Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning

Supporting learners and potential learners into and through adult, further and community education

These stories and multimedia resources can be used by friends, family, tutors, libraries, enrolment, and of course learners themselves. Whether it is getting back in to education in the first place or looking at how you might progress in what you are doing, there is a story. Perhaps the course is getting a bit rocky, a health or family issue comes up, and it is difficult to keep going, there is a story. A number of tutor pieces contribute to understanding the journeys and the successes along the way.

In addition to the freely available written stories, there is video and audio on these webpages, often with accompanying transcript. The full list is available here. A number of stories are available in a range of European languages. The book is widely available on e-book platforms to support using reading apps on devices, and in paperback for cost of printing, p&p. We encourage you to support learners to read and write reviews online using reading networking sites such as GoodReads.


“This is an excellent resource – an inspirational collection of stories that have the potential to empower many learners and their communities.” Dr Vicky Duckworth, Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University

Downloadable Versions

In addition to these multimedia webpages, the book is available as a free e-resource in pdf and ebook as .epub (generic) and .mobi (Kindle) [on behalf of RaPAL from resilience.designingfutures.uk, as RaPAL’s WordPress-hosted site unfortunately does not support ebook download]. It is available on major e-book platforms such as iBooks, Mobi, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Please ask in your local and college libraries!


Please contact admin.officer@rapal.org.uk with current costs at £5 printing per copy and p&p at £1.75 – £3.25 (single copy to small number), larger orders on enquiry. Order form available here.

Multimedia Stories listing

Terry Easter, City Lit
Rubina Bhatti, Surrey Adult Learning
Brigid Montgomery (tutor), South Grove Family Learning, with and Shaista and Yulia
Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning Centre’s Qianghua Chen Anne, Jian San Wang, Ming Zheng, Jian Kui Peng, Zhiyuan Cheng, Mohua Wang and Manjit Bhamral (tutor)
Mark Hopkins, PRACE
Bulend Murad, Crisis

Multilingual Extracts courtesy of EPALE

Translations of a number of stories are available in French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish on learner pages and here.

Published 8th September 2016

50th International Literacy Day

Learner stories were collected from across Australia and the United Kingdom, and include voices spanning much of the earth. The anthology originated in two national adult literacies organisations whose members wanted told the stories of the resilience of learners and the value of developing literacies through lifelong and lifewide learning. This is the latest collection in a tradition of learner narratives and publications, by RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacies), and ACAL (Australian Council for Adult Literacy). The contributors were keen to inspire and reassure peers into participation, and to thank the tutors and institutions who helped change their lives, who travelled and supported them during their learning journeys.

In presenting their writing, many learners realised increasing confidence, supporting children and grandchildren, and opportunities in current and future voluntary roles and employment. Learners experienced the therapeutic benefit of social, creative and learning activity, as many worked through trauma and tragedy, through every form of loss, ill health, difficulty, disability, addiction, abuse, disruption, instability and struggles through state interventions, to learning in the later stages in life. Each story has been tagged and indexed with themes, which makes them searchable as well as browsable in the e-book, paperback and website versions. The website includes a small range of multi-media contributions, including transcripts. Most learners appeared to be eagerly bridging the digital divide.

For the diversity of learning provision which exists, the response to our call is inspirational. In addition to large adult, further, vocational, higher education and charitable provision, we have encountered a phenomenal range of community activity which builds in learning and outreach work. These may be in schools, neighbourhood groups, religious organisations, or outdoor forest school or allotment plots. We have contributions generated in offender learning, secure
care, supported housing, retirement care, and special educational needs expertise, which build towards independent living.

Each story we hope will find readers who identify, and stories that illuminate the challenges and successes of others. As we read the learners’ stories, we see unfolding in front of us the rich personal and intergenerational benefits that are afforded through adult learning provision in diverse sites and diverse modes. We hope you enjoy and disseminate our anthology ‘Resilience: Stories of Adult Learning’.



The Project Team

Ros Bauer

Ros BauerRos Bauer has extensive experience in adult learning and adult language literacy and numeracy (LLN) in Indigenous education contexts. She is committed to adult literacy provision which focuses on developing human capital with sustainable social capital and community capacity building outcomes. Her commitment to this approach is evident in the projects she undertakes such as the work she is currently doing in remote Northern Territory; which led to her award for Excellence in Adult Literacy Numeracy Practice at the 2013 Australian Training Awards. Ros has qualifications in Aboriginal education, TESOL, LLN, Vocational Education and Training; and is principal consultant for her business Ros Bauer Adult Literacy Services.

