Tutors Sought by Literacy Volunteers of the Tarrytowns

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by Robert Kimmel – 

Many new residents settle in the rivertown villages without a real understanding of English; a disadvantage the Literacy Volunteers of the Tarrytowns (LVT) has been working to solve since 1973. The voluntary organization is now looking for more tutors to engage in its pursuit to help those who are eager to learn the language, to both speak and read it.

Hundreds of people have been helped by the one-on-one tutoring provided by the group which was originally sponsored by the Warner Library as a new affiliate of the Literacy Volunteers of America. That was in response to a census indicating that there was a “significant number of individuals who were functionally illiterate in our area,” the organization maintains.

The Tarrytown group eventually became independent and continued as an all-volunteer unit training tutors to teach English as a second language. It became a re-accredited affiliate of Literacy Volunteers of America in 2002.

“Our goal is to provide one-on-one tutoring in English for our learners so they can advance from a very basic level to the level where they could participate in a classroom setting,” explained Literacy Volunteers Board member Ben Hunter at a January luncheon of the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns. “We focus on helping adults.”

In order to qualify as a tutor, new volunteers must complete an 18-hour English-as-a-Second Language, (ESL), Tutor Training Workshop offered over six Saturdays.  A tutor is then assigned a learner for a number of sessions.

Hunter related that the LVT now has 68 active tutors, and a full membership of 92 volunteers. Of those, 25 are from Tarrytown, 14 from Sleepy Hollow, and 11 from Irvington. The ranks of volunteers also include Dobbs Ferry residents, as well as a number from other Westchester locations.

Sleepy Hollow leads the list of learners’ villages, with 48 living in that village, and Tarrytown following with 21. Others reside in Ossining, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry, White Plains, Elmsford and Pomona. Most range in age from 25 to 59.

A majority of learners came from Ecuador (56) and the Dominican Republic (12). Others originated from across the globe, including Mexico, Columbia, Uruguay, Korea, China, India, Nigeria, Turkey, the Philippines and the Ukraine.   While 68 are being tutored, 34 are on a waiting list.  Many visit the Warner Library pursuing help from the LVT, but a good many have to wait for active tutors.

Tutors must be 19 or older and commit to just two hours a week for a year. No teaching experience is required; nor is knowledge of a foreign language. Just a “good command of the English language.” The spring ESOL Tutor Training Workshop runs for two hours each Saturday morning from February 23 through March 30, from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., at the Warner Library.

To register as a prospective tutor, forms are available at the Library, and more information can be had by calling 914-488-4250 or visiting on line at http://www.lvtarrytown.org.

“Our goal is to provide one-on-one tutoring in English for our learners so they can advance from a very basic level to the level where they could participate in a classroom setting.”

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