Approach to Literacy

Tri-County Literacy Volunteers’ primary premise is that well-trained and supported volunteers can be effective tutors of adults, and that mobilizing the talents of large numbers of diverse kinds of people can make a significant impact of the problem of illiteracy.

Tri-County Literacy Volunteers uses a learner-centered approach and whole language philosophy in its individualized tutoring of reading and writing, both in one-to-one and small group instruction.

Whole language looks at the entire process of reading and recognizes that people use their life experience and knowledge of what makes sense in English when learning to read and write. A whole language approach focuses on material tied to the learner’s goals and interests and stresses the use of literature and “real life” materials rather than basal readers. Another source of reading material is Language Experience, where learners dictate or write paragraphs based on their experience, using their own vocabulary and sentence structures.

Tri-County Literacy Volunteers Basic Literacy tutoring techniques include the use of Writing, Assisted Reading, and Word Analysis Skills: sound/symbol relationships and Word Patterns. In a whole language, learner-centered environment, these decoding skills are learned in a printed context which has meaning for the learner.

In its English as a Second Language (ESL) program, Tri-County Literacy Volunteers promotes an approach that gives learners practice with materials using varied formats, moving from controlled activities and responses to more spontaneous situations which provide opportunities for real communication and self-expression. It is imperative when using learner-centered approaches, that tutors try to assess the student’s reading and writing levels, interests, and goals. This can be done primarily through the use of the READ test, ESLOA, reading inventories, interview techniques, listening skills and observation as appropriate. Tutors are also familiarized with low level adult interest books and lesson planning techniques. A professional reading consultant is also available as a resource person.

The intent of Tri-County Literacy Volunteers’ flexible approaches to tutoring is to help individual learners in a manner appropriate to their learning styles and abilities.

The ultimate aim is to help people become independent readers, writers and speakers of English.