Literacy and English Classes in Baytown

The Baytown public library is using a grant from the American Library Association to expand its literacy program, and help adult Hispanic immigrants get on the path to citizenship. Jim Bell reports.
Millions of adult immigrants have such limited English skills they can't read a newspaper, road signs, or help their children with their homework. The American Library Association is attacking this problem with five thousand dollar grants to fund literacy programs in public libraries across the country. The Sterling Public Library in Baytown is one of 34 libraries getting these grants, and librarian Katherine Brown says they're using theirs to expand their adult literacy program.

"This program will provide us with additional materials to assist those who are learning to speak and read English. It'll have software called the Rosetta Stone to assist them, and we'll also have materials to help people who are applying for citizenship. Our program will expand to give them assistance in taking the citizenship test."

Brown says the Sterling Library has taught adult literacy and English as a second language at no cost for more than 20 years, and over that time hundreds of people have taken the courses.

"They averaged anywhere from 20 to 40 people per year who graduated from the ESL program, and we actually now employ one person who began speaking in that program and spoke no English. I think there is a niche here for it, and I think we filled it in our community."

Brown says she believes teaching immigrants what they need to become citizens will be just as successful. The program is called The American Dream Starts @ Your Library.

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.