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In the neighborhood: Adult literacy program


By Karis Tzeng

This year a group of AsiaTown seniors gathered to plan an English learning class for themselves and their neighbors, with support from a Neighborhood Connections grant.

With the help of volunteers, they learned to use Zoom and created a class structure and curriculum that met their needs.

Since May, these 20 seniors have met every Thursday evening to learn to read, write, and speak practical English phrases to help them when shopping, going to the hospital, or filling out forms.

They’ve organized Saturday practice sessions both at St. Clair Place and virtually.

While the participants felt shy in the beginning, they have now become much more comfortable with one another, expressing their learning needs, directing the subject matter, and engaging directly with other participants.

The group has developed a strong social network, and even log into the meeting 10 minutes early to have time to chat with one another. One member said, “I’ve taken many English courses before, but this is the first one where I’m able to learn exactly what I need.”

They have created a joyful and empowering learning environment, while helping each other grow more confident in their English skills. The seniors are excited to participate in each class and practice session and look forward to spending time together.

This month, the seniors celebrated the progress of being halfway through the class with dim sum, and shared reflections on the class.

They are looking forward to continuing to learn English together over the next few months!