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Leamos, a literacy program for native Spanish speakers, teaches participants how to read and write in Spanish. The Free Library of Philadelphia is looking for a new class of students to join the language program.
Nathalie Marquez, the marketing outreach director for Leamos, said there was a need for the Spanish-language program due to the assumption that the English literacy program participants could already read and write in Spanish.
“While there are a lot of English literacy programs available, none of them are language Spanish literacy programs for Spanish-speaking people,” Marquez said. “It’s less about learning a new language and more so about learning the tools to completely master it.”
Leamos is an online, self-paced course with multiple lessons and modules. The program aims to bridge the gap for native Spanish speakers who were unable to receive a formal education in Spanish.
ProLiteracy, an adult literacy and education organization, purchased the Leamos program for larger distribution in 2018. The Free Library purchased access to the program in 2018. According to ProLiteracy, there are approximately 1.6 million non-literate Spanish-speaking adults in the United States.
In Philadelphia, participants can take the online course on their own or in person at the Kensington library with the support of a Spanish-speaking tutor.
“People are busy. People have jobs,” Marquez said. “You’re taking time out of your day to do something like this. A lot of those blocks are just part of life, and we try to work around them by being as flexible as we can with the program.”
Lessons in the modules include topics like syllables, the Spanish alphabet, and forming sentences. Because Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries with dialectal differences, the lessons use common Spanish words.
Marquez noted that some early hallmarks of the program’s success include students being able to write their names and address and filling out forms on their own. She said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
“There’s a sense of empowerment and independence that students gained throughout the program,” she added. “Simply by learning how to do something as simple as like read a map that maybe they couldn’t do before because they couldn’t read street names.”
After graduating from the program, participants can continue accessing literacy resources through the Free Library’s Language and Learning Center.
Currently, the Free Library is accepting students on a rolling basis and is not limiting how many students can participate at a time. To register for the program, call the Kensington Library at 215-685-9996.
Editors: Zari Tarazona / Designer: Siani Colón
Kensington Voice is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly.