Literacy Council accepting new students


Area adults who want to improve their reading skills or learn English as a second language are in luck, the Temple Literacy Council is accepting new students for one-on-one tutoring. 

New students must be at least 18 years old. 

“The Literacy Council is staffed by volunteers seeking to assist adults in our communities,” said Don Stiles, director of the volunteer organization. “Services are free to students.”

“We had a recent training session for new volunteers and that has opened six slots for new students,” he said.

“We teach adults who need help learning to read, and we also help non-English speaking residents learn a second language,” Stiles said.  “We recruit volunteers — many are retired teachers — and match them with students.”

The Temple Literacy Council has operated as a non-profit in the community since 1988, and it is fueled by  generous donations of money and time by individuals, businesses and civic organizations.

“We do an assessment of adults and determine where they are in their reading development,” he said. “Many are just learning English and some are English speaking but never learned to read as a kid. Perhaps they grew up on a farm and were busy working the fields. There are many reasons for not learning to read.”

Once a person has been evaluated and their reading level determined, they are matched with a volunteer and attend sessions at least once or twice a week.

“We use books that have been developed for adults who can’t read,” Stiles said. “These aren’t children’s books — they are designed for adults who are at a low reading level.”

“We have found that there are very few people who can’t read anything,” he said. “Most just need improvement — sometimes a lot of improvement. We work to get that done.”

Stiles said many non English speaking clients are quite fluent in their native language but struggle with English.

“Many are well educated, they just need help with the new language,” he said. “Many are from Mexico, Venezuela or other Latin countries, but we see people from all over the world.  People are coming to Bell County from Asia and Africa, too. Fort Hood has brought in many Koreans who need help with English.” 

In addition to helping people learn reading skills, Temple Literacy Council also helps prepare non Americans for the citizenship test.

“We don’t conduct citizenship classes, but we do offer one-on-one tutoring,” he said. “Candidates for citizenship have to be prepared to answer 100 questions about US government, geography and history. It’s multiple choice, and a computer selects 10 of the 100 questions so you really need to know them all. The test includes simple sentences, so they have to be able to read and write. We help with that.”

For more information about Temple Literacy Council, to register for help or to volunteer, contact Stiles at (254) 774-7323 or (254) 541-0684.

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