News & Blog

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 Learner English

Blogger: Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator)

August 2018 copyLearner English, this month's reference spotlight, is a resource staple for many teachers and trainers of English language learners. We believe it can also be helpful to you as you work with your learner on navigating the English language. Learner English is designed to help you predict your learner's possible errors by examining their mother-tongue. 

Limerick Lessons with Steve and Maria

Interviewed by Katherine Payne (Literacy Coordinator) 

Steve Loar is a retired university professor of art, design, and woodworking. He now works as a sculptor, and his piece “Black Seam” won first prize in the 2018 West Michigan Art Competition. He has been working with his learner Maria since February 2017. Maria is a native of Lima, Peru.

July Steve Maria

 

How did it feel when you first started tutoring?

"Tutoring is a chance to be like that great teacher you had.. or maybe the great teacher you didn’t have. The first fear is in the beginning. Starting is scary – then you and your learner become partners in a quest." 

Guest blogger: Franciel Palencia
Franciel is a learner in our Adult Tutoring Program and wrote this article for The Reader, our quarterly learner newsletter. 

Franciel Palencia

My name is Franciel. I am from Venezuela which is the country in South America near Columbia and Brazil. I have two kids: Santiago and Andres. Santiago is 9 years old, he is in 4th grade and he loves to play soccer. Andres is 7 years old. He is in 2nd grade and he likes to swim and play Legos all time.

My husband’s name is Jose Luis Rivas. We have been married for 12 years. He likes to wake up early and read the bible, while he drinks his coffee. We met in college UPEL-IPB (pedagogical).

Leandra Pogson is our AmeriCorps Bilingual Support Advocate. She is a native of the Dominican Republic, and lived for several years in Puerto Rico. Leandra just signed on for an additional year of AmeriCorps service, and spoke with Libby Wahlstrom about her experience. 

 

Leandra

Why did you want to become an AmeriCorps member with the Literacy Center?

Belonging to AmeriCorps gives me the opportunity to gain experiences and get closer to the community, while also allowing me to collaborate with the purpose of supporting the Family Literacy Program.

Describe your role. What is your work like?

I am the liaison between the learners and the program. I provide support to the team and collect data. Also, I provide orientation and information to the learners according to their needs and sometimes I serve as the recruitment agent for the program.

Table Topics Present | Family Conversation Pack

Blogger: Thomas Rodgers (Literacy Coordinator)

We are pleased to share with you the newest addition to our library: Table Topics Family Conversation Pack.

July Family Conversation Pack

 Blog Author: Jennifer Summers, Customized Workplace English Coordinator

After dedicating her time to raising her children for several years, Anna Jean Cater decided that she needed to do Annasomething for herself. She was certified as a math teacher in her home country of the Philippines, and had worked as a cashier at Meijer for a few years between her move to Grand Rapids and the birth of her first child, but she knew that she wanted a new career. She said, “I want to start where my weakness is, which is English.” A friend told her about the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and she enrolled in an advanced blended classroom/online ESL course. During that class, she improved her English, earned a Silver National Career Readiness Certificate, and through our online software, learned about various careers and how to navigate technology systems.

Blog Author: Chad Patton, Director of the Customized Workplace English Program

Minh was born in Vietnam and came to the United States when he was just 12 years old. A straight-A student in Vietnam,Minh Minh describes himself as an “ambitious guy” and a go-getter. Since coming to the United States, he’s been a student at GRCC and GVSU, a manager at Walgreens, and an international businessman. He is now a Quality Supervisor at Praxis Packaging Solutions in Grand Rapids.

The path to his current role at Praxis took some time. Minh started in the Production Control department before applying for an accounting supervisor position. At that point, his work ethic was evident, and it caught the attention of Praxis’ CEO, Rick King. The only barrier inhibiting Minh’s career path? His English language skills.

Punctuation, Prepositions, and Plurals- oh My!

Blogger: Miranda Buckwald (AmeriCorps Family Literacy Tutor)

June 2018As an AmeriCorps tutor, I’ve had the chance to use many different textbook series supplied by the Literacy Center. I've come to know that because each learner has different proficiencies and goals, it’s essential to have a textbook that is appropriate and engaging. 

Today I’m going to discuss one series that I’ve found particularly useful: Grammar Wise.

June 2018 copy

Grass Roots Press Biography Audio Books

Blogger: Carrie Roper (Literacy Coordinator)

Is your learner interested in reading about real people who made a positive impact on the world? If your answer is yes, we encourage you to visit our tutor library to check out the Grass Roots Press Biographies by Terry Baker. Learners can read about individuals such as Nelson Mandela, Ceasar Chavez, and Elizabeth Fry. The best part? These books come with an audio CD and a free online workbook.

Guest Blogger: Kari Sovereign. Kari is an AmeriCorps Family Literacy Program instructor. She teaches English classes to parents in local school districts. We're thrilled that she is returning as an AmeriCorps member again next year. 

