you need to know NOW?
  • what is NEW ?
  • what’s NEXT on the horizon?


Future jobs – which foundation skills for the INFOTRONICS age?

Accessed CEDA p202 19/4/16
Accessed CEDA p202 19/4/16
 “The future is closer than you think”………………. “All these things are not just coming. We are in them.”

Chief Executive, Foundation for Young Australians, Jan Owen

Accessed 4/4/16 Google Atlas robot 2016 video
Accessed 4/4/16 Google Atlas robot 2016 video

If you’re not sure what the Infotronics Age may hold then have a look at:

  • the Google Atlas Next Generation 2016 robot in action (that’s it in the above photo) and think about its capacity to work 24/7, and remain free of injury!
  • the human-like robot , Sophia, in the video posted by Wendy Perry (Workforce Planning) who recently attended the US 2016 SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive festival.Ponder potential roles – predictions suggest the intelligence capacity will supercede human potential – faster, cheaper!
  • the IBM Watson computer competing in the US TV show Jeopardy and that was 2 years ago! What has been developed since?

OR explore these documents:

future trends: the big picture
  • A 15 year-old today should expect to have 17 different jobs in five sectors in his or her working life
  • Two-thirds of the tertiary study currently being undertaken is towards jobs which soon won’t exist
  • Three-quarters of all new jobs will require science, maths or technology proficiency.

Chief Executive, Foundation for Young Australians, Jan Owen

The CSIRO 2016  Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled World Data 61 suggests the speed of change will be rapid and unprecedented – “Whilst Australia’s workforce is continually changing the current period in history is characterised by a combination of forces likely to be associated with greater, faster and different transitions than previously experienced.”

The CSIRO Data 61 lists 6 key megatrends (also summarised here Huffington post )

  1. The explosion of device connectivity and artificial intelligence performing tasks more quickly, safely  and efficiently
  2. ‘Platform’ economics with porous boundaries
  3. Less jobs with large organisations, The rise of entrepreneurs creating their own jobs/work
  4. Divergent employment profiles
  5. The rising bar – increased technology and complexity required to tasks
  6. Employment growth in the service and education sector – towards a knowledge economy

The video at the bottom of the CSIRO Data 61 summary emphasises the intent of this document to:

  • offer insight to the future workforce predictions.
  • stimulate thinking, discussion and strategies about how best to position the Australian workforce for the changes ahead.

The good thing for us (in the education and training world) is that this report, and others,  predict education and training will have a significant role  – if it remains agile enough to ADAPT, SURVIVE and THRIVE  (Deloitte 2016) to the future trends and indicators

Which skills are required to transition successfully into and with the future?

We know that Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills are important contributors to Australia’s innovation and economic growth in a global market; these skills are what employers ‘want’.

Current information also reveals employers want ….. ENTERPRISE SKILLS.

During the three years 2012 – 2015 the Foundation for Young Australians scanned 4.2 million job advertisements gathered from more than 6,000 websites, to track and collate trends in skills required now to enter the workforce. The final report, The New Basics reveals

Enterprise skills are transferable skills that enable young people to engage with a complex world and navigate the challenges they will inherit.
Enterprise skills are not just for entrepreneurs; they are skills that are required in many jobs. They have been found to be a powerful predictor of long term job success.
created by LLNandVETmeetingplace 4/16
created by LLNandVETmeetingplace 4/16

In a highly competitive environment workplaces want people who can:

  • track (mega) trends
  • predict, and solve dilemmas
  • develop that ‘difference’ or edge
  • communicate with a stand-out style
  • embrace the tools, inter connectivity and capacity that technology offers

Using data from the Future for Young Australian’s report, this Financial Review article expands on the skills representing ‘ENTERPRISE’.

accessed 26/4/16/jobs/graduate-employers-offer-9000-more-for-presentation-digital-skills-20160419-go9omc 26/4/16
accessed 26/4/16/jobs/graduate-employers-offer-9000-more-for-presentation-digital-skills-20160419-go9omc 26/4/16

“Across almost every profession, no matter what it was and no matter what the technical skill was, employers were privileging these skills.”

“We used to call them soft skills but now they clearly are core to the marketplace in Australia and we suspect globally around what employers need.”

Akin to these skills are trends IN THE NATURE OF WORK, REPRESENTED BY increases in:
  • opportunities for entrepreneurial approaches and start-up businesses
  • casualisation of the workforce
  • people working in shared co-working spaces

iStock photo 3/5/16
iStock photo 3/5/16
Which foundation skills are required to transition successfully into and with the future?

The 10 JOB SKILLS YOU WILL NEED IN 2020 captures a broad set of  ‘drivers’ and attempts explain or describe the cognitive activities, skills, and tasks in the highly connected global world. It’s from these tasks we can begin to consider – which foundation skills?

2014 (US) Top10onlinecolleges  – 10 job skills you will need in 2020
Drivers of change
Which foundation skills? THE FIVE ACSF core (lln) skills UNDERPIN THE CSfW EMPLoYABILITY SKILLS
Extreme longevity


Smart machines and systems


Computational world


New media Ecology


Superstructured organisations


Globally connected world

 1 Virtual collaboration – work productively and drive engagement

2 Understand concepts across multiple disciplines

3 Sense making – determine the deeper meaning

4 Cognitive load management

5 Cross cultural competence

6 Social Intelligence

7 Translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts

8 Assess and develop new media content to persuade

9 Design Mindset

10 Proficiency with novel and creative solutions thinking

ACSF core skills:

  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Oral Communication
  • Numeracy

AT LEVELS 3- 4- 5


Interact with others

  • Speak listen understand interpret and act
  • Get the message across
  • Connect and work with others
  • Recognise and utilise diverse perspectives

