Literacy Practicum Students Learning

Faculty Director, Prof. Kira Hall, Department of Linguistics
Faculty Assistant Director, Dr. Rai Farrelly, Department of Linguistics

The Literacy Practicum (LING 1900) is an outreach program sponsored by the CU Boulder Linguistics Department. We collaborate with Boulder community partners to support literacy development among various populations. Through our partners, Boulder Reads, The Family Learning Center, and University Hill Bilingual Elementary School we support elementary school children learning to read. Through our partners SWAP and Emily Griffiths Technical College, we foster literacy and oral language development to adults learning English.

The program matches CU Boulder Literacy Practicum volunteers, or “Buff Buddies,” to literacy and language learners in the Front Range area. Students enrolled in this community-based learning course have the opportunity to earn one extra credit hour while volunteering as a mentor for approximately 1-2 hours per week.

CU Boulder students who participate in the Literacy Practicum discover they can make a profound impact on the lives of readers – young and old – including those learning English as an additional language. Linguistic research has documented the social, interactional and cognitive advantages of bilingualism, so our approach in the literacy practicum is additive – building on learners existing linguistic repertoire as they develop emerging language and literacy skills. It is widely accepted that proficiency in the English language increases educational, economic, and social opportunities for immigrant and refugee-background populations in the U.S. The collaboration between “Buff Buddies” and learners is therefore mutually beneficial as each develops intercultural competence, interpersonal communication skills, and friendship, with the additional bonus of exchanging language and developing teaching skills.

With this additional credit hour, CU Boulder students engage in praxis – connecting literacy and second language acquisition theories to practice. The opportunity for “Buff Buddies” to connect classroom learning to experiences in the community is a great motivator and an important component of humanizing education. At the same time, literacy and language learners involved in the program gain inspirational access to university students who are committed to community-based learning.

Student volunteers must either have volunteered for the Literacy Practicum in a previous semester or be currently enrolled in one of our sociocultural linguistic or TESOL courses. These include LING 1000 (Language in US Society), Ling 3545 (World Language Policies), LING 4630 (Principles and Practices for TESOL), LING 4620 (Teaching L2 Oral Skills), LING 4610 (Pedagogical Grammar for TESOL), Ling 4800 (Language and Culture), and LING 4910 (TESOL Practicum). 

We are proud to announce our current community partners: University Hill Elementary SchoolBoulder Public LibraryStudent-Worker Alliance ProgramFamily Learning Center and Emily Griffiths Technical College.

Learn more about our community partners, read featured blogs or buddy books from past students, see recognition the program has received, or find out how you can get involved in LING 1900!

To enroll in LING 1900
Students wishing to enroll in Ling 1900 must be currently enrolled in one of the linguistics courses mentioned above OR have previously acted as a volunteer for the program in a past semester. If you meet one of these requirements and are interested in volunteering this semester, please fill out the application.