Rich Witham and Audrey Anderson

Year Published:  1980  
Resource Type:  Organization
Cx Number:  CX1040

Abstract:  Red Lake is a mining town populated by immigrants from Europe since the Second World War. Illiteracy has long been a major problem in this community and several programs have been attempted by the Ontario Government without success. The problem is complicated by the fact that many of the people living in Red Lake do not really speak English. For the past year Rich and Audrey have been living in Red Lake and trying to develop interest and support for another attempt at an English as a Second Language program (ESL). For 5 1/2 months they worked directly under the auspices of Frontier College. Now they have received the support of the Department of Culture and Recreation of the Ontario Government. The present effort differs from previous attempts in that it does not use pre-packaged language programs devised for middle-class urban dwellers. Rather they have opted to draw on local material and local experiences and attempt to assist learning by focusing on concrete living problems of the students which require some capacity to read and write in English. Rich and Audrey believe it simply isn't enough to provide a linear technology so that the student can handle words and grammar without necessarily understanding the meaning of the experience
which is being described. Learning to read and write is really a question of meaning and so when that becomes primary, learning to handle the words to describe it comes quite naturally. They also believe that learning to use a language is largely bound up with the student's self-image. Trust and respect of the student are crucial to the learning process.

This abstract was published in the Connexions Digest in 1980.
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