Get the work done

  • Plan and organise, be organised
  • Identify and solve problems
  • Create and Innovate

Work in a digital world

  • Connect with others
  • Access organise and present information
Considerations for us, the trainers


NCVER Beddie 2015 The outcomes of education and training: What the Australian research is telling us, 2011 – 2014

  • Constantly emerging technologies and rapid shifts in the labour market mean that the 21st Century teacher has to navigate uncharted territory (p26)
  • boosting literacy and numeracy and STEM skills is a priority for the entire population (p31)
  • The VET sector needs to look beyond the competencies currently required by industry. More emphasis should be placed on foundational knowledge and building the capacity to learn. (p31)

CEDA (p29) predicts there may be tension between job-ready and broad-based competencies , suggesting the need for both and the capacity to integrate both should be guided by the overarching policy framework .

What initiatives TO ADAPT, SURVIVE AND THRIVE can we implement in our RTOs, with the Industry Reference Groups, and the Skills Service organisations?

When will SCENARIO PLANNING happen; where trends that will influence education and training are considered?

2 HIGH ORDER COGNITIVE SKILLS are the order of the day

For example, The Australian Association for Maths Teachers and the AIG prepared Identifying and supporting Quantitative skills of 21st Century workers 2014 reports the range of skills includes:

  • creating formulas within spreadsheets
  • modelling, including understanding thresholds and constraints
  • using extrapolation and extrapolating trends
  • recognising anomalies and errors
  • concise and clear communication of judgement
  • fast and often multi-stepped calculations and estimations

The New Basics points to embracing pedagogy with inquiry approaches, and collaborative activities involving real-world scenarios.

Which of the COMPETENCIES EXPECTED IN HIGH PERFORMANCE WORK ORGANISATIONS are you providing opportunities to develop?

  • Collaborative learning
  • Collaborative communication
  • Technology/digital/elearning
  • Media literacy and information literacy
  • Intrapersonal communication skills
  • Self-direction, emotional intelligence
  • Problem solving, critical thinking
  • Initiative, idea generating

3 REMAIN ABREAST of developments in our, industries, and those allied to it

The CSIRO Data 61 video and OECD Skills Outlook 2013 report, and The New Basics (p22) advise we must remain informed about ‘live’ industry trends so that instead of learners relying on heresay, we OFFER RELEVANT AND CURRENT ADVICE:

  • trends in workforce areas CSIRO p 19
  • provide quality career guidance CSIROp 27,
  • continue to promote educational attainment CSIRO p 23
  • provide easy to find, up to date information and guidance


With competition so tight, Industry experts claim the cover letter is on it’s deathbed and the CV is on life support’. ‘Recruiters are now urging younger workers to concentrate on strengthening their social media presence and networking ability if they want to stand out of the overcrowded pack.’

How are you REMAINING ABREAST WITH CURRENT AND FUTURE WORKFORCE TRENDS? What networks, collaborative connections and info sources are available to you?


INFOSYS commissioned the Future Foundation to undertake research which involved interviewing 1000 young people 16-25 across 9 countries, including Australia. The report was prepared to find out what is on the minds of these young people, some preparing for the workforce and others involved in it. The outcome reports valuable insight to contribute to the debates and discussion about preparing ‘those who will truly master the fourth industrial revolution’.  This summary article reports YOUNG AUSTRALIANS ARE THE LEAST PREPARED.

This INFOSYS Infographic, offers 3 optimistic signs and 2 concerns  revealed by young people:

  • On the brighter side: a valuable message: To remain agile – PREPARE FERTILE, INQUISITIVE MINDS PREPARED FOR A LIFETIME OF LEARNING.

Might THE NEED TO REMAIN AGILE be relevant to us all, not just those we teach/train and aim to inspire?



Cert IV TAE now includes LLN

So it’s finally happened…
The new Cert IV TAE (TAE40116) is here, and TAELLN411 Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills is—finally—a core Cert IV TAE unit… now what?

In this post I’ll:

  • Provide some background of the ‘LLN story’ and its relationship with the Cert IV TAE
  • Highlight implications for:
    • vocational trainers and assessors
    • trainers and assessors of the Cert IV TAE
  • Suggest some ‘first steps forward’ for VET practitioners wanting to further develop their ability to address LLN skills in their own training.

First some history

I say ‘finally’ in my opening line above, because we’ve been waiting for LLN to become a core unit in the Cert IV TAE for a long time, now.

Statistics dating back as far as 1996 (SAL) tell us that the LLN skills of adult Australians could be better.  Similar results in the 2006 Adult Language and Life Skills (ALLS) survey were a significant contributor to the development of  a government endorsed policy: National Foundation Skills strategy for Adults. The policy introduced national skill level targets, and endorsed the role that vocational trainers have to deliver foundation skills.

In 2012, Innovation and Skills Australia (IBSA) produced a pdf called Changes Ahead for VET Trainers and Assessors.  This document announced that a new, mandatory unit focussing on language, literacy and numeracy would soon be added to the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.  Page 5 stated:

When the TAE10 Training Package is revised in July 2014 all new and existing trainers will need to hold, or demonstrate equivalent competency for, the unit TAELLN401A.

This announcement sent the VET world into a LLN frenzy—RTOs smothered social media and other networks, falling over each other to offer the ‘mandatory’ LLN unit.  Trainers and assessors around the country were duped into thinking that they had to attain this unit, now.

And then a funny thing happened… IBSA realised that its current LLN unit at that time—TAELLN401A Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills—went beyond reasonable expectations for VET practitioners who were not LLN specialists.  So, IBSA wrote a new unit—same title, different code.  TAELLN411 is the current ‘LLN’ unit and does quite a good job (in my opinion) of describing reasonable expectations for how VET practitioners can address adult LLN skills.

