USA Learns Webinar 1 – USA Learns with Libraries Helping Immigrants

Hello and welcome to today’s webinar.
This is part 1 of 2 in the Libraries Helping Immigrants series. Today’s topic
is “Free Online U.S. Citizenship Course”. Presenters are Andrea Willis and Katy
Azevedo and I am now happy to turn the webinar over to Andrea. [Andrea] Thank you all so
much for joining us for this webinar. Today we’ll be taking a look at the USA
Learns Citizenship course, which is a free online course that helps immigrants
prepare for all aspects of their naturalization interview, which is also
known as the Citizenship Test. The USA Learns Citizenship course can be found
within the USA Learns website, which is located at My name is
Andrea Willis, and I’m the director of Internet and Media Services at the
Sacramento County Office of Education in California. My team of programmers and
multimedia experts built USA Learns several years ago and it continues to be
our labor of love. I feel very fortunate to be in this job, where I’ve worked for
nearly 20 years, and I say that I’m fortunate because how many times in
one’s career do we have the opportunity to create something amazing that helps
more than 11 million people from around the world improve their lives and the
lives of their families by providing free education? For me, USA Learns is that
project, and it’s my hope that by the end of this webinar you will feel confident
about diving in and using USA Learns as a free educational resource to help
immigrant patrons in your libraries. Today, I’m also going to be presenting
with Katy Azevedo, who works at the Butte County Library here in California,
not too terribly far away from my office, and I’m going to go ahead now and let
Katy introduce herself and also share a few words about our funders. [Katy] Thank You
Andrea this is Katy, and I am the project coordinator at Butte County
Library. I actually started my career in elementary education teaching in New
York, North Carolina, and California. I started with Butte County about five
years ago in circulation. Thanks to a county grant, I was able to provide broadband services to a rural area at a local farm labor camp in a program I will
talk about in a little while. We are very fortunate to have some great funding
partners. This library’s Helping Immigrants webinar is brought to you
through a generous Pitch an Idea grant from IMLS who also parks… partnered
(excuse me) with Sacramento’s Office of Education to create USA Learns. Without
the support of all of our partners, we would not be able to share this free
online resource today, or ever. Thank you, Andrea. So, get ready to learn all about
USA Learns’ Citizenship class. [Andrea] Thanks, Katy. So, let me give you just a little
bit of background information about USA Learns. We originally launched the site
in 2008, and with some… with a federal grant, and since that time we’ve had 1.6
billion (with a “B”) web pages viewed on our site. That’s a lot of pages! And we’ve
had 11 million visitors come to our site. And when they come, they stay quite a
long time. They’re there an average of 25 minutes, and they’re there to learn
English free and prepare to become US citizens, and every day we have about
9,000 people hitting the server. That’s just a couple cubicles down from my
office, and I have a team of technical genius people who keep very good care of
the website. And I’m proud to share with you that our site has been accessed by
every single country in the world, and I think that’s just so cool. Oops, let me go
back one. Okay, so as I mentioned, USA learns has been used across the world
and very widely used in the United States. Our top states that use USA
Learns are: Florida, California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts… you’re probably not
surprised it’s mostly those border states, very popular there and California,
we have… our top cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento and
Stockton. So lots of folks using it in many different settings.
We have a lot of independent learners so people who come onto the site without a
teacher they just hear about us from a friend or something and they arrive and
they just start studying on our website. And we also have an adult educat… a lot
of adult schools use it and we’re hoping to get more and more libraries on board
too. Okay, so here’s some exciting and kind of random news, which is, when we
scheduled this webinar, you know, they said “Hey, can you do it November first.” I
said “Yeah, sure.” Well, today just happens to be the one-year anniversary of the
launch of our new USA Learns Citizenship course, so I thought that was pretty cool.
