The Literacy Practicum

Program Contact

Kira Hall

Professor of Linguistics

kira.hall@colorado.edu

303.492.2912

The Literacy Practicum (LING 1900) is an outreach program sponsored by the CU Boulder Linguistics Department. We collaborate with Boulder community partners to support literacy development among various populations. Through our partners, Boulder Reads, The Family Learning Center, and University Hill Bilingual Elementary School we support elementary school children learning to read. Through our partners SWAP and Emily Griffiths Technical College, we foster literacy and oral language development to adults learning English.

The program matches CU Boulder Literacy Practicum volunteers, or “Buff Buddies,” to literacy and language learners in the Front Range area. Students enrolled in this community-based learning course have the opportunity to earn one extra credit hour while volunteering as a mentor for approximately 1-2 hours per week.

CU Boulder students who participate in the Literacy Practicum discover they can make a profound impact on the lives of readers – young and old – including those learning English as an additional language. Linguistic research has documented the social, interactional and cognitive advantages of bilingualism, so our approach in the literacy practicum is additive – building on learners existing linguistic repertoire as they develop emerging language and literacy skills. It is widely accepted that proficiency in the English language increases educational, economic, and social opportunities for immigrant and refugee-background populations in the U.S. The collaboration between “Buff Buddies” and learners is therefore mutually beneficial as each develops intercultural competence, interpersonal communication skills, and friendship, with the additional bonus of exchanging language and developing teaching skills.

With this additional credit hour, CU Boulder students engage in praxis – connecting literacy and second language acquisition theories to practice. The opportunity for “Buff Buddies” to connect classroom learning to experiences in the community is a great motivator and an important component of humanizing education. At the same time, literacy and language learners involved in the program gain inspirational access to university students who are committed to community-based learning.

Current community partners include Boulder Public Library, Family Learning Center, the CU Boulder Swap Program, University Hill Elementary School, and Emily Griffiths Technical College.

This program is available to undergraduate students enrolled in one of the Linguistics Department’s many courses in sociolinguistics (e.g., Ling 1000, Ling 2400, Ling 2500, Ling 3545, Ling 4800) or TESOL (e.g., LING 4630, 4620). Students may also enroll in the program for repeat credit.

  • Emily Griffiths Technical College

    Location

    In Colorado

    Denver

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    No charge to attend/participate in activity or program

    Additional Info

    Every year, Emily Griffiths Technical College hosts more than 1,400 students from 85 different countries, speaking 66 different languages. They offer Pre-Academic and Community English (PACE) classes. Some of their immigrant and refugee-background adult learners are characterized by experiences of interrupted formal education and emerging first language literacy.

  • Reading Buddies at Boulder Public Library

    Location

    In Colorado

    Boulder

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    Not Applicable

    Additional Info

    The Reading Buddies program at Boulder Public library pairs Literacy Practicum student volunteers with elementary school "little buddies." Buddy pairs meet at the library once weekly for 1-on-1 sessions to inspire the power and joy of reading and collaborate on a picture book to present at an end-of-semester celebration.

  • Reading Buddies at University Hill Elementary School

    Location

    In Colorado

    Boulder

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    Not Applicable

    Additional Info

    The Reading Buddies program at University Hill Elementary School pairs Literacy Practicum student volunteers with 4th and 5th graders in the school's English-Spanish bilingual education program. Volunteers mentor 1-3 students during school hours for 1 hour weekly as they collaborate on the "Rainbow Press" project, where students create English and Spanish versions of a book or newspaper.

  • Swap

    Location

    On Campus

    University Memorial Center (UMC)

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    Not Applicable

    Additional Info

    Swap is a student-led organization at CU Boulder that pairs Literacy Practicum volunteers with campus employees or international students seeking assistance speaking, reading, or writing English. Volunteers meet with their Swap partners on campus in 1-on-1 tutorials once weekly to collaborate on various topics in English language learning.

  • The Family Learning Center

    Location

    In Colorado

    Boulder

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    Not Applicable

    Additional Info

    The Family Learning Center's after-school program provides literacy support for elementary and middle-school children from immigrant families or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Literacy Practicum volunteers help children in the after-school program complete homework assignments and other academic activities.

Sponsoring Units

  • College of Arts & Sciences

  • Department of Linguistics

Program Partners

  • Boulder Reads
  • The Family Learning Center
  • Swap
  • University Hill Bilingual Elementary School
  • Emily Griffiths Technical College

Audiences Served

  • Adult Learners
  • At-Risk Youth
  • Children & Youth (outside school)
  • Minority Group(s)
  • Socio-Economic Disadvantaged
  • Students - Early Learning
  • Students - Elementary School
  • Students - ESL