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News & Updates for June 2017

newsThis month:

June is Immigrant Heritage Month

The beauty and power in diversity

immigrant heritage monthAmerica’s diversity - fueled in great part by immigrants - makes us stronger and more connected as a nation.

Immigrant Heritage Month gives people across the United States an opportunity to explore their own heritage, and celebrate the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America. Immigrant Heritage Month encourages all Americans to celebrate the monumental contributions that immigrants have made - and continue to make every day.

Are you an immigrant, or descended from immigrants? Then we're celebrating YOU and your family history! We have immigrants among our students, our volunteers, and our staff. We're celebrating all of them too!

You can find more information about ways to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month here:

Welcoming America

Welcoming Houston

Hurricane Season Has Begun

Help your students be prepared!

hurricane seasonWe spend almost half the year in Hurricane Season. And there hasn't been a big hit on Houston since Ike, in 2008 - so it's easy to get complacent about the dangers.

But in addition to your own preparations, please think about your students. Many Literacy Advance students are new to Houston, so they may not know what Hurricane Season even means, let alone how to properly prepare for it. Plus, if English isn't their first language, or if you're working with an ABE student who's still improving his or her reading, available materials may be hard to understand.

Please plan to spend some time talking with your student(s) about Hurricane Season, and ways to prepare. is a good starting point, and much of the information is already in plain language - though you'll probably still want to spend time discussing in class to make sure everyone understands.

Also, keep an eye out for brochures and leaflets on this topic in the Literacy Advance Information Centers at our different sites.

Top Tutor Tips

A monthly focus on best practices

abe & esl

Do you ignore students’ mistakes because you don’t want to discourage them or damage their confidence?

We definitely want to relate to students as adults, and keep dignity and respect in any correction - but there's a reason for the saying “Learn from your mistakes.”

Students often tell us they want more correction in class than they get, because they know mistakes provide great opportunities to grow and improve!

Here are three ways you can empower your class when they make mistakes.

1. Instead of correcting your students and providing answers yourself, have them reflect and examine their own mistakes, or those of their peers. You can ask the class questions like: “Is there a better way to say it?”

2. Whether they're working on grammar, spelling, vocabulary, pronunciation, or punctuation, you could have students create flags they can raise when they think something doesn’t sound, look, or feel right.

3. You can use non-verbal cues (such as raising your hand) to alert students when a mistake is made, and allow them time to identify what the error is, and how to correct it.

Remember - it's crucial in ANY class to give students time to talk to one another! One common misconception we hear is that tutors don't want students to learn from one another, as they might learn incorrect English. Generally, the opposite is true. Students usually do an excellent job, as a pair or a group, of identifying a mistake and making corrections themselves, or asking for help.

And the bottom line is: The more they're talking, the more they're learning.

For more on this very important topic:

7 Techniques to Increase Student Talking Time

6 ESL Techniques to Cut Teacher Talking Time and Get Your Students Talking


Don't forget - we have regular workshops, training, and roundtable sessions to help tutors continue learning best practices and sharing ideas with one another. Find upcoming sessions here.

Summer classes at Literacy Advance

Special Classes are the focus at Wilcrest this summer

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 telling us your plans as soon as possible.

We're also working towards a new schedule in the fall, where more of our ESL classes will run on a semester set-up. Details for that update are still being finalized, but in the meantime, we will have a focus on short-term, supplemental classes over the summer.

What does that mean for tutors?

It means that we hope you'll volunteer for a shorter (6-week or 8-week) class, on a specific topic - maybe one linked to our theme of the month (jobs), or a conversation class, or something else again.

Never done that before? Never fear! We have resources, lesson plans, and MUCH more to help you feel confident and truly enjoy this change of gear from regular classes.

You can find planned summer classes listed here; check back often as we'll be adding new ones regularly.

Next steps:

Please contact Maxine at 713.266.8777 or with questions or to get started.

Office closings and tutor absences

Plan now for Summer Break, and other absences!

closed signA reminder to all tutors that Literacy Advance Wilcrest will be CLOSED for our annual Summer Break from Saturday, July 1, to Friday, July 7.

We will also be closed on Saturday, September 2, and Monday, September 4, for Labor Day.

Please tell your students - we'll tell them too, but the more reminders, the better! Every time we close, multiple students still come to the office, and have to go home again. Please help them avoid a wasted journey! (Which is a good time to beg, plead, and beg again - PLEASE read your weekly announcements! When you don't, your students miss out on important information. Please don't skip this vital step!)

If you have a planned absence for any time the office is NOT closed, please remember to contact your coordinator ahead of time! We can usually cover tutor absences, with enough advance notice, but we need you to communicate with us. Thank you for your help with this!