We need to have a little virtual party of some sort, all of us. Okay, so I thought
I would share with you some statistics from the citizenship course. Since it
launched, we’ve had about a hundred and ten thousand learners come into our site
and create an account and in total they’ve done almost a million activities
to prepare for US citizenship, which I think that is so cool. Okay, and one thing
I am very very proud of is I feel like the content that we created in this new
course is very high-quality. It was developed in partnership with expert
Adult Education English as a Second Language teachers and U.S. civics
teachers. We worked with immigration attorneys at the Immigrant Legal
Resource Center, and they reviewed everything that could have any legal
implications for someone, because we want to make sure it’s very accurate and
correct. We also worked with the program specialists, both at the Washington DC
office and the Sacramento office, of the United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services Program, which I will henceforth call USCIS because it’s
such a mouthful. Our site also utilizes very high quality resources. We were sure
to align with the USCIS Adult Education Citizenship Education Content Standards
and their foundation skills and we also used some of the USA Learns best
practices. And when I say that, I mean basically, when you’ve had so many people
come to your website you kind of know where they get stuck and you know what
makes it easy for them to navigate and understand
instructions and that kind of thing. So we use those same types of best
practices in the new course. Okay, so before we dive in to give you a
little tour of the course, I thought its kind of important for you to have a general understanding
of what’s on the test, and if you guys were all in the room with me I’d say, “Okay, how familiar…
who here is extremely familiar with it? We would raise hands, but you’re not here so I’m
just gonna act like you’re raising your hands and I’m going to keep going. So, one
thing that’s on the test is… well, first of all, let’s imagine that you all are
rather new immigrants to the United States, okay? You’ve been here, I don’t
know, five six years, whatever, and you’ve decided you want to become a citizen. So
anyway, so when you go for your naturalization interview, there are some
specific things that will happen, and I think, for you to kind of appreciate what
I’m showing you here in a moment during my tour, I want you to know what’s on the
test. So, let’s imagine you’ve arrived for your interview you’re sitting there at
an immigration officers office. He or she is across the desk from you and, let’s
say, he’s going to ask you some questions about the N-400 Application for
Naturalization that you submitted. And in a few minutes here, I’ll show you what
that is, in case you’re not familiar with it. But it’s basically this twenty page
application that you fill out to apply to be a citizen. And they will ask you
some questions about those answers that you wrote, so they will be wanting to
make sure that you’re eligible for citizenship. They want to make sure
that you’re telling the truth and they’ll be listening for things like,
you know, discrepancies between what you wrote on your application and what
you’re telling them there in the interview. They’ll be looking for errors
in your application. They’ll be watching for things like changes in your address,
or a new workplace, and they’ll also be listening to see if you speak and
understand English, because that is one of the purposes of this test. Okay, so
another part of your interview would be, they’re going to ask you some US History
and Civics questions. You’ll be asked ten questions at random.
There is a pool of 100 possible questions you could be asked, and you’re
going to need to answer six of them correctly in order to pass. So I bet
many of you are already familiar with the lovely red box of citizenship
flashcards that USCIS distributes. They’re lovely. So anyway, it’s basically,
it’s those same questions, but we’ve put them on to the website and we’ve added
more multimedia, more comprehension activities, and that kind of thing. Ok, so
the next part is of the test is you need to be able to read and write in English,
so you would be asked to read a sentence out loud and write a sentence in English.
And you get three chances to read and three chances to write, and just to share
with you, there is a set list of words that could be on the reading and writing
tests and USCIS has those on their website. We have them in our course, also.
So anyway, that is a little background information so that you hopefully have a
sense of, you know, what is required on the test. Ok, so let’s take a little tour. So, here we are at It’s
our learner homepage, and if this was my first time here, I would click on this
big red start now button. And that’s where learners come to register. And we
only ask a few questions. We need their email address and their
first name and their last name, and a password, and we have them confirm their
password just to make sure they got it right. And we do not ask for physical, you
know, where you live. anything else that’s anything more
identifying than just that bit of info that we collect. But I’ve been to this
website about a million times, so I’m just going to sign in. Here I am. Okay, so
now I’m on the My Home page, and here we are at the USA Learns Citizenship course.
And I would like to start off by showing you the unit menu. So, this course is
divided into four units. They are “Steps to Becoming a U.S. Citizen”, “The N-400
Interview Practice”, “Civics Reading and Writing Practice”, and “Your Interview and
New Citizenship”. So, let’s just take a little tour here. We’re going to start
off in the first unit, and this unit is divided into three lessons: first is
Become a U.S. Citizen, followed by the First Steps and Be Prepared. So, let’s
just take a peek. Okay, so here we are on the activity menu, and you see we have
these various… it’s broken up into several topics here, and this first topic
is called introduction. So, each of the lessons begins with a video that
introduces the topic, and you can click the Read Text button and have that text
there in case some folks would like to follow along. And while we’re here, let me…
I’m going to point out my two favorite buttons in the whole entire course, and I
like them because it makes navigating the site very, very simple.
My very first favorite button is this simple Next button. If I can arrive to a
page on this site and do an activity and click Next and just keep clicking next
until I’m done, I can navigate the whole site without really needing any kind of
great computer skills. My second favorite button is this blue
button here in the top right corner. Right now it says Activity Menu on it.
Right now it says Lesson Menu. Clicking that button will just take you up one
level, you know take you, you know, so that you can select, say, a different activity.
Okay, so here we are. We have Learning Goals. We want to make sure people
understand what they’re supposed to be learning in a lesson, and in this one, for
example, you will learn about the reasons to become a US citizen and the
requirements for becoming a US citizen. And we have lots and lots of audio. We
have listen buttons all over the place and that’s because, really, that listening
practice is so key to this preparing for the interview because the whole point is
we want them to understand what they’re hearing and be able to respond
and under.. you know, and understand what they’re being asked and what they’re
saying. Okay, but I’m not going to click that button because during a webinar I
think it might not perform great, might sound kind of weird to some people on
slower connections, so you just get to listen to my voice instead. Okay, so let’s
just take a little tour. So, we’ve got the section is Why Become a US Citizen? And
so we have a nice little piece on here. It’s a little reading activity and we
talked about the fact that as a permanent resident, you have some of the
rights of US citizens. However, there are many important reasons to consider
becoming a citizen. And here we have a nice video that I will hold off on
playing now because it might not play all that great on various connection
speeds, but I definitely invite you to come back and check it out later because
it’s very informative. I think this is great information, not only for your
patrons but also for your staff because I think it’s important this staff feels
comfortable with some of the basics of what’s in this course, right, and I
will share with you just a couple of the reasons to become a citizen that would
be played in this video. First of all, you can stay in the United States for the
rest of your life. Another, you can reunite your family. United States
citizens can help family members get legal status in the United States. So
those are just a couple of the things that are… would be shown in that video. I
invite you to check it out. So, here’s an example of a comprehension question that
we have and if we would have watched the video we would be more informed. But I
think I know the answer. So, the question is, what are some benefits of becoming a
citizen? One is you can vote. Your younger children can more easily become citizens.
