Archive for the ‘Fall’ Category

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Teaching adult ESOL and GED learners never gets old! There are always new challenges and major accomplishments made both as a teacher and as a student in the classroom. Read below to read more about AmeriCorps members, Carrie and Stephen, experiences in the classroom for LLC’s fall 2013 term:

Carrie’s Reflections: 

I have had the great opportunity to work with many adult ESOL learners in my experience as a teacher, but this year I now have the new opportunity to work with even more learners in an intermediate classroom! This term I taught over 20 learners at Guilford Elementary School and Cascades Library. The eight-week session went by hurriedly, as the learners learned about describing people using descriptive adjectives, identifying places in their community, and setting personal, work, and educational goals. Teaching intermediate level learners allows for instruction to delve a little deeper. Although the learning skill, speaking, was dominant in the classroom, the learning skills, reading and writing, played a large role.

Because intermediate learners know more of the English language, I was able to adapt my lessons to include more writing and reading comprehension activities. For homework each night, I had my students write a journal entry on the writing prompt of the day. The topics for the writing prompts always centered on whatever topic we were discussing that night in class. This activity allowed for learners to develop their writing skills and incorporate different grammar skills learned throughout the class. The journal entries also allowed me and my teacher assistant, Erin, the opportunity to learn a little more about our students. One writing prompt, for example, explored the personal, work, and/or educational goals they had for themselves. It was gratifying looking to see what my students wrote. They had everything from helping their children graduate high school and attend college to starting their own business. It was yet another example of the determination that my students possess.

One of the best moments of my experience teaching this fall was when we went over what some of the students detailed in their journal. The topic was “Why do I want to study English?” This seemingly simple topic transformed into a half hour discussion amongst my students about their goals to better their English skills and some of the struggles and triumphs throughout their English learning journey. It was great to see such dynamism in the classroom as the students were relating to one another while speaking the English language.

Of course the success in the classroom for the fall term was not without the hard work of my teacher assistant, Erin. Erin has the ability to work so well with the students and to form a trusting relationship with them. Her knowledge of the not-so-easy English language is quite impressive. I often had her go over the grammar points during the lesson! It has been my pleasure having her as my aide for the past two class terms and I’m excited for her to be entering the class as a lead instructor for the winter 2014 term!

Teaching intermediate level learners is quite the learning experience for me and it has allowed me to stretch my creativity as an instructor. I’m excited to continue my journey as an intermediate teacher for the winter 2014 term!

Stephen’s Reflections: 

I find it almost hard to believe how much time has passed since the start of the term!  From the beginning, I was primarily focused on my beginner ESL class.  With eight students in attendance most days, it was the largest group of students I had ever worked with at once, and I had never had direct experience working with English learners.  Naturally, I was nervous coming into the class on the first day.  When I considered the way the learners must have been feeling, though, it was easy to realize my concerns were relatively minor.

In class this term, we covered ways to greet people and make introductions, completion of personal information forms, how to tell the time, months and days of the week, money, and asking for directions.  The lesson on classroom instructions was perhaps the most valuable, as it allowed us to move more easily through every later lesson.  It was remarkable to see what a difference it made when instructions such as “open the book to page 10” or “write your name on the paper” started to become clear to the class, and I hope the rest of the material made an equally noticeable difference in their lives outside the classroom.  It has been amazing to see how much progress some of the learners have made over such a short time.

It has also been a challenging and rewarding experience to work on the GED program.  Several of our students have made very impressive gains in math and science ability over the course of the term.  It has really been a joy to get to know the students and hear all their different reasons for wanting to earn their GED’s.  With upcoming changes to the test format designed to emphasize depth of knowledge and critical thinking skills, it has been a challenge to balance preparation for the new material in 2014 with coverage of strategies for the current test format.  Good luck to all of our classroom and tutored students taking the old version of the test for the last time in December!


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Loudoun Literacy Council’s Family Literacy Department held its annual, Fall for Reading, on Sunday, September 8, at the Rust Library in Leesburg. This free event, now in its 5th year, promotes the importance of reading together as a family all year long. It is held in conjunction with National Family Literacy Week and is sponsored by Loudoun Public Library. This year’s features included a professional face painter,  an arts and crafts tent, refreshments and free books for all. The highlight of the day was magician Tom Lilly, with a presentation of “Books are a Blast”. He had lots of audience participation in his book-themed program and topped off the day by creating one-of-a-kind balloon animals for all of the participants. Each year, attendance continues to grow as more and more families in the community are made aware through local news outlets, flyers, and calendar postings. This year we were very happy to see returning families and some of our Head Start friends!

Each year, the library works with Loudoun Literacy to support this important endeavor and we rely on the generosity of the community to make it all happen. This year’s supporters included Ben Franklin, Giant and Wegmans, in Leesburg. In addition, we had over 300 volunteer hours donated by local girl scouts, teens, and others in the community. Thanks to all of you who were able to stop by and see us!


Written by: Tanya Bosse, Family Literacy Program Director

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SUMC Beginner 8

As September winds to a close, the Adult Literacy Program staff is pleased to see the arrival of our fall 2013 term classes.  Our ESL classes now include an amazing 167 students from 33 countries and speaking 27 different native languages!  It’s exciting to see the program continue to grow in overall size and to meet students from such a diverse range of backgrounds.  Classes are now underway at ten sites across the county, including libraries, elementary schools, Douglass Community Center, and Sterling United Methodist Church.

With the start of a new academic year, my beginner class is focusing on the fundamentals of everyday conversation and classroom-related vocabulary.  Working with a full classroom of English students for the first time was a daunting task, but the teacher training program and the lesson planning resources here were tremendously helpful.  I’m greatly looking forward to working with my students on locations, types of businesses and occupations, and how to provide personal information in the coming weeks.

We would also like to extend a welcome to the thirteen new volunteers who completed our teacher/tutor training on the 14th and 21st of September.  It was great to meet some of the people who are going to be helping our program in the future, and interesting for me personally to try to absorb as much valuable teaching insight as possible from Claudia, Carrie, and Susan while also setting up materials as needed.  Congratulations to Becky, Ceil, Deborah, Keith, Laurie, Leena, Manuel, Margie, Marlene, Mary Jane, Sandra, Sherry, and Shirley for completing the training!

-Stephen Ours

AmeriCorps Member 2013-2014

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Stephen Ours 2013-2014

This month we are fortunate to introduce a new AmeriCorps member, Stephen Ours, to the LLC team for the 2013-2014 service year! Stephen will be working with the Adult Literacy Program, teaching both ESOL and GED classes. Carrie and Claudia are so excited to have him on board as we begin a new year!


Stephen Ours joined Loudoun Literacy council as an AmeriCorps member for the 2013-2014 year in September.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from George Mason University.  He has recent experience working with middle and high school students in mathematics and reading at Huntington Learning Center.  Stephen is looking forward to the opportunity to work with a different segment of the Loudoun population and hopes to help enable members of the community to effectively share information and ideas.


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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!


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.


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

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