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News & Updates for June 2019

newsThis month:


Graduation Celebration

Congrats, most recent graduates!

On May 28, 20 of our Advanced English learners celebrated a milestone achievement: completing the highest level of classes at MAM, and graduating to become alumni.

We’re so proud of their accomplishment, and thankful to you, dear tutors, for your contributions to students as they move along the path towards graduation.

We’ll be celebrating our summer graduates on August 27 and would love for you to join us! More information will be out shortly.


Celebrate America's Heritage

Immigrant Heritage Month

We’re proud that MAM students (and tutors! and staff!) contribute to the diversity of our beautiful city. And we’re grateful for the time and talents you give to classes each week, empowering students to improve their lives, and the lives of their families and others around them.

Each one of your students has an immigrant story to share, and we hope you’ll honor them this month, Immigrant Heritage Month!


Summer Break 2019

Monday, July 1 - Saturday, July 6

Reminder: MAM Literacy Advance is CLOSED July 1 – July 6

And it’s not too soon to begin showing your students where they can find FREE Independence Day events and activities around Houston...



Growing your students’ English and digital skills

During conversations about jobs this month, you’ll likely need to address students’ comfort and skill while engaging with technology.

Most job searching and applications are completed online these days, and students will often need some level of digital skill to complete basic functions of a job. You can help build their capacity by continuing to promote the Cell-Ed app for extra practice outside of the classroom.

Through Cell-Ed, students will be learning more English, faster, and also becoming more comfortable while using digital tools. Students can download Cell-Ed from their app store, and the use code 5566 to be part of the MAM team. Their frequent use of the tool may also help us win a national competition. (Psst! Your use of Cell-Ed counts too! Can you help us win?)


Administrative volunteers needed

We need YOU in the Wilcrest office

Are you looking for a new way to help out?
Interested in a flexible volunteer opportunity that makes a big contribution?

We need help at the Wilcrest front desk and offer morning, afternoon and evening shifts Monday through Thursday. Administrative volunteers provide a welcoming face to guests entering the suite and may work on light reception projects throughout a shift, thereby freeing up staff time to work on other tasks.

Admin volunteers must be 16 years old or older, do not need to be bilingual, and will receive training before beginning in the role.

Email or talk to Sara in the Resource Room if you, or someone you know, is interested in helping out this summer!


Newsletter and website updates

Making sure we stay in touch with you!

We're continuing to make progress in fully integrating Literacy Advance as a program of Memorial Assistance Ministries. Volunteers should have now started getting the MAM Volunteer e-Newsletter, which replaces our Opening Doors e-News, and we're working on the best ways to keep Literacy Advance volunteers informed about Wilcrest-specific updates. 

Further, this website will be going away by the end of June, 2019. We're working to move essential info to the MAM website.  Remember that you can continue to get news and updates on the MAM Literacy Advance Facebook page, and for volunteer tutors, within our closed Facebook group.

Throughout these updates, please be vocal! If something isn't working for you - let us know. If you didn't receive a mailing, or you feel like you're missing something important, or you can't find something on the website - please tell us! We're doing our best to make things as smooth as possible, but we know there will be glitches. Please tell us if they happen to you, and know we'll do our best to sort things out for you as quickly as possible.

Contact Kathryn Bauchelle with any questions or problems: 713.266.8777, or

Thank you for your patience and for being a stalwart Literacy Advance volunteer. We appreciate you more than we can say!


Emergency Preparedness

Are you ready for Hurricane Season?

hurricane preparednessHurricane Season officially begins next month, so now is the time to help your students prepare for weather-related emergencies.

The winter 2019 edition of the ProLiteracy Notebook (one of our favorite resources year-round!) provides tips on how to integrate flood preparedness into your literacy instruction this summer.

You might also spend a few minutes with your class helping to model calls to the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way helpline, or work through additional disaster readiness activities such as those found at Texas Prepares.

And remember to check for weather information on Facebook, any time you're not sure if classes are on or if the office is closed.


Theme of the Month


June’s theme, Jobs, speaks to the aspirations that many of our learners have. Learning English brings more employment opportunities and opens many new paths to success.

This month, we’ve compiled a number of reading, writing, conversation, and listening activities that will help you prepare students with the skills and knowledge to look for a job and navigate the workplace.

You can find all the resources listed below in the Wilcrest Resource Room.

Beginning ESL

For beginning students we have activities designed to give practice with the numbers and vocabulary that they’ll likely see when they fill out their next job application. We LOVE that sample forms, like these, give students an opportunity to work together, in pairs, or in the large group with your facilitation.