We settled in and became accustomed to TAELLN411.  We have known for some time that TAELLN411 would be added as a core Cert IV TAE unit when the TAE Training Package was next updated.  But we certainly didn’t expect to take so long!  It’s a relief to know it’s finally here.

So TAELLN411 is now a core TAE40116 unit—what are the implications for trainers and assessors?

The answer depends on exactly how you ask the question:

If your question is:  Must trainers and assessors attain TAELLN411?

The answer is, ‘no’.  In fact, contrary to all those media advertisements you’ve likely seen over the past two years, it has never been—nor is it now (as yet)—mandatory for qualified trainers and assessors to add TAELLN401 or 411 to their list of units held.

Currently the VET world is waiting for an announcement from COAG with information about whether or not trainers and assessors who are already qualified will need to ‘upgrade’ their qualification to meet requirements of the new—and tougher—TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

If the decision is taken that trainers and assessors will need to upgrade, they’ll need to complete more than just the LLN unit.  View the post, TAE40116 endorsed… now what? from the TAE Talks blog for details of the key differences between TAE40110 and TAE40116.

But if your question is:  Should trainers and assessors attain TAELLN411?

In our opinion, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’!  This unit—if delivered by a reputable RTO—is fabulous professional development for trainers and assessors working in any industry.  I know that completing this unit has certainly made me a better trainer, because:

  • I am now far more aware of the foundation skills (including LLN) that my students need if they are to successfully complete my programs
  • I’m better at being able to uncover and isolate foundation skills and explicitly teach these as I teach workplace skills
  • It exposed me to endless possibilities and opportunities to keep learning how to address LLN skills in my vocational training… and I’m still learning!

Completing TAELLN411 is a fabulous way to get started building a realisation that LLN is everyone’s challenge, and we can make a positive difference to our students’ lives, even if we only work with them for a short time.

So where do I start?

Whether or not you have attained TAELLN411, we also recommend these resources as a way to refresh your thinking about how you can build LLN skills within your VET practice:




Pitching tasks to intended foundation skills: 6 suggestions

Aligning instruction and assessment tasks to a specific foundation skill level is relevant to each phase of learners’ engagement with training.

Prior to training or early into training

During the teaching and learning

Summative assessment at completion

Prepare tasks to identify  foundation skills the learner CAN demonstrate?

Use the information to identify the learners’ foundation skill needs

Prepare tasks to build and support learners’ foundation skill development.

Prepare tasks to enable learners’ to reveal foundation skills progress.

Use the information to consider what  strategies effective ir not effective.

Prepare tasks to enables the learners to demonstrate competency at the required  foundation skills and knowledge?

Use the information to determine successful or not successful assessment results or course completion.

Accessed from 13/3/16
Accessed from 13/3/16

Aligning, targeting or pitching – this can be an overlooked step

If you aim to identify, instruct or assess a specific core skill at a particular level of competency, then the outcome will be enhanced if there is regard to aligning the task (stimuli and instructions) to the intended foundation skill.

Foundation skills refers to both:

  • LLN – Australian Core Skills Framework ACSF
  • Employability skills –  Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework (CSfW)

Whilst some units of competency state very clearly the LLN (ACSF) or Employability skills (CSfW) level, many do not. The progress is interrupted by the recent cessation of the Industry Skills Councils and transition to Industry Reference Groups and Skills Services Organisations.

For many trainers, having regard for the ACSF or CSfW is necessary.

Wherever the starting point – identify, instruct, or assess – a task is involved. 


  • Sets the scene – what is this about
  • Initiates the first thoughts – what do I know about this?
  • Example: Read…., Listen ….., Watch ….


  • Advise the learner what to do to demonstrate performance of the skill or knowledge
  • Examples: Explain,  …….Demonstrate, ……. Produce …. 14/3/16 14/3/16

Why is it important to pitch the task at the required foundation skill level? Who/What is impacted?

 If the stimuli and instructions are not aligned to the foundation skill and level:

The learners

The trainer


  • The learners’ capacity to demonstrate what they CAN do, is at risk
  • The learners may not be assisted with appropriate strategies and support to build necessary skills
  • Competency at the training demand (AQF and foundation skill)  is compromised
  • Incorrect assumptions may be made about learners’ competency
  • Feedback, suggested strategies, and resources may be off-track to learners’ needs
  • Formative and summative assessment that informs planning and delivery – what’s working and what’s not – is compromised.
  • Instruction and assessment tasks may not meet the training benchmark – validation may be at risk
  • Awarded results may be invalid

Pitching to the intended core skill and level may take some practice; six suggestions

1  Take a closer look at the stimuli and instructions, ask the following questions:

Is the task pitched higher or lower than the training demand?

  • Does the stimuli content align with the learners’ reading competency?
  • Does the stimuli context align with the core skill level to be assessed?
  • Is the stimuli an authentic workplace document or have authentic workplace relevancy?
  • Are the targeted core skills required to engage with the stimuli?

  • Are the instructions written to enable most learners to access them?
  • Do the instructions require the intended skill to be used at the intended level?
  • Have the instructions been trialled for effectiveness?
  • Does the task enable the learner to reveal competency with the specific performance features  of the skill and level?