The Family Literacy English class that I teach at Cook Library Center quickly fell into a routine last fall with a group of Karidedicated English language learners. It was during the second week of classes that a woman with what appeared to be a large growth on her back came to class. Maria introduced herself and told us she is from Guatemala and has lived in America for 14 years. She is happily married with six children, five of them boys, and the baby is a girl.  With the help of the other women in class, she quickly assimilated and the session moved along smoothly. 

Novel Scenes | Introduction to Low Intermediate

May 2018

Blogger: Katherine Payne (Literacy Coordinator)

For English language learners first starting out with their English literacy skills, it can be difficult to find reading materials appropriate for their ability and interests.

The traditional adult literacy workbook addresses everyday literacy skills necessary for survival in the community and the workplace, but it may miss the mark on exciting and engaging subject matter. For tutoring pairs interested in reading short stories, but need the structure of a workbook, Novel Scenes is the perfect fit.

 Guest Blogger: Carrie Roper, Literacy Coordinator and Kent Companies' Instructor

Three days a week, Baldo gets up before dawn to attend an English class at 5 AM before his work shift begins. The two-Kent Companieshour class is held for Baldo and 20 of his colleagues at their workplace, Kent Companies

Baldo’s English class is part of the Literacy Center’s Customized Workplace English program that provides customized classes on site at local companies and businesses. The classes are designed around the work that learners encounter at their job, and are offered at times that are convenient for the employees. For Baldo, this means coming to English class before his shift so that he can learn the English he needs communicate with other workers and succeed at his job.

Q & A with Ariel DuVal Zinn

Interviewed by Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator)

At the Literacy Center of West Michigan, we are serious about not just talking the talk of literacy but also walking the walk. May2018 Michael Crumb copy copyMost of our staff members are also tutors themselves.

Ariel DuVal Zinn is the Literacy Center's AmeriCorps Coordinator, and has been tutoring Mike Crumb since February 2016. In this month's Q & A, Ariel tells us about her experience as a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Center.

May 2018

Index Card Games

Blogger: Miranda Buckwald (AmeriCorps Family Literacy Tutor)

One of the many strengths of the Adult Tutoring Program here at the Literacy Center is the number of resources available to our volunteer tutors. While we thoroughly train and prepare tutors with leveled and relevant textbooks, we know that working from a single book for two hours straight can become quite boring.

Thankfully, we equipped the Tutor Library with many reference books to help tutors find new and exciting material for each lesson. Today we will be discussing one of said books, titled Index Card Games for ESL, which provides tutors with fun word games for every subject and level.

Stories & Activities for Parents

Blogger: Thomas Rodgers (Literacy Coordinator)

April 2018 photo copy

As the family literacy coordinator, I am always looking for tools to help parents connect to schools. From Home to School is a supplementary resource filled with common scenarios that parents will encounter. Tutors have often mentioned the great discussions that happen with parent learners when going through the book.

IrwinlogoPrimary289 

One thing is clear from West Michigan business owners: the labor market is tight. With an unemployment rate of 4% as of January 2018, employers are actively searching for innovative ways to attract and retain talent. Irwin Seating Company, a Grand Rapids-based manufacturing company, was no exception. They had a number of temporary employees without GEDs or diplomas who had applied for permanent employment, but were unable to get past the interview stage due to their literacy barriers.

Connector, partner, bridge-builder, advocate. These are the words that everyone in town uses to describeJohn has led us to engage John Helmholdt, recipient of this year’s Ledy Award for Community Engagement.

For the last 10 years, John has used these skills in his role as the Executive Director for Communications and External Affairs at Grand Rapids Public Schools to build social capital and strengthen confidence in our city’s public school system. 

April 2018

Blogger: Carrie Roper (Literacy Coordinator)

The Challenger Adult Reading Series is one of the most enduring and user-friendly publications I have encountered in adult education.  Our adult learners and volunteer tutors all love the high-interest reading, targeted exercises, consistent formatting, and wide variety of topics. When using Challenger, learners can work closely with a tutor to explore stories from around the globe.  The reading levels range from almost non-reader to GED preparation.  We recommend this series to both our adult basic education (ABE) and English language learners (ESL). 

Cheri Stanard will be honored with the Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award at the Literacy Center's Spellebration event on May 10, 2018. To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, visit www.literacycenterwm.org/spellebration. Current tutors are invited to attend the event at a reduced price. 

Cheri Stanard is the kind of person who finds her own joy by giving of herself to others. Her generous energy has been spellebration logo clearancefelt by the staff and learners at the Literacy Center, and we are eager to recognize her with this year’s Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award. “Cheri is one of the kindest people I know,” says Literacy Coordinator, Katherine Payne. “Her warmth and her unwavering patience positively impact the educational success and social engagement of her learners.”

April 2018 Kelly Perutelli

Q & A with Kelly Perutelli 

Guest Blogger: Katherine Payne (Literacy Coordinator) 

Kelly Perutelli is a writer, a social worker, and a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Center of West Michigan. Since May 2017, Kelly has met each week with her learner, Idalmis, to work on specific goals like conversation skills, workplace literacy, and community involvement. Kelly agreed to share her experiences as a tutor, with the hope of encouraging others to step into this role.

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