Adult ESL/Literacy from the Community-- to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training

Adult ESL/Literacy from the Community-- to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training

Adult ESL/Literacy from the Community-- to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training

Adult ESL/Literacy from the Community-- to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training

Synopsis

Adult ESL/Literacy from the Community to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training tells the story of a university-community collaboration to develop, implement, and evaluate a project designed to train immigrants and refugees as adult ESL and native literacy instructors in their own communities. Beyond the story of this one project, the book is also a clear and powerful explication of the underlying principles and premises of the program model it describes: community leadership development, a participatory approach to literacy instruction and instructor training, native language adult literacy instruction, and collaboration.

Excerpt

Communities as sources of knowledge and producers of new knowledge are usually unrecognized, underestimated, and underutilized by educators. In the case of immigrant communities, their expertise is also lost under the misunderstanding of language and cultural barriers. Adult ESL/Literacy From the Community to the Community: A Guidebook for Participatory Literacy Training is an example of how, in a collaborative and participatory educational project, community needs are addressed by community resources, using the language(s) of the community and the expertise of its membership. The importance of this model is that, in addition to validating community knowledge, it contributes to community development.

The narrative of the book is easily accessible to practitioners, policymakers, and community members. It combines the personal experiences of community participants, Mentors and Interns with the theoretical and philosophical arguments that serve as the tenets of the model. The complex issues addressed-those of maintaining an authentic, unedited voice, of implementing a truly democratic, participatory curriculum for community participants and teachers-in-training, and of maintaining an equal collaborative model between a university and three community organizations -- are of great value to those concerned with egalitarian and democratic practices in education.

At a time when immigrants are under attack and their communities are in danger of losing the few economic resources they have, inviting community residents to educate themselves and their communities is of paramount importance. Training community residents to further the education of their own communities not only helps meet community demands for services, but also contributes to community development by creating jobs in the community rather than draining it of its resources. In addition, when using a participatory curriculum that addresses the needs of adult participants, community teachers are of great value because they have a shared history; they live and face the same issues with other members of the community. This engenders a curriculum that truly addresses the needs of the community and its members.

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