3 Surefire Tips to Help ESL/EFL Patrons Utilize eResources

Supporting ESL

By Anne Nagrant 

My experience living abroad as a Peace Corps Volunteer made me very sympathetic to those in our local communities for whom English is not their native language. No matter the level of English a patron has, public libraries should be prepared to serve all.

Inside the library, signage and pictures can help visitors find what they need. Library staff can enunciate clearly and try saying the same thing in different ways. Because some immigrants prefer reading to conversation, offer flyers and handouts to take home. Order free Spanish-language print materials from Gale’s ProMo site to promote Informe Académico or PowerSpeak Languages.

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When a Question Reveals a Collection

Ms. Valentine, do you have a book on the Greek alphabet?

Why, yes. Yes I do.

It’s Camp Read a lot time, and I can hear children at the picnic table, their voices raised to that particular shrillness that usually means an argument is about to boil over. There’s activity over at the fishing pond, too – but I don’t have a line of direct sight to the lines to see if anyone is swinging them…ah, no swinging yet. But I have, I estimate, about forty seconds to help you find a book on the Greek alphabet. After that, who knows what will happen with the fishing lines and the picnic argument.

You walk over to the foreign language collection in the 400s, perhaps the shelf I am prouder of than any other in this collection of 14,000 items. I built it from nothing, almost. We needed materials for our ESL students.

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