2 Refer to the ACSF

  • The Performance Variables (pge 5) describe the factors that will influence performance at any one time: context complexity, text complexity, task complexity and the level of assumed support or independence expected. The document includes a one page chart showing the four Performance Variables across the 5 ACSF levels. Each core skill and levels also states the associated Performance Variables. The performance variables provide a useful quick reference guide, but you may want to check other sections to be sure.
  • Sample Activities for each core skill and level are provided as a guide. Check out the activities suggested in the Education and Training, Workplace and Employment domains. Are there similarities to what you aim to identify, Instruct, assess?
  • The core skill level Indicators may offer support to your decision, although they may not reveal sufficient information
  • Specific details can be found in the  core skill Focus Area and Performance Features. Some trainers find the Performance Features Grids in the Appendices a helpful section as the Performance Features for each core skill across the five levels are located together.

3 Refer to the CSfW

  • The document provides a table titled Generic Descriptions of Stages of Performance across the five stages of development (Novice to Advanced performer) in a broad summary format.
  • The Skill Clusters:
    • Navigate the world of work
    • Interact with others
    • Get the work Done
  • AND the Skill Areas (10 of these) may help to locate the type and level of  employability skill you are aiming to identify, instruct or assess.  There is a table that combines the Skills Clusters and the Skills Area,, explaining what each of the skills is ‘about’.
  • The Focus Areas state the range of employability skills that align with the Skills Areas.
  • The description of the performance behaviour for each Focus Area and Stage of Development is located within the Performance Features tables. This reveals the specifics.
  • The CSfW includes Influencing Factors, which, are broader than the 4 ACSF Performance Variables. Like the ACSF Performance Variables, the Influencing factors have the potential to impact performance at any point in time. But unlike the ACSF, the Influencing Factors are not aligned in the Skills Clusters or Focus Areas by Stages of Development.

4 Refer to examples where you can see tasks (Stimuli and instructions) validated by industry specialists:

  • Precision Consultancy ACSF resources
  • The Manufacturing Skills Australia site continues to retain the foundation skills resources. There are literacy and numeracy indicator tools (updated in 2015). The resources include the questions mapping to the ACSF. You will need to create a login to the site (accessed 15/3/16).
  • Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT)  – is on the horizon, and will be freely available. The tool (developed by ACER) is designed to identify and assess foundation skill capacity. The tool is based on performance features of both the ACSF (LLN) and the CSfW (Employability skills) Watch out for the release of this tool

5 Become observant at Assessment Validation professional development either within or external to your RTO

  • Does the validation include explicit checking that the task stimuli and instructions align with the intended LLN skill and level?

6 Participate in formal/informal professional development

  • Adult Learning Australia have a Linked in Adult Literacy Network. Using a webinar platform, the ALA offer opportunities for members who want to submit tasks for validation against the ACSF, The sessions are presented by Philippa McLean; a key contributor to writing the ACSF. Validated tools are then stored and available for others in the network to access.
  • Connect with like-minded peers/colleagues. Is there a network available that is open to informal discussion, information sharing, and reflecting on effectiveness?
  • Ask Chemène or I via this website, or send an email to, or give us a call (phone numbers in the right column near the top.

Promoting learning – the invisible foundation skill

Accessed from 29/1/16
Accessed from 29/1/16

The foundation skill Learning is talked about less than more commonly recognised foundation skills such as reading or numeracy. Perhaps it’s because we assume that if adult learners are going through the motions of the reading or numeracy tasks and activities – not only is the learner developing the reading or numeracy skill but also the adult learner is developing their learning capacity. But are the two skills developing simultaneously?

The capacity to learn:

  • involves reflecting on, and identify the learning steps and strategies that made the difference between going on and achieving the unexpected, or giving up.
  • underpins success or progress with all foundation skill development.

We know that learning is:

  • a personal and invisible process – we can’t see it happening but the learner can be aware of learning something.
  • a different process for individuals – even with the same learning context/tools
  • impacted by two factors
What the adult learner brings:

  • existing skills and knowledge
  • personal identity and beliefs
  • desire and motivation to learn
  • desire and capacity to engage with others
  • personal learning preference
  • commitment/confidence to ‘push on’
What the learning context offers:

  • explanation/rationale about how?
  • resources to get started
  • resources to get support
  • strategies to get connected
  • practice opportunities
  • feedback opportunities

 Promoting the capacity to learn involves:

Opportunities to learn any time, any day

Accessed from  27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

“Remember that our role goes beyond building courses and other experiences, but is about helping people learn. Learning happens all day, every day, in ways that are as often as not accidental. In 2016 I resolve to find ways of throwing more rocks in the learner’s path, to cause serendipity wherever I can.

Jane Bozarth (Learning Solutions Magazine, 5 January), in Thinking bigger, thinking broader, thinking beyond compliance

People expect to be able to learn whenever and wherever they want to. Online resources and tasks allow learning to happen at home, at work, while travelling, and face to face. Online resources promote learner control, they can watch a video, listen to an explanation, or do a quiz as often as they need to.

Opportunities to ‘see’ all that is involved

Accessed from 27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

Many tasks involving core skill application require steps and strategies. Aim to step back and consider all the sub-skills involved:

  • what do you need to think about, do, or access?
  • what distinguishes this task or step from others that are similar?

What enables yo to do this (on the right) or this (below)?

Accessed from 27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

Whatever ‘it’ is make ‘it’ clear, particularly for:

  •  Novice performer,  Advanced beginner or Capable performer (Core Skills for Work CSfW)
  • Levels 1, 2 or 3 (Australian Core Skills Framework ACSF).

Opportunities to access resources, engage with others, and reflect

Accessed from 29/1/16
Accessed from 29/1/16
Resources to

  • explain, demonstrate, reveal
  • provide information, context, summary of purpose or what to notice
  • (written, visual, or audio)
Resources with


models, worked through applications

Resources to

  • to practice
  • offer feedback
  • respond to  questions
Accessed from 27/1/16
Accessed from 27/1/16

Discussion is a valuable strategy to promote learning, understanding of concepts and contexts, use of language, and practicing communication skills. Look for ways to enable learners to continue to connect and discuss beyond the face-to-face session.

