Literacy New Jersey helps adults become U.S. citizens


In 2016, almost 200 Literacy New Jersey students were granted U.S. citizenship, meaning they can register to vote and do so for the first time, and become more active members of their communities.

Chin Vivian Hsieh is a 53-year-old woman who immigrated to the U.S. six years ago from Taiwan, and among her most challenging experiences here was just walking into a shop and go to the checkout counter.

She was scared, and thought people were saying ‘What’ya doing’, while they actually were saying ‘How’ya doing’. It was, in fact, this small misunderstanding, just one simple word, that made that she didn’t venture out on most days.

Finally, Hsieh joined a Literacy Volunteers group on English conversation and started to work 1-on-1 with a tutor from Literacy New Jersey in Middlesex. It was only then that her life begun to change for the better. In 2015, Chin Vivian Hsieh became a U.S. citizen. She says she now wants to vote for the American presidency, and that she likes the American life, the possibilities, and the freedom.

Read More

Early Childhood Literacy

Developing Language and Literacy in Early Childhood (ages 0 – 5)

It is a common misconception that learning begins once a child enters school. In reality, children are learning as soon as they open their eyes. They are learning whether or not the world is a safe place. They are learning whether or not people care about them.

They are learning about whether or not it is safe to explore new things.  And they are learning about language. Every time you talk to a child, you are building that child’s vocabulary. You are helping a child develop the ability to comprehend words. You are helping the child learn to articulate his or herself. A child’s vocabulary has a significant impact on whether or not a child will be prepared to learn to read and write.

There are two kinds of talk: functional talk and conversation. Functional talk refers to the “everyday” talk required to get things done: eat your breakfast. Put that are your shoes? Get in the car. Brush your teeth. Come here.

Read More

Why is Literacy so Important?

Why is literacy important to you and me? To all of us? Well, literacy – in its broadest definition – is the keystone that unlocks opportunity for individuals. It matters immensely because research shows that higher literacy rates correlate to better socioeconomic, health, and quality of life outcomes. In an increasingly fragmented world, literacy – the capacity to share and communicate our stories, learning, and experiences in different mediums – is key to building cohesiveness and empathy. Check out also this video from the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation:

Literacy is important because it is the foundation upon which people are able to interact with the world, educate themselves, and thus contribute to society as well as their own well being. We value education and believe that literacy is the first step on that road.

Literacy is a fundamental skill that is important in almost every aspect of our lives, whether in school, at work, or in plain daily living. We believe that by promoting literacy, we can make a profound difference in peoples’ lives and make a significant impact in the community.

Read More

Reading together with your family

What can you do for your family? Want to try something new?

  • Travel to new places. This can be in your own neighborhood or city.
  • Go on explorations or field trips.
  • Experience a new cultural event.
  • Learn something new every day.
  • Maintain a home library, including cataloging books and authors.
  • Start a gratitude journal or family diary. More about gratitude journals.
  • Enjoy family discussions about book or movies that everyone can read or watch. Maybe join with another family and share the discussions with them.
  • Suggestion: To help encourage your family to develop enjoyable learning habits try this. At a prearranged time every day, such as dinnertime, ask each member of your family (no matter what the age) what they learned that day. Their response might be what they learned from a book, at play, at work, from the radio, from the television, from a friend. The range of topics that will come up for discussion will astound you. Maybe your family will discuss current affairs, maybe inner feelings; some of this exchange will be serious, some light and jovial – all will be valuable.

Read More

Reading with your children

Here are some ideas that help all of us appreciate and value how important reading is for children. You may also discover new ideas that interest you, personally.

Reading and Learning Magic

Children who love to read hold a special kind of magic – a gift that will enrich their lives forever. Like ensuring that your child eats healthy and has proper rest, you can also nourish your child’s imagination – that endless curiosity that causes your child’s mind to grow in a healthy way – by teaching your child to learn and love to read.

Your child has probably asked you many questions and will continue to ask you hundreds more. Your responses are one way that you teach your child about the world. However, you also know that your child has to learn from other sources as well. One of these sources is books, which contain an endless amount of knowledge and pleasure. So help your child discover the wonderful world of books and become an enthusiastic lifelong reader.

Read More

Do You Write With Your Students?

