Learning English Language in Cheap Ways

Think of English vocabulary as the bricks of the language and grammar as the mortar that hold those bricks together, without the mortar the bricks can come tumbling down! There is a common impression that learning English grammar is painful, but it is a lot easier than many other languages.

When you begin to learn English, speaking and building up your vocabulary is more important than worrying about correct grammar. However, as you progress you need to incorporate more grammar into your learning program.

Here are some tips to learn English in an inexpensive ways:

1. Learn English by reading, listening, studying, and asking questions; practice what you learn by speaking and writing.

2. Dictation is an excellent way to improve your listening and spelling skills. Have a friend read a few paragraphs from a book or a newspaper. Write down what you think you hear. Compare what you have written with the actual text.

3. Make friends with native English speakers.

4. If you have your sights set on the US, look for literacy programs in your area — they are often free, learn a trade and do your best to acquire English-speaking friends.

5. Find a native individual who not only speaks English, but can teach it. Learn grammar and vocabulary using visual, auditory and spoken methods. Spiral the cycle and keep it interesting.

6. Reading will increase your understanding of English and add to your vocabulary, but it’s talking that will increase fluency.

7. Read Simple English in your spare time, such resources can be found at the Simple English Wikipedia and books written for young children to encourage yourself, if the contents are too difficult to understand you can easily lose interest.

8. Learn about the cultures of English-speaking countries.

9. As a teenager, live for a year in an English speaking country. This is much less expensive if you do barter – accept someone in your house in trade for living in theirs.

10. Never stop getting new information in English and keep practicing writing and speaking.

11. If you can dream in English, this means that you have succeeded in becoming a fluent English speaker, but not that your English is perfect.

12. Think in English when you have learned it well. Translation in your brain can become confusing after certain points.

13. Get a good dictionary. If you need to, a dictionary to translate between your first language and English is best.

14. Take note of your mistakes when doing your work and make sure you don’t repeat them.

15. Read aloud, so you are aware of how you speak.

16. Focus on pronunciation when you speak, since there are many silent letters in English as in French.

17. Learn the grammar with careful study. A teacher may be best for this.

18. Make sure you know the basics. If you don’t even know the basics, you want to improve.

19. Remember you need to exercise what you’ve learned. With practice, you can learn to speak the English language very well. Practice everyday by checking your pronunciation, and learning a few new words.

Learning English requires a lot of practice and determination, so don’t try to learn everything at once, but don’t ever give up!

3 Easy Steps To Learn English Grammar With Mini-Stories

While most English students struggle to learn English grammar, mini-stories instantly turned Rinaldo Guerreiro into a fluent English speaker. Now an English speaking maven, this former English student of mine now teaches others students just like himself in several different English schools. And he now creates his own mini-stories to teach his English students.

Junior is not a language geek. He was not ‘holed’ up in a cave 14 hours a day to learn English. He is just a normal, small-town person his English students can relate to. You too, can become an English speaking maven — and even teach others too — when you follow my grammar learning strategies below.

My Fool-Proof Plan to Mastering English Grammar With Mini-Stories
There are two major problems that English students face when studying grammar. The first is they spend way too much time focusing on the exceptions and waste time that could be used more profitably.

The second problem is that when they want to talk in English, they have to pause to remember all the rules and exceptions to the rules before they can say anything. That kills your fluency and makes you stumble over your words and sentences.

Using mini-stories and following these three simple steps will help you overcome both of these problems that most English students face with a single blow.

Step 1: Listen To Your English Mini-Story
Once you have a mini-story that focuses on the English grammar structure that you want to learn, you need to listen to it many times. This will allow you to begin assimilating the grammar structure before you begin to study the grammar rules. This will make it much easier to understand.

Listen to your English mini-story several times a day. And do this for several days. It is important that you understand the story well and grasp its internal structure implicitly before you try to memorize any of the rules. Otherwise the rules just won’t make sense.

Instead you want to use the grammar rules to explain what you have already seen in the story because that is how children learn to speak their mother-tongue. First they learn how to talk. Then they go to school to study grammar. So, why learn English any differently?

