Literacy Comes Home--Basic skills programs on laptops make all the difference for struggling adults.
Thursday, September 24, 1998
For the past two years, I have been coordinator of an innovative new program at the Monterey Adult School called the Basic Skills on Computer Program. This program is designed to help adults improve their reading, math and typing skills by using laptop computers programmed in these subject areas. The subjects encompass grades one-12, but the program is geared for adults. The laptop computers can be placed at non-traditional educational sites such as libraries and businesses and directly in people''s homes. The idea behind the program is that the school comes to the person rather than the person going to the school.
One wonderful thing, among many others, about this program is that it has a very good series of placement tests in math and reading. Many adults have gaps in their learning, and this program helps close those gaps.
One student, who used the math tutorial, wrote about the difficulties she has had with math all the way to the junior college level:
I have finished the Tier Two math, fourth through eighth level, with grades of 85 percent and better. There were many times I needed help in addition to the computer program, and my teachers at the adult school were always there to answer my questions. Now I have the confidence to take the Math Placement Test at Monterey Peninsula College. This time I will not fail!
The computerized placement tests in reading have helped many native and non-native speakers of English. The key to this program is self-paced instruction. One student from Vietnam wrote about what it''s like to come to a foreign country and not be understood:
We have one big problem: language. We are like deaf people, and dumb people--we have to use our hands to speak. We went to the adult school to learn English, but now we don''t have time to continue to go there. We work very hard each day and we can''t go to school in the evening. However, now we have found the computer program through the adult school. It is very helpful. We can do the lessons over and over again at home. Of course, I learn slowly, not as fast as young people, but now I can make people understand me better thanks to the computer program.
Another student from Russia wrote about the sense of isolation that not knowing a language can give a person and how the computer program has given back to her the ability to communicate with others:
This self-paced learning program was just fine for me. At home, I could use this computer for additional study time. I could even repeat some lessons over if I had difficulty with a lesson, to get a more complete understanding of the lesson. In addition, I could concentrate my studies on areas of English that were particularly difficult for me. After two months of struggling with my English studies, I gradually began speaking in English. I began to enjoy again the happiness of verbal communication with other people.
Over the years, countless students have told me, "I don''t know why, but I just didn''t get this or that particular skill in grade school or high school." If they were not finally able to summon up the courage to say to the teacher, "I don''t understand" after the teacher''s explanation, they often just gave up and never got that information. The Monterey Adult School Basic Skills on Computer Program allows people to "get it" at their own pace. If you feel this program might be right for you, please call Janet Tezak or Laura Shaw at 394-8715.
Janet Tezak is program director for the Monterey Adult School Basic Skills on Computer Program and an English instructor at Monterey Peninsula College.