We rarely grow alone. In fact, some psychologists have made a compelling case that we only grow in connection with others. However, we don’t need to learn with others in formal training or development programs: we can architect our own opportunities to gain insight, knowledge, and skills that move us on an upward trajectory. We can have more control over our learning (at work) if we make building high-quality connections a priority.

Jane E Dutton and Emily Heaphy (Forbes, 12 January) wrote in We learn more when we learn together …

Accessed from 2/2/16
Accessed from 2/2/16

Promote an environment of reflection. Look for a variety of ways and tools to gather feedback

  • For the learners: What else could have helped you? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? What strategies were helpful or hindrances to your learning?
  • For the Trainer: How effective was that planned learning strategy? What did I notice? Were the performance behaviours better than expected or not?

“But in a world of accelerated change, ………………. An individual must have learning agility – the ability to learn, adapt, and apply in quick cycles.”

Heather McGowern (LinkedIn, 3 January) in Education is not the answer

Opportunities to build skills and knowledge about the foundation skill Learning (for Trainers)

Learning is a complex process. There is much that could be said. If you are seeking more information about Learning, we offer specific strategies within the following webinars:

  • (1 March, 2016) – Teaching tips for TAE trainers delivering and assessing the TAELLN411
  • (8 March) Workshops 2 – Teaching tips for trainers with young adult learners (Gen Y/ Z)
  • (15 March, 2016) – Teaching tips for trainers with ESL learners
  • Webinar 2 Learning from the 6 webinar series

Or access the resources on this site (Instruction Strategies 2 (includes elearning tools/strategies), and Instruction Strategies 3 and 4


VET FEE HELP Pre-training assessment tools

NEW approaches and strategies are required if your RTO offers VET FEE HELP

The VET FEE HELP reforms, effective from 1 January 2016, are explained in this December 2015 Provider Update. New expectations relate to the pre-enrolment stage, particularly where VET Diploma level (and above) courses are offered. The RTO must develop a Student Entry Procedure with two different but related aspects:

  • information about the course and the course requirements, for example, course overview and purpose, course structure and delivery, commitment in hours per week, task/texts involved, access to internet/on-line resources, time available for workplace experience.
  • information about the entry procedure and what is required to be eligible to commence the course.
accessed from 5/1/2016
accessed from 5/1/2016

NEW: eligibility requirements:

For VET courses at Diploma level or above, applicants must demonstrate, or provide evidence of reading and numeracy skills at ACSF skills at level 3 or above.

ACER, 2015, Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP Providers, p5, accessed 5/1/2016

To demonstrate competency, the applicant must provide evidence to satisfy one of the following requirements:

  1. Successful  completion of Year 12 (from an Australian State or Territory)
  2.  Reading and numeracy skills at,  or above, exit level 3 Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).
  3. Information to enable the RTO provider to deem the person holds the competence required.

To ponder ….

1  Completion of Year 12: With any range of subjects? Obtained many years ago? Generally completion of Year 12 is used by higher education to determine eligibility for university entry, including at bachelor degrees (AQF level 7). From your experience, will this be sufficient evidence of existing skills for entry to Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma (AQF level 8)?

2  Complete a pre-training assessment: Does the tool used by your RTO:

Accessed from
Accessed from



3 Deeming the person holds the necessary skills: How will your RTO:

accessed from 5/1/2016
accessed from 5/1/2016
  • determine which evidence/information?
  • gather and collate the evidence?
  • articulate the requirements to applicants?

Could targeted and specific tasks  ‘top-up’ current evidence?


NEW: specific requirements for pre-training assessment tools

For courses at Diploma level or above, applicants must demonstrate, or provide evidence of reading and numeracy skills at ACSF skills at level 3 or above.

“Given that this requirement determines access or not to the VET FEE-HELP programme this should be considered as an important and critical process by RTOs where the criteria established need to be implemented using not only a quality LLN assessment tool but also through implementing and undertaking quality assessment processes and practices.”

ACER, 2015, Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP Providers, p6, accessed 5/1/2016

The Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP providers offers detailed information and considerations to guide the evaluation or review of tools you may be using. Five key aspects are discussed in detail: Validity, Reliability, Fairness, Construction and Effectiveness. The following overview offers aspects to ponder ….:

1  Validity:

  • Does it actually assess the skills as described in the ACSF for the level?
  • Are the expected responses agreed and accurate?
  • Have the expected responses been tested and trialled?
  • Do the tasks use stimuli  across a range of real life texts and situations in English?
  • Are there sufficient tasks to cover a significant number of the core skill focus areas  and represent all indicators?

2  Reliability:

  • How sure are you that the assessment process produces consistent results?
  • For manual marking, are there clear and unambiguous marking guides that set out what the responses are and what the overall result needs to be?
  • Has the tool been trialled with people wanting to study at Diploma Level?
  • Does the tool advise the resources and support allowed?

3  Fairness:

  • Is the tool available to all potential applicants?
  • Are all applicants offered the same conditions eg necessary time, resource availability, process clarification?
  • Could the content be offensive, and does the content relate to what is being measured?
  • What are the security issues?

4  Well-constructed:

  • Does the tool use of clear language, clear and clean layout, clear navigation if online, engaging material, and appropriate use of English.

5  Effectively and validly identifies students who are eligible for VET FEE-HELP:

  • Are there sufficient questions at level 3 to cover a range of the core skill/level performance features are required to identify competency at ACSF Level 3?

