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News & Updates for June 2018

newsThis month:


Get ready for Scrabble!

Something special just for this year...

There's no Scrabble in the City this year - but that doesn't mean there's no Scrabble at all!

Scrabble in the City will be back in a BIG way in 2019, our 55th anniversary. In the meantime, we have some special celebrations planned for this year.

There'll be festivities over multiple days in early August - just in time for National Scrabble Week. Start thinking about your team now! Because we'll have prizes for teamwork, creativity, and F-U-N as well as for your wordsmithing abilities. 

All will be revealed in the coming weeks! Stay tuned...


Wanted: One AmeriCorps VISTA 

Program Support Specialist needed!

Want a fabulous year-long opportunity?
Know someone who might?

Literacy Advance is seeking a Program Support Specialist to connect adults and families to vital literacy resources; engage in key elements of program design and implementation; and support the valuable volunteers who lead English and literacy classes, all through the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

Find more details, including how to apply, here.


Summer Internships at Literacy Advance

Get GREAT experience this summer at Literacy Advance!

Every summer we pride ourselves on our robust internship program and the variety of experiences and learning we can provide for our interns.

We're looking for this year's interns, to work with us in Programs or Development. Stipends available for both positions!

All information, including role descriptions and how to apply, can be found here.


Summer Semester at Literacy Advance

We'd love your help over the summer; please get in touch

summer Summer in Houston is an interesting time! Some people have extra free time they can give us (thank you!) while others are out of town and unavailable for some weeks or even months (safe travels and have a great time!)

TUTORS: Please help us get organized by letting us know if you're willing and able to lead a class this summer.

For continuing tutors:

If you tutored a class within the last two years (including if you're a current tutor) and will be tutoring this summer – THANK YOU! We want to give you first choice of the days and times for your class, so take a look at Wilcrest needs hereBay Area here, and Waller here.

For returning and new tutors

If you want to tutor over the summer and it's been two years or more since you last tutored with us, or if you haven't tutored with us yet – WE ARE SO HAPPY TO WELCOME YOU (BACK)! To complete a class over the summer, you should sign up for a Story Time tour and a Tutor Workshop as soon as possible.

Please contact us with any questions: 713.266.8777 or


Top Tutor Tips


All adults have a need to feel competent in key aspects of their lives.

Deciding to return to school as an adult shows a desire to build competence in areas which more education can address, for example:

  • reading with their children,
  • navigating life in an English-speaking environment, or
  • getting a better job.

In that process, adults’ beliefs about and realistic assessment of their competence in these specific areas can have a profound effect on their persistence and achievement. Such beliefs reflect their self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy refers to people’s beliefs in their capabilities to learn or perform specific tasks at particular levels, and to meet specific goals. In short, feeling capable is key to confidence, which can affect a student's ability to stick with class and keep coming back.

Adult learners may have a high level of self-efficacy in non-academic areas such as to fix a car, build a house, sew an outfit, play baseball, fix hair and so on, while their self-efficacy in reading or writing English can be low. However, a positive self-concept, i.e. an overall feeling of self-worth, aids self-efficacy and vice versa.

This is why we ask you to build lessons around practical skills, not just learn the theory of language, or focus on grammar.

This is why we choose an adult-focused curriculum, not one designed for children or even teenagers who are not navigating life as adults just yet.

This is also why it can be so helpful to find a topic on which the student(s) already know a great deal, and incorporate it into classwork. If you can, get the student(s) to teach you, the tutor! Nothing helps confidence like helping someone else understand.

Next month, we will explore more about why stability is a key piece of adult learner persistence.

"Competence" is the fourth of the six Drivers of Persistence outlined by the wonderful Adult Learner Persistence website. This website and its insights into adult learning has been a pivotal tool in Literacy Advance program development in recent years. Read more about this particular driver here.

If you have any questions or comments about the materials or strategies suggested here, contact us at, or join our powerful online community Literacy Advance Tutor Support Group, for AMAZING people only (spoiler alert: that's you!)


Theme of the Month

June: Jobs

Students tell us they need to understand, practice, and learn real-life skills on a myriad of topics, so with their help, we developed a Theme of the Month calendar.

As it suggests, we collected resources and developed lesson plans relating to a different theme each month. We gathered a list of related materials and activities, so tutors can access them online and help engage students quickly.

In June, we're focusing on Jobs.

When adults are entering the workforce in their non-native country, there's the obvious question of language to consider. Will that adult have the English skills necessary to do a good job in the U.S.? Will they be able to understand HR policies, the training manual, water-cooler conversation, and everything else?

Sometimes overlooked, however, are the "soft skills" and cultural expectations of each country's work environment. In some countries it's expected that you would include a photograph of yourself in your resume. In some cultures, it's normal to list your marital status. And in some countries, resumes are far longer than the standard one page that's normal in the United States. And that's before we even get to phone interviews, in-person interviews, and hiring practices.

We have MANY wonderful resources on Jobs! Come by your site's Resource Room to learn about them, and ask any member of staff to get recommendations for use in your classroom.

And here are the themes for the rest of the year:

Month Theme Possible lesson content
July Getting Ready for School Getting kids ready for school; options at school including after-school care and clubs
August Shopping & Restaurants Houston Restaurant Weeks; loyalty clubs and benefits; online shopping risks and benefits
September Immigration & Citizenship Requirements for US citizenship including paperwork and fees
October Health Health Literacy Month; questions to ask the doctor; advocating for your own health
November Libraries What's available at your local library? What does the library provide online?

There's no right or wrong way to use the Theme of the Month calendar. Some months you may use it a lot, and other months less so - we hope you'll continue to be responsive to the needs and goals of the particular students in your class. But we hope this will be a fun addition to your lesson planning, and we'll be providing focused resources and lesson ideas on each topic throughout the year.

Want ideas, or to look at resources that match the themes? Talk to Colleen: 713.266.8777 or


Student Success Spotlights

Don't miss our Student Success Spotlights!

You helped make them possible.


Calendar Highlights

What's ahead? Mark your calendar!

calendarWe always want you to be up to date! So highlights of the Literacy Advance calendar are summarized below.

A more complete calendar can always be found online here, or you can check our Facebook Events page.

July 2 - July 7
Literacy Advance CLOSED for July 4 & Summer Break

Friday, October 19
Around the World: 10th annual student & tutor celebration

Saturday, December 22
LAST DAY of classes in 2018


Find more information just for volunteers:

And finally - don't miss the Volunteer Spotlight!

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