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Archive for December, 2012

Book Bundles - December 2012 NewsletterOur Family Literacy program has been partnering with MotherNet since 2008 to provide Baby Book Bundles to new and expectant at-risk mothers living in Loudoun. More specifically,  the program gives baby book bundles to new moms of babies from infancy to 2 years. These bundles contain bilingual literacy information about the importance of establishing an early reading routine from infancy. Along with the tips, we include two baby books (in Spanish, where appropriate) and a small baby item. The first week in December, we delivered our first Baby Book Bundles of the new school year. These bundles will go to 22 Spanish speaking families and 15 English speaking low-income families that are served by MotherNet.

Tanya Bosse

Family Literacy Program Director

 

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For the past eight weeks, Carrie and I have been teaching beginner level ESOL classes for the first time with Loudoun Literacy Council.  Below, we have both shared our reflections on what we have learned about teaching, about our students, about serving our local community through AmeriCorps, and most of all about ourselves.

Susan’s Reflections

These past eights weeks of teaching ESOL and serving with AmeriCorps went by almost too quickly.  I still remember how nervous I was on my first night of teaching ESOL in October worried that I would not be successful in teaching my new students beginner level English.  This past week, I was handing out certificates to my students to celebrate the end of their first eight weeks of class.  It was at that point that I realized that not only were my students successful in learning English, but I had learned so much from them about their desire to learn English and their desire to improve their ability to be involved in their local community.

Over the course of the eight weeks, we covered topics including completing personal information, learning time, counting money, learning about the hours of the library, reading a calendar, making appointments, learning about holidays, identifying family members, and talking about family responsibilities.  It may seem an everyday task that we may under appreciate to those of us who are native English speakers, but for them, it’s learning how to successfully live, work, and enjoy living in the United States.  My favorite lesson that I taught was teaching about holidays, as the students opened up about their families and their traditions.  It was the point where friendships were made across cultures in the classroom.

Though I am sad to see these eights weeks come to an end, I am happy to see my students move on to learn more topics in English and some to move on to higher levels in English. I not only enjoyed teaching my students each week, but I enjoyed the friendships that were made and hopefully will continue. Though I may have been tired by the time class came around in the evening, the energy they brought to class made me want to be a better teacher each new class and I hope to strive to improve my skills for the winter term.

Carrie’s Reflections

From the first week of October to the first week of December, I had the pleasure of teaching ESOL learners in two classrooms. As a first time ESOL teacher, I was at first overwhelmed with the responsibility of teaching a class of adult learners how to understand and use English successfully on a day-to-day basis. But, what I found was that I felt inspired by my students and I became motivated to spend three nights a week teaching students who were determined to learn. As much as they were learning from me, I learned from them.

Teaching English is such a journey of an experience for me because I was teaching concepts such as the alphabet, numbers, time, money, and scheduling appointments; subjects that, as a native English speaker, I largely took for granted. Teaching reminded me that to be in a foreign country, whether you are here for 2 months or 20 years, is a challenge when trying to immerse yourself in the in-and-outs of daily living (i.e. communicating in both private and public spaces). Of all the lessons that I taught during the eight weeks, “Making Phone Calls” stood out to me. It was during that particular lesson, I noticed how determined my students were to learn the fundamental aspects of reading conversational English, and more importantly being about to accurately speak and converse with the dialogues that we practiced. We went over the different dialogues, with the use of fake phones, repeatedly until everyone felt comfortable enough to practice independently out loud. I really enjoyed teaching that lesson and it taught me to make sure to use conversational dialogue in at least one aspect of my future lesson planning.

I’m glad that I work with a non-profit organization whose mission is to “change lives through learning” because I can see, first hand, the benefits of teaching adult ESOL students and I can witness their satisfaction of learning something new and understanding something fully for the first time.

I can’t wait until mid January when the Adult Literacy Program and our volunteers continue their efforts in the classroom!

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Susan Pilley and Carrie Robinson

AmeriCorps Members  ’12-’13

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Kathleen and CarrieThe Adult Literacy Program likes to spotlight a volunteer who has shown exceptional dedication to the mission of Loudoun Literacy Council and it is my pleasure to announce that Kathleen Ramey has been chosen!

 Kathleen Ramey, a volunteer with Loudoun Literacy for the past year, is a teacher assistant for the Douglass Community Center Beginner class. As the lead teacher of the class, I have very much appreciated Kathleen’s dedication and enthusiasm in changing lives through learning! Kathleen has been such a great help in the classroom, especially since I am a first time teacher of ESOL learners! She has given me a lot of guidance and support and has helped me strengthen my lesson planning and build my confidence in teaching adult learners.

I asked Kathleen a few questions about her volunteering efforts with LLC and how and why she has dedicated her time to our mission.

Kathleen, what motivated you to dedicate your time and volunteer efforts to Loudoun Literacy Council?

I love to read. It has always been very important in my life, and I am thankful to all of the teachers (including most of my family!) that ensured that I can read well and enjoy and comprehend what I read. I wanted to share my good fortune with others so that they are also able to experience the joys of reading.

What aspects of volunteering do you like the most or take the most value in?

The students! They are wonderful—dedicated, persistent, and so much fun in class.

How has working in the classroom motivated you to continue with your volunteering efforts in changing lives through learning?

The pleasure of seeing comprehension in a student’s eyes, the joy of watching progress in learning, and the pure fun of hearing and seeing different viewpoints and perspectives has ensured that I’ll remain a volunteer .

In your opinion, do you believe assisting in the classroom has better prepared you for a lead instructor position in the future?

Oh yes! Being an assistant is critical to me—I am not a trained educator. I am using the on-line resources extensively, and they are excellent, but seeing and participating is essential to learning how to teach successfully. Plus, I have the benefit of working with Carrie whose positive attitude, excellent preparation, and lovely sense of humor makes every class a success.

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 I am looking forward to seeing Kathleen in the classroom for the Adult Literacy’s Winter 2013 session! 

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