CALEXICO — Camarena Memorial Library has been offering various literacy services to help Calexico residents improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills in a virtual environment since the pandemic started.
English as a second language (ESL) classes are offered three times per week via Zoom. In order to be part of this class, an intake interview is performed, and if the person qualifies, the person gets added to a waiting list. The current participants are taking the Level 2 class. Each level is completed in about four months. Once a participant has completed the two levels, it is very likely that they qualify for adult tutoring services.
Adult tutoring services are also offered virtually. A library volunteer tutor helps another adult improve their reading and writing skills in one-on-one sessions. The learner’s learning goals are what drives the curriculum the tutor puts together. Tutor and learner meet for at least two hours per week. The library provides all the materials the tutor and the learner need for their sessions. This program is possible thanks to the California Library Literacy Services Grant.
The library is constantly recruiting volunteers to serve as tutors. No teaching experience is necessary. The library staff provides the training needed for volunteers to become tutors. A commitment of at least six months is required to participate.
This is a very rewarding volunteer program for those that are looking for ways to give back to their community. Helping someone improve their literacy skills so that in turn that person can get a better job, improve communication skills with teachers, be able to help their kids with homework, take the citizenship or GED test and the like is priceless. In order to participate, an intake is performed for both the tutor and the learner.
If a tutor is not available to be matched with a learner, the library offers other services so that the person can start working on improving literacy skills. Depending on the individual’s English level, we might enroll them in either Learning Upgrade or Voxy, so that they can work at their own pace, in their own time. Once a tutor is available for them, they may continue utilizing either software to complement their learning.
In addition to these services, the library also offers a weekly conversation session where participants can practice their English-speaking skills. The “Let’s Talk” conversation group meets via zoom on Thursdays at 5 p.m.
Since February, the library started a new book club named “Library Learners” especially designed for those that are working on improving their English skills. The club meets monthly on the third Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. to discuss a book previously assigned. Books are accessed via Hoopla, one of the library’s eBook/audiobook platforms or by getting a copy at the library. This is another opportunity for adults to practice reading a book in English and then meeting to discuss the story.