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Update on our work with the 17 adult Afghan newcomers

Update on our work with the Afghan newcomers

Asheville has so far received 17 adult Afghan newcomers through Operation Allies Welcome. The first eleven to arrive have been matched with Literacy Together tutors for one-on-one instruction and are also taking ESOL classes at AB Tech – for a total of 15 hours per week of English lessons. The next six have arrived in recent days and are scheduled for registration with both AB Tech and Literacy Together.

We’ve been working very closely with staff from AB Tech and Catholic Charities, and along with Catholic Charities, we’ve experienced an outpouring of support from the community. To offer any other kind of support, please contact Catholic Charities at WROrefugeedonations@ccdoc.org.

We are so grateful for the ways people are stepping up to welcome our new neighbors! We also still have over 40 people from other countries who’ve been waiting for weeks or months for a tutor. To sign up to become a volunteer tutor click here.

 Thank you, Asheville!

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Gracemarie has been an ESOL tutor since 2015

ESOL tutor
 

Watch this video to learn more about her experience tutoring the same student since 2015. Thank you, Gracemarie!

 

 

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program teaches oral English, reading, and writing to adults who have immigrated to the U.S. from around the world. ESOL is the largest program at Literacy Together, serving approximately 250 students annually. Our students’ most common goals in learning English are to improve their employment prospects, help their children in school, and pass the U.S. Naturalization exam

Each student works with a trained volunteer tutor, either individually or in a small group of up to ten people. Tutoring takes place for two hours each week at times and locations that are mutually convenient for students and tutors. Tutors may choose to teach one (1) two-hour session or two (2) one-hour sessions each week and may do so online or in-person (read Barbara’s experience tutoring Maryna remotely).
 

ESOL students with a short-term goal of becoming United States citizens may choose to receive citizenship-specific tutoring and learning materials in the ESOL program. This curriculum focuses on U.S. history and civics, as well as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation. One hundred percent of students who received citizenship tutoring from Literacy Together and took the U.S. Naturalization Exam have passed it.

Read Mr. Lee’s success story

Should I be an ESOL tutor? What’s involved? Email volunteers@lit-together.org or call (828) 254-3442 x 204 to learn more and sign up for an upcoming orientation. Click here to read more about the tutor training.

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Evelyn and Walker love Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

“I wanted to share how wonderful it is to see Evelyn (now 5 and has officially graduated from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library), reading her DPIL books TO us that we spent years reading to her every month when they arrived. It’s a beautiful gift from a library that lasts beyond those 5 years!”  ~ Marilyn C.

Here are some pictures of Evelyn reading to Walker. Walker wasn’t very engaged in the beginning but Evelyn was able to quickly catch his attention! Good job! 😉
 
Evelyn and Walker love Dolly Parton's Imagination Library books!
 
 
Evelyn and Walker love Dolly Parton's Imagination Library books!

 

Evelyn and Walker love Dolly Parton's Imagination Library books!

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library puts books into the hands and hearts of children across the world. The Imagination Library creates a home library of up to 60 books and instills a love of books and reading from an early age. DPIL is now mailing a free book each month to over 4,400 registered children in Buncombe County.  Here is the online registration form

 

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How Can Academic Leaders Promote Literacy in Their Communities?

How Can Academic Leaders Promote Literacy in Their Communities?
Faltering adult literacy is a growing problem in the United States. Going by literacy rates posted on World Atlas just a few years ago, only 65-86% of total U.S. residents are literate, with only 15% able to read at a university level. The majority, according to the same numbers, can only read at 7th- or 8th-grade school level. Learn how academic leaders can promote literacy in their communities.

Low literacy among adults has been linked to a massive range of societal issues and thus requires addressing in as efficient and comprehensive a way as can be managed. Beyond educating low-literacy adults, however, this process crucially needs to include a focus on improving literacy among children, too. We know that it is difficult for kids who get off to a poor start in their reading and writing education to make up ground, which indicates that the best long-term approach to our literacy problem is improving how we teach our kids.

The question that follows is what role academic leaders can play in better promoting literacy in their communities. And there are some crucial steps that come to mind.

Expand Their Own Leadership Credentials

One interesting issue in educational systems in the past that is seldom discussed is a lack of opportunity for advancement past a certain point. Leaders of schools and school systems often attain their positions via experience and promotion but have little chance to actually undergo further training or certification for leadership positions. This remains a challenge for those who are interested, but the amplification of online degree programs relating to higher education has at least provided more options.

