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Resources for Teaching
English Literacy / Civics Education

The Democratic Process

Print Materials

Civic Participation and Community Action Sourcebook,  Andy Nash, ed. (1999).  Published by the New England Resource Center, Boston, (617) 482-9485, www.nelrc.org.  An intermediate/advanced ESL curriculum containing descriptions of actual community participation projects and activity guides for preparing students for community action.

Handbook of Illinois Government.  Available from the Office of the Secretary of State, 213 State House, Springfield, IL,  62706, (217) 782-2201 or (312) 814-2975, www.sos.state.il.us.  A concise guide to Illinois state government and the current elected officials.

Illinois Blue Book.  Available from the Office of the Secretary of State, 213 State House, Springfield, IL 62706, (217) 782-2201 or (312) 814-2975, www.sos.state.il.us.  A comprehensive guide to Illinois government, state legislators, state departments, and other statistics and information.

Key to Government in Chicago and Suburban Cook County, Alfred Saucedo, ed. (2002).  Available from Citizens Information Services of Illinois, (312) 939-4636, www.cisil.org.  General overview of local government system (county, township, and special districts) and a guide to the election system, voting, and taxes.

New Citizens Vote!  An Educational Curriculum About Voting and Civic Engagement.  Published by the Northern California Citizenship Project, (415) 621-4808 or download off the web at www.ncg.org/difference/citi_curr.html.  A curriculum designed to provide new and prospective citizens with tools to become involved in civic and electoral activities.

“Illinois Students Vote” teacher's packet.  Published by the League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund, 332 South Michigan, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 939-5935.  A set of reproducible classroom activities focused on the election process.  Curriculum outline available at www.illinoisstudentsvote.org.

“Making Your Voice Heard” brochure.  Published by the League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund, 332 South Michigan, Chicago, IL  60604, (312) 939-5935.  Provides information about contacting legislators and public officials. (Also available in Spanish.)

Web Sites

State of Illinois: www.state.il.us
Information about state government and living/working in Illinois.

Project Vote Smart: www.vote-smart.org
Information about federal and state government officials and their positions and voting records.

Your Congress: www.yourcongress.com
Information on how Congress works and ways to contact legislators.


Crossroads Café (1996).  Unit 19, “The People's Choice,” and Unit 20, “Outside Looking In”.  A 26-part video series set in a neighborhood restaurant featuring real-world social and cultural issues.  Videos and tape scripts available from Intelecom, (800) 576-2988, www.intelecom.org.  Textbooks available from Heinle & Heinle, www.heinle.com.  Videos may be used independently of textbooks.


Community and Home Safety

Print Materials

Free brochures on crime prevention and street smarts are available from McGruff, 120 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1016, Chicago, IL 60606, (312) 793-8550.Check www.icjia.state.il.us for a complete list of free brochures.

Information and brochures (some downloadable) on preventing crime are available from The National Crime Prevention Council at www.ncpc.org.

A checklist of tips on traffic safety and other safety issues is available from The National Safe Kids Campaign, 111 Michigan Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.  20010-2970, (202) 939-4993.

A complete program on school bus safety is available from the National Safety Council, 444 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, (312) 285-1121.  (Must be ordered by a teacher or a school.)

Information on hidden hazards in the home is available from the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association, 4 West Nebraska Street, Frankfort, IL 60423, (800) 426-2811.

Safety-related information is available from the National Safety Council, 1121 Spring Lake Road, Itasca, IL 60143-3201, (800) 621-7619.

Many safety-related publications, services, and links to state and local offices are available from the Red Cross at www.redcross.org

Web Sites

There are many Internet web sites on specific safety issues.  Often web sites designed for children are also appropriate for beginning and intermediate adult ESL students because of the graphics and simplified language.  Here are a few good web sites to get you started:

Sparky the Fire Dog: www.sparky.org/
An award-winning web site by the National Fire Prevention Association with games and more about fire safety.

U.S. Fire Administration Kid's Page: www.usfa.fema.gov/kids/
Tips, quizzes, and games on fire safety.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: www.nhtsa.dot.gov
Information and publications on air bags, child safety seats, school bus safety, and other traffic issues.

National Safe Kids Campaign: www.safekids.org
Information on product recalls, a car seat guide, safety resources (some in Spanish), and a kids' corner with puzzles and games.

National Safety Council: www.nsc.org:
Articles, facts sheets, and links on topics such as driving, emergencies, first aid, and safety products.


Crossroads Café  (1996).  Unit 5, “Lost and Found,” Unit 9, “Rush to Judgment,” and Unit 12, “Turning Points.”  A 26-part video series set in a neighborhood restaurant featuring real-world social and cultural issues.  Videos and tape scripts available from Intelecom,  (800) 576-2988 or www.intelecom.org.  Textbooks are available from Heinle & Heinle, www.heinle.com.  Videos may be used independently of textbooks.

