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Positively Philadelphia: Helping People Learn To Read and Speak English

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - "There's a lot of volunteering you can do.  Very few times will you be able to see instant results," says Joe Eastman, a retired military man and a volunteer tutor in the "Gallery for Learning" at the Center for Literacy in Philadelphia.

Many of the people who come here are learning English as a second language.

"Many times, somebody will come in here confused about something, maybe something they get in the mail, maybe a phone call from a teacher," Eastman notes.  "At the end of that two-hour session, whatever it is, that person can walk out there empowered to take care of that problem."

They're learning English, but much more.

"Sometimes, somebody being able to read a bill that they get and being able to take care of it themselves, that's very, very important," Eastman says.

"I came from Japan, and now my husband is working in here, so I came here with him.  I'm not only learning English but American lifestyle," says Mayuko Tanaka, one of Eastman's learners.

Tanaka says she loves Philadelphia's happy hours and our sushi, too.

"For example, California roll and Seattle roll and spider roll,   they are all delicious.  I love them.  I love all of them," Tanaka says brightly.

But they're different from Japanese sushi, right?

"Yes, different from sushi that I make in Japan, because I don't use avocado in sushi, and I don't use cheese."

Meanwhile, Joe Eastman says, the Center for Literacy needs more volunteer tutors.

"You don't have to have a teaching background," he points out.  "You just have to care.  And if you care, and you can sit down across the table from somebody and communicate with them, you'll be more than successful."

That's Positively Philadelphia!

Reported by Lauren Lipton, KYW Newsradio 1060

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