Adult Literacy

Literacy Works partners with more than 50 member agencies across Chicago to increase the effectiveness of their adult literacy services. Our unique, collaborative approach ensures that organizations with even the smallest budgets in the highest-need neighborhoods have the support and training they need to successfully promote literacy and English language proficiency in their communities. Literacy Works offers these services for community volunteers and staff who wish to teach adults to read, write, do math, or learn the English language:

Monthly 12-Hour Introductory Tutor Trainings

We encourage tutors to provide instruction that acknowledges learners’ unique life circumstances, affirms their prior knowledge, and addresses their goals. Our highly collaborative training model brings practitioners together to share resources and build community.

Each month, Literacy Works presents 12-hour tutor trainings at locations across Chicago:

English as a Second Language (ESL) - Trainees learn the basics of teaching adults to speak, read, and write the English language. Once trained, tutors volunteer at literacy organizations serving Chicago's immigrants and refugees from all over the world.

Adult Basic Education (ABE) - Trainees learn the basics of teaching adults to read, write, and do math. Once trained, tutors volunteer at literacy organizations serving English-speaking adults whose reading levels range from below the first-grade level to the GED level.

Trainings are offered in 6-hour blocks on two Saturdays each month, except December. They take place at convenient sites around the city.

Special Topics Trainings

Each year, Literacy Works offers five or more special topics trainings for tutors and professionals focusing on relevant themes or approaches to teaching ESL and ABE. Examples include:

  • Tutoring ESL Learners with Very Low Literacy
  • Life Skills Math
  • The Language Experience Approach
Networking Events

The fall Literacy Forum and the spring Literacy Roundtable bring together volunteer tutors and literacy professionals from across Chicago to share inspiration, resources, and solutions to common challenges.

Words From Tutors

  • Exercises that make you think and do... Literacy Works' training was comprehensive – a review of the material before I start should help me get started with confidence.
  • Without the training I would have been completely overwhelmed, but you gave me tools I needed to begin teaching.
  • I feel very appreciated by the students. I love to see the advances they are making, and to see that their lives are improving.

Literacy Works offers these services for literacy program coordinators and educators:

Member Network Meetings

Recognizing the value of collective knowledge, we offer Member Network Meetings so that literacy program staff from across Chicago can share their ideas and resources with one another. We incorporate a special training into each meeting, targeting a topic relevant to the challenges of operating community-based literacy programs. Topics have included recruiting and managing volunteer tutors, implementing a writing program, and integrating workforce content into literacy instruction.

Advising / Consulting / Resources

Literacy Works provides expert assistance to programs and their coordinators – ranging from telephone and email communications to on-site consulting and staff training.

Literacy Works' Resources pages include websites recommended to literacy and workforce development practitioners. We also send out notices, job announcements, resumes, and alerts to new resources via our mailing lists.

Reaching Beyond

Literacy Works regularly presents our innovative teaching approaches at regional, state, and national conferences.

Through all our services, Literacy Works fosters connections and collaborations among community-based literacy programs in Chicago and beyond.

Words From Adult Literacy Professionals

  • I'm a new coordinator. You've been helpful to me as I learned how to do my job!
  • I consider Literacy Works as a resource for all types of literacy trainings. The trainers are aware of best practices as well as the challenges that individuals living at or below the poverty line (our target audience) may face.
  • Literacy Works trainings are the very foundation that our tutors need to begin to tutor our clients... The trainings allow my tutors to feel connected to a larger citywide literacy effort. This helps keep them engaged and energized. Our learners benefit immensely!
Writers' Circle

Literacy Works offers our Writers’ Circle workshop series directly for adult learners at our member and partner organizations.

Literacy Works' eight-week Writers' Circle workshops give adult learners a rare chance to transform their personal stories and life experience into words on the page. The Writers' Circle model arose from the work of the late Hal Adams, a founder of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Journal of Ordinary Thought, the Community Writing Project, and Real Conditions, through which the writing workshop was developed as a "grassroots think tank."

As Writers' Circle participants write, revise, and discuss their works, they develop critical thinking and writing skills while creating a supportive learning community. The Writers' Circle approach prepares participants to work cooperatively and constructively, skills that transfer to the workplace and other educational settings.

Literacy Works has presented Writers' Circles in diverse settings, including literacy programs and sites ranging from a correctional center to a housing program for low-income women.

Writers' Circle has a lasting impact on its participants. One student wrote, Thank you. Thank you. Writers' Circle was an incredible experience. I didn't think I had it in me to write, until you showed me different.

At the end of each workshop, Literacy Works compiles and publishes participants' poetry and prose in a beautiful book that features the authors' portraits alongside their words.

To read the works in each collection, see Writers’ Circle Books.

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Literacy Works | 773-334-8255 |
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*Mail us* at Literacy Works, c/o 6216 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60660