The National Writing Project

A teacher is a critically important role model for students. It’s said that a parent is a child’s first, best teacher but parents entrust to us the sacred obligation to carry the flame of learning through the school years.

Teachers sometimes “dispense” information but one of the most important ways learning happens and takes hold is when the role model – teacher or parent – demonstrates the importance of the lesson or task by engaging in it themselves. Tying a shoe, keeping things in their place, reading – or writing.

Donald Graves used to talk about this in his teacher workshops. Showing rather than just telling your students that writing, revising and editing can be hard work – but worth it – is a powerful teaching tool. Getting down in the trenches with your students can be uncomfortable, but showing vulnerability to the kids can pay dividends.

Read More

The Importance of Literacy

All people need some form of literacy in order to be engaged in the fight for social justice, whether the cause is education, immigration, women’s rights, economic justice or racial justice.

Literacy and earning, in general, are the foundation for every social justice effort we can and should engage in. Take a look at just a few of the numbers:

  1. Approximately 65% of 4th-graders continue to score below proficiency in reading.
  2. Approximately 33% of all children – and more than 50% of low-income and minority youth – fail to graduate high school on time.
  3. Only 33% of high school graduates have the skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce.
  4. Only 10% of minority students who enroll in college will graduate.
  5. Approximately 759 million adults – 16% of the world’s population – have only basic or below basic literacy levels.
  6. Approximately 66% of the world’s lowest literacy adults are women.

Read More

Executing Great School Project Ideas

Books have been written about them and a number of different comedians talk about them as a part of their stand up routine. School projects. Many parents dread it when their child announces they need help and some creative school project ideas since that is usually the signal for days of roaming craft stores and surfing around online trying to come up with school project ideas that will impress the teacher.

School Project Ideas – Where to Get Help

Every child’s school project comes with the same instruction – that children should make all of the elements themselves. That might work for kids on say, a high school level, but if you know an elementary school child who has ever completed a big school project by themselves we’d love to hear about it because we certainly never have.

Read More

How To Become A Literacy Volunteer

Before you can start working on things like syllables with any student, practically all literacy organizations will require you to attend an orientation & training program of some 10 to 20 hours.

Usually, the lessons and materials are provided for free, and the training takes generally place on evenings or weekend days.

These training programs are including subject areas such as goal setting, designing lesson plans, sensitivity training, dyslexia, and effective methods for teaching vocabulary, writing, preparing for the GED test via Math practice from, and even writing a short GED essay.

Well, as we know that the majority of  illiterate adults were trying to cover up their inability to write and/or read for many years, sensitivity training elements were implemented to help you help them with any form of shame,  negativity about school, or frustration, that may come up during one of your tutoring sessions.

The instruction on your lesson plans will provide you with good ideas about how to structure your tutoring sessions.You’ll learn which workbooks to use in relation to a student’s reading level or perhaps learning disability, and the best ways to keep your tutoring accurate and lively.

Read More

You Should Not Mispronounce A Student’s Name

Are you aware that if you mispronounce a student’s name, you are negating the student’s identity? Mispronouncing a student’s name may well be leading to resentment and anxiety which may lead to less academic progress.

Pronouncing the name of a student correctly will help build a positive school culture and is only respectful to students and their families.

Over the last decades, we’ve seen a national increase regarding students’ overall graduation rates in the U.S., but the dropout rate for immigrant or foreign-born students remains above the 30% mark,  well over three times the dropout rate for white, U.S.-born students.

See also this important video:

We know that for many English Language Learners (ELL’s), the mispronunciation of their name is all too often the first of many setbacks they are experiencing in the classroom, while they are already very unlikely to work with a curriculum that respects or reflects their specific culture, or meet teachers who are speaking their native language.

Read More

Results of the online collaboration project

I was reminded earlier this week that I hadn’t really said much about my own project in the course of these blog posts.  I think you will probably have gathered I’ve had a lot to reflect on and had an absolutely fabulous time in the Carolinas.

To be honest, it’s probably taken a couple of weeks since I’ve been home for the enormity of what happened to sink in. I was really pleased at how well-received the project was at the school, proud to have become a semi-finalist alongside another great US teachers –  and truly humbled that out of so many wonderful projects it won first runner-up in the collaboration category! WOW!

That means that we are well on track for the collaborative ways of working that were mentioned in my previous post and how impressive are our students with their world-class achievements! Read More