Friday, January 22, 2016

Literacy and Easter books

When Houghton and Philip passed out Christmas books, the largest village in our language group, Olal, which is a hour drive or so north of us, immediately requested that we get them an Easter one as soon as possible.  In the last few weeks since then, a community leader from that village has repeatedly called Houghton asking if the Easter books are ready yet.  This is a HUGE encouragement to us that not only are people valuing the Bible stories we're producing, but begging for more, and not ceasing to ask when we can't get it done immediately! 

"Jesus died and rose again"
We decided that because of this, we'd print five times the number of copies we made for our last distribution and get more books in more peoples' hands.  Even now people are still coming to ask if we'd print just one more Christmas book because they want their own copy.

Our teammate Casey, who is in Vila now, is printing all these books for us this week and shipping them out to us so we can distribute them to Olal village in particular, but throughout the language group for Easter.
word puzzles for Literacy practice
We're also FINALLY hosting our literacy workshop we've been wanting to have the last few months.  We had a few hiccups that slowed us down, namely that the first materials we produced were just too advanced for where everyone is at.  This gave us an opportunity to make a range of materials increasing in difficulty up to the original book, so now we have 4 literacy books we can use in succession to get people gaining in their reading skills.
Lesson 1 in our new level 1 literacy book (primer)

We now have a curriculum that we'll teach to adults the 1st week of February, Lord-willing, that they in turn can go teach in their individual villages.  We're hoping for the same turn-out of community leaders that came to our alphabet workshop last year.  Prior to this though, Thursday the 28th of January, we will be teaching teachers K-3 through this Level 1 book (called a Primer) so that they can use it to teach their students how to read this year in the local language.  A government initiative is encouraging vernacular (local mother tongues) teaching to happen in these grades but it is difficult for teachers to carry out because of lack of materials, and in most cases, lack of even an alphabet that represents that language's sounds.  Schools in the southern hemisphere run Feb-Dec so we are excited to offer teachers a 31 week curriculum they can use for this new school year.

We plan to teach this to the teachers, then help them to teach it to the adults in the workshop the following week so they already have practice using and teaching it before school starts the 2nd week of February.  We are also glad to be using a curriculum simple enough for children in order to also teach adults to read because we are hoping for community and parent involvement in their children's education, and for everyone to be becoming literate in their own language together.  This particular style of primer is a great one because it gets learners reading within the first lesson.  Getting these materials out and being used now is key, as we distribute Bible stories, and later this year, the completed Children's Bible (when it is finished being printed).  Having good readers to read the Children's Bible is of course ideal, and then good readers to read Scripture portions as we complete and distribute them is also our hope and prayer!

Stay tuned for pictures from the 2 upcoming workshops, and please pray with us that people will find value in practicing reading and that the materials are useful in that regard.  Please also pray of course that the Easter books are understood and the Gospel is clear and convicting to those who read and hear it.

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