Literacy Connections


…provided by volunteers who are trained by a certified Tutor Training system

The core program is to provide one-to-one or small group tutoring for adults who are functionally illiterate. The current definition of functional illiteracy is an adult who reads below a 6th grade reading level, or who is functioning at Level 1 Literacy.

The program is student centered, and this, along with individual tutoring, is what makes volunteer based literacy programs unique.

Basic Readers: Adults who speak English

Adults who are English speaking and who attended at least a few years of school who are not reading with proficiency are most often those who did not succeed in a traditional classroom setting.

The reasons for this lack of success could be that during the crucial years of basic development, children were not read to at home, and did not see their parents reading. Scientific studies now prove how profound an influence parents have on their child’s success. There could also be a previously undiagnosed learning disability, or excessive absences when basic reading skills were taught.

Whatever the root cause, the result is that adults who don’t read traditionally do not do well going back into the classroom setting, as this was the site of frustration and failure. It is therefore, extremely advantageous to be able to offer basic education in a non-traditional setting.

Student centered means not following a pre-determined curriculum, and giving a voice to the student with regard to their learning experience. Teaching adults is not the same as teaching children. Materials must be sensitive and respectful of adult learners, and because adults face so many challenges in their daily lives, the learning must be relevant and meaningful.

Achieving short term goals helps encourage adults to stay with the program. Success builds on success, and many Adult Basic Readers have experienced few academic successes. Retesting/reassessments after a number of tutoring hours also helps build confidence, or if the student is not progressing, helps to identify a challenge that needs to be addressed.

English as a Second Language: (ELL)

Adults who do not read, write, or speak English have different learning needs. Please note: These learners are often also called: English Language Learners (ELL) or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ELL).

ELL adults are facing special challenges. If they have children in school, it is likely that their children are learning to converse in English faster and easier than their parents: this is because children learn new language easier than adults do, and because they are immersed in an English speaking environment in their daily school lives.

When children learn English and the parents are not speaking English, an unhealthy dynamic occurs where the children have a power-over their parents. Often the children are asked to serve as interpreters for appointments and meetings during which adult conversations take place that are likely not appropriate for children to be part of.

It is important, therefore, for ELL adults to receive basic literacy education. Small group tutoring is usually desirable, as it gives them an opportunity to work on and practice speaking skills. It is also encouraging to be in a small group with people at the same level.

ELL students have a wide variety of skill levels in their native language: literacy programs welcome ELL students who have advanced degrees in their native language, along with those who were functionally illiterate in their native language.

The learning experience must be sensitive to these varying skill levels and to cultural differences as well.


…provided by volunteers who receive orientation and training

    Volunteers go into schools and pre-schools to read to the class using the dialogic reading method to get children engaged in the story. Once a month the book is donated to the classroom to help build a classroom library. Literacy Connections has books to choose from in the office.
    Volunteers give one hour a week (including travel time) to read with a child in 2nd or 3rd grade who is struggling with reading and needs extra practice reading aloud. Using materials provided by the teacher, the child reads aloud every week to the volunteer. This method has been proven to increase reading scores, and ensure that children do not fall behind in this basic skill, so critical to future success.


Additional Services:

  • Literacy Connections can, by appointment, help people fill out forms.
  • Literacy Connections has a student/tutor library to help tutors and learners, as well as professional staff to provide ongoing support.
  • Literacy Connections has a Student Computer Lab in Poughkeepsie and in Hudson to provide opportunity to enhance computer skills and to do job searches.
  • Annual Community Spelling Bee for High School & College Students and Adults of all ages to have fun with words, to raise awareness, and to support literacy services.
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