OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Civics Education

Research and Evaluation | Noteworthy Practices | Additional Links

The U.S. Department of Education supports projects that provide and increase access to English literacy programs in which civics education takes place. These civics programs emphasize contextualized instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, naturalization procedures, civic participation, and U.S. history and government to help students acquire the skills and knowledge they will need to become active and informed parents, workers, and community members. English literacy and civics education classes introduce students to civics-related content and provide them with opportunities to apply that knowledge in their daily lives while building their English language and literacy skills.

This program provides grants to states to fund local programs of adult education and literacy services, including workplace literacy services; family literacy services; English literacy programs and integrated English literacy-civics education programs. Participation in these programs is limited to adults and out-of-school youths age 16 and older who are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under state law

Research and Evaluation

  • The Carsey Institute report, New Immigrant Settlements in Rural America: Problems, Prospects, and Policies, (issued in 2006, Volume 1, Number 3), examines the implications of new immigrants to rural America. The report suggests that the receptivity of rural and small towns to new immigrants can vary greatly and can have significant impacts on communities to cope and immigrants to assimilate and prosper.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau in its report, Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000 (issued October 2003), analyzed data on languages spoken at home and the ability to speak in English plays a large role in how well people can perform daily activities. In 2000, 4.4 million households encompassing 11.9 million people were linguistically isolated.

Noteworthy Practices

  • EL/Civics Online is a professional development opportunity for instructors and volunteers who wish to incorporate EL/Civics content into their adult English language classrooms.

  • CAELA, Center for Adult English Language Acquisition, published a brief in February 2006, English Literacy and Civics Education. This brief describes not only ways to teach the subject, but also reflects on the increasing importance of civics instruction.

  • EL Civics for ESL Students, developed by Christina Niven, is an online interactive Web site that contains EL/Civics lessons, PowerPoint lessons, and engaging activities for teachers to use in their classrooms.

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created an updated Guide to Naturalization to provide better and consistent information to people interested in naturalization. If a person reads the Guide before beginning the naturalization process, many questions regarding the application process will be answered.

  • USCIS's Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants, provides information to help permanent residents understand their rights, including those in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Guide also includes information on how to maintain permanent resident status.

  • The New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC) article, Integrating Civic and Participation and Adult ESOL, proposes a process for building ESOL students' capacity for engaged and active citizenship through which EL/Civics classes serve as a venue for comprehending and critically examining policies that affect students' lives.

  • The NELRC's Civic Participation and Citizenship Collection provides information and resources that can be used to teach civics in adult basic education and English language classrooms. Some of the topics include History and Civil Rights; the Immigrant Experience; Voting, Government, and the Constitution; and U.S. Systems and Everyday Civics.

  • The Colorado Department of Education provides information resources on the teaching of English literacy and civics to adults.

  • Bronx Community College of the City University of New York prepared an EL/Civics "How To" manual to provide information on how to set up and run an EL/Civics program, based on the experience of one urban literacy program.

  • The Maryland Adult Literacy Resource Center provides examples of EL/Civics lesson plans that conform to the guidelines of the Federal definition of EL/Civics.

Additional Links

  • The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs provides information and services to American citizens on how to obtain, replace, or change a passport. A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave the United States and most foreign countries. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports.

  • The Verizon Foundation's Thinkfinity.org website offers free online courses and materials that can be used to prepare immigrants to take the U.S. citizenship test.

  • The Center for Applied Linguistics' Cultural Orientation Resource Center (COR) provides information on cultural orientation programs and resources related to the resettlement of refugees. Also posted on this site is a Guidebook for Refugees, funded by the Department of State. The Guidebook, available in a variety of languages, is intended to give refugees information about fundamental aspects of life in the United States.

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Last Modified: 05/19/2010