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Written by Julie Sigrist, Small Group Coordinator

Deciding to come to learn at The Literacy Group can be challenging and often times scary. Someone who has always struggled in school is now thinking of getting into a learning situation that could possibly be a repeat of what they experienced before or, at the very least, a reminder that they struggle with learning or that they are “not very smart” or “don’t read so good.” They feel “awkward”, “shy”, “nervous”, and have “mixed feelings.” As a group instructor at TLG, I hear all about students’ fears – and see their successes. One student, C.S., says that in the beginning he felt that, “people look at me different than them,” because he needs to come to TLG. Another student, A.S., wrote about how he was shy in the beginning: “I felt a bit awkward at first because I never had been in a program like this before . . . I was a bit shy in the group at first because in the past, I had a lot of people hate me for just saying hi. (That’s what it felt like anyways.) After a few weeks at TLG, I became more comfortable with everyone here.”

It can be very difficult for adults to take the first steps in their learning and upgrading their Literacy and Essential skills but once they start, they feel like they have “spread their wings.” One student, T.Y., writes how he has “learned to have more confidence in myself and not to be afraid to make a mistake.” Another student, A.G., writes about doing Math he never even knew existed such as working with fractions, spelling words he could never spell before, and filling out forms at work. “Now I can read to my children at night.”

C.O. writes, “I was nervous about learning new things, but then after I learned the new stuff, I felt relieved. I feel happy about my decision to attend here. I got to meet new people and have a better understanding on what I am writing and learning. It is an amazing experience.”

TLG is a “first step” kind of place. Self-confidence is built up, new skills are learned and old skills are remembered. These new skills are used to do everyday tasks such as filling out forms, applying for a library card, reading a novel for the first time in their life, reading to their children and helping them with their homework, setting up an email account and sending out emails, and doing research on the Internet. Once they have built up their skills, students go on to further education, employment or increased independence.

One student, B.R., described it beautifully. “The first day I came, I felt nervous, sort of excited, and happy. I had a lot of emotions going through me but I decided to come on my own because I need to get my Grade 12 and graduate. I want a better life for me and my son. I heard the TLG program was great. So far, it has helped me and made me smarter than I was before. The staff and classmates are pretty amazing. I just have to get my skills up a little higher and I will be on my way on to bigger and better things, all because of this awesome program. But, I will always remember the TLG program. I would recommend anyone to this program.”