You can help family members come to the United States. You can travel with a US
passport. And I’m going to hit the check button, and notice how I had these two
stars display here in the bottom, and it says “Correct”, so I got it right on the
first time, so I get two stars. If my first answer would have been incorrect, I
would have had one star, and my scores would have reflected that difference.
Here’s another little piece on “Am I Eligible?”
It’s really important for people to know, you know, do I even qualify to apply?
Because if you’re just straight-up not eligible,
you probably shouldn’t apply right now. So, this is an example here of our Learn
Keywords activities. We have hundreds of vocabulary words in here because there
there are a lot of very difficult words that could… that someone could be asked
during their interview, and so we want to make sure they know those words. We have
an audio file for each one. We have definitions and we have sample sentences.
So here we have Naturalization, the Process of Becoming a Citizen, and I want
to point out all of these images that you’re seeing, I was personally the queen
photo searcher for these. We put a lot of emphasis on the images because a lot of
these are… they’re difficult concepts, difficult words and a lot of times an
image can really help to convey the message. So, at least… you must be at least
18 years old to vote requirement etc. etc. Okay, let’s use our lesson menu and go up
here to first steps so here we have our learning goals and in this lesson you’ll
learn about the application for naturalization. You’ll learn about how to
get help completing the application, will learn about fees and how to get help
paying for your application, and learn a little bit about the naturalization
interview. Okay, so the N-400 form, you heard me talking about that earlier, it’s
the official application that you have to fill out. It’s about 20 pages long. It
uses a lot of very difficult language and we have a link here so folks can go
straight to the correct one. I’ve heard of some immigration fraud where people
are direct… are told to go to a wrong website, and they go and they pay, you
know like five hundred dollars or whatever to get the form and really the
form is free, so you want to make sure folks are getting the correct free form.
And you need to complete your application, answer all the questions
completely and truthfully, and have all of the required
documentation. You need to make a copy of it, for sure, and submit it, following all
of the instructions. We have a little bit here about the cost. It’s not cheap, and
we have a link to the USCIS website where they have the amount. I think right
now it’s about seven hundred and twenty-five dollars and that lets you
basically try taking the test twice. And if you, if you, let’s say you don’t pass
it that second time, then you have to pay again. There is some financial assistance
available and this link here links to the USCIS website where they have
information about their fee waiver. And here we have some comprehension
questions. Okay, so we also want people to be prepared. We want them to know how to
study for that naturalization interview. There’s lots of great high-quality and
free resources out there that can help people. USA learns is one. I invite
everyone to that always, right? USCIS website has some amazing materials that
I really encourage you to check out, and here’s a link to their site. Citizenship
and English classes are, you know, definitely something we encourage folks
to do. Your local library, of course. And one message that’s very important for us
is this whole… the whole idea of helping people understand if they need to get
legal help because they can get themselves in a whole lot of trouble if
they get the wrong kind of help or if they just are not informed and they
don’t know what they’re doing. So one thing that the immigration attorneys
helped us create, I love this section, it’s the red flag question… so there are
what are called “red flag” questions on the form, and basically it means if you
answer yes to any of these questions, it may cause you a problem with your
naturalization process. And we’ve created a video that tells folks what those red
flag questions are. And, for example, did you make trips
outside of the United States for more than six months? If your answer is yes,
you should get some qualified help. Or another example, did you move to another
country after you got your green card? Hmm…
were you supposed to pay child support but you didn’t pay it? One final example:
did you vote have you ever voted in the US or registered to vote in the US? If
your answer is yes to those, you should get some help. Okay, so some comprehension
questions follow. Okay, so immigration fraud is a big, big issue
and if you need help with your naturalization application, it’s
important to get it from qualified sources like ones that we recommend in
here. And we have a great video that I highly recommend. There are some just
really terrible scams that immigrants are subjected to. One of them is called
the Ten Year Green Card Scam. And basically, the scammer will tell the
person something like: “If you’ve been in the United States for ten years or
more you automatically qualify for a green card, but you need to pay me money
to process the paperwork.” So that is not true and so we cover that in this video.
