Meet Janet Saied at Project Literacy: “Each Topic is Relatable to Our Adult Learners”

Project Literacy is an adult English Language Learner (ELL) community-based program that offers free English classes, citizenship classes, legal immigrant services, and other resources in Watertown and its surrounding communities. Our goal is to help our non-native English speakers feel comfortable and be successful in our community through our English programs. We’re located in the Watertown Free Public Library on Main Street in Watertown, Massachusetts. Our program is one of the largest (if not, the largest) library-based adult ELL program in the state. We have close to 700 students, with 10 professionally paid teachers, and over 200 volunteers.

I first heard about Intercambio a year ago. To be honest, teachers are constantly coming across new textbooks to use, so I think it often takes a couple of exposures with a textbook to begin to consider using it. A teacher who has been using Intercambio to teach beginners talked to me about why she enjoyed using it so much, so I picked one up and started taking a closer look at it.

There are two main reasons why I’ve chosen Intercambio and many reasons why I will continue. The first two reasons are the price—it cannot be beat—and the second is it’s the first truly community-based curriculum I’ve come across in my 20+ years of teaching. Each topic is relatable to our adult learners. Not only is the vocabulary relevant but our students can relate to the content. They can see themselves in the pages of these books. The content is not generic, and students can easily engage with each other. Regarding the price, a lot of textbooks are expensive, and I feel that people are paying for the look of the book, rather than the content. Intercambio is able to keep the price down, and the content surpasses any other community-based textbook I’ve used. In addition, students usually have to borrow English textbooks from the library because each one is so expensive. We’re able to give our students Intercambio books, so they can write, highlight, and use their books as they wish. It adds to their learning experience.

We’ll continue to use Intercambio because of their online resources and other supplemental materials. Their teachers’ guides are great; an excellent resource! Some of our volunteers who have no English teaching experience are able to feel confident helping their learners with these books. The app is a great tool, especially for listening and pronunciation activities and it gives students the ability to practice at home. Intercambio is constantly sharing trainings and online resources. Lastly, I absolutely love their Immigrant Guide and Pronunciation Guide. To sum up, we’ve chosen Intercambio because it’s the truest community-based adult ELL curriculum that we’ve come across, and we’ve had a lot of teachers looking for something that is Intercambio. And now, our team of teachers can finally agree on one curriculum.

Intercambio’s Confidence and Connections curriculum really reflects how we actually speak with each other. Textbooks often take a more formal or academic approach to their content. Intercambio is a truer reflection on how we actually communicate with each other. It’s practical.

I would highly recommend Intercambio for any adult community-based program. There are a lot of community-based programs, but not a lot of textbooks for these programs. Teachers often have to rely on academic based textbooks about ‘pupils’ in school, rather than members of a community. These programs finally have a textbook geared specifically for them.

I hope Intercambio keeps moving in the direction it is, and we’re blessed to finally have a true adult ELL community-based curriculum.

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