For even more pair work, students can practice interviewing each other and asking questions about the application information they filled out. We’ve also combed one of our favorite resources, At Work in the U.S., for a reading exercise that helps reinforce basic grammar while modeling common work scenarios.

Intermediate and Advanced ESL

Intermediate and Advanced learners can benefit from several activities from resources like Building a Strong Vocabulary for Work Readiness, Career Ready Business Writing and On-the-Job English. Students can practice reading, vocabulary and grammar with activities themed around professionalism and workplace rights, or practice writing different in tenses while they draft a business letter.

Add dimension to your lesson by planning time for discussion around American business norms and practices with your class, to identify what is similar or different to their prior experience.

The materials can be completed during one class session, or divided into sections and sent home for extra practice.

We know you care very much about your students, so if you encounter challenges presenting any of the lesson material, please let us help! We are always here to support you in selecting and presenting appropriate resources. We hope you will help all students with this month’s activities so they can more confidently manage their current or future employment situation.

The rest of the year:

Month Theme Possible lesson content
July  Getting Ready for School  Getting kids ready to go back to school; options at school including after-school care and clubs
August Shopping & Restaurants  Houston Restaurant Weeks; loyalty clubs and benefits; online shopping risks and benefits 
September  Immigration & Citizenship  Requirements for U.S. citizenship including eligibility, paperwork, and fees
October Health    Health Literacy Month; questions to ask the doctor; advocating for your own health; open enrollment in the ACA
November Libraries   What's available at your local library? What does the library provide online? 
Theme of the Month on hiatus for December

Every month, we will feature resources and ideas that match the theme. Discovered something excellent? Let us in on your secrets! Talk to Colleen with ideas and new resources that match the theme.


Top Tutor Tips

Connecting your students to new communities

We so often hear from students that one of their greatest motivations for learning English is to build a new sense of community in Houston.

Finding new friends, hobbies, and opportunities for recreation will all be enhanced as a student learns more English. No matter their level, you can help your students begin to create new connections by talking about, and modeling, how to use some of our favorite digital tools:

Houston Public Library
Your local library provides SO MUCH MORE than just books! We have many new students in classes this semester who may not be familiar with all of the FREE activities that the Houston Public Library system puts on.

This month, take a few moments in your class to explore the upcoming calendar of events so students can find those that work best for themselves or their families. The library is one of our favorite local resources!
There are so many FREE fantastic clubs and organizations in Houston that can help students meet new friends who share their hobbies and interests. Whether your students love to run, sample new restaurants, play board games, or something else, they’re sure to find a new community through MeetUp.

To help build confidence, refer back to the activities you used in the beginning of your class to be sure your students can aptly introduce themselves to others.
Volunteer Match is just one of the sources your students can use to find volunteer opportunities close to home. Volunteering is a valuable way for students to contribute to their community while also making new friends who share similar values.

Bonus: if many of your students are parents, they might also use Volunteer Match to connect their children to opportunities that are appropriate for youth. What a great way to spend a summer vacation!

These are just three of the tools we use to help learners make new connections, build friendships, and feel at home in their communities. We’d love to hear what others you recommend! Tell us about them in the Tutor Support Facebook group, or talk to Sara.


Bad weather? Not sure if class is on?

Step One: Check Facebook

We know that weather in Houston can be unpredictable. Sometimes we don't have a lot of notice that we'll need to close the office and cancel classes, and we don't always have time to call everyone. 

Facebook is a quick and easy way to update lots of people at once, so the Literacy Advance Facebook page always has the most up-to-date information about closings in cases of bad weather.

If you think there's a chance we might be closed, please check the page rather than calling the office. Look for this image, and click on it for the latest update:

You can check the Facebook page even if you don't have a Facebook account, so please bookmark the link above. And remind your students to do the same!

Of course, if the bad weather is local to your neighborhood, and you're the one who needs to cancel class because you're concerned about driving, please do call us and let us know.


Student Success Spotlights

Don't miss our Student Success Spotlights!

You helped make them possible.


Calendar Highlights

What's ahead? Mark your calendar!

calendarWe always want you to be up to date! So highlights of the Literacy Advance calendar are summarized below.

A more complete calendar can always be found online here, or you can check our Facebook Events page

Summer Semester 2019:
May 3 - August 24 (16-week classes)
May 28 - August 24 (12-week classes)

Around the World
(11th annual student and volunteer celebration)
Friday, November 8

Last day of classes for 2019
Saturday, December 21


Find more information just for volunteers:

And finally - don't miss the Volunteer Spotlight!

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