And there’s another one called the Telephone Scam, and the scammer might
call and say something like: “I am from the Immigration Department and there’s a
problem with your naturalization application. You need to pay a fee right
now using your credit card or your application will be cancelled.” USCIS
would never call someone. So anyway, oh, there’s another one, I won’t go
into detail but it’s it targets people with disabled children. Just really
terrible. Okay, so let’s go to our next unit, the N-400 Interview Practice. And
I’ll share with you, this unit, in my opinion is really the shining star of
our whole course. You can get online and find
lots of places to practice the Civics and the History stuff, but the thing that
you will really not find is this N-400 Practice. This stuff is amazing. Not that
I’m biased or anything. Okay, so let’s check it out. So, Unit Introduction, you
know, we have a little overview about the N-400 form and what it is, and then you’ll
recall the, you know, the N-400 form that I talked about, it’s 20 pages long, very
complicated and these are the basic topics here that I have listed, you know,
they ask a bunch of questions about you, you know, your address, your age, your name,
your contact information. It asks questions about employment, school, and
travel, and your family, your civic responsibilities, and what memberships
and associations you’ve participated in, any illegal activities you’ve done, and
loyalty and the oath. So, let’s just check out a little bit in here. So, Civic
Responsibilities… we’ve got a little section, little intro on that and in this
lesson. We want folks to learn key words and practice answers for questions about
your activities since you became a permanent resident and your status in
your native country. All right, so here’s one… this is an example of a Learn
New Words activity, it’s one of the vocabulary words that we teach. The word
is “Claim”. That might seem pretty simple, right? But it’s a very loaded term. Many
many people actually flunk their tests because they answered this question
wrong, and the question is, have you ever claimed to be a US citizen? And hopefully
the answer is no, because if they say yes, it means that they have, you know,
dishonestly told an official that “Yes, I’m a US citizen.” So we really want to
make sure they understand what “claim” means. We have some more samples here.
register to vote, Vote, hereditary title, you might be asked “Do
you have or did you ever have a hereditary title?”, and if you don’t know
what that is, you’re in trouble, right? Nobility. Do you now have or did you ever
have an order of a nobility? So you can see these are not simple. It’s not simple
terms. Have you ever been declared legally incompetent? Have you ever been
convened into a mental institution? So not easy words, right? We want to make
sure people really understand what they’re being asked. Okay, let’s check out
another one here. Memberships and Associations. Okay, so let’s see some
vocabulary about groups. Remember “Have you ever been a member of any
organization?” Okay, that’s pretty simple, pretty straightforward.
How about “Have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” “Have you ever been a
member of the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party?” And I’ll share
with you one thing I learned. A lot of times people just, you know, they talked
to their friends and they they tell their friends who are preparing for this
test, “Hey, just say no to all those ‘have you ever been’ questions.” Right, so let’s
say I’m the applicant and I say no to this one.
The interviewer might say “Okay, well tell me, what is a totalitarian party or what
is a communist party?” and if I obviously have no idea, the interviewer is going,
the officer is going to know that I’m just saying no to everything. “Have you
ever been associated with the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party?” So
you can see, not easy words. And, let’s see, let’s look at War Crimes. This one, this
one, this is kind of a depressing section but I’m going to show it to you because
it’s, it’s the real thing. Persecute. “Have you ever persecuted any
person because of their race, religion, national origin, social group, or
political opinion?” “Were you ever involved in genocide?” So, these were very
interesting images to try to find, right? Because, but we thought they were
critical. Okay, so that was a little peak at at the N-400 section and I really
invite you to dive in check it out. It’s, it’s very, I think, very informative.
Okay, let’s look at Civics Reading and Writing Practice, because, as you’ll
recall, one of the things folks need – one of things that they need to have
some knowledge of US history and civics, and they need to be able to read, write,
and speak in English. So, let’s just look at one of these here. Um, let’s see. How
about.. good old 3.7, the 1800s and civil war. Got some really nice
imagery with these, you know, a little bit, um, a bit of reading… we wanted this unit
to be more than just memorizing that box of flashcards, so we worked with our
experts to try to have very brief history lessons that basically just
provide more information than the flashcards but we also didn’t want them
to have to read a novel either, right? Civil War, Economic, Emancipation
Proclaimation. That’s a peek at it. So we have, I don’t remember what this
audio file says, but I think it might say economics. Let’s see if that’s right.
