Literacy classes offered at local libraries -

Literacy classes offered at local libraries

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson is seeing more immigrants who need help with a skill that's crucial for making it in America and local libraries are stepping in to help meet the need.

Pima County Public Library officials said the need for their English classes is growing.

Imra Benami volunteers her time teaching English at the Nanini Library on the northwest side.

"It's very crucial and it's free and makes a huge difference," she said.

She knows how it feels to be in her students' shoes. Imra came to Tucson from Israel several years ago.

"I think what is wonderful is to see a lady from Jordan and a lady from South Africa and they really have nothing in common but English."

Pima County Public Libraries partners with Literacy Connects to offer free English classes.
The library is able to fund the program through grants. The classes help many people from different countries.

"Right now I need simple, easy grammar. [The] next step- GED," said Frances Fontaine from Japan.

Local libraries are seeing a great need for these classes. Arizona is one of the top states for refugee settlements.

Claire Gey immigrated to Tucson from the Philippines a few months ago. She's taking the class with her family.

"I'm reviewing for my test in Pima College [to] take my course in nursing," she said.

The classes want to do just that: to serve as a stepping stone, helping people succeed in the community and achieve their goals.  Local libraries are seeing a great need for these classes. Arizona is one of the top states for refugee settlements.

"I want to give something back to the community and it was perfect for me, don't know how perfect it is for them," says Imra, chuckling.  "From what I can see, it looks pretty perfect for them."

There were more than 1,000 students enrolled in classes provided by Literacy Connects at local libraries from 2012-13. Classes are free and the library provides classroom space and materials. According to a survey, 93 percent of the students reported that their self-esteem increased as a result of the classes, and 97 percent reported that their life skills improved.

Libraries anticipate even higher numbers this year. Literacy Connects added an additional class this year because there was so much demand. Currently, many libraries offer these classes.

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