Step 2: Study Your Grammar Lesson
So, after you have listened to the mini-story several times and understand it, now it is time to study your grammar lesson. Now this is where most English student make the fatal mistake of getting bogged down in the details.

Most want to learn all the rules and exceptions to each rule…and waste lots of time where it isn’t profitable. At this point in you English learning process you want to speak English fluently like a native. And native speakers make lots of ‘grammar’ mistakes…which means that if you speak too perfectly you won’t sound like a native.

There is nothing wrong with that…if you are the head English professor in some fancy language university where you want to impress everyone. But if you’re like 99% of the English students I know — you just want to be able to express yourself clearly and easily.

So, don’t get bogged down in the details and all the exceptions to the grammar rules. Instead of spending weeks trying to learn how the grammar doesn’t work…you can spend just five minutes watching a quick video to understand how it does work.

Focusing on the basics…means that you can spend your effort and energy on what is most important — developing your fluency.

Step 3: Do Your Grammar Exercises
Now that you understand the basic concepts of the grammar structure…it’s time to put your skills into practice. So, this is where you want to do some basic English grammar exercises.

Not only will you be practicing what you are learning…but you will also be testing yourself which means that you will be able to evaluate if you really understood what you learned correctly.

Okay! I know I promised you three steps…but I wanted to give you an extra bonus step here that will really help you master the grammar structures that you are learning.

Bonus Step: Listen To The Grammar Mini-Story
For best results when learning something, you must compare it to something else. That way you can look at the similarities and differences between each one. So, what I always recommend that you do is listen to your original mini-story again…but this time with a different grammar structure.

For example, if your original mini-story was in the present continuous…you would now want to hear it in the past continuous or the present perfect. That way you can observe what changes between the structures and what remains the same.

Follow these steps, and you will master the English grammar structures quickly and easily so you can speak English fluently and proficiently like a native speaker in the least amount of time.

Tools You Need to Learn English

Many people are not aware of the right approach and right tools to learn English easily and quickly. The moment we think of learning English, big books that are difficult to read or understand come to our mind. Another thing that strikes our mind is spoken English institute.
Are they really helpful? Ask anybody who tried these things. The answer will most probably be ‘No’. Then why are people still following these things which never provide efficient results?
Before you look for an easy and quick way to improve English, you should first understand that English is a skill and not a subject. Hence, stuffing the information from every nook and corner of the English books will not help. It is not the right way to go about learning a language.
Learning English is simple and all it takes is the right process of learning. Firstly, you need to have a minimum set of tools to learn English quickly and easily. Let us have a look at them.
Vocabulary book: What is a language without words? Until and unless you are aware of the words, you cannot use the language properly. Vocabulary book, may sound like any other boring book, but is actually interesting as it contains all the commonly used words in that language. Probably, the fast way to improve English is to learn commonly used words.
Dictionary: Dictionary and vocabulary book may sound similar but they are not. The vocabulary book gives only a list of commonly used words along with their meanings, their origin plus some examples to make it easy to use the words. Whereas, the dictionary gives the words and meaning and sometimes how to use them in the language; along with some grammatical information. It is good to be familiar with the most common words and their meanings in English. Dictionary makes it easier to understand the words. You use a dictionary to find meanings of words for which you are not sure of the meaning, especially as you are reading something. You use the vocabulary book so that you can use the right words easily while speaking and writing.
Illustrated comics and stories: If you think that above sources are serious, then here comes the entertainment side of the language. The smarter way to learn English is to find something easy and fun so that you put more effort to improve English skills. It’s not advisable to do difficult language exercises or go through serious literature to improve and learn English quickly. Illustrated comics and stories are the best aids to improve and learn English quickly while having fun.
Note book: A dedicated note book for writing notes while learning English makes it easy to progress quickly. English learning process will take longer without this. A good learner will make a note of important points to remember for future reference in the process of learning. Later, he can look through the small notes or refer them regularly to improve English skills.
The number of tools mentioned above may appear less, but they are the most effective ones which help in going through the English learning process easily. I believe that learning process should always be kept simple, to be productive. It is not about struggle, it is about smooth process. Proper usage of these tools will ensure you get command over English quickly and easily.

