Apparently pre-literate people haven't yet grasped the idea that sounds can be represented as symbols. Perfect for teachers who desire a real challenge in the classroom!
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Before Bob Jansen can teach English to the adult immigrants in his lowest-level class, he has to show about a quarter of them how to hold a pencil.Once these refugees learn the basics of reading, surely their skills in cattle herding and building fires will make them hot job prospects.
Adult education teachers like Jansen are finding themselves starting from scratch as uneducated immigrants and refugees from conflict regions of Africa and rural areas of Mexico and Central America flock to the United States.
An estimated 400,000 legal and 350,000 illegal immigrants are unable to read or write even in their native language, according to a July 2007 report from the Migration Policy Institute, an independent Washington think tank. [...]
One hand of the government is letting preliterate people come here as refugees," said David Holsclaw, director of Don Bosco Community Center's English as a Second Language Program, which serves about 2,500 students a year. "And another hand of the government is making it hard to serve them because they want to tie our funding to testing."
It's easy to understand why immigrants struggle if they aren't literate in their native languages, said Barbara Van Horn, co-director of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy at Pennsylvania State University.
"They haven't made the connection between their oral language and the fact that what is printed, those letters represent sounds that are used to make up words," she said. "They don't have that basic understanding of what literacy is about." [Programs Focus on Illiterate Immigrants, Google AP Dec 18 2007]