Michael Chalk

Michael ChalkMichael Chalk is an adult educator (language, literacy, numeracy and technology) working in the Adult Community Education (ACE) sector in Victoria, Australia. He’s been involved in state and national digital learning projects such as AccessACE e-Learning Research Circles, and Victorian ACE e-mentor projects, e-learning innovations, e.g. Can You Hear Us? (audio technologies in the classroom), Flexible Learning Leaders and Community Engagement (Australian Flexible Learning Framework).

Keiko Yasukawa

keikoyasukawaKeiko Yasukawa is a lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia. She has been working at UTS since 1993 in various roles including teaching and coordinating adult education programs, mainly in the area of adult literacy and numeracy. Engagement in the professional field is an important part of Keiko’s work. Keiko has held leadership positions in the Australian Council for Adult Literacy and the NSW Adult Literacy and Numeracy Council since 2009.

Keiko’s research interest areas are: adult literacy and numeracy policies, pedagogies and practices; critical numeracy and the social studies of mathematics; precarious employment in Australian higher education. Her recent publications include the edited book with Stephen Black Beyond economic interests: Critical perspectives on adult literacy and numeracy in a globalised world (Sense Publishers, 2016). She is the lead editor of Literacy and Numeracy Studies: an international journal in the education and training of adults.

Julie Furnivall

Julie FurnivallJulie Furnivall is a freelance teacher trainer and consultant, with a wide range of skills and expertise developed over forty years in post-compulsory education. Julie has a number of specialisms, but the one that is closest to her heart is English for Speakers of Other Languages. As a trainer, Julie has worked with many hundreds of teachers, tutors, assessors and managers. In addition, she has always taught learners who are improving their skills in literacies. She is proud of the many individuals she has worked with, particularly those who have faced huge barriers in life, yet have still managed to achieve their goals. As well as coaching, teaching and nurturing her learners, Julie has managed numerous projects and initiatives. The most recent was a project about empowering bilingual women who lacked the language skills to be able to communicate confidently about their own health, particularly sexual health.

Tara Furlong

Tara FurlongTara Furlong has twenty years’ experience in adult education and training in the private and public sectors in the UK and abroad, specialising in integrated English language, literacies and digital learning. She is involved in delivering professional development via national organisations in the UK, editorial and publication work; and has an established history of designing and implementing systemic curriculum quality initiatives in education providers. She has an ongoing interest in the relationship between multi-modal and contextualised versus abstracted learning; and its mirror in social and literate practice and language across life spheres. As well as work with Designing Futures Ltd, Tara does pro bono work for RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacies), BALID (British Association for Literacy in Development), is an active local school governor; and is engaged in postgraduate studies in educational leadership with UCL, Institute of Education.

RaPAL (Research and Practice in Adult Literacies)

cropped-new_rapal.jpgResaarch and Practice in Adult Literacies (RaPAL) is the only UK-wide organisation that focuses on the role of literacies in adult life. We promote effective and innovative practices in adult literacies teaching, learning and research; and support adult literacies practitioners and researchers. We enjoy engaging in debates that touch on English language and literacy, numeracy and digital skills across homes, communities and workplaces. Through our members, digital journals, conferences and fora, policy and advocacy work, we are active in Europe and have international links. More information at https://rapal.org.uk/

ACAL (Australian Council for Adult Literacy)

ACALThe Australian Council for Adult Literacy promotes adult literacy and numeracy policy and practice. We provide leadership in Australian debate on adult literacy and numeracy practices and policy. We build understanding of adult literacy and numeracy issues. We advocate on behalf of equitable adult literacy and numeracy provision for all Australians. We build links between people, organisations and systems; the participants and stakeholders in the adult literacy and numeracy field. We work with other organisations on issues of mutual concern.. More information at http://www.acal.edu.au/

Festival of Learning

Festival of LearningFestival of Learning awards showcase and celebrate the wonderful things that learning can achieve for individuals, families, communities and employers. Get involved, and nominate the learners, tutors, projects and employers that deserve recognition, and will inspire others. More information at https://www.festivaloflearning.org.uk/


Left to right: Norissa Nampijinpa Watson, Lavinia Nampijinpa Watson, Gwenneth Napurrurla Nelson, and Ros Bauer

“Writing a story for a conference the ‘yapa’ way i.e. Telling the story of the adult learning centre using traditional art.”

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