Learning English Is Crucial to Your Success

Learning the English language is truly a necessity for everyone in this day and age. The Internet has really created an interconnected global community, and its universal language is English. It is not uncommon for US, Canadian, Australian and UK businesses to have staff, partners and customers all over the world. The travel industry, international politics, Internet and media are predominantly English now and in order to keep up in today’s world, people are finding that they need to speak English more and more. No matter where you live or what you do, fluency in English is becoming a necessity to function in today’s society.
As one of the most widely spoken languages, English is known as the international language. Even in countries where it is not the official language, it is becoming more commonly spoken every day. With the current global media influence, English is the most common second language in the world. More than 400 million people speak English as their mother tongue, and over 700 million have learned it as a second language.
We now live in the “Information Age,” and if you think about it, the majority of that information is in English. Most websites, magazines, books, videos and research materials are in English. If you use the Internet at all in your business or personal affairs, I’m sure you have begun to realize this. In fact, the majority of software on the market today is in English as well, so even using your computer is becoming harder if you don’t speak English. The widespread use of the Internet and social media online has made English proficiency more and more sought after.
If you are looking to do business globally, or even just in the US market, a solid grasp of the English language will be necessary for you to succeed. The opportunities for business growth or even gainful employment are much greater for English-speaking people. If you currently do business in a non-English speaking country, you can expect your profits to sky-rocket once you expand globally. The US has the highest concentration of consumers in the world and controls most of the market-share in many sectors worldwide. Breaking into that market can be extremely lucrative for overseas businesses that are able to do so, and naturally, you will have much more success if you are fluent in English.
Career opportunities for people who are fluent in English are much more abundant than for those who are not. People who live in poorer areas of the world can easily get very high-paying jobs in the American market. Teleworking and working online is becoming commonplace in the business world today. American companies are outsourcing work to people in the Philippines, China, India and other countries very frequently now. The vast difference in the rates of pay and cost of living in these countries make it very lucrative for both the employer and the employee. An employee in the Philippines working for an American company, for example, can easily earn a day’s pay in an hour! Adding “Excellent written and spoken English” to your resume or CV will put you miles ahead of the other job applicants and will allow you to earn a higher salary. If you are considering immigrating to an English-speaking country, you will need to prove that you possess a good command of English. Most of these countries have language requirements that must be met in order to gain residency status.
Those who do business online will be interested to know that over 565 million of Internet users are English. The majority of the websites are English as well. Needless to say, if you want to compete in the global market, English is a requirement, and by having your website available in English, you will increase your reach and readership by leaps and bounds. Expanding your business overseas is much easier these days in our interconnected world, and being able to serve your client base in a common language will allow you to do that.
Even if you are not interested in doing business globally, you may have the opportunity to travel internationally at some point. While it would be impossible to learn every language of every country you want to visit, just knowing how to speak English will make your trip much more enjoyable. Business people all over the world are increasing their English-speaking staff. This means that if you can speak English, you will have an easier time ordering at restaurants, booking hotels, asking questions and getting directions, shopping and generally enjoying your trip to a foreign country. If you aren’t able to communicate with people in the country you are visiting, chances are you won’t have a very good vacation.
Most of the top-rated universities in the world are in English-speaking countries – the US, UK, Australia and Canada. If you are considering studying abroad, you will need to be fluent in English not only to study in these institutions, but also to gain entry and obtain a study permit in that country. Books from all over the world are often translated into English, more often than any other language. Studying any subject will be much easier with access to the billions of books available in English. With a strong command of the English language you will be opening doors to so many top of the line educational facilities and thus allowing you to unlock your full potential with no linguistic barriers.
Comparatively, English is much easier to learn than many other languages. The alphabet is simple, with only 26 characters and no accents; grammar rules are simpler than many other languages; verb tenses, pluralization and possessive pronouns are quite easy to learn. Depending on what your native language is, you will most likely find English to be quite straightforward and easy to comprehend. The effort involved in learning is well worth the multitude of benefits. If you put in the time and effort to learn English, you will truly be unlocking opportunities in your professional and personal life that will lead to a fuller and more satisfying future.
Of course, it’s not necessary to become completely fluent right away. You can easily learn how to speak English well enough to land a great job or communicate effectively without perfecting every aspect of English grammar. There are numerous online English Language training tools that are very effective. These tools are the perfect way to learn to speak English very quickly.

