Students and volunteer tutors work on language instruction at the Aquinas Literacy Center.

Aquinas Literacy Programs Bring Together Tutors, Learners

Published April 12, 2016

The Aquinas Literacy Center at 3540 S. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, is continuing its program of free language instruction for McKinley Park residents who wish to study English as a second language. Now in its 20th year, the program helps more than 200 students annually by connecting trained volunteer tutors and learners through individualized instruction and access to the center's language lab.

Volunteers are critially needed to meet the high demand for language tutors, and the center is hosting its next training over the evening of Friday, April 29, and the day of Saturday, April 30. Click here for more information; contact Kristen Dempsey Pasyk at (773) 927-0512 or to sign up.

At the training, tutors learn how to work with students for weekly one-on-one sessions where the same tutor and student work together. All tutoring is conducted in English, and volunteers do not need to be fluent in another language. However, native or near-native English speaking is required. Tutoring can be scheduled during the center's open hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Thursday.

Learners participate in weekly tutoring sessions, conversation groups, writing workshops, book clubs, comptuer-based instruction and computer literacy workshops. Potential learners can sign up at the center and provide their schedule; the center will then call back once a tutor is available. There is normally a waiting list for one-on-one tutoring, and students typically have to wait two weeks or longer for individual instruction. While waiting, the center offers supplemental group classes and computer instruction, which are highly encouraged for new students.

Sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, in 2014-2015 the program enabled 139 volunteer tutors to serve 172 adult students in one-on-one tutoring, 164 students to study English on the computer and nearly 5,000 hours of instruction provided by volunteer tutors. Ninety percent of students were Latino, and eight percent were Asian; 72 percent of students were female.

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