Learning Spanish First
American Libraries: 5.01.2018 by Cathay Reta
At age 7, Efren Sanchez got separated from his mother in the crowd at a Mexico City festival and wound up living on the streets. He never went to school or learned to read. In his early 30s he moved to the US. Now, at age 52, Sanchez has learned to read and write in Spanish. He was one of the first adults to enroll in the Leamos course at the Louis Robidoux branch of the Riverside County (Calif.) Library System.
Leamos is a licensed online course geared to adult learners. Typically, learners need assistance logging into the course but, with practice using the mouse, they soon become adept using it alone. A virtual instructor takes them through 46 lessons to learn how to read and write basic Spanish. Some libraries set class times in their computer labs, some provide volunteer tutors to work with learners, and others involve library staff to provide needed support. Learners can also study at home or anywhere that has internet access after becoming comfortable with the course.
Leamos @ the Library was developed with two goals: to teach basic literacy skills to Spanish speakers, and to explore its effectiveness as a tool to reach nonlibrary users. The results? We reached 117 adult learners, more than half of whom (66 individuals) got their first library card when they enrolled in the program. Many became regular patrons and began to use other library services, as we had hoped. For example, since Santa Monica Public Library patron Maria C. (last name withheld) learned to read, she can hardly put a book down. When her brother-in-law asked, “What happened to your house? It’s not as clean as it used to be,” she replied, “Oh, now I’m reading!” In the summer of 2017, she read 20 books and received a Summer Reading Program certificate of completion.
While success stories like these have been repeated across the state, they have not come easily, and they have not happened in every community. READ MORE >>