Saturday, July 13, 2013

Imperial County Library: Literacy can be helped through adult programs

Literacy can be helped through adult programs

It’s been 10 years since a comprehensive national study by the U.S. Department of Education assessed the literacy and English-language comprehension of Americans, and the results still hang over Imperial County.

At that time, Imperial County was determined to be the most illiterate county in the most illiterate state in the country. With 23 percent of all adult Californians unable to pass a national survey testing their ability to understand a simple paragraph of English-language text, those results were compounded by the knowledge that 41 percent of all Imperial County adults were even more troubled in that regard.

English literacy has long been a problem in Imperial County, with numerous factors contributing to dismal rates, including demographics and a reliance of speaking Spanish despite some non-English speakers having lived here all their lives. Socioeconomics also have played a role, or vice versa, almost like that classic chicken-and-egg theory.

And still, finding the Rosetta Stone that cracks that code of English literacy has been difficult to come by, especially as programs meant to teach adults to read, including publicly funded city and county programs and night schools struggle to maintain services and funding.

The city of El Centro is gearing up to start its first book club aimed at helping enhance literacy through reading discussion, but in its true sense, it’s not a literacy program. Still, it’s a vital tool in the ongoing battle to overcome that 41 percent, the only “current” statistics by which the county and the state can set its compass today.

That said, we are fortunate to have an adult literacy program functioning in the Valley again — Libraries Empower Adults to Read Now! Imperial Valley, or LEARN IV. That program is an extension of the Imperial County Free Library System, and it works in conjunction with the city of El Centro, and others, to teach adults to read through individualized coaching.  READ MORE !