News & Blog

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Salvador Geron wrote this article for our Spring 2019 edition of The Reader, our learner/tutor newsletter. Salvador and his tutor, Gerri, have been working together since October 2018.

If I could have three wishes they would be the following:

For my 1st wish is that poverty would disappear in the world, because I see people who have nothing to eat.

My 2nd wish would be to remove the hatred people have about the differences of races. People should be able to see each other regardless of the color of their skin, and help each other.

Interviewed by: Carrie Roper, Literacy Coordinator

 Marielena Huerta is a tutor who is also serving as an AmeriCorps member through the Literacy Center's Family Literacy program. Her parents were originally from Mexico, so she understands the challenges adults face as they learn English. Marielena attended college at Aquinas, where she majored in Community Leadership and Interpretation. 

 

Interviewed by: Thomas Rodgers, Family Literacy Coordinator 

"We've Impacted Each Other's Lives"

Emmalee Anderson has been a tutor with the Literacy Center of West Michigan since July 2018. She first heard about the opportunity during a presentation from the Lieracy Center at her firm, McShane & Bowie. She shared her experiences with her learner, Margoth, in an interview with her literacy coordinator.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do?

I am a paralegal with a law firm. I graduated from Grand Valley with a minor in Spanish and always had a love of languages. I also love to bake and that’s something Margoth and I both do. We bring each other treats. I like traveling, too. My husband and I recently went to Italy. I have dual citizenship and a lot of family in Australia.

By Olivia Montero, a recent graduate from our Adult Tutoring Program. She and her tutor, Tim Bolema, worked together from May 2017 until she graduated in August 2018. Olivia wrote this story for our Fall 2018 edition of The Reader, our newsletter of learner writing. 

I recently became interested in eating healthy foods. I have been thinking of having a garden. Then a friend told me about a place where there is a community garden sponsored by church. I was able to rent a small plot. I was very excited because I have a garden of my own.

A special thanks to our friends at Art Peers for producing the Spellebration 2019 honoree tribute video. 

Interviewed by: Katherine Payne, Literacy Coordinator

Laurie Zarzecki Emelander is the Finance Director at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and recently celebrated 25 years with the organization. Laurie has tutored for the past 4 years and spoke with Katherine Payne, Literacy Coordinator, about her experiences.

A Matter of Fact Series

Blogger: Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator)

It’s been a month of busy energy here at the Literacy Center. We've been basking in the warming weather and enjoying the materials that just popped onto the shelves in our Tutor Library--an amazing eruption of Non-Fiction!

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We are delighted to introduce to you this month's Featured Supplementary Resource that is literally a matter of fact!

With a fitting name, the Fact Matters series helps develop learners' foundational knowledge through the topics they will encounter in their science, social studies, and art texts. The best part? There are so many accessible titles in this series.

Amanda VanLente began tutoring in 2015. Since that time, she's worked with two learners and is in the process of being matched with a third. Family Literacy Coordinator Thomas Rodgers interviewed Amanda about her experience.  

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do?

I’m originally from Grant, a small farming community north of Grand Rapids, but GR has been home for almost a decade. I work in marketing and advertising.

What drew you to the mission of the Literacy Center?

Libby Crabb Wahlstrom [Literacy Center Development Director] was the first person to introduce me to the Literacy Center. We are close friends, and when she told me about the organization, I was floored. I spent a month in Rome during college, and I know how hard that was to navigate. I can’t imagine not being able to read while still performing a job or navigating a city. I also loved that the Literacy Center serves adult learners. Don’t get me wrong, kids are important, but there are so few programs for adults.

Blogger: Carrie Roper, Literacy Coordinator

Monika Skripal’s motivation for practicing her English language skills always comes back to one thing: family. As the mother of Monika Skripaltwo young daughters, Monika is using her English daily to advocate for their needs and to support their education. In fact, it was through their school – West Godwin Elementary – that Monika first heard about the parent-focused English classes offered through the Literacy Center’s Family Literacy Program.

Bloggers: Thomas Rodgers (Family Literacy Coordinator) and Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator)

Does your learner have a voracious appetite for knowledge that is difficult to quench?

For some first-time tutors, coming up with lessons that consistently engage learners' literacy goals can feel like a daunting task. With so many available resources, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

This is why we decided to showcase Cambridge University Press's high-interest, real-life topic series, Ventures.  At its core, Ventures is a five-level, standards-based English language learning series for adults.

Interview: Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator)

Jean Buys Kim Thi Le photoJean Buys has been a tutor with us since 2015 and has worked alongside her current learner, Kim Thi Le, since September. Jean is a veteran who served in the Air Force, Army, and National Guard. Jean now spends her time working as a career and life coach while taking care of her family.