The VET FEE HELP reforms also state that the results are communicated as soon as practicable to the applicant.

  • Does the tool do this automatically?
  • If not, how will this happen?

Use an approved testing tool

“The Minister must be satisfied that the tool is a valid, reliable, fair and well constructed way of assessing whether competence is at or above Exit Level 3 in the ACSF; and that the tool has been appropriately verified and evaluated using evidence-based assessment by a suitably qualified independent body in accordance with the report entitled “Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE-HELP providers”,

DET, December 2015, VET FEE HELP Provider Fact Sheet, p2

If you are not sure if the tool used at your RTO meets the VET FEE HELP requirements, a comprehensive checklist with key specifications against each of the five criteria for assessing the tool is located as Appendix 1 of ACER, 2015, Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP Providers ps 31-36. Assessments of the LLN tool must have regard t0 the contents within this ACER Appendix 1 checklist.

Who can verify (approve)?

“A qualified LLN assessor will be someone with specific expertise and qualifications in LLN, such as the TAE80113 – Graduate Diploma of Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice or equivalent. The new TAE unit TAELLN401A Address adult language, literacy and numeracy skills in TAE40110 is not sufficient for this purpose”.

ACER, 2015, Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP  providers, p. 17, accessed 5/1/2016.

What are the options?

1  Use an RTO developed tool (in-house, or accessed from another RTO)

Providers will have the option of using their own LLN testing instruments where providers are able to provide evidence based justification that their LLN test has been externally and independently verified as being able to reliably and validly report performance at the minimum LLN standard established against the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

ACER, 2015, Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP  providers, p.5, accessed 5/1/2016.

If you are aiming to construct a tool, examples of tasks/questions/content range aligned to the ACSF levels can be accessed at Precision Consultancy. Exploring the tools across different ACSF levels is also a helpful way to recognise the performance features indicative at the ACSF core skills and levels.

2  Use a government commissioned Pre-training Assessment too

  1. The Core Skills Profile for Adults CSPA is currently available and recommended in the December 2015 VET FEE HELP Provider Factsheet. This tool assesses Reading Writing and Numeracy skills, as well as Abstract and Mathematical reasoning. The tool can also be tailored to industry specific content.
  2. The Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) has been released. The tool is ready to use for all Pre-training assessments other than pre-training assessment to determine eligibility for VET FEE Help. To meet the requirements for VET FEE Help further trials are required. To read more about the FSAT tool, access the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool(FSAT): 1st of its kind in Australia post on this site.

3  Use a free or commercially available tool

There are a number of tools available. Given the new criteria, it will be important to review the tool and the implementation processes against the quality tool criteria  and quality assessment requirements described and explained in the ACER, 2015, Assessment of LLN testing instruments and processes for VET FEE HELP  providers. The detailed information provided may help guide your decisions.

If you have further questions, or would like your pre-training assessment tool reviewed, contact me at:



Numeracy matters on 7/12/15 on 7/12/15

We know that Numeracy matters

Numeracy integrates with many aspects of our lives. Sometimes we may not be aware of the calculations we apply so seamlessly, then there are other times when we are aware that we can’t work something out! Living in the 21st Century requires increased numeracy skills and knowledge to navigate the personal, community and workplace numeracy contexts.

For example, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey of more than 150,000 adults in 148 countries in 2014 asked adults four questions based on financial concepts: risk diversification, inflation, numeracy and compound interest

The results: 30% of women and 35% of men could answer at least 3 of the four questions asked

In his discussion post (below) Dave Tout reminds us of the possible impact of living with limited numeracy skills or knowledge. Referring to the Australian results from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), Dave comments …..

…..…”that the results, no matter how you read them, demonstrate that a significant number of Australians aged 15 years and upwards do not have access to sufficient numeracy and mathematical skills to cope equitably with life in the 21st century.

The capacity to make informed decisions – in the workplace or when out shopping, following instructions about a medical or health matter, making decisions about financial matters, or understanding the implications of, say, gambling – all require good numeracy skills.

LinkedIn discussion (TAE Newcomers 2/10/15)

Numeracy instruction matters

The AAMT and AIG Identifying and Support Skills of 21st Century Workers provides an overview of the mathematics used in the workplace. The need to communicate mathematically,  use in the head techniques and interpret from given data are featured in different examples.

Where possible, and perhaps more than usual, identify opportunities to strengthen learners’ numeracy skills and knowledge. Here are some suggestions to consider.

Go beyond the expected 8/12/15 8/12/15


Encourage learners to tune in to where numeracy is ‘happening’ in their lives. Go beyond the training context (if you have the opportunity) Each day on news – no matter where it is accessed, there are facts, figures , results, amounts, budgets, statistics ……- there is usually a context relevant to the learner group that could bring numeracy to life and/or be incorporated into training. Build opportunities to talk about numeracy in an ‘everyday’ conversation way.

Go beyond your comfort zone! 8/12/15 8/12/15

Building numeracy skills can feel ‘prickly’ if you are not usually involved with the numeracy task. Our everyday lives may not involve using the breadth of mathematical and measurement calculations, we can be a bit rusty, or there may be calculations we have never learnt; this can be the case in specific vocation areas.


  • Check your own capacity to do the task. Be sure of the underpinning steps involved, potential trouble spots, required skills and knowledge.
  • If you are feeling a bit rusty – go to where you might be able to revisit some important basics. This free 5 week MOOC Numeracy Skills for Employability and the Workplace starts again in February.
  • If you are looking for how to build your learners’ foundation skills training, We also have the Numeracy webinar recording available for purchase. We discuss Teaching Tips instruction strategies to  build learners’ numeracy skills within training, including use of elearning resources. Read more about the webinar here.