Let’s see if I’m guessing right. Ugh, I guessed wrong. There we go, I only got one star
that time. That’s all right. Okay, we have some beautiful videos we’ve made. I can’t
show them to now, comprehension questions related to those videos, tons of
listening practice, speaking practice, we even have some practice videos where you
can feel like the officer is asking you the question. We also have reading
activities, where you record your voice and it’s as close as we can get it to be
practice for that real interview. And we also have writing activities where
it’s basically a dictation. You listen to a sentence and you type it, and if you
get any of the words wrong, the letters turn red, and you can fix it. We actually
grade harder than they do on the real interview. Okay,
we’re gonna move on here. Alright, so, Your Interview and New Citizenship. So, one
thing that we thought was important, we need to make sure people feel
comfortable with the whole process of arriving to the interview, right? Because
if you get there and you realize you know you don’t understand what the
security officer is telling you when he says take off your jacket, or put your
keys into the tray, or empty your pockets, or put anything metal, you know, remove
anything metal from your pockets… these are some kind… some of these are kind
of specialized words that you might not learn in your, you know, in your English
as a Second Language class. Step aside. So, little info on that. And then, we also
have, we want people to understand directions in the building when they
arrive for their interview, they’ll arrive at a like a receptionist desk, and
the person might say something like go to the tenth floor good go down the
stairs, you know, the waiting room is on the
right, or whatever, and if if you don’t understand any of those, they’re gonna be
very stressed out and not arrive successfully to your interview. So we
have a bit on that. We also have some information about what they do in the
waiting room, and we have a self-assessment so they can make sure
they learned everything they needed to learn. One thing I learned when working
on this project was that, you know, people need to be able to speak English. Okay, I
knew that part, but the part I didn’t realize is the officer starts deciding
if you speak English the minute you meet in the hallway. So, let’s say the officer
says “Hi, nice to meet you. How was the traffic? How’s the weather? Any of that, and
you kind of, and you’re not able to respond clearly… that kind of shows you
don’t speak English. So, we have a whole piece on small talk, about transportation
and how’s the weather, and we also covered an interesting thing called
“question tags” where the officer might say something like “Boy, it’s hot out
today, isn’t it?” As English learners, you may not know you
just should say “Yes, it is.” So, nice little piece on question tags, um, that we
really were pleased with. Okay, Starting Your Interview. You have to be sworn in,
and if you’re not quite sure what some of those words mean, you’re going to be
in trouble, right? They’ll say something like “Please remain standing. Raise your
right hand, please. Do you swear or affirm that the statements you will give today
will be the truth…”, so we give a little piece on swearing in and understanding
what the officer is asking of you. And then, after the interview, let’s imagine
your interview went amazingly well and you’ve received notification that, yes,
you’re in, you’ll be invited to a ceremony, the naturalization ceremony,
which is very exciting… [Katy] We are at 32 minutes. [Andrea} Excellent, thank you so much,
Katy. So, I think you’re going to have extra time to talk. I think I’m going
kind of fast, but that’s okay. And once you complete your naturalization
ceremony, there are some next steps that you would need to follow. You can register to
vote which is very exciting. You can apply for a passport and update your
records like your social security number. All that kind of stuff. You can even
sponsor family members, which is huge. And we have nice links on where you know
where you can go to learn more about that. I have a nice little video I invite
you to check out later called Your New Freedom…
New Freedom. And then that’s the end of the course. So, but that’s not the end of
my presentation. So, okay, so I included this handful of screen grabs in here of
the videos just to give you a little peek at how nice they are. And so, this is
a screen grab from the Ten Reasons to Become a US Citizen, and you happen to
have access to the… if you happen to have access
to the handouts, I’ve included links to these. Okay, this is from the Requirements
for Becoming a US Citizen and from Red Flags and this is the scammer guy, Common
Immigration fraud guy. Don’t do it. This is from Rights and
Responsibilities. Okay, so I just want to chat with you briefly
about the teacher side of USA Learns, because it’s a really great opportunity,
I think, for library staff and volunteers and teachers and whoever wants to help
someone learn English. You can go in here and very easily, within like a minute or
two, create a course on USA Learns for free, and you don’t have to be
very knowledgeable about English, the second language, you don’t have to be an
expert on US citizenship because basically, you’re getting yourself a
clone of one of our courses that your students can access. So, let me give you a
little peek at how that works. Okay, so um, I should have mentioned… hang on, I’m
gonna go back, I should have mentioned, that’s
where the teacher side is, and if this is my first time here I’m gonna click the
register button and complete a brief registration form. And if it’s… if I
already, if I already have an account, I would come here to the sign-in button.
Okay, so here we are. We’re going to register. So, I enter my email address and
my first name, and my last name, and I put, we use the term “alias”, but, let’s say you
want your students to call you Mrs. Smith. or whatever, you would put that
here, and that’s what your students would see. You select your country and your
agency type, and I hope you pick library if you’re from a library, because I’ll
share kind of an interesting statistic with you. So we’ve got about 5,000 or so
teach… registered teachers in USA learns and I recently asked my programmer “Hey,
how many people selected library and that agency type field?” and I’ll let you
think for a minute on what the number is you might guess out of
5,000, but the answer was 77, and so anyway, a lot more libraries people in
there. All right, put your agency name in there, password and confirm your password.
I’m not sure what that ringing is. Okay, so let’s see here this is where I create
a class, and this is super easy. So, you make up a title for your class, maybe
it’s “ESL 1” or whatever you want to call it, and then you use this pulldown
menu to pick a course, one of our four courses, and you describe it and you put
a start date in there, and I suggest don’t put an end date unless you really,
really want your course to automatically end. So, some people want that, but we get
a lot of tech support requests from people who said “Why did it end?” So, oh,
don’t put an end date. Ok, so here we are. I am now logged into my… the teacher side
of USA learns, and I’ll just point out a couple little things here. I have three
fake courses in here, and if I were to click on a course name,
this nice little box pops up, and that’s where I can see my roster and message my
students and see some various reports. And this column here is really important
– this is my class key and what I would do, let’s say I… let’s say for this
Andrea’s demo class, I would take this class key and give it to my learners, and
when they’re logged into their account they would then enter that class key in
and save, now your account is magically connected to their account and it’s a
lovely and very easy way for you to be able to monitor their progress. And here
I am again, I’m still in as a teacher. I had clicked on the button to see the
student grade book for my amazing student, Andrea Willis, my one of my fake
accounts, and here I can see things like the number of times I attempted an
activity, when I completed it, how much time I spent on it, and my scores. So, I
imagine for reporting purposes, you guys need to show things like that.
