Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Azusa Library Provides Range of Bilingual Adult Literacy Programs

Azusa Library Provides Range of Bilingual Adult Literacy Programs
Azusa Beacon: 2.18.2015 by Joe Taglieri

In addition to basic reading skills for English speakers, Azusa City Library’s adult literacy program offers courses for Spanish speakers as well as a new civics class that assists immigrants in gaining U.S. citizenship while improving their English-speaking abilities.

In a Feb. 5 presentation by Cathay Reta, the library’s adult literacy coordinator, members of the Azusa Library Commission learned about the program’s continuing expansion set to take place this year. Reta highlighted ongoing developments pertaining to classes and financing, which comes predominantly from federal, state and grants from private-sector organizations.

“Literacy is one of the foundational structures that touches every social issue and need in our society,” Reta told Azusa Beacon. “We talk a lot about education and needing to help children learn and improve their academics, but we know from research and just common sense that it starts with the parents at home being able to read to the children. … Unfortunately adult literacy and adult education does not get much attention, but that’s really where we start building the skills in children.”

A 2012 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that U.S. literacy scores were below the international average, ranking 16th out of 24 countries mostly in Europe as well as Japan, Korea and Canada. One in six American adults has low literacy skills.

In Azusa 31 percent of residents were born outside the United States, according to 2010 U.S. Census data. A quarter of the city’s population speaks English “less than very well,” and 11.6 percent of Spanish-speaking immigrants in Los Angeles County are illiterate.

The library currently offers five adult literacy courses that are free of charge and open to all, including those who aren’t Azusa residents.
~ Basic Literacy features instruction for English-speaking adults
~ Inspired Citizenship teaches the basics about U.S. history and government for gaining citizenship.
~ Grassroots ESL, or English as a Second Language
~ Spanish Literacy for Spanish speakers
~ Health Literacy Learning, healthy living and disease prevention.

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