From 2003 to 2006, Tucson, Arizona became the new home of many Liberian refugees. Because of civil war in their homeland and ensuing years spent in refugee camps, these refugees had not had many opportunities for literacy development. Tucson had several literacy and ESL programs available; however, none of these programs was meeting the Liberians' particular needs. For my project, I designed and implemented a literacy curriculum for the Liberian refugees in Tucson. In preparation for developing my curriculum, I not only took coursework but also thoroughly reviewed the literature on literacy learning and instruction for first language learners, second language learners, and adult learners. I then followed the curriculum development model described by Richards (2001): conducting a needs analysis and a situation analysis, developing goals and learning outcomes, planning the course scope and content, designing the syllabus, deciding the role and design of instructional materials, building in opportunities for evaluation, and considering larger factors that may affect the adoption of the curriculum. In addition to the curriculum development process, I had to attend to the more practical concerns of finding students, finding volunteers, finding a classroom and finding materials. I taught my literacy class from September 2006 to December 2006 at the Martha Cooper Branch of the Tucson Pima Public Library. I had 12 students whose literacy abilities varied dramatically, with the most advanced student reading at approximately a seventh grade level and the most beginning student working on letter names, sounds, and formation. I also had close to 20 volunteers who helped with transportation, childcare, and tutoring. We met twice a week for thirteen weeks for two hours each time. I used an interactive approach to teaching reading that incorporated both top-down and bottom-up approaches. I found that while a balanced instructional approach is certainly the most effective, the instruction needs to be modified to include more bottom-up work for the lowest level students. Others interested in developing similar programs may benefit from and build on my experience. For this reason, I included in this report a description of the lessons I learned and the implications I see for other programs.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type

Selected Project




literacy, refugees, curriculum development, Tucson, Liberian, English as a Second Language, reading



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Linguistics Commons