The New York City Public Library has been taken over by an army. It’s not the kind of army that would be found on a battlefield or in a war zone, but rather an army ready to give of its time and abilities to help adults learn how to read and write in English.
Anywhere from 75 to 100 tutors at a time constitute this army, and twice weekly they meet with over 600 students – many of whom are learning English as a second language – who struggle to understand how the English language works. According to Ken English, director of the Centers for Reading and Writing at the New York City Public Library, the instruction students receive from their tutors and other reading aides is making a tremendous difference in their lives.
“Many (ESOL) students do much better with their words and pronunciation when they have been tutored with a program we have here on-site called Reading Horizons,” English says. “Their systematic approach to phonics gives these students a much better foundation to start with.”
Reading Horizons employs a unique decoding strategy and teaches language skills that help students to break down letters and sounds, which, in turn, gets them started reading.
“I could tell,” English explains, “one student from Jamaica was using word-attack skills and the decoding strategies he has learned by the way he was forming his words with his mouth as he was reading.”
In addition to the 20 hours of training for tutors in the program, English also encourages his instructors to take the Reading Horizons course so that they can become familiar with it themselves. The tutors then, in turn, encourage their students to use the program between tutoring sessions.
“(The tutors) can really tell the difference,” he states, “when their students have used the program in addition to their tutoring time.”
For more information on the New York City Public Library Centers for Reading and Writing, log on to the Web at www.nypl.org. To find out more about Reading Horizons, please visit www.readinghorizons.com.