Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Durham NC :: Lethbridge AB :: Bloomington IN

Honor Martin Luther King Jr. by becoming a literacy volunteer
Herald Sun: 1.10.2017 by Lizzie Ellis-Furlong, Durham Literacy Center

It is estimated that up to 22 percent of Durham’s adults (38,000 individuals) lack the fundamental reading, writing and English language skills that they need to function well in the workplace and the community overall. According to the National Adult Literacy Assessment of 2003, these adults lack “basic prose literacy skills,” meaning they lack the reading and writing skills necessary to perform fundamental, everyday tasks such as reading a bus schedule and completing a basic job application.

Basic literacy skills are essential to earn a living wage, manage family finances, help children with homework, manage families’ health care, get a high school diploma, and succeed in post-secondary education or vocational training programs, and address other everyday challenges.

However, having a strong education is more than just basic literacy skills, it is critical to the success of our society. Martin Luther King Jr. also wrote that “It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.”

For over 30 years, the Durham Literacy Center has been committed to serving Durham residents with its four core programs: Adult Literacy, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Youth GED and Computer Literacy. Over 800 Durham residents enrolled in DLC programs in 2016 and the agency is on target to serve at least that many again in 2017.  READ MORE @

Toastmasters, Read On team up to help immigrants
Lethbridge Herald:  1.11.2017 by Dave Mabell

It’s a real challenge for many people. Stepping up to address a crowd can create anxiety if not sheer panic.

But what if you’re asked to speak, and you’re still learning English as a second language?

That’s a challenge that’s been accepted by a growing number of immigrants and refugees who’ve come to make their home in Lethbridge. With coaching through two of the city’s long-running educational programs, they’ve developed the confidence and social skills they needed to build on the training and experience they brought to Canada.

“The people have come from almost everywhere,” says volunteer Teena Cormack, a member of a local Toastmasters club that’s collaborated with the Read On program at the public library.

After gaining a working knowledge of English, the newcomers have moved on to more advanced, one-on-one tutoring by Read On volunteers. Then they’ve taken the next step, signing up for an eight-week “Speechcraft” program offered by Toastmasters International affiliates round the world.

“It’s very intensive,” Cormack says, so participants are coached by their Read On tutor as well as a mentor from one of the city’s six Toastmasters groups.

Registration for this year’s program, starting at the end of the month, is open. Full details are available by visiting or calling – 403-380-7323 – the Read On office at the downtown library.

It’s the seventh year for the special Speechcraft project, and Cormack says it’s proven to be the key to advancement for many participants.  READ MORE @

VITAL trains new volunteers for adult tutoring
Indiana Daily Student: 1.11.2017 by Christine Fernando

For Bethany Turrentine, Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners coordinator, these women were brave and their message powerful.

Turrentine said these two speakers were representative of a larger population of Bloomington adults seeking to achieve literacy goals in reading, writing, math and English as a new language.

“There are so many adults here in Bloomington who haven’t had the same opportunities to learn that we have,” Turrentine said. “VITAL wants to help them overcome any obstacles and reach the literacy goals they set for themselves.”

VITAL offered its first orientation and training session of the year Wednesday for new volunteers. Potential volunteers have the option of helping with one-on-one tutoring or ENL groups focusing on topics ranging from history and grammar to crafting.

The orientation included an overview of the program and its history, a description of what is expected of volunteers, and a discussion of resources offered by VITAL. After orientation, new volunteers will be matched with learners in their areas of interest.

Turrentine said the efforts of these volunteers lead to direct benefits for those they help. Education can lead to new job opportunities, the ability to read to children, handling finances and earning a driver’s license. The greatest benefit, however, is something less tangible, she said.

“I feel like so many people who come to VITAL don’t have the opportunity to speak for themselves.,” Turrentine said. “They aren’t the ones speaking up at meetings or writing letters to the newspaper or voting ... We really want to try to give them the tools to use and be confident in their voice.”  READ MORE @

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