Moraine Valley Community College || Literacy || FAQ


What is illiteracy? How widespread is the problem?
Illiteracy is defined as the lack of adequate reading or writing skills which would allow an adult to function independently in the home, workplace, or community. Many of the people who lack literacy skills are unable to read and comprehend a newspaper article, write a check, fill out a job application, read a warning label on a product, or understand simple written instructions.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that there are 27 million people in the United States who are functionally illiterate. According to state reports, Illinois has two million people who cannot read above the fifth grade level. There are thousands of adults enrolled in literacy programs throughout Illinois. Some people are learning to read and write for the first time, while others are reviewing skills that they may have forgotten over the years.

What is the purpose of the Moraine Valley Literacy Program?
This program has been established to provide basic reading and writing instruction for any adult community resident who is reading or writing below the sixth grade level.

Instruction is provided on an individual basis by trained volunteer tutors who work with these adults on campus or at any one of the participating libraries or community centers. Each year, there are approximately 100 students who are served by our literacy program.

When did this program begin?
This program was established in January 1985, when the Adult Basic Education Department received funding to establish literacy programs in this area.

How is this program funded?
This program is funded by the Secretary of State's Community Literacy Grant Program and by the Adult and Continuing Education Section of the ICCB. Donations from individuals, private organizations, and community groups also have helped our program.

How are students recruited for this program?
Community residents learn of our program in a variety of ways. Some come because they saw a TV show or heard a radio program that motivated them to call. Others are referred by friends or family members who have learned about our program from brochures and information printed in the class schedule. A few come because their teachers or employers suggested that they enroll.

When will volunteer tutors begin working with students?
Upon completion of the initial training sessions, a volunteer will be ready to work with a student. The assignment will depend upon the availability of a student in the area and time schedule identified by the tutor. Generally, tutors have been assigned to work with students within a two-month period.

Where will volunteer tutors work with students?
Tutors will work with students on campus or at any one of the participating libraries or community centers in the area.

How long will a volunteer tutor work with his/her student?
After accepting an assignment to work with a student, the tutor agrees to meet on a regular schedule for two hours each week for at least one year. The individual students and tutors working together determine vacation schedules and breaks. Many volunteers continue working with their students for more than a one-year period.

Will a volunteer tutor be able to change his/her assignment if there is a conflict or problem?
Since flexibility is important in meeting the needs of all individuals in our program, a volunteer assignment can be changed by requesting a conference with the coordinator.

How can a volunteer tutor work in an ABE/GED/ESL classroom as a teacher's aide?
A volunteer tutor may work in the classroom when the teacher requests additional help. If a tutor is interested in this type of work, he/she needs to indicate this on the tutor preference form, which is completed during the last training session.

  • ABE (Adult Basic Education) classes are generally comprised of students reading below the eighth grade level who have not completed high school and who desire specialized instruction in basic academic skills. The curriculum is designed to focus on improving skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.
  • GED (General Educational Development) classes are for students who are reading at or above the ninth grade level and who need to complete the GED examination. Instruction is given in five subject areas which include: mathematics, literature, social studies, science and grammar.
  • ESL (English as a Second Language) classes are for students who want to develop their speaking, writing, and reading skills in English.