An extract from my research paper (2012)

Adults learn through doing something with their learning ‘a beautiful dance of inductive and deductive forms of learning’ (p. 115) (Vella, c2002). Through mutual respect combined with ‘problem-posing education (p. 74) Freire (1972), learning which they discover for themselves (Horton, Bell, Gaventa, & Peters, 1990), has immediate usefulness and is related to their life experience. They ‘make the road by walking’ by using dialogue approaches in which real life situations are presented and open questions used to ‘de-codify’ the situation. Freire’s concept of “codification of limit situations” (p.103) (Friere, 1972), involving incorporation of a code- a picture, story, or socio-drama, de-codification being followed by the offering of facts and skills to deal with it. Validity of the efficacy is provided immediately by learners who ‘knew they knew, because they had just done what they were learning’ (p. 120) (Vella, c2002).

Both teacher and learner ‘make the road by walking’. Essential to my work with adult language learners is the question: “Can they do this when I’m not around?” Providing appropriate assistance or ‘scaffolding’ when the learner is at the ‘zone’ enables mastery of tasks, following this, the supports are removed leaving the student to continue independently. 


This paper was undertaken and submitted during and shortly after the 2011 earthquakes which devastated our city and its people in Christchurch New Zealand. It is offered as a tribute to those whose lives were lost, many of whom were learners of English in the CTV building. 

Many thanks for 25 years- here’s to 25 more! 

All good wishes from New Zealand. 

Gabrielle McKee 

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