Friday, December 30, 2011

ESL Trail Blog 2011: Year in Review

With the end of the 2011 upon us, I thought I would provide a snapshot of highlights and popular posts of 2011, along with other interesting facts.

Following are the top ten countries from where the most page views of ESL Trail have originated:
1. United States
2. Canada
3. China
4. United Kingdom
5. Philippines
6. Germany
7. Ukraine
8. Australia
9. Russia
10. France

Following are the most popular posts written in 2011:

Highlights of 2011 include the following:

I am optimistic that 2012 will prove to be an equally-exciting year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teaching the Homeless to Read

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the homeless...I'm not sure why. I see a homeless person on the street, and emotions of empathy surface...emotions of suffering (not just physical), emotions of lost opportunity, and emotions of unlocked potential. We all have a lot to offer, but some, due to misfortune, do not have the opportunity to convey that least for now.

I often see the homeless at the Salt Lake City public library (where it's warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months) standing next to bookshelves with open books in hands. I wonder if these individuals really know how to read...or if they are simply staring at the symbols on the pages trying to make meaning (or pretending to make meaning).

As this thought has passed through my mind on a number of occasions, I have felt a desire to teach the homeless how to read. In my search to determine how to make that goal a reality, I was pointed to the Food and Care Coalition in Provo, Utah. I was invited to work with a sixty-year-old gentleman who is not homeless, but who is unable to read and, therefore, unable to find employment. I have blogged about my experiences tutoring him before (see "On the Journey to Read" and "Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2011: Teaching Struggling Readers"). The last time I went to tutor him at the Food and Care Coalition, I was given a tour of the building by Brent Crane, Executive Director of the Food and Care Coalition. I was very impressed with the facilities, the vision, and the services provided. Brent is the "brain child" behind the design of the building and vision of the organization, and his colleagues and volunteers have played (and continue to play) a huge role in implementing the programs offered.

Services offered include the following:
Barber shop
Dental clinic
Educational programs
Three meals a day
Access to computers
In the future: a residence hall

I am looking forward to continuing volunteer work with this organization to help others unlock, or rediscover, their potential. We all have much to offer...

(See also my post on Teaching Literacy to Homeless Children.)

Child Literacy: The Need to Read to Children Daily

I recently read an article about the great need to read to young children. Though the article is specific to my neck of the woods (Utah County), it is clear that the issues raised in the article are applicable to other contexts, and the plea to act can be generalized to most, if not all, locations within the U.S. and the world. 

The article is entitled, "Child Literacy: A Looming Crisis in Utah County." I recommend reading the article in full, but here is a brief excerpt:

"READING TO YOUR CHILD has never been more critical than it is now. It plays a key role, especially before third grade, in keeping that child in school, out of jail, and off welfare.

"It is so important, in fact, that if your next-door neighbor is a single mother who works two jobs and doesn't have time to read with her children, you should go over and read to them for her. It will pay huge dividends in the future--not just for those children but for society as a whole.
"That is the finding of a growing body of research that can no longer be ignored. Statistically, at least, you can make accurate predictions of a person's whole life by third grade based on reading ability."

Read more here.

I encourage us all to think about ways we can get involved in literacy efforts in our own communities, and then to act on these ideas, even if it's as simple an act as reading to children in your neighborhoods...or better yet, reading to your own children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews.

For other ways to get involved in literacy efforts, see these blog posts:
Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2011: Teaching Struggling Readers
Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2010

A Documentary on Humanitarian Efforts in India

If you followed my blog earlier this year about my efforts to promote English and literacy among the leprosy-affected in India, you may be interested in this documentary by Doug Jardine that was aired this past Sunday on Utah Business Matters. It will also be aired this next Sunday. Following is the link to the documentary on YouTube:

The documentary illustrates the three-fold mission of Rising Star Outreach: microfinance, education, and a mobile medical clinic. Much of the video on the documentary was shot while I was in India earlier this year. Other volunteers featured on this documentary include Shaun Parry (founder of Promethean Spark), Stacy Tookey, and David Archuleta, all of whom were also among the volunteer corps on my expedition earlier this year.

See my other blog posts about India from January/February, 2011, here:
Post-India: Thoughts on Service
Ensuring Success with English in India
Back in India
A Day in My Life in India
More On a Day in My Life in India
Abolishing the Stigma of Leprosy by Teaching Children to Read in English

See my other blog posts about India from May, 2008, here:
English Language Instruction and Teaching in India
Why the English Language? Why Literacy? Why India?