MADISON — Imagine not being able to understand your child's teacher. Or your doctor. Or the person interviewing you for a job.
Norma is a single mother of three school-aged children who works three part-time jobs. She hopes to improve her English so that she can better communicate with their teachers, improve her spelling and vocabulary, and, ultimately find a good full-time job. Norma is one of over 100 adult learners waiting for a volunteer tutor.
Tutors are specifically trained to teach reading, writing and speaking skills to help adult learners improve their financial independence, good health and greater involvement in community life. The need is growing, as is reflected in the growing waiting lists.
"[My learner] has become much more confident with reading and asking questions," says a volunteer tutor. "She has come to lessons several times with articles or forms she has read, asking questions about vocabulary or content. She has also noticed that she can understand instructions at work more accurately."
In Dane county alone, more than 17,000 adults lack the functional literacy skills needed to read a letter from their children's teachers, a label in a grocery store, or instructions from a doctor. An additional 38,000 adults need help with English language skills.
"Anyone can be a tutor," says Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Shawn Steen. "As long as you are patient, reliable and kind, we can turn you into a fantastic tutor, and that has as immense impact on the community. Not only do our learners improve their literacy skills, but often our tutors have their lives enriched by the friendship that develops. I always tell new volunteers: when you volunteer for Literacy Network, the life you change may be your own." "Tutoring [my learner] is a complete delight — I enjoy his company, appreciate his enthusiasm, and have learned a lot from him about many things," says Barbara, another volunteer tutor. "...don't thank me for being a tutor. I am grateful to the Literacy Network for giving me the opportunity."
For more information, contact Shawn Steen, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 244-3911