Go to where the learner is at

Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15
Purchased from Stocksy 4/8/15
  • Learners may be a bit rusty too. Offer tasks and activities that enable you to see or hear how the learner approaches the calculations involved.
  • Offer step by step revision, scaffolded with resources to ‘see’ the steps again, or practise them.
  • Some calculations require steps in a particular order, to remain on-target, reveal the hidden traps.

Go to sites that encourage learners to use numeracy for personal use

  • Google Calendar
  • Google Maps
  • Google Spreadsheet
  • online calculators, currency converters

Go to resources that show how to do a specific calculations.

The following resources are a selection of from the Teaching Strategies page 2 Numeracy resources. There are many more, we encourage you to ‘go and have a look’!.

  • BBC Skills wise – range of familiar getting started concepts presented at three levels. Includes teacher explanation, practice worksheets, many with answers available, some videos and quizzes.
  • VALBEC Strength with Numbers – range of familiar getting started concepts. Includes teaching strategies, activities and games, worksheet tasks
  • Khan Academy (need you own login) – may take a little navigating but once you know your way around there are video explanations, practice tasks (self correcting) quizzes for many mathematical calculations.
  • Mathcentre resources  – four examples
  • Facts and formula for functional mathematics (Leaflet)
  • Reading tables and graphs (PDF)
  • Finance – range of topics (PDF)
  • Percentages (VIDEO)
  • 10 You Tube channels showing a variety of strategies – check these out first. Aim to to avoid resources prepared for use with children, especially if they look very child-friendly





It’s that time of year! Here’s a gift to kick start 2016.

Seasons greetings and best wishes for 2016

 Are you keeping track of how many days until THAT day – Christmas? Are you organised with gifts for people on your list? Or, perhaps you are looking for something to treat yourself with.

For a limited time (two weeks), the webinar series: Teaching Tips to build your learners’ foundation skills can be purchased at a special offer 20% off GIFT price.


What better way to start the new teaching year, or the new learner group, than being ready with new strategies to promote foundation skills development. You can select from three (3)  purchase options. This enables you to select the gift best matching your specific interest. GIFT prices (20% off) are available for two (2) weeks from Monday 23/11 to Monday 7/12 .

The six (6) webinars form a series to assist you to build your learners’ foundation skills. The series comprises

  • an introductory webinar; foundation skills in the Australian context
  • 5 webinars, each focusing on one of the five Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) core skills; Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication and Numeracy – with linkages and reference to the Core Skills for Work (CSfW) Framework.

Each webinar addresses instructional strategies to promote a seamless and explicit approach to embracing foundation skills within vocational training.

Participants found the content relevant and interesting:

“Currently writing learning materials so wanted to ensure I was on the right track with foundation skills. Picked up lots of useful ideas.”

Webinar series purchase options: for a limited time only (23/11 to 7/12)

The webinar recordings include  the power point commentary from the three presenters: Chemène Sinson, Ann Leske and Allison Miller (profiles below). Explanation, key points, examples, and more tips are revealed. You can also see the participant strategies and comments in the chat box.

With each purchase, the matching power point/s will also be provided. Each power point includes links to relevant content and suggested resources.

The 20% off GIFT prices are:

  • one webinar $20
  • a selection of webinars, each costing $20
  • six webinars (the series) for the price of 5 webinars $96

Share this with colleagues and friends keen to refresh and renew delivery approaches in 2016. To share: click the post title, the Share options appear at the bottom of the page

Purchase webinars here: 

Please note: The webinar recordings and power points will be forwarded by email within five (5) working days.

Build it in: Tips to build foundation skill webinar series
Webinar 1: Foundation Skills $20.00 AUD
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Webinar 2: Learning $20.00 AUD
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Webinar 3: Reading $20.00 AUD
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Webinar 4: Writing $20.00 AUD
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Webinar 5: Oral Communication $20.00 AUD
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Webinar 6: Numeracy $20.00 AUD
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Webinar Series (6) webinars $96.00 AUD
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What the webinar series covers

webinar series content

These webinars identify strategies to recognise, support, and build foundation skills into your existing adult education and training practices.  I

Workshop 1 – Foundation skills in adult education and training

  • foundation skills clarified
  • how foundation skills relate to the trainer and assessor role
  • considerations for merging foundation skills development into education and training

Workshops 2 to 6 – each workshop focuses on a different foundation skill

  • Integrating development of the foundation skill into adult education:
    • clarifying the foundation skill and its components
    • instructional tips for this skill:  approaches, resources and support
  • Ongoing foundation skills development:
    • for learners: where to direct learners for practice and support
    • for trainers: where to find networks and resources.

Ideal for

  • Adult educators – VET, ACE or L&D trainers
  • ‘Management’ – anyone in a position to influence foundation skills support systems or strategies in their organisation
  • People currently studying any TAE LLN unit or qualification

If you would like to receive updates, read posts, and remain in touch, click the Follow tab on the home page. We look forward to you being part of this community of practice

About the facilitators – Join our three experienced facilitators whose complementary areas of expertise combine to offer a range of perspectives:

Ann LeskeAnn Leske has a Master in Education and has been involved in education and training for 17 years as an Adult Language Literacy and Numeracy teacher, Project Manager, researcher, and innovator. Ann has contributed to published outcomes that have influenced others and provided new approaches. Ann leads professional development and consultations across Australia which enable workplaces, RTOs, and teachers to obtain LLN insight and confidently approach LLN delivery. Ann has taught LLN and VET teachers the current Language Literacy and Numeracy Certificate IV units and Graduate level qualifications.

