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Growth spurt: Church to host adult literacy program

February 1, 2017
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

An adult literacy program offered through Lehigh Community Services is being called a success.

Maria Otero, program coordinator, said it has grown so much that more room is needed for classes, where volunteer tutors teach English to the participants.

"We are partnering with the Christ United Methodist Church," Charlotte Rae Nicely, the executive director of Lehigh Community Services, said.

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Maria Otero

They began holding classes last month at the church, at 1430 Homestead Road N.

"The church has graciously agreed to help us by letting us use their classrooms for the program," she said.

The program has been available for many years, and its main purpose is to teach English to non-English speaking adults. The program is free, but there is a waiting list for those interested in talking part.

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The tutors are volunteers. Otero said there are currently about nine local tutors and three seasonal volunteers.

"Word has really gotten out and we have a lot of people who are unable to speak English sign up for classes,"?she said. "While we have several tutors, we need more."

Otero noted that tutors do not have to speak Spanish or have teaching experience.

"Sometimes people think they must have teaching experience, but that is not necessary. Anyone who can read English can teach,"?she said. "There are special books and materials that anyone can use to tutor others, in any language, to learn to speak English.

"The literacy program has grown by leaps and bounds," Otero added. "Lehigh Community Services is responsible for so much activity that more room was needed for classroom space."

To register for the program, stop by Lehigh Community Services at 210 Plaza Drive, Suite 3. More information will be provided by Otero, who speaks Spanish.

In the past, most of the tutoring has been done on a one-on-one basis, she said. Now, the tutors are beginning to hold classes.

"We are finding out that this works well," Otero said.

"When a person comes in to sign up to take the course, they are given a series of tests to see what degree of English they know and it gives us enough information to know which classes they should be assigned," she said. "It's just a small test that we offer."

Otero noted that the program is seeking more tutors because of the waiting list.

"I want to stress again that volunteer tutors do not have to be teachers. We will train anyone who wants to be a tutor,"?she said. "It's a wonderful program and our tutors seem to enjoy doing this."

Tutors and students agree when it is best for each to attend the program. It can be done in the day hours or early evenings.

To sign up as a volunteer tutor stop by the Lehigh Community Services office.

"The growth here is phenomenal," Nicely said. "We are doing so much here to help people. Our food bank provides food for a lot of Lehigh families in addition to other services here.

"I am very happy when people learn English,"?she added. "They can continue with classes until they feel they are ready and are able to communicate in English."



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