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When Adults Learn to Read a Whole New World Opens Up

When Adults Learn to Read a Whole New World Opens Up

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably never considered what life is like for the illiterate. Their worlds can be pretty small — because they can’t read street signs or maps, learn about job openings, fill out applications or forms, understand safety information or insurance coverage, or even pick out a greeting card.

How does someone grow to adulthood without basic English reading and writing skills? Lots of ways. Kids in families that move a lot are always starting over in school and falling behind. Some kids have undiagnosed learning disabilities, or parents that simply do not think education is important. Then, there are immigrants who are new to America. They may have been well educated professionals in their home country, but come here not knowing the language or the culture.

Literacy Volunteers, a nationwide nonprofit and foundation grantee, provides free English language classes and tutoring that can turn a limited existence into a whole new world. Here are some quotes from Literacy Volunteers student essays that prove the point.

  1. “Now that I have learned to read and write I realize how difficult my life was. I can read the signs on the highway and know how to get places. When I go to a restaurant, I am able to order from the menu. And now I will eat more than just hamburgers.”
  2. “My greatest wish is to learn English very well. I was a medical doctor in Dominican Republic and want to become a medical resident in the USA. I want to work hard in my profession.”
  3. “Literacy Volunteers has helped me to read and gain confidence. I don’t think I’d be where I am in life without [them] – a student a Gateway Community College, achieving my life dream.”
  4. “The reason I have had so many jobs is because of my [dyslexia]. I did jobs that were mindless and I did not think I had the ability for anything better. Tutoring has helped me with day-to-day tasks and life decisions, and given me confidence to pursue more difficult paths.”

Not everybody gets the same start in life. But thanks to Literacy Volunteers, everybody has a chance to learn to read write. Hats off to Literacy Volunteers for opening up its students to bigger worlds and more fulfilling lives!

[And, next time someone in the greeting card aisle asks you to help them pick out a card because they ‘forgot their glasses,’ just know you’re doing your bit to make life a little easier for a nonreader.]