Image of Rose

"Heaven Scent"
Courtesy of Grace Caron
Photo Fanatics 4-H Club


Dear Volunteers and Friends,

It's another election year and there are road repairs everywhere, or so it seems to me.  It's a good time to read candidate web sites, flyers, and news articles.  Unfortunately, not every citizen has the language skills needed to make informed choices.  That's where the Literacy Council tries to help out.  As always, I ask you to let people know about our service.  Whether you know someone who needs help with reading or other forms of education, or someone who might like to become a tutor, tell them about the Literacy Council.

One of my students needed a tutor for something that we haven't considered before.  We already help people with a variety of needs: GED, ESL, computer use, and citizenship preparation, but this particular young woman wanted assistance with the TOEFL examination.  Fortunately, the Internet has a plethora of material on the subject.  I even found some smart phone apps that my student found useful.  I learned that the TOEFL exam is conducted at the Higher Learning Center building in downtown Medford.  The purpose of the TOEFL exam is to prove to U.S. colleges and Universities that applicants, whose first language is not English, have the language skills needed for class assignments.  The exam covers reading, writing, listening, and speaking proficiencies.

If you are, or were, a tutor and you have an interesting tale to tell about one of your students, please contact our newsletter editor, Nancy Calcagno.  She would love to help you share your story with our other volunteers.  Just write to the email address found at the bottom of this issue.

Have a great summer!

Bob Burger


We offer individualized tutoring for Basic Reading, GED, ESL, Workforce Development Classes, and Citizenship.

Our Workforce Development class offers training in Microsoft Office and Résumé Building.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from our program, please let them know about our services. The Literacy Council serves all of Jackson County.


Literacy Council of Jackson County
P.O. Box 615
Medford, OR 97501
(541) 531-0166

Website: www.literacyjc.org
E-mail: literacy@juno.com



   Chair ------------------------------------------- Bob Burger
   Placement ------------------------------------- Liz Koester
   Treasurer ------------------------------- Nancy Calcagno
   Newsletter Editor ----------------------Nancy Calcagno


Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness, which involves the ability to differentiate and manipulate the individual sounds, or phonemes, in words, is the strongest predictor of future reading success for children (Adams, 1995). No research exists that describes the effects of phonological awareness on reading for adults. However, teaching phonological awareness to beginning-reading adults significantly improves their reading accuracy and spelling, especially for reading and spelling words with blends.

Three phonological tasks used with students, in order of difficulty, are auditory blending, auditory segmenting, and phonemic manipulation. Auditory blending involves asking students to blend words that the teacher presents in segmented form. For example, I say "/s/-/p/-/l/-/a/-/sh/" and the student responds with "/splash/." Auditory segmenting is exactly the opposite. I present the word "/sprint/" and the student must segment the word into its individual sounds "/s/-/p/-/r/-/i/-/n/-/t/." Phonemic manipulation, which is the strongest predictor of reading acquisition, is also the most difficult. The student must recognize that individual phonemes may be added, deleted, or moved around in words.

The following exchange is an example of a phonemic manipulation task. Ask the student to repeat a word such as "bland." Then ask the student to say the word again, changing one of the phonemes. For example, "Say it again without the "/l/." The student responds with "/band/." While phonological awareness does not include the student's ability to associate sounds with letter symbols, and tasks are presented orally, the research concludes that the most effective way to promote phonemic awareness is in conjunction with the teaching of sound-to-symbol relationships (Torgesen, 1998).

Word Analysis

Word analysis, or phonics, involves teaching the alphabetic principle: learning that the graphic letter symbols in our alphabet correspond to speech sounds, and that these symbols and sounds can be blended together to form real words. Word analysis strategies enable students to "sound out" words they are unable to recognize by sight. Explicit, direct instruction in phonics has been proven to support beginning reading and spelling growth better than opportunistic attention to phonics while reading, especially for students with suspected reading disabilities (Blackman et al., 1984; Chall, 1967, 1983). Beginning readers should be encouraged to decode unfamiliar words as opposed to reading them by sight, because it requires attention to every letter in sequence from left to right. This helps to fix the letter patterns in the word in a reader's memory. Eventually, these patterns are recognized instantaneously and words appear to be recognized holistically (Ehri, 1992; Adams, 1990).

For teaching phonics, the Wilson Reading System introduces early on the six syllable types. This enables even beginning-level adults to read words that are part of their oral vocabulary and overall cognitive abilities. After learning the closed syllable rule, for example, students are able to read three-syllable words such as "Wisconsin," "fantastic," and "Atlantic." Reading multisyllabic words provides students, who have acquired a history of reading failure, with an unexpected sense of accomplishment and opens possibilities for them. Recognizing syllable types is important because the syllable pattern determines the sound of the vowel and how the word must be pronounced.

Borrowed from NCSALL





The demands on teachers are countless, and we often wonder how we can accomplish all that is expected of us. But student achievement is the key to our success. While content knowledge is important, most of us remember a special teacher for other qualities including their ability to listen, encourage, and smile! So please:


  • to what is implied as well as what is said
  • without contradicting or interrupting
  • with empathy and interest


  • with genuine praise
  • with patience and understanding
  • with support and a pat on the back


  • to ease tension
  • to encourage a reluctant learner
  • to welcome students

by Susan Kraul


It is difficult to teach ESL students how to lengthen vowels on the stressed syllable. Use a rubber band, and have the student stretch it as he/she speaks. The student can feel it stretching before he/she goes on to the next syllable.


Don't say: Artic | Do say: Arctic
Don't say: bob wire | Do say: barbed wire
Don't say: barbituate | Do say: barbiturate
Don't say: cannidate | Do say: candidate
Don't say: chester drawers | Do say: chest of drawers
Don't say: chomp at the bit | Do say: champ at the bit
Don't say: elec'toral | Do say: e'lectoral
Don't say: excetera | Do say: et cetera
Don't say: foilage | Do say: foliage
Don't say: libary | Do say: library
Don't say: ordinance | Do say: ordnance
Don't say: perogative | Do say: prerogative
Don't say: perscription | Do say: prescription
Don't say: prespire | Do say: perspire
Don't say: probly | Do say: probably
Don't say: revelant | Do say: relevant
Don't say: sherbert | Do say: sherbet
Don't say: silicone | Do say: silicon
Don't say: snuck | Do say: sneaked
Don't say: supposably | Do say: supposedly
Don't say: upmost | Do say: utmost
Don't say: yoke | Do say: yolk


We are currently in need of more tutors. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, we would love to hear from you.

A tutor will typically spend one or two sessions per week with an adult learner. These sessions usually run 60 to 90 minutes long. A tutor and an adult learner often work together for 6 months to 2 years.

There are no credentials required. Simply attend free training sessions and learn how to be an effective tutor!


"Learning is not attained by chance,
it must be sought for with ardour
and attended to with diligence."

Abigail Adams