So, this is one very easy way for you to have some kind of statistics to share.
Okay, that is… now we’re moving on to a handful of slides that Katy is going to
present for us. [Katy] Well, thank you Andrea. So actually, Libraries Helping Immigrants
is Andrea’s brainchild. We’ve worked together on another grant
that we’ve named Y Aprende Cafe Digital which I’ll continue talking about in a
minute. Butte County and Sacramento County Office of Education share a
wonderful collaborative effort to fulfill these four objectives. Again,
Libraries Helping Immigrants is the grant that is paying for all of your
free participation. We selected nine pilot libraries throughout California
who are learning to utilize USA learns at all staff levels. With those nine
participants, many of whom are in our listening audience now, hello. [Andrea] Thank you!
[Katy] Thank you indeed. We will offer introductions to other
partners who can help provide immediate and professional assistance. We had a
question a little while ago about assessing eligibility. If somebody has a
question, one of our partners can help define where that red flag might be. And
we will have an awareness campaign which will focus on ways to deliver this
information in multiple formats, targeting the ethnic communities of our
pilot libraries. Overall, the dream is that, at the end of our first year of our
grant, these pilot librarians will continue to pay it forward, providing
support and mentoring to others across California and perhaps the United States.
I first learned about USA learns at a California Library Association
conference when my original grant, Cafe Digital, was in its infancy. In an
effort to provide broadband access to a secluded rural area of our County, I
drove this van, on the next slide, to the farm labor camp four days a week.
I brought hotspots, laptops and, of course, support.
I was able to guide second language learners in basic computer skills,
English improvement, and the naturalization process. I found USA
Learns to be truly the best resource out there. I would encourage you, implore you,
to look at the menu. It’s the first lesson I always started with with every
new learner. Many of the people who came to the camp, primarily women, dedicated
their time for such a positive effort they ended up teaching
each other while they were preparing for their own citizenship. The first few
months were difficult. We’re gonna tell you that right out. The political climate
was changing and I am, (don’t be offended), I am a white woman. I speak Spanish like
a white woman. But I try and they saw my sincerity and I would walk up and down
the streets of the neighborhood with a megaphone calling out “Hay clases gratis. Hoy. Venga. Aprenda ingles.” And children
would follow me down the streets, and then the adults would look out and see
me, and then they would come to the classroom. I think that it really helped
break the ice, and the community had to get used to my silliness and my energy
and attendance. But I think, you know, good things are worth waiting for, and at this
facility, we were able to guide quite a few people with their citizenship
efforts. They’re voting next week. So patrons were able to drop in at their
convenience. The next slide please. Okay, they would participate in online
learning, conversation with me, conversation with a small group, whatever
best suited their schedules. These are the learning models that we are focusing
on with Libraries Helping Immigrants. Conversation group is probably something
most of you are familiar with. Relatively simple, you give a topic, people discuss
that, it’s going to be led by some facilitator who is able to basically
guide and assist. Drop-in sessions, you come when you come you don’t when
you don’t. When people came into the “Mi Casa”, that’s a little classroom, when
people would come into our room I would have the online websites set up for them
ahead of time. They would come in and some had never touched a keyboard before.
So we went to an ALA program, and I would teach them the basic
online learning skills, so they could become more independent and learner-
centered. They would be learning at their own rate and their own understanding.
Sometimes learners were surprised by a historical fact or had questions about a
given answer so we were able to take this blended learning idea, where
we combined conversation, a drop-in session time, online learning to answer
and address those. There’s something new every day and offering these different
learning models and sessions address all adult learners and their personal goals.
