Wednesday, December 28, 2011

American Dream Toolkit for Libraries

Visit the new and improved American Dream Toolkit website for information on the American Dream Starts @ your library grants and bibliographical lists of all the resources for English language learning libraries were able to add to their collections with the grants. This list is great for teachers looking for new resources and for libraries developing their adult literacy collections.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Find the right book (even for adult new readers) with Lexile

Here's a great website for sifting through books for younger readers based on a multitude of categories, like mystery, nature, or business. For voracious adult new readers who may quickly outgrow your adult literacy collection, yet not be ready for adult level books, this tool can allow you to quickly search books for youth by grade level, and then narrow those down to titles that would be interesting to adults.

Even if you don't know an adult student's lexile score, you can still look for books by grade level equivalent based on their last TABE test, and add information about the books the student normally reads, like they are usually at my level, they are usually too easy, or they are usually too difficult.

Even though the results are books for children, you can still find something with central adult characters by reading the one sentence summaries in the list of results. The interest level is also indicated.

For example, I put in 4th grade as the reading level, and I said that the books I read in school are usually just right for my level. On the next screen I selected nature as one of my topics, et voila, I found The Heart Calls Home, which is a book I would love to read as an adult:

"Obi tries to make a new life on a S. Carolina island, while waiting for his soul mate who is studying up North."
  • Grade level: 4
  • Lexile level: 650L
  • Ages: 12 to 17 (interest level)
  • Page count: 175
  • Publisher: Walker and Company, 1999
  • ISBN: 0802786367
  • ISBN13: 9780802786364
This tool definitely makes being an adult literacy librarian easier! There is even a link at the end of each page to search for the book in WorldCat. Enjoy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Online 14-hour Adult Literacy Tutor Training

I stumbled upon this excellent training resource today and wanted to share. It was mentioned in Notebook: Resources for the Adult Educator, a seasonal publication from ProLiteracy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Improving Reading Skills

I'm doing some informal research into how many hours of reading it would take the average adult learner to increase a reading level. The issue has come up in my TOEFL prep class in which all of the students want to be able to do well on the test, yet they are all coming into the class with different reading levels--some as low as 9th grade, I imagine. The target reading level of material on the TOEFL exam is between 13 and 14, which is the level that most college survey textbooks are written at.

This short article from gives reading advice for children, yet is equally appropriate for adults. I was happy to stumble upon this article and realize that I provide these strategies for my adult ESL students at the Berwyn Library and at LTHS as a normal part of instruction.

If you know where I can find some peer reviewed estimates of how many hours a person would have to read in order to increase a GLE (grade level equivalent) level, please let me know! Feel free to email me at

Friday, March 4, 2011

St. Leonard's Adult ESL Program visit to the Library

St. Leonard's ESL program visited the Library Tuesday night and received a tour of the Literacy Center, which has been under construction for the past week. We're putting the final touches on our updated Learning Lab that has 7 new computers and tables for small group tutoring. I can't wait to use it! The students were very excited to hear about new computer classes.
The coordinator of their program (bottom center of photo with his wife), requested training for their teachers, so that is our next joint project. I'm looking forward to spending some time with them to hear their stories and get some good teaching tips as well.
I was surprised to see that 60% of the group already had library cards--either from our city or from neighboring ones. Our lone circulation person was happily bombarded with 15 new library card applications.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Word Lists for Games: In a Pickle

Now that I'm working full-time in Outreach Services at the Berwyn Public Library, I have more time to create helpful word lists for popular family games that we use in our ESL conversation classes. The students have fun and learn at the same time! Have you ever played In a Pickle: The What's in a Word Game? Get the word list.

It's great for learning vocabulary and practicing the grammatical structure of comparisons. For example, learners must say phrases like "A bank is bigger than a box. A fly is smaller than a book." Stay tuned for more additions to the ESL Resources page in the left column.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Meeting with St. Leonard's ESL Program Coordinator and Volunteers

We had a wonderful meeting this evening with the ESL program coordinator for St. Leonard's, and three of their volunteer teachers.

The Library is happy to offer them circulating classroom textbooks, as well as teacher/tutor materials free of charge. St. Leonard's ESL program is in its third year; textbooks were their biggest need. Students will be using these new textbooks for the first time in January 2011.

The Library has been reaching out to adult literacy and ESL programs throughout 2010 and we will continue the effort into 2011. We are focused on increasing free access to ESL teaching and learning materials that are often too expensive for adult literacy programs with small budgets. Many thanks to the American Library Association and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for making these partnerships a reality through the $5000 American Dream Starts @ your library® grant.