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January 2, 2018 > Read to Write programs aid adult literacy

Read to Write programs aid adult literacy

By Margaret Thornberry

Imagine finding yourself in a foreign country, where you may be able to keep up your end of a conversation, but canÕt read a street sign or a menu Ð perhaps even the alphabet in use is unfamiliar to you. How do you become familiar with the written language of your new home? If you or anyone you know is not fluent in written English and you live in Alameda County, look no further than the Adult Literacy program, Write to Read, available through the Alameda County Library.

Write to Read classes are usually free, and class materials, such as books, are also provided. Classes are open to native English speakers who wish to upgrade their reading and writing skills, as well as to second language learners. In-person classes are staffed by volunteer tutors who have completed training or by credentialed teachers. Students range in age from teens to older adults, and programs are available to all residents of Alameda County, including unincorporated areas.

You might picture a room full of students from outside the USA, sounding out the letters and words that will enable them to read BART signs, help them pass DMV tests and even understand rental agreements and ballot initiatives. While you wouldnÕt be wrong, this is only a tiny fraction of what Write to Read offers. For example, you could earn an accredited High School diploma via Career Online High School through Write to Read. This is not a GED, but an authentic diploma with a focus on eight different job skills areas, taught online by credentialed teachers. Students in this program can also apply for a scholarship to cover the modest cost of the online classes.

There are many Write to Read programs to select from, with new classes starting throughout the year. In addition to the High School diploma program, Write to Read offers:

ÐBasic Literacy for Adults, held at Fremont and Union City libraries during evening hours to accommodate working students. These are taught by credentialed teachers.

ÐOne-on-one tutoring offered to those fluent in spoken English who would like to improve their reading and writing skills.

ÐComputer Lab, which provides training in basic computer skills, as well as access to dozens of online library resources for learners and job seekers.

ÐLife Skills & Citizenship classes for beginning and intermediate second language learners. Citizenship Preparation for those with intermediate English skills, includes: Civics: History and Government, English Skill Development, and Preparation for the Naturalization Test.

ÐJob Skills tutoring is focused on serving adults in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

ÐBook Club/Reading Club is a program for adults fluent in spoken English who are interested in developing stronger conversational skills, and enjoy reading a interesting book and discussing it in a small group. The books are provided.

The book selected by the students in tutor Estela YapÕs current Reading Club group is ÒThe Girl with Seven NamesÓ by Hyeonseo Lee, the first-person story of a young women who escapes from North Korea, leaving her brother and mother behind. This is a powerful and well-written story, and the subject is a good choice for this class, which includes students from Russia, China, Japan, Latvia, and Taiwan. Reading Club classes are informal and small, with discussions of vocabulary words, reading comprehension exercises, students reading aloud in turn around the table, discussion of the plot and characters, and conjectures about what is yet to come.

Speaking with Adult Literacy Program Director Dr. Luis Kong, itÕs easy to see that he and his staff are very proud of Write to Read, as well they should be! Not only do these programs offer outstanding learning opportunities for volunteer tutors and their students, a number of helpful partnerships have been developed with organizations such as CaliforniaÕs Employment Development Department (EDD) and Mercy Housing, Inc., making the services of the Adult Literacy program even more comprehensive and helpful. Student author writings have been collected and published for the Learning Together Celebrations, and Dr. Kong is looking forward to holding a graduation ceremony for those students who achieve their goal of obtaining a High School diploma through the Career Online HS program. Under the guidance of the Adult Literacy staff, Write to Read is not just a series of classes, it is a learning community.

To learn more about Alameda CountyÕs Adult Literacy, a wealth of information is available at http://guides.aclibrary.org/literacy. Brochures and class schedules are available at the Fremont Main Library (2400 Stevenson Boulevard) and the Adult Literacy staff can be reached at (510) 745-1480, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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