I’d like to talk to you a little bit about learning circles. When I was at the
farm labor camp and we had a learning circle forum practically on its own. This
is a slightly facilitated peer learning model. It’s something you, a staff member,
a volunteer, could organize. I always, thanks to the teacher mode on USA Learns,
I always had an idea of where the learners were. They always told me what
they wanted to learn, whether it was grammar, vocabulary, conversation… So as
the facilitator I would review the online lessons with them, answer some of
their questions or clarify and then encourage the others in the room to
become “maestra”, the teacher. They loved that. So, in this group, I would have little
computers, a little screen that we could show a lesson and go over it together,
talk about it, take it a little deeper, and actually
help in this circle in a real personal sort of way, enhance the learning of
the adults. So I have a question for you. How might you roll out USA Learns in
your library? Conversation? Online? What if you showed on the projector the Common
Immigration Fraud videos? If you don’t have a projector, on your screen. The
videos are so spot-on. You can discuss the content, answer questions as a
regular conversation in a relaxed sort of way. The learning circle idea really
covers a lot. Imagine having a practice interview based on the video that you’ve
seen that is truly so expert. I think that all of these interactive learning
ideas are really… give you a lot of flexibility in the library or wherever
it is you hold your your group, and the beauty of online instruction is that
you’re able to address your learners needs. Again, its learner-
centered, a goal many of us in a library share. On the next page is a quote. Many
of you are probably familiar with Jennifer, Jennifer Gagliardi, she wrote
the US citizenship book… bootcamp. She said: “Hi Jennifer, I’m not aware of
another free resource that is this in-depth and prepares applicants for all
aspects of the naturalization interview. The combination of reading, writing,
listening and speaking practice makes this course ideal for many levels of
citizenship students.” We had a quote earlier from Josephina, she did not
have computer skills when she started coming into our class. She learned to use
USA learns. Preferred practicing it on the computer, asking me questions, talking
to our small group. She went after practicing her interview
with the computer and me and our friends, she went to her interview
totally prepared. She came back to the camp and said “I was so prepared, I knew
what to expect. They did exactly what you said they would do.” [Andrea] Oh, that’s awesome.
I love that.” [Katy] Yep so we would like to thank you, thank you for being here, thank you for
your time and efforts, and we would like to open to questions and comments. We don’t hear voices, because you have to
type them to us. If you have questions that you would like to address to Andrea
or myself, please do. There’s tech support, which is a godsend I will tell you is so
helpful you’ll get all your answers questioned… your questions answered,
sorry. Andrea, we did have one question and I’m not sure I responded to all, so
I’d like to say this, um, the person wrote that if the teacher, person leading
the class is not qualified to answer questions that might come up related to
eligibility, could the course just skip that? Could you hadn’t omit that unit? Yes,
absolutely. If it’s an area online that you’re not
comfortable with, it’s not a requirement for practice. However, I responded to this
person and and said the US Citizenship and Immigration Services page has a
beautiful flow chart that will ask you if – then: If you have lived here this long,
if you have done these things, and it will tell you, it outlines your
eligibility. So if you don’t understand it in the program, you can understand it
online. [Andrea] Yes, absolutely. and I will share, also, let me see if I can just get
there quickly enough here… So, we have a nice little section in the citizenship
course called “Am I Eligible?” and we have a whole video on the topic, and I won’t
share it with you but it really does, you know, we worked very closely with
immigration attorneys on this, so this piece here
does give a very nice little overview. And I liked your suggestion, Katy, of the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website also has
some really great resources to help. [Katy] No. I guess a couple more questions have
come up and I’m sorry to say they’re not showing up on my screen. [Woman] Okay, I can go
ahead and read them out for you. [Andrea] Okay. [Katy] Sure. [Woman] If we were to offer as a library
course in how many hours could it be completed? Any suggestions for a number
of classes and duration? [Andrea] Let’s see here, um, I don’t have an official count, but in
chatting with some of my US citizenship Adult Ed teachers, they think, I
think they’ve mentioned, oh, they think around 40-ish hours. And that’s… I look
forward to talking with more teachers who have used it to get their take on it,
but I think that’s a an OK estimate for the moment. [Katy] I would suggest, also, that
because it’s so independent, you would probably not cover every single page
with the way it’s done online. For example, on the vocabulary, that could be
something that you go through at a different rate than the videos. The
videos are, Andrew, help me, 2 to 5 minutes? [Andrea] I would say somewhere in there, yeah.
[Katy] and so, you can really get a lot done by focusing on that. And again, when you know
your learner, you’re able to truly address your learner’s needs and wants
based on on the units and the way… something that helped me a lot is that
lesson menu. When I started with any new participant, I would explain what each of
these sections mean. So if I’m going through Become a Citizen, I tell them
that little icon means “video”, that little blue box means “it’s complete”,their score?
I pat their back. So, so I think that’s good. [Andrea] Yeah that is good. The other
thing related to the question of how long does it take
to teach this, it really largely depends on the English level of the learner, you
know, someone who is a lower level English learner is going to take a lot
longer to go through this than, say, someone who you know is, you know, a high
intermediate or something like that. [Katy] Good point. [Woman] And another question about time.
What is the typical length of time that it becomes to become an American citizen
from beginning to successful end. [Laughter] [Andrea] Oh wow,
that’s a good one. I do not know the answer to that question,
unfortunately. [Katy] I can tell you that, according to our USCIS representative
who is in Northern California, it can take anything from three months to a
couple years, so much depends on the number of applications received by the
office, it depends on where you are, actually. If you’re submitting into
Sacramento, it’s different if you’re submitting it to Los Angeles because of
sheer volume. And it really does make a difference that way. And I think that’s a
really good question. The person who asked that, I would highly recommend you
contact your citizenship advocate through USCIS and ask that question.
Because applications get lost, and what our person told me at one point is if
you have not heard back within one year, you need to follow up again and advocate
for your application. Something to consider. [Andrea] yeah that’s a great point, Katy.
