Programs + Services

Student Orientation


Learning to read isn’t easy.  To give our adult learners the best possible chance for success, we carefully evaluate their needs and help them assess their own strengths before they even begin the learning process.  Adult learners new to Joplin NALA Read are first interviewed, then given an assessment.  Literacy students are assessed in reading, math and/or language.  ESL students are assessed in reading, listening, and speaking - identifying essential life skills the student needs. The orientation session guides students in identifying personal literacy goals and helps them understand the importance of the commitment they must make to realize those goals.

Adult Literacy Program

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Joplin NALA Read serves under-educated adults through its tuition-free adult literacy program, which pairs adult learners with volunteer tutors in a one-on-one setting.  Skills and concepts presented are relevant to adults, including health, work, family, community, school, civics and government, recreation, housing, transportation, food, and consumerism and money. Sessions cover reading and writing, as well as basic mathematics skills, and are guided by the adult learner’s personal goals in four content areas:

  • Life-long Learner

  • Worker

  • Family Member

  • Citizen 

Currently 28% of our students are adult literacy students and most of these students show characteristics of developmental disabilities – an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. Pairing adult literacy students with their own tutor allows for instruction based upon the adult student’s learning style.

English Language Program (ESL)


Joplin NALA Read’s tuition-free English as a Second language (ESL) program is delivered through one-on-one and small-group classes taught by volunteer instructors.  For those students planning on taking the citizenship test, we provide tutors who can help them achieve this exciting goal.

We offer different levels of English classes, from beginning ESL to high-intermediate and advanced.  Students learn the English skills needed to survive. Thematic lessons relate to the students’ life experiences and interests in health, work, family, community, school, civics and government, recreation, housing, transportation, food, and consumerism and money.  At every level, students work on improving their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

Our instructors provide encouragement and support so that students feel confident using English outside the classroom.  They give students the opportunity to practice their English speaking through role-plays and conversations in class. In addition, students have the opportunity to participate in an annual multi-cultural fair where our ESL students along with their tutors prepare exhibits representing their home country. This will include pictures, food, dress, and artifacts from their country.  They share their displays with local elementary and middle school students. The fair includes a panel discussion with Joplin NALA Read ESL students, facilitated by a local middle school teacher, comparing and contrasting the culture of the United States and the culture in the ESL students’ home country.

Currently 72% of our students are ESL students.  In addition to classroom instruction, they recently had the opportunity to participate in a health survey conducted by nursing students.  Students also have the opportunity to attend break-out sessions on health literacy and financial literacy conducted by community partners. 


Citizenship preparation classes help students succeed in their citizenship interview. Learners will gain knowledge of American history, geography, and government to prepare them for the 100 questions used in the civics portion of the interview. Classes include practice in reading aloud and writing, using vocabulary designated for the literacy test portions of the interview. Through role play and other simulations, learners will gain extensive practice in understanding and responding to questions based on the applicant's N-400 Application for Naturalization.

Family Literacy Program


Joplin NALA Read’s Family Literacy program helps break the cycle of low literacy as parents and children discover the joy of reading. Volunteers assist the professional staff in planning and implementing hour long sessions which model reading to children, provide the resources to encourage parent to read to their children, and include a parent and child time activity.  Each family participating in the program is provided with a new children’s book for each child. Parents who do not have basic literacy skills are less likely to have reading materials in the home, be involved in their child’s education, or transmit the value of literacy to their children.

Children living in educationally and economically disadvantaged homes often enter school two or more years behind their peers and are more likely to drop out of school.

The cycle of low literacy continues. 

Family literacy outreach ties two generations together in a unique educational opportunity where the cycle of low family literacy can be addressed and changed. Education is still the most important variable to escape from poverty and welfare. Education still sets the course for hopes and dreams for individuals and families.