Chemene-SinsonChemène Sinson is a learning and development consultant who specialises in TAE qualifications and other non-accredited programs.  She has extensive experience consulting, designing and delivering TAE Certificate IV and Diploma programs for various private, community, government and industry-based RTOs. In recent years she has focused her own professional development on language, literacy and numeracy development through VET.

Allison MillerAllison Miller has been a professional learning and business development leader for 20 years. She is the director and principal consultant of Vanguard Visions, an organisation which specialises in cutting edge e-business and e-learning solutions, and provides essential connected services. Allison has a Master of Learning and Development (Organisational development).  She also leads the Digital Capability – Doing it Smarter online community, the ePortfolios Australia professional network and the national Moodle-Mahara Meetup event..

Ann and Chemène have joined forces to create the LLN and VET Meeting Place, an intersection of LLN and VET practitioners. They are delighted to have Allison of Vanguard Visions join them for this workshop and contribute her expertise.

Why is it easy to miss a spelling error?

The missing ‘t’

A regional newspaper reported  a spelling error that went unnoticed until it was too late. The sign was up. On a busy lead road. Oh dear. Take a look below. If you are not familiar with the local area, then you may not notice the error straight way. You may see that the spelling of one Gravat is GRAVAT and the other is GRAVATT  but be unaware of which is correct or incorrect. The correct spelling is GRAVATT with two ts and the incorrectly-spelled version is the one  spelled GRAVAT with one t.

missing t

Have you had this experience?  You write something and believe it is finished and ready for release.  You post, email, tweet, share or present what you have written.  Then, in a quiet moment, you re-read it and realise you’ve made a spelling error that previously was imperceptible, but now is glaring at you!  You cringe, and change colour with embarrassment.

The spelling isn’t quite right – oh dear! OOOPPPSSS!

Correct spelling can be a gateway or barrier throughout life. There’s no doubt it creates an impression.  What the reader sees contributes to a judgement made about the author or the organisation the author represents – it may be unfair or misleading – but it happens.

So how can this be explained, and what can we do to minimise it happening to our learners?

Why wasn’t this noticed during the preparation stage?

Shall we put it down to time? Is it convenient to blame ‘not enough time’ to check things? Is there a process in place? Do the authors have an approach, or system in place to minimise the potential for errors to occur.

Could it be the plan→ draft→ review→ edit  culture needs some tweaking?


In the example of the incorrect road sign above, it’s likely the sign author accessed a template or knew the standard format to follow. This guides the author with where to locate the key information and may provide an example of what text or symbols should be used and where to place them.

In this case noticing the words are written in upper case and two symbols are used  – a direction arrow and the number 2 within a hexagon.


The four key pieces of information required are on the sign in the correct place:

  1. the name of the road: Mt GRAVAT – CAPALABA RD         
  2. the direction to turn: arrow to the left                                    
  3. the towns involved: MT GRAVATT and IPSWICH              
  4. the road number: number 2                                                     


Mmmmm. What may have happened during this part of the process? How often have you asked learners to re-read their writing and check for spelling errors? Some errors are noticed and others are not. How often have you re-read your own writing and not noticed errors? It happens.

There may be a range of reasons an error is unnoticed. Contributing variables are: a person’s capacity to apply the necessary skills and knowledge, familiarity/unfamiliarity with the content, previous reviewing experience, access to relevant resources and support.

Spelling strategies are also in the mix. What might the author have thought in this case:

  • I’m not sure how to spell this so I’ll have a guess?
  • I’ve seen this before, I think it looks like this?
  • I’ll try to use a phonological approach – what does this word sound like when I’m saying it?

The power of prediction

Why is prediction involved? The reading process involves predicting. Read this sentence cluster.

PredictingDid you notice the mistakes? (This example comes from the resource Literacy Face to Face)

Most people reading this for the first time don’t notice the errors.There is one spelling mistake and one repeated word. The word though should be through and the word the is repeated

It’s not unusual that this mistake occurs, because when we read our eyes skip ahead with expectation, anticipating what ‘s next. We don’t stop at every word and actually decode.  In this example it’s likely you saw enough of the word through in though and just kept going.

When we read something we have written, the content is very familiar.  We know what to expect, so we see what we expect to see.  Therefore, it is possible that the sign author, and any other person involved with the production, saw enough of the word Mt GRAVATT in MT GRAVAT – and thought it was OK!

Promote a review culture

How might this error be avoided? Whether we work or learn, in a group, or in isolation, knowing that there is an expectation to check at the review stage is a good start. Explicit encouragement and processes to access support can make such a difference. As much as possible:

  1. promote a culture which values asking for another pair of eyes to review the work (within reason), or check the spelling of a word
  2. provide explicit strategies to enable learners to access tips, tools, and resources.

Encourage comfortable, respectful, connection between:

  • learner to learners
  • learner to learner
  • learner to trainer
  • learners to trainers

Promote different ways your learners can connect with you and each other, on a needs basis, to ask – ‘is this correct‘?  Consider these suggestions:

  • Learning management system (LMS)
  • Google groups
  • Social media sites
  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • email/sms txt messages

Also useful is access to:

  • glossaries
  • rough draft paper/note pads
  • word processing resources eg use of spell check
  • Google or Google Maps (for Mt Gravatt)
  • relevant internal workplace documents


If the chance to access relevant support is taken, and the feedback or advice is accepted – then this part is straight forward!

If you are thinking about embedding a plan→ draft→ review→ edit culture into training, preparation is necessary to make it explicit, seamless and embraced. The most important aspect is the ‘culture’; the willingness of everyone to support each other, the way requests are responded to, and how support is provided.

If you are interested in more ideas and strategies to support writing, access the Writing webinar or other webinars in the series  – Build it in: tips to build your learners’ foundation skill within adult education and training here