[Woman] And, do you have such a resource for
Spanish-speaking citizenship candidates? [Andrea] Oh, I wish I did, that would be so
wonderful, wouldn’t it? Right now, we have it in English, but I do, I do get quite a
lot of requests to have a Spanish version of this, and so, stay tuned. Who
knows, maybe someday we’ll be able to build something like that. That would be
great. [Woman] And, is it possible to use this as online training only? We do not have the
staff to support holding classes. [Andrea] Absolutely! I mean our largest group of
users are what we call “independent learners” where they go to our home page
and they create an account and they just study independently. And you do not need
a teacher to use this. It’s great if you have a teacher, but yeah, tons and tons of
people use this independently. And I would, I mean, if you, if your library ever,
you know, is in the position where you… say you have classes, but they’re full
and you have a waitlist. This is a great resource. You can refer folks to this and
they can be, you know, they can be studying independently while they’re
waiting for a spot to open up in your class. [Woman] And someone is saying they have a
limited Spanish language skill and they would like some ideas about how they
might learn the comparable vocabulary or phrases in Spanish. [Katy] I can address that one.
[Andrea] Go ahead. [Katy] So I highly
recommend again that person goes to the website. The lessons are in
Spanish on that page. They have everything translated, and for the
pertinent book… I will tell you, when I had to describe genocide in my feeble
Spanish, I was appropriately challenged and so I understand this question. I think
that that it’s really important most applicants are required to take the test
and the interview in English. It’s the 2550, 2055 thing going on that makes an
exception and so I would encourage your learners to consider the English piece
for their peace of mind when they get into that interview. [Andrea] A good suggestion
Katy. [Woman] And, we have another question: Are spouses of American citizens required to
fill out the N-400 application? [Andrea] You know, I’ll share with you, I’m not an attorney,
so I’m going to pass on answering that one. [Katy] Well, I think that’s fair but if
you, again, go on to the immigration website, it will tell you: Anybody who’s applying
for citizenship completes the N-400. [Woman] Not seeing any other
questions right now. [Andrea] All right, well… [Woman] We got one more, here we go.
[Andrea] Did we get one? Alright. Whatcha got? [Woman] I’m a librarian assistant. Can my co-worker and I hold the
class? If so, how can we get grants to fund this program? [Katy]Yeah! (laughter) Write a creative
story. [Andrea] That’s right. [Katy] So, if that person is in California, of
course, the California State Library has grant opportunities. If you’re looking
for support with the broadband access, the California Public Utilities has
grants that are available. It’s kind of like looking for a new recipe — you just
have to start asking a lot of questions and and follow the advice that you get. I
know that Andrea was extremely prepared and spot-on with this grant. Um, our
state librarian is very keen on supporting immigrant support.
[Woman] Unfortunately, this person is in Connecticut. [Andrea] Ohh! [Katy] I don’t think
that’s unfortunate, I’d like to be in Connecticut. (laughter)
But I think, I do think that that would be a good place to start at your
State Library and your representative, your elected representatives have a lot
of opportunity to help fund things like that. [Woman] Is there an app or is it only
online? [Andrea] Ooo, I can answer that question. So we do we have an app for our English
courses. It’s not actually related to the citizenship course. But for our… if you
tuned in to an upcoming webinar that we’ll be doing, we’ll be chatting more
about that. But the USA learns English app is something that goes along with
our beginning English course and it’s for practicing your vocabulary words. So,
there’s not an app for this, but I do have a separate app. [Katy] November 14th, 12
o’clock my friends, November 14th. put us on your calendar. [Andrea] That’s right, we’d
love to have you join us. [Woman] Okay, and here comes another question: do
you have any tips on recruiting students / participants? [Katy] In addition to the
megaphone? (laughter) I can only imagine how I looked from my point of view, from the
library, it is truly reaching out person to
person and going… I did go door-to-door. The camp is relatively small for that
grant now, community centers, adult learning centers, junior colleges,
community colleges, when you… we have a junior college in our area that is very
supportive and of people of Second Language Learners and they make a huge
effort to get people to have this accent, um, access. And I think it really just
takes a sincere smile saying “Please join us, we have this great program we want to
share with you.” [Andrea] And if you have social media opportunities, that’s another good
way to get out to folks. [Woman] And someone had asked about the November 14th webinar
and how it will be different. Do you want to describe that one? [Andrea} Yeah, yeah. So, in
this one we were talking specifically about the citizenship course, and in the
upcoming webinar we’ll be talking more about the English as a Second Language
courses that we offer on USA Learns. [Katy] So, between now and then, everybody can
practice online with their accounts and email us questions ahead of time and
we will be able to address things that they’re curious about. [Andrea] That’s right. [Woman] And I
put the link for the upcoming webinar they’ll see it in their questions
box. [Andrea] Thank you. Oh, good job, thank you. [Woman] And it looks like those are all the questions
we have, so we’re right at the top of the hour, so great timing. Thank you so much,
you two, that was excellent. [Andrea] Thank you all for having us.

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