Literacy Networking

Tara Lockwood, ESL Tutor for Stillwater Literacy Council

1. Can you share a personal story or experience that has had a significant impact on your commitment to adult literacy?

The answer to this is closely connected to my answer to question #3

2. How do you personally stay motivated and engaged in your work, especially during challenging times?

I stay motivated to continue tutoring ESL by recalling my own experiences in countries where I was a non-native speaker of the local language. I remember how challenging even the simplest daily tasks can become when one must navigate an entirely different way of doing basic things. For example, items in a store might be categorized quite differently from what one is accustomed to, making it difficult or impossible to locate certain things and unsure about how to even ask for help. By thinking about how I felt in these situations, I am motivated to help ESL students not only learn English but also provide a cultural foundation.

3. Can you describe the specific programs and services your organization offers to support adult learners and promote literacy skills (i.e., ESL, Literacy, Citizenship, HSE, Digital, Health, and how they are delivered, i.e., one-on-one, small groups, classes)?

An adult learner who has achieved significant growth, both personal and professional, is my current student, a Vietnamese woman in her mid-thirties. She arrived here about five years ago with her family. Her husband had been accepted as a graduate student at OSU. For the first couple of years, she mostly stayed home and cared for her family and had only very limited contact with native English speakers. Then she began to feel somewhat isolated and decided she wanted to learn more English to be able to converse more with everyone around her. She then signed up for tutoring at the Stillwater Literacy Council. When I first met her, she seemed quite shy and had difficulty expressing many of her thoughts. She now works as an apartment assistant for university housing, greeting new students when they arrive, helping them get settled, explaining the housing rules to them, and holding social events for them. Most recently, she learned she achieved the necessary score on the TOEFL exam for admission into graduate school, and she has been accepted as a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics at OSU, where she will begin studying this fall. I believe our program helped give her the confidence needed to expand her horizons and pursue her education goals.

4. Could you share a specific success story of an adult learner who has gone through your program and achieved significant

I try to keep students engaged by providing them with materials that are not only appropriate to their level and learning goals, but are also of interest to them. For example, I had a student who really enjoyed reading novels and had definite ideas about which ones she wanted to read. Therefore, I let her choose the book, and then I read it, too. We talked about vocabulary and cultural questions as they came up, and she practiced her speaking and writing skills by summarizing a chapter or paraphrasing a paragraph. My current student, on the other hand, has chosen a series of ESL texts published by National Geographic, which have readings and videos about all kinds of subjects: nature, history, culture, etc. I believe that by involving the student in material selection, it is much easier to keep them interested and active participants in their learning.

5. What is your most effective method to recruit new students?


6. How do you keep your current students engaged so that they keep attending classes?


If you haven't yet, please take a few minutes and answer the questions above so that we can add your information. You can answer them as a form here.

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