« Back to Education

Soy Culto Y Soy Bilingue

Orange County Library System
Go to Website

Problem Statement

In Orange County Florida, between 32-40% of the population living around the South Creek and Southeast Branch libraries live in Spanish speaking households. At OCLS we offer a variety of opportunities for patrons to learn English. We provide beginning ELS with Practice Make Perfect from the Adult Literacy League, we offers English Chatter, where attendees practice English with native English speakers, and we offer a variety of self paced online learning opportunities at both locations, but this was not enough and our patrons were hungry for more ESL assistance and personal attention. With a shrinking budget (-11%) and staff attrition we were not able to meet the public’s demand for these types of learning opportunities. And our staff are not teachers or ESL experts.


Thanks to a Congressionally Directed Grant awarded to OCLS in April of 2010, administered through IMLS, we were able to create a new ESL program at the South Creek and Southeast Branch libraries in partnership with the University of Central Florida. Dr. Joyce Nutta, Associate Professor Teaching Learning Principle, from the English for speakers of other languages (ESL) Education Program at the University of Central Florida, has oversight of the program and development of the ESL curriculum and the implementation of the program. A student in the Ph.D. program conducted a needs assessment and tailored the curriculum to community needs and to accommodate and intermediate range of English proficiency levels. We now offer free six week intermediate ESL classes with instruction designed for our community and taught by students from our local university.


After extensive evaluation on the part of UCF, evaluating all other community programs, our first set of six week classes began in person at the two branches to full classes, averaging 22+ students, total attendance of 251, with waiting lists of 70. All students have library cards in good standing and checkout materials for classes. In addition to traditional classroom training, we found a way to use students on the UCF campus. These students signed up to be tutors/trainers for our patrons using Skype (without video) to simulate phone conversations. Using Skype in audio only replicates phone calls and the challenges associated with communicating without visual assistance. UCF is committed to continue the work that has started -offering their students the ability to fulfill their teaching/internship requirements by teaching this program beyond the grant period. The grant provided the funding to get the program started and curriculum identified, but the partnership will carry on into the future and provide another service to our community. To quote former Congressman Grayson, who attended the first session, "Soy Culto has far exceeded our expectations."