Plan to Get Out Alive.  An excellent fire safety video and an education resource catalog. Available from McDonald's Education Resource Center, 310 Tech Park Drive, LaVergne, TN 37086, (800) 627-7646.


The Public Library

Print Materials

Beyond the Library Card:  An ESL Curriculum for Effective Library Use, Elizabeth Minicz (1994).  Adult Learning Resource Center, Des Plaines, Illinois.  Available from the Curriculum Publications Clearinghouse, (800) 322-3905 or www.wiu.edu/CPC.  A multilevel curriculum designed to increase adult ESL students' knowledge of public library resources as well as their ability to use the library effectively.

Improving Public Library Services to ESL Students: Ready to Use Classroom Lessons for Teachers, Library Awareness Project of South Bay Cooperative Library System. California (1986).  Multilevel ESL curriculum addressing topics such as library resources, borrowing procedures, and the role of the librarian.  Ideas for field trips and reproducible visual aids also included.  Available to order as a book or microfiche from ERIC, Accession No. ED 3344825.  ERIC Document Reproduction Services:  www.edrs.com/Webstore/Express.cfm.


The U.S. School System

Print Materials

A Guide to Your Children's Schools: A Parent Handbook, Adult Learning Resource Center, Des Plaines, IL (2002).  Can be downloaded from the ISBE English Language learning web site at www.isbe.net/bilingual.  Information for parents on the U.S. school system, enrolling in school, school procedures and parental involvement.  Available in English, Arabic, Bosnian, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Parents as Educational Partners (PEP): A School-Related Curriculum for Language Minority Parents, Laura Segal Bercovitz and Catherine Porter (1995).  Adult Learning Resource Center, Des Plaines, IL, (847) 803-3535, www.thecenterweb.org.  A reproducible, multilevel curriculum designed to encourage ESL parents to take active roles in their children's education as well as increase their proficiency in English.  The curriculum combines instruction about U.S. schools with participatory classroom techniques and includes numerous illustrations.

Understanding American Schools: The Answers to Newcomers' Most Frequently Asked Questions, Anne P. Copeland and Georgia Bennett (2001).  The Interchange Institute, Brookline, MA, (617) 566-2227, www.interchangeinstitute.org.  A book designed to help non-native parents choose schools and understand the U.S. school system.

New Learning Concepts, Inc., (800) 925-7853, www.destinationlearn.net. Catalog of parent involvement products including books, videos, and bilingual bookmarks for parents (English and Spanish). 

Web Sites

The Center for Law and Education, (202) 462-7688. www.cleweb.org/catalog.htm The School Improvement Catalog has resources such as Urgent Message for Parents and Parents are Powerful which contain information on topics such as parent rights, advocating for your child, and improving student achievement in English and Spanish.

ERIC, www.eric.ed.gov
Brochures for parents (many in Spanish) available in print or online on topics relating to the education of children.

ERIC.EECE Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. www.ericeece.org/pubs/digests.html
Digests (short articles) on topics relating to schools, pre-schools, language learning and other education issues for teachers and parents. Many available in Spanish.

National Parent Information Network
www.npin.org (Part of the ERIC system)
Resources include a “Virtual Library” with book summaries and Parent News newsletters as well as “Parents ask ERIC” question-answer service.



Crossroads Café (1996).  Unit 2, “Growing Pains,” and Unit 21, “Walls and Bridges” (issues concerning high school work-study programs).  A 26-part video program available from Intelecom, www.intelecom.com.  Textbooks available from Heinle & Heinle, www.heinle.com.

Videos can be used independently of textbooks.

Raising Children In Troubled Times.  Set of 15 videos and facilitator guides (in English and Spanish) on general parenting topics and school-related topics including Studying, Homework, and School Behavior.  Pearson AGS-Globe, 800-848-9500.


Public Health Services

Print Materials

A Health Guide for Refugees, (2001), Illinois Department of Public Health (217) 782-4977 or www.idph.state.il.us/about/minority_hlth/default.htm.  Provides basic information about the U.S. health care system, visiting the doctor, treating serious illnesses, and where to go for medical care.  Booklet available at no cost or online as PDF document.  available in english, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, Bosnian, Russian, and Vietnamese.

American Academy of Pediatrics, (800) 433-9016, www.aap.org.  Immunization Fact Sheets (in English and Spanish) available for these immunizations:  Chickenpox; Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DPT); Tetanus and Diphtheria (TD); Polio; and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR).

“Do You Understand?”  Communicating with the Non-English Speaking Patient Handbook, (1989) Literacy Volunteers of America.  Textbook with simple drawings and translations (Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Polish, Russian, and Spanish) of language used in common medical situations.  Clear illustrations convey meaning; text provides many role-play ideas. 

