In Langley, there is much to celebrate on the adult literacy front during International Adult Learners Week, April 2 to 9.
Once a week, a dozen learners and their tutors get together to practise literacy skills in a program called COOL (Community One on One Learning) for Adults. COOL provides volunteer tutors for people who need help with basic literacy skills.
“Tutors report that it is very rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Bev Krieger, who co-ordinates the program and trains the tutors.
One student’s remark speaks to the success of the program: “It’s like being released from prison.”
Many learners have gained the skills they needed in the workplace or who have qualified for further training, Krieger said, adding that “all of our learners have improved their language skills.”
Another said, “I get a real kick out of learning a new word or the spelling of a familiar word,” and another described the classes as great fun. “I’m always learning something new,” he said.
“Before, I would pass over words I couldn’t read and now I try hard to figure them out or get help,” said another.
One student felt “really proud of myself as I was able to fill out an application for OAP without help,” and one learner was able to reach the point where he was able to complete the paper work he needed before he could move into his new apartment. He managed it without help from family or friends.
The comments of students demonstrate the success of COOL. One student talked of “no longer hiding the fact that I attend literacy classes.”
COOL assesses individual learners, devises a program to meet that learner’s specific needs and matches him or her with a tutor. Tutoring sessions take place once a week at a location convenient to both, most often in a local library. COOL for Adults also works with the Gateway of Hope to assess learners and provide resources.
Many local literacy volunteers also work with a number of other literacy programs as well, including ELSA (English Language Services for Adults) which provides English language training for adult newcomers to Canada. Many of the Karen refugees in Langley access the ELSA program at New Directions.
Langley Community Services offers English as a Second Language classes as part of its Immigrant Services.
The Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) has launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness about the importance of adult literacy and the resources offered by libraries.
Christian Life Assembly offers English conversational classes, and a group of retired teachers in Aldergrove volunteer to provide English classes at St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church.
For more information about any of these programs please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-857-4662.