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LITERACY GRANT FOR ABE PROVIDES COMPUTER SOFTWARE

By Karin Elton
Independent Staff Writer
Reprinted by permission

MARSHALL --  Along with learning new words and how to pronounce them, the English language learners at the Adult Basic Education program at the Lyon County Government Center are increasing their computer skills.

The ABE is the recipient of an IBM Adult Literacy Technology grant which is allowing its students to increase their literacy level.

The ABE received about $16,000 worth of computer hardware and software, said Charles Carrera, who teaches computer skills at ABE.

It’s a really neat program, he said.  The IBM Adult Literacy Grant Program is collaboration between IBM and Workforce Development, Inc. in Rochester.

Carrera mostly works with Workforce Development.

“They’re responsible for creating the books and distributing them,” he said.

There are more than 70 electronic books for the students to choose from. Each e-book presents opportunities to practice words, read sentences and answer questions related to the content.

Carrera went to Rochester for a day of training, the cost of which was included in the grant.  Carrera works with one or two at a time as the students learn how to use the computer and operate the software.

It’s a process; it takes a while to do that,” he said.

Wearing a combination headset/microphone, students work with the software at their own pace.  The e-books are used in addition to the ABEŐs reading program.

The e-books use repetition, modeling of pronunciation and identification of pronunciation errors. An electronic voice reads a sentence and the student repeats it. The computer will ask the student to repeat a word if it is not correctly pronounced.

Carrera keeps a chart of the books the students have read.

“They can keep repeating a book if they want,” said Carrera. “They seem to like the program a lot.”

The grant period is one year from last June to next year. During that time Carrera will give feedback to Workforce Development so the company can perfect the software. ABE is one of 100 sites that is acting as test pilots for the software.

“They’ve already come out with two revisions,” Carrera said. “They are working on another because of the feedback they keep getting from people.”

 

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