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Responding to an unmet community need, the Tulsa City-County Library established its Adult Literacy Service in 1977. Beginning with only a handful of tutors and students, the program has grown and now serves over 200 adult learners each year.
Most tutors meet with students who have contacted us and who are living in the community. These students are managing, but feel the need to improve their reading and/or English skills.
Adult learners seek our services for a variety of reasons. There is no “typical” student, but these descriptions will give you an idea of the types of learners we serve:
Beginning Basic Literacy: Beginning basic literacy students may struggle to read a simple children’s story, understand medicine labels, or fill out a job application. These learners typically need help with beginning phonics, frequently used words, and comprehension skills.
Advanced Basic Literacy: An advanced basic literacy student may read at a 4th - 6th grade level, but struggle to break down longer words and understand longer texts. Spelling and writing are often challenges for these learners as well. Vocabulary development, guided writing, and more complex comprehension strategies are generally the areas of focus for these students. These learners may be working toward obtaining their GED or enrolling in vocational or college courses.
English as a Second Language: These students have either immigrated to this area or are here temporarily before returning to their native countries. They want to speak and understand English with greater confidence and ease. Tutors often focus on conversation for meaning, pronunciation, vocabulary development and writing with ESL learners.
Developmentally Disabled: Some of our students have limited cognitive abilities. These students often have caregivers and caseworkers who can assist with scheduling and transportation. They most often need to work on survival words and life skills.
Adjudicated Juveniles or Adults: We occasionally have students referred to us by their parole officers. These are not hardened criminals, but individuals who, with better literacy skills, might have avoided incarceration.
Physically Handicapped: These are students with various physical challenges such as: cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or cystic fibrosis. They are usually wheelchair-bound and have caregivers to accompany them.
Flagged Background Check: For the safety of everyone, all students and tutors are background-checked before they are matched. A student with a flagged background check has some criminal history within the past seven years. The Literacy Office does not receive the details on the incident that led to the background check being flagged. These students will also fall under one of the categories above.
Please remember that the Adult Literacy Service’s first priority is to find tutors for the students in our program. However, we often train tutors for other organizations with specific populations. We will be happy to give you information about these groups.