Welcome interns

Yet another reason summer is great...

we love internsEvery summer, we're privileged to be part of a number of programs which mean we get to welcome a fabulous group of interns and work study students.  This summer is no different, and we'll be welcoming students from the Shell Nonprofit Internship Program, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, and the Bank of America Summer Jobs Program.

If you're at Wilcrest this summer, you'll probably meet our interns - please help us make them feel welcome!

Theme of the Month: JOBS

Waiting Class lesson plans, and more

jobsBased on direct and consistent student feedback, we've created a Theme of the Month calendar, tied to the life skills students say they want to learn. There's a different theme each month, complete with a list of (and links to) materials and activities that tutors can use to help get students talking and interacting more.


Being able to look for, find, and keep a good job is a basic need for almost all adults, and our learners often have additional barriers that prevent them from living their lives to their fullest potentials.

If you've recently looked for a new job, you understand how critically important technology is. Even if a job itself doesn't use technology, you must use a computer to apply for almost every position.

Then, people who look for work in the U.S. need to know how to create cover letters and resumes that will get prospective employers’ attention in a good way, and leave out elements that might be appropriate in their home culture but are not appropriate here.

Additionally, job interviews are stressful for most of us. For people who struggle with literacy or whose first language is not English, they can be overwhelming.

We have a robust assortment of jobs-related materials available for students at all levels, and at all points along the employment path. Odds are good there's something EXCELLENT that you don't know about yet - visit your site's Resource Room and find something new today!

Here are some examples:
The Literacy Advance website has links to trusted sources of good information.

And, new this year - we'll have many Special Classes this summer for job-seekers and career-minded students. Most will be at Wilcrest, but all Literacy Advance students can attend them. Check back often to see new listings and encourage your students to do the same!

The Waiting Class lessons this month focus on four main topics:

  • Job search processes, websites, and apps;
  • Resumes and cover letters;
  • Job interview skills; and
  • U.S. work culture.

In the Resource Rooms (Bay Area, Waller County, and Wilcrest), we highly recommend the following:

  • At Work in the US: Readings and Language for Job Success – Each lesson focuses on a basic workplace topic, and offers readings, exercises and activities that accommodate different learning styles and experiences.
  • English for Work Activities
  • Job Search: Facts, Forms and Role Plays – Complete with a Teacher’s Guide, the binder includes an interview packet for job choices; phone calls, letters, and resumes; interview preparation; applications; and a job search journal.

Outreach tutors - please talk to Outreach staff if you're interested in learning more about available resources.

Looking ahead... July's theme is Immigration/Citizenship.

We want your online reviews!

Spread the word about what you like about Literacy Advance...

trophy #1Online reviews help to show what Literacy Advance is all about. They can bring us volunteers, money, and other support, and we'd very much appreciate your review today!

We'd love reviews or recommendations on these sites:

Great Nonprofits

This site can be a deal-maker, or a deal-breaker. Many people start at Great Nonprofits when they're deciding which causes to support. We so much hope they'll choose us - and your positive review can help clinch the deal! We've had more than 2,000 views on this site (yay!) but no new reviews this year (boo). Please help us out!


We average more than 8,000 views every month on Google. Can you help us make a good impression on the next people who search for us? Our overall rating has taken a bit of a hit recently, as prospective students who are frustrated with our waitlist have left us some one-star reviews. Please help us tell the real story, of all the great learning that happens here every day!


You may be surprised to know that Yelp includes nonprofit reviews as well as the more expected fare of restaurants and entertainment spots. Well, they do - and we get more views of our page than you might expect, but we only have 6 reviews so far. Please help us make a good impression!


We're averaging a 4.9 rating (out of 5) on Facebook! Please add your comments about what we're doing right.

Between the Lines Newsletter

Latest issue now available!

Between the Lines Vol 13, Iss 1Our print newsletter had a short hiatus for the latter part of 2016, but it's back - with our first-ever edition in color!

You can read online now if you didn't already receive your copy in the mail.

Thanks to all who shared their story and made this newsletter amazing. And thanks to you for reading and celebrating the successes of our students!

Literacy Advance History Book

Celebrating 50+ Years of Literacy...

history bookLiteracy Advance celebrated its 50th birthday in 2014 and we're still celebrating! We hope you've already read some of the 50+ years of stories that got us to where we are today; if not, find the book here or click on the image to the left.

Current Volunteer Needs


There's more to do than tutoring! We have ongoing needs for Family Literacy volunteers, front desk helpers, and other assistance...

Current volunteer needs are here.

Volunteer Events

Tutor Enrichment, Volunteer Socials, and more!

Find out all information on our Volunteer Events page! For changes and updates throughout the month, remember to check our Calendar, or our Facebook Events tab.

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