Hero Central: The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia Breaks Down Language Barriers

August 20, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Posted in Media, Student Stories | Comments Off on Hero Central: The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia Breaks Down Language Barriers

WUSA9 “Hero Central” also featured the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia in a written article.  Read the article here.

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Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

New Fall Classroom Schedules!

August 8, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Posted in Calendar, Class, Community, Community Partners, ESOL, Family Learning, Media, News, Teaching, Testing, Volunteers | Comments Off on New Fall Classroom Schedules!
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The weather’s starting to change, that means it’s time to get back in the classroom!

I’m happy to report we have confirmed class times and locations with all our classroom community partners and the new schedules are ready for the ESOL Learning Centers and Family Learning Program.  Click the Google Map below to see our classroom locations or where neighboring English Language services are:

Registration will be September 14th through 22nd and we’ll be advertising in the walk-able areas immediately around each class site but we encourage you to help our advertising campaign.  How can you help?  Ask your neighborhood grocer, library, community center or place of worship if you can post a copy of our schedule on their community news or bulletin space.  You can find a link to each schedule here:

FLP Class Schedule_Fall 2011

ESOLC_Master Schedule_Fall 2011

Conversation Classes_Fall 2011

Thank you for all your support!

Erin Finn, Director of Classroom Programs

Monster Mash!

November 3, 2010 at 1:11 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Media, Student Stories, Teaching | Comments Off on Monster Mash!

In light of Halloween coming up this weekend, my fellow Americorps members and I decided to take the opportunity to introduce our students to some of the holiday’s vocabulary and traditions in our classes.  I gave my students an article to read discussing the roots of the holiday and some of the ways people celebrate it in America.  We talked about all of the different kinds of costumes children wear on Halloween as they go door-to-door demanding candy from their neighbors–quite the concept if you consider that Halloween is an uniquely American holiday, so most of our students are unfamiliar with such practices.

I played the Halloween classic, “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett as part of a listening exercise in which students had to fill in the missing Halloween vocabulary words on lyrics print-outs. 

Purely for fun, I brought in several rolls of toilet paper and divided my class into two teams who had a couple minutes to turn one of their team members into a toilet paper mummy!  To end the night I read the class a spooky ghost story and rewarded Halloween Bingo winners with candy “treats.”

I loved watching my students let loss and have fun with all of the silly activities I planned because I know that the students really value the sense of community they develop in their classes, and a lot of bonding certainly went on during our Halloween parties.  Additionally, I find that when students are interacting with each other during activities that have them speaking on less artificial terms than say a pre-fabricated dialogue,  they are much more relaxed and the English just flows.

Alicia Nieves, AmeriCorps Teacher and Lead Teacher

A Closer Look at Our Community

October 1, 2010 at 12:12 AM | Posted in Community Partners, Media, Statistics | Comments Off on A Closer Look at Our Community
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I just had an opportunity to review an impressive report from the Northern Virginia Community Foundation, A Portrait of Children in Northern Virginia 2010.  A comprehensive needs assessment, done in partnership with Voices For Virginia’s Children, this report revealed staggering statistics about children living in poverty, children lacking health care, teen suicides and high school drop-out rates.  Really?  In Northern Virginia?  How we have successfully blocked out or denied the full picture of our community is frightening.   We need to pay a bit more attention to the future generation beginning right now.

Working in adult education, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia has a huge impact of the children in our community.  As the statistics will demonstrate, children who grow up in healthy families, whose parents read to them regularly and are involved in their school activities, have much greater success in school and beyond.   LCNV is dedicated to teaching adults, including new American immigrants, the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking and understanding English.   Improving literacy and language skills of parents, particularly those in immigrant families, will strongly influence the performance of their children, as well as strengthen the family’s opportunities for economic stability.

“ Parental education is a strong indicator of the likelihood that a child will experience poverty. In 2007 about 43% of Virginia children of parents without high school degrees lived in poor families. This compares with 12% of children whose parents graduated from high school and 6% of children whose parents had some college education.”

“More than 50% of the 30,000 children living in poverty in Northern Virginia are children in immigrant families.”