Now, it is possible for academic leaders to pursue additional credentials while on the job, or over the summer months. Maryville University’s overview for online doctorates in education leadership states that a degree of this nature can be earned in 1-3 years entirely online, providing interesting options for those pursuing more influence in education. As to how this factors into addressing the literacy problem, we’ll simply note that greater qualification empowers a leader. Someone in a position to run a school or school system will have a louder voice, greater connections, and often greater perspective on how to bring about meaningful change.

Set Up Plans Across Subjects

Regarding actual education plans, one common mistake in our approach to teaching reading and writing is the assumption that only activity in reading and writing classes matters. In other words, we should not think only of one or two periods in a day as the time in which children learn to read and write. Instead, educators and academic leaders need to remain mindful that kids also learn to engage with words through other subjects. A science workbook might ask for short written responses rather than multiple choice answers; math challenges can come in the form of word problems; even foreign language lessons can educate about grammar and sentence structure in English.

In addition to all subjects mattering, today’s academic leaders should also consider that different media matter. According to research analyzed by educators from the Universities of Queensland and South Australia, “engagement in literacy across many different media supported good literacy outcomes.” In other words, kids should engage with words through different subjects and different means, including print, writing, arts and crafts, screens, and more.

Implement Plans For Struggling Students

Another mistake that occurs in literacy education is failing to implement plans for students who struggle. Designing a comprehensive plan across subjects and media for effective education is a wonderful start. But it cannot be the whole effort. There will always be students who struggle even within a well-designed approach, and there also has to be a plan to help these students along. What that plan looks like will depend on the school system, the resources on hand, the nature of the child’s difficulty, and so on. But in the promotion of greater literacy, it cannot be assumed that a comprehensive approach will reach all students at the same rate.

Involve Families

It is also incredibly important for school systems to devise ways of involving parents in the process. As is noted in a piece on family involvement in literacy education posted on Medium, “families are students’ first teachers,” and remain central to education even once kids are in school. Now, this doesn’t mean that there will always be seamless cooperation between parents and educators; in some situations, it will be difficult if not impossible to involve families to a satisfactory extent. However, the same piece just mentioned that academic leaders start by opening lines of communication, holding regular parent-teacher conferences, hosting literacy events, and even providing parents with resources. Altogether this kind of effort will increase the odds of families taking active and productive roles in bolstering the promotion of literacy.

Set Up Opportunities Beyond the Classroom

Lastly, academic leaders would also do well to set up events outside of the classroom to further promote literacy. This can mean any number of things, but we’ll refer to the youth literacy program through Youth Transformed For Life that we’ve highlighted here before as an example. This program promotes both summer reading and greater equity in literacy education by reaching summer campers and primarily grade school students of color. It is again just one example, but it serves as a simple demonstration of how a single, well-run initiative can fill a meaningful gap in education, and help countless students along a better path toward full literacy in the process.

Through all of these measures, leaders in education have the opportunity to promote greater literacy education. Doing so will improve children’s abilities to read and write at desired levels, and ultimately result in greater literacy for entire communities.

 

This article was specially written for lit-together.org

By Alicia Wilson

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Remote ESOL tutoring at its best

Remote ESOL tutoring
 

Please read the remote ESOL tutoring success story of Barbara and Maryna! One advantage of our tutors and students having had to learn how to meet remotely is that they’re often more creative about keeping the learning going when travel plans interrupt their regular classes. Take Barbara and Maryna, for example: they’ve been meeting on Zoom since November 2020. Barbara lives in Florida for part of the year and Asheville for the other, but that hasn’t affected their lessons at all. And when Maryna went to Ukraine for an extended visit this summer, she kept in touch with Barbara and practiced her English by taking videos of what she was doing, narrating them in English, and emailing them to Barbara. 

“I am very happy to have such a wonderful teacher in my life! I thank Barbara for our informative and fun lessons.” ~ Maryna

Watch the video to learn more about Barbara’s experience tutoring Maryna, and read more success stories here!
 

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program teaches oral English, reading, and writing to adults who have immigrated to the U.S. from around the world. ESOL is the largest program at Literacy Together, serving approximately 250 students annually. Our students’ most common goals in learning English are to improve their employment prospects, help their children in school, and pass the U.S. Naturalization exam.

Each student works with a trained volunteer tutor, either individually or in a small group of up to ten people. Tutoring takes place for two hours each week at times and locations that are mutually convenient for students and tutors. Tutors may choose to teach one (1) two-hour session or two (2) one-hour sessions each week and may do so online or in person.

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