This week we are celebrating you, our fabulous 250+ volunteers! We have seen a huge growth in the number of students at Literacy Source, and thus the need for an even greater number of committed volunteers. Over the past year, our volunteers have helped Literacy Source succeed by:
Donating 4499 hours of volunteer work in 2018 alone
Reaching a record number of 74 tutoring pairs
Expanding our instructional capacity to offer Talk Time classes both on and off site
Helping us offer childcare to support some of our classes
Helping with testing, citizenship mock interviews, outreach, and data entry
Keeping our office running smoothly in the busy evening hours
Helping to organize and process books into our library
Providing oversight and guidance at an organizational level
A heartfelt thank you from all of us here at Literacy Source!
Literacy Source Annual Breakfast
Tuesday, May 1
7:30-9 am @ Seattle Pacific University
It's not too late to sign up for the 16th annual Literacy Source Breakfast! Join us for student stories and Nancy Pearl's yearly review of great books at our one big fundraiser of the year.
Reserve your seat today!While the breakfast is complimentary, there is a suggested minimum donation of $150 to support the free classes and tutoring we provide to almost 900 low-income adults each year. Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, 100% of all funds raised will directly support our students. Come alone, bring a friend, or invite enough friends, family, and neighbors to fill a whole table to support the adults in our community working hard to increase their basic skills. Hope to see you there!
Culturally Responsive Teaching: The Power of Multilingual Learning
Page from "Zufan and the Flower" by Haymanot Berhanu, in our reading library.
If you work with ESOL learners at Literacy Source, think for a moment: Do you know what language(s) your student speaks? Can your student read and write in those language(s)? Is more than one language spoken at home? How, if at all, do you incorporate this language knowledge into your lessons?
The individuals in our ESOL program are multilingual learners. They speak a multitude of languages: from Amharic to Arabic, Somali to Spanish, Tigrinya to Tagalog, and many, many more. Our student population's language diversity is impressive and is a valuable tool that students, teachers, and tutors can leverage for learning.
Educators have often viewed learners' multilingualism in one of three ways: a problem to be fixed, an issue best ignored, or a powerful resource that can encourage higher-order thinking. Additionally, a multilingual approach to learning can create greater inclusiveness of home cultures and lived experiences while also shifting a power dynamic that privileges English and (implicitly or explicitly) devalues non-English languages.
Maybe you're thinking, "But our students need and want to learn English! They live in the U.S., and need to communicate with doctors, teachers, cashiers, bus drivers, landlords, and supervisors!" And while that's true, research has shown that use of "L1 (learner's home language) and/or bilingual options are not only effective, but necessary for adult ESL students with limited L1 literacy or schooling and that use of students' linguistic resources can be beneficial at all levels of ESL." (Auerbach, 1993, p.1)
In the coming months, this section of the newsletter will continue to address multilingual learning further. We'll examine strategies to create culturally responsive teaching that value students' language and experiential knowledge. In the meantime, we've included a treasure trove of articles on this subject - some light reading for these spring days! Enjoy!
Have you ever wondered how to intervene if you saw someone being harassed because of their religious identity or for any other reason? Learn how to engage in situations of public harassment and violence without escalating the danger.
This free training is led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - Washington State.
Literacy Source is committed to making sure that we're doing all we can in these turbulent times to provide a safe and affirming place for our students. Staff recently met with two immigration attorneys (and LS Board Members!), Ralph Hua and Erin Cipolla, to review our policy on what to do if Immigration officers enter Literacy Source. In short, we will not allow agents or employees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) access to our facilities, records, or information unless they have a valid federal court warrant signed by a judge. Please let Lynnknow if you have any questions, or review our full policy here.
Teaching Tip: Active Listening
Each month, we highlight one of the best practices on our tutor self-evaluation form, located on our
Google Drive. We hope volunteers can revisit this form on an ongoing basis to help you reflect on the work you are doing with your student(s). There is a different form for instructors, located
Effective tutors and teachers actively listen to their learners as well as model and teach learners to use their active listening skills to communicate better in English. In our last newsletter, we introduced four parts of active listening: determining the purpose, paying attention, monitoring understanding, and integrating new information with prior knowledge.
This month, we'll focus on the first component of active listening: setting a purpose for listening. Just as good readers have a purpose for reading and change their reading behavior to meet their purpose (for example, reading for the main idea, reading poetry aloud to listen to the sounds of language, or closely reading a text they need to analyze in writing), good listeners have a purpose for listening and change their listening behavior to meet their purpose.
A common listening situation is when tutors ask students questions and listen for the students' answers. Thinking about the purpose of listening can help us ask better questions. Better questions are relevant to your student and have a real communicative purpose. In other words, they elicit new information or thinking for both listener and speaker. The next time you meet with your learner(s), ask yourself what the purpose of your questions are. Is your purpose to find out information from your learner that you don't know? If you have a different purpose, what is it? For example, in tutoring, do you ask your learner questions about a text you're reading together that you already know the answer to? In that case, your purpose is probably very specific. It may be to check their comprehension or to see if they can find information in the text, so you are listening for "correct answers." This kind of question is useful, but the purpose isn't open communication - instead, it's checking knowledge.
If you find yourself mostly checking for knowledge, try to change up your purpose for listening and intentionally ask questions that you don't know the answer to. For example, ask your learner something they learned from a text, or something the text reminds them of, or what they liked and why. You now have to listen differently and may have to ask follow-up questions or use other strategies to clarify your understanding. The learner also re-orients their purpose for speaking, because they now have to think critically and communicate new information to you. Try it and see!
New Citizen Spotlight
Ljiljana surprised us with delicious homemade goods shortly after passing her citizenship test!
Congratulations to our newest U.S. citizen, Ljiljana Popovic(from Serbia). She has been a student at Literacy Source since 2013 and applied for citizenship last spring. Her citizenship certificate was a lovely birthday gift - she passed the test just 3 days before her 80th birthday! Ever since moving to the United States, it has been her goal to become a US citizen. She says, "Many people, even I, did not believe I could do it because of my age...so I am very happy." Ljiljana will share her story, along with two other Literacy Source students, at our Annual Breakfast on May 1.
Celebrating a Year of Service
We'd like to take a moment to thank Diana Chapman, Jaylene Ruth, Susan Arnett, Mark Rosenblum, Barbara Thake, Beth Bickson-Milici, Chris Berry, and Rob Bowman for reaching one year of service at Literacy Source. Thank you so much for your time and energy!
Community Event Calendar
Our community event calendar highlights some of the events happening in the greater Seattle area that pertain to social justice, diversity, and equity. If you know of any other events to share with the Literacy Source community, please let us know!
Tuesday, Apr. 24
Friday, April 27
Tuesday, May 15
Saturday, May 19
Palestine and Palestinians: Exploring Public Opinion Two Decades After the Oslo Accords
Literacy Source recognizes the inherent dignity, equality, and value of every person and strives to create and maintain a learning community that is respectful and welcoming. To foster and maintain a safe and inclusive community of respect, openness, understanding, and civility, it is crucial that students, volunteers, and staff are aware of their rights and options when confronting a discriminatory or bias-related incident. To read more, click here.