 

 How did you get involved with the Literacy Center?

My mom instilled the love of reading in me at a young age. Every month I would get a Dr. Seuss book in the mail. She'd call me in from outside and together we’d read the book. Also, my mother was as a tutor [at the Literacy Center]. 

It was during the Literacy Center’s annual picnic that I'd get to meet my mother’s learners and their families. It was like a small seed that began growing inside me after the second and third picnic. I wanted to get involved.

Blogger: Carrie Roper (Literacy Coordinator)

Litstart

Are you stuck in a rut with your tutoring? 

Are you looking for more activity ideas, teaching strategies, or even a refresher on best practices for tutoring? Look no further than the reference book LITSTART: Strategies for Adult Literacy and ESL Tutors. 

 Blogger: Carrie Roper (Literacy Coordinator)

Saw and Christopher copy copyChristopher Helgeson is a software developer who has been working alongside Saw-Sa-Nay, a native of Myanmar, since October of 2017. With Christopher’s guidance, Saw is making significant progress in his listening and conversation skills. Just as importantly, the two have had a meaningful exchange of cultural ideas and experiences. 

Great Short Stories for Listening & Speaking

Blogger: Katherine Payne (Literacy Coordinator)

For tutors who are looking for meaningful conversation practice for their advanced level learners, Great Short Stories for Listening-Speaking offers adaptations of timeless short stories from authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm. Like similar items in our library, this workbook provides our learners an opportunity to access stories with simplified and engaging vocabulary. 

Great short stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Michael Blog DecemberInterviewer: Katherine Payne (Literacy Coordinator)

Anthony Hanline is a full-time student and has tutored his learner, Abubaker, since September 2016. This past November, Abubaker was sworn in as a US citizen after passing the difficult naturalization exam. Anthony and Abubaker worked together closely to prepare for the exam, and Anthony agreed to share his experiences with the naturalization process to encourage fellow tutors and learners.

For Lili and her husband Omary, literacy is a family affair.

The couple, both born in the Congo, struggled to find jobs in West Michigan that would support their family of five and Lili Photo copy copyprovide meaningful work. They each felt that their English literacy levels limited their ability to work in their desired fields—Omary as an electrician and Lili in healthcare. 

That’s when Omary discovered the Literacy Center. He enrolled in the Construction Core program, a partnership with the Literacy Center and Grand Rapids Community College’s M-TEC. Soon after, Lili enrolled in a similar class for Certified Nurse Aid (CNA). Both of these classes taught the necessary job skills with the support of an English language instructor from the Literacy Center.

 Listen & Level Up with Pearson English Readers

Blogger: Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator) 

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Are you and your learner ready to take listening comprehension to the next level? If so, we encourage you to stop by our library to check out Pearson's English Readers Series.

Pearson, a conduit of education publishing and assessment services, understands the needs of English learners. The English Readers Series attempts to streamline the process of developing listening comprehension by offering an array of titles, all of which include plans for pre-reading and post-reading analysis and further online lesson plans.

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Reading & Writing: Weaving it Together

Blogger: Thomas Rodgers (Literacy Coordinator)

Learner and tutor pairs often tell me that writing is the one topic that presents the most difficulty for them. Fortunately, we have a great resource called Weaving It Together that can help. 

Interviewed by: Queyonna Hunt (Literacy Coordinator)

Diedrea copyQueyonna sat down with Diedre Deering and her learner, Malvin Brooks, during one of their tutoring sessions in the Literacy Center's tutor library. Diedre is the Executive Assistant at the Literacy Center, and she and Malvin have been meeting together since May 2017.

What did those first meetings look like?

Malvin and I met for the first time at the Van Belkum library branch. For the first couple of weeks, we just got to know each other. From the very beginning, I was impressed at Malvin's dedication. He is so faithful about doing his homework and always shows up for tutoring even though he works two jobs.

What was your proudest moment as a tutor? 

I would say my proudest moment was when Malvin received his score on the second [reading] test he took after we started working together. He had a significant jump in score on that second test, and it showed that everything we'd been working on was helping him improve.

From Pro Lingua Associates: A Phrasal Verb Affair 

Blogger: Carrie Roper (Literacy Coordinator)

October Supplementary Photograph copyFor most people studying English, learning how to use phrasal verbs is a significant challenge. They are semantically and grammatically complex, and often use verbs with different meanings. 

Unfortunately, those of us who are native speakers use these phrasal verbs frequently throughout our daily conversations and in writing. The Longman Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs currently lists 12,000 different entries; this can confuse learners of all levels.

For learners who are interested in working on phrasal verbs, I recommend “A Phrasal Verb Affair.” This bright pink workbook is hard to miss in our tutor library and includes an audio CD with conversations from the lessons. 

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