An excellent resource for use with low-level students.

Comprehensive Resources for Your Health & Safety Programs, Krames Health and Safety Education, 1100 Grundy Lane, San Bruno, CA 94066, (800) 333-3032.  Catalog of brochures, booklets, and videos on topics such as the food pyramid, nutrition, and work safety.

Prevention First, Inc.  State of Illinois-funded clearinghouse of materials on substance abuse, STD's, and domestic violence.  Offers on-line catalog for substance abuse-related brochures and videos at www.prevention.org.  Materials are free to Illinois residents and may be previewed at their libraries in Chicago and Springfield.   

U.S. Federal Drug Administration Easy-to-Read Publications.  Easy-to-read publications (in both English and Spanish) on topics such as “Keeping Food Safe,” “What to do for Colds and Flu,” “Use Medicine Safely,” and “Eating for a Healthy Heart.”  Most can be downloaded in either PDF or HTML formats from www.fda.gov/opacom/lowlit/englow.html.  Some are available free (up to 50 copies) from FDA, HFI-40, Rockville, MD 20857.

Web Sites

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, (800) 25-ABUSE www.state.il.us/dcfs
Offers answers (in basic English) to frequently asked questions about child abuse and neglect, as well as listings of other resources.

National Center for ESL Literacy Education's Health Literacy www.cal.org/ncle/healthlit.htm
Includes a series of lessons entitled “Picture Stories for Adult ESL Health Literacy,” a bibliography of health literacy materials for ESL teachers, and Questions and Answers on Health Literacy (an ERIC Q & A article).

National Institute for Literacy's Health and Literacy Special Collection
Curricula on health subjects, suggested ESL/bilingual materials on health care, and links to many health information web sites.

Nutrition Education for New Americans: www.multiculturalhealth.org
Downloadable materials in 37 languages (including English) about food pyramids, healthy lifestyles for adults, mothers, and mature adults.

U.S. Federal Drug Administration Publications Catalog
Non-technical health-related materials for the general public.  Materials include articles in English and Spanish; Easy Readers; and Fact Sheets.  Most publications are available online.

USDA's Women, Infants and Children
Information about the WIC Program, a nutrition program for low-income women, infants, and children.  Includes income guidelines for participation, information about program benefits, and links to local WIC program locations.



Print Materials

Consumer Rights for Immigrants, Principal Authors: Deanne Loonin and Chi Chi Wu.  The National Consumer Law Center, Inc. (2002).  Boston, MA (617) 523-8089. A handbook for advocates including information on the most critical consumer issues faced by low-income immigrants.

Web Sites

ABTolls' Reading Your Phone Bill : www.belltolls.com/information/readingbills.html
A non-profit phone rate watchdog web site providing information on reading the charges on phone bills and finding the best rates.

Angie's List: www.angieslist.com
Consumer-driven organization providing customer reviews on local service companies in 15 major U.S. cities.  Covers 250 categories such as roofing, plumbing, and landscaping.  Fee for membership.

Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org
Articles, free publications, and information on how to file a complaint against a business as well as consumer information on purchasing and maintaining a home.

Citizens Utility Board: www.citizensutilityboard.org
Non-profit Illinois state consumer advocate organization providing up-to-date news on utility issues and helpful tips to consumers.

Exelon (parent company of ComEd and PECO)
Illinois electric companies' web site  providing information on gas rates, reading gas bills, bill payment options, and a payment assistance program.

Fannie Mae Foundation

Information and free publications on credit, mortgages, and home buying; many materials are available in other languages and in easy-to-read English.

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

Information and brochures (some in Spanish) on topics such as credit, loans, home equity loans, and mortgage discrimination.

Helping People Help Themselves
A program helping low-income customers pay off delinquent utility bills through volunteer work or education.  Web site includes names of participating utility companies and social service agencies.

Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council

Information about the Fair Housing Act.

Nicor Gas: www.nicorinc.com
Information on gas rates, reading gas bills, bill payment options, and the budget payment plan to spread costs over a whole year.

Office of the Illinois Attorney General Consumer Protection Information

Consumer information on credit, home equity, household moves, and landlord/tenant rights and laws.

U.S. Postal Service: www.usps.com
Information on certified mail, other mail tracking services, and online change of address form.


Crossroads Café (1996).  Unit 11, “No Vacancy” (tenant rights/discrimination) and Unit 23, “The Gift” (taxes).  Videos and tape scripts available from Intelecom, (800) 576-2988, www.intelecom.org.  Textbooks are available from Heinle & Heinle, www.heinle.com.  Videos may be used independently of textbooks.

Adult Learning Resource Center, 1855 Mt. Prospect Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60018
Phone 847-803-3535, Fax 847-803-3231