For more information and to read the entire report, please visit the Northern Virginia Community Foundation’s web-site:  http://www.novacf.org/page10005151.cfm

Patti Donnelly, Executive Director



September 30, 2010 at 11:18 PM | Posted in Calendar, Community, Media, Staff | 3 Comments
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My most recent (and first) blog post addressed the rewards and challenges of working remotely for the Literacy Council, which I’ve been doing since late 2007.  Reading that post again, I realize that my interaction with my coworkers has changed since writing it.  For the past several months we’ve been teleconferencing, using Skype, for our meetings.  I sit in front of my computer, which has a built-in webcam, in San Francisco, while others in Falls Church sit in front of a similarly equipped computer.  They hear and see me, while I hear and see them.  Before using Skype, we conducted meetings over conference calls.  Now, teleconferencing has brought video into the mix.  It might seem a small difference, but it really adds a sense of being connected.  They can see the paintings hanging on the wall behind me, the red couch below it, and the sunlight (when it isn’t foggy) shining through the window to my left; and I get treated to a glimpse of what it’s like to back in the office.  When another coworker walks through the webcam’s line of sight, I often blurt out “Hey there,” hoping to indulge in a few moments of small talk.  It’s a nice little treat, and it bolsters my enthusiasm for what I do.

But for me, nothing can beat actually being there, so next month (in October), I’ll be flying out to Virginia to spend two or three days back in the Falls Church office.  Strange as it may seem, I’ve never met my new boss, our Senior Director of Development, Suzie Eaton, though I interact with her nearly every day via IM and emails, or our new Development Assistant, Stacy Nall.  Plus we’ve just welcomed a new cohort of AmeriCorps members to the staff, so I’ll be able to meet them, too.  Working remotely has been good for both me and the Literacy Council, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in person again to remind me of what a great organization this is and how lucky I am still to be working for it.

Matt Kollmeyer, Grants and Publications Specialist

Thank you to the Library of Congress for the National Book Festival

September 27, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Posted in Announcements, Calendar, Community, Family Learning, Media | Comments Off on Thank you to the Library of Congress for the National Book Festival

Celebrating 10 years in the Nation’s Capital, the National Book Festival is one of the greatest gifts to literacy and book lovers. This past Saturday, the last Saturday in September, I spent all day on the National Mall at the National Book Festival, as I have every year for the past 10 years.  The event never disappoints. What an amazing opportunity to meet and learn from nearly 100 authors who are delighted to present to the audience a window into their lives, their inspirations for characters and themes, their writing process, and entertain questions from the audience.  Giant circus tents cover the eastern end of the mall, each labeled by genre: fiction/mystery, children, teens, poetry/prose, history/biography. . . . .so you can pick and chose and travel from tent to tent all day long listening to the authors of your choice.  This year I heard, and befriended, Julia Glass, Ken Follet, Olga Grushin, Rosemary Wells, Jeff Smith, Michele Norris, and Anchee Min.  Each presentation was different, informative, and somehow made me feel like I was in a personal setting having tea with a well-known author (when, in fact, there were probably at least 1000 book lovers sharing the space in the crowded tent).

Equally impressive is the number of people who attend the free, family event focused on reading, learning and books. Happy children are everywhere, and the first in line to ask their favorite author questions about the characters they love in the books they read.  It doesn’t get any better than that for inspiring young authors, and encouraging new readers.  Every tent is filled with people from 10:00 am until 5:30 pm.  It is an incredible gathering of passionate readers.

My favorite author of the day, Anchee Min, opened her presentation by saying, “Thank you, America!  I can’t believe I am really here speaking in English and people have come to hear me because they have read my story.”  I say, thank you to Anchee Min for writing such beautiful stories and for taking the time to meet with all of us.  As for America, thank you to the Library of Congress for using our tax dollars for an event that is entertaining, enriching, educational and an extraordinary gift to all who love to read.

Patricia Donnelly, Executive Director

Welcome to Shelbyville

September 24, 2010 at 10:57 AM | Posted in Advocacy, Community, Film, Media | Comments Off on Welcome to Shelbyville
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On September 15th, I went to an early screening of the film documentary “Welcome to Shelbyville” at the Brookings Institution, hosted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).  The documentary is the tale of a small town in Tennessee grappling with growing pains as their community becomes more and more diverse.  When the film is released on PBS in the spring of 2011, I highly recommend watching it.

I find that living in the already widely diverse metropolitan DC area, it is easy to forget that immigrants are a new occurrence for many smaller communities throughout the United States.  As I watched the film, I couldn’t help feeling empathy for the new immigrants in Shelbyville and I wished there was more I could do to make them feel welcome.  There were several scenes in the film that took place in adult ESOL classrooms and it reminded me very much of the classes offered here at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and it got me thinking …

While our classes start up this week and next, what do you do to make our students feel welcome?  How do you showcase diversity as a positive feature in our communities?  Please share your thoughts in the comments field below.

-Erin Finn, Director of Classrom Programs

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