Marketing Public Library Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction
The concept of instituting marketing principles to non-profit institutions such as library and information Services is no longer a controversy. Organizations operate in an environment of change. Today we live in a global market for many goods and services in which technology, purchasing power and many factors change on a regular basis. One of the key functions of marketing is to find out how these changes affect clientele’s wants and needs and to develop organizational strategies and plans that will ensure that the library meets these challenges (Dransfield and Needham, 1995). It is therefore not surprising that public librarians are joining the marketing bandwagon. This article explores the marketing activities in the operations of the Sierra Leone Public Library services.
Public Libraries
A Public Library is funded wholly and partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class persons in the community but freely available to all. It is a major agency of enlightenment for adults, providing for children the recorded experiences of others which will help them grow into adults.
Usherhood (1981) defined Public Library as an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some form of or other community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services and equally available to members of the public community regardless of race, nationality, economic and employment status and educational attainment.
The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB)
The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) was established by Ordinance in June, 1959. The setting up of the Board was envisaged in the Government’s White Paper on Educational Development in 1958 and its functions outlined therein as follows:
• To provide a national/public library Service;
• To support and reinforce program of adult and fundamental education;
• To provide effective services for children and young adults including requisite services to schools;
• To provide much needed information and references services;
• To provide where needed adequate services for special groups, that is women and girls, language groups.
The Central Library is designed to give public services to Freetown and also to function as headquarter of the National/Public Library services and to provide accommodation for a growing collection of book and non-book materials in the country. It does all technical processing of stock for the Regional and Branch Libraries and has an Adult Lending Reference and a Children’s department.
Libraries are charged with responsibility to provide information service to support educational, recreation and personal endeavors of the members of their respective communities and the Sierra Leone Library Board is not an exception to that. The following services are provided at the Sierra Leone Library Board to Clientele:
Children Services
The Sierra Leone Library Board provides information services to children by the provision of books and other materials for children which are often housed in a special section known as the Children’s Library. A special service for children known as child orientated educational program specially designed for younger library users is included in the children’s library services. They also provide services to children through storytelling, drama/play and reading aloud.
Book Borrowing and Lending Service
The main task of Sierra Leone Library Board is to provide the public with access to books and periodicals. The Sierra Leone Library Board typically offers access to a variety of books which are available for borrowing by anyone with the appropriate library card.
Current Awareness Service
At the Sierra Leone Library Board, current awareness service is aimed at bringing to the notice of potential users, newly available documents and information services. This is done by collating information and producing new secondary sources, circulating current periodicals or other documents acquired and producing and distributing one or more forms of bulletins.
Selective Dissemination of Information
A more personal information service is being run at the Sierra Leone Library Board in which the library constantly notifies library users about particular information/materials matching them in a profile of the information needs and research pre-occupation of their clientele. This is done by either bringing references to relevant items to the notice of their clients and by obtaining copies and then supply the documents themselves to library users.
Outreach Services
The Sierra Leone Library Board provides outreach information services which is committed to developing library outreach program for non-users, the undeserved, and people with special needs in the communities in restricted areas.
Computer and Internet Services
In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, information resources and government services are being provided online by the Sierra Leone Library Board. This is done by providing access to the Internet and public computers for users who otherwise would not be able to connect to these services.
Library Marketing
Marketing is often viewed as a set of strategies and techniques that belongs to administrators outside of librarianship. But, librarians are also involved in the marketing process. The essence of marketing involves finding out users needs and want, then setting out to meet these needs.
Marketing according to Weingand (1995) “can be viewed as a process of exchange and a way to foster partnership between the library and its community” (p.296). In order to maintain the relationship between the public library and the community, marketing strategies have to be employed as effective tool.
Marketing in the public library means more than simply promotion or selling. It is more concerned about user needs. Marketing the Public Library is a social and managerial process by which products and services as well as values are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals or group needs. Marketing refers to those instruments through which information, both raw and processed, are transmitted to its members. Promotion or campaigning is but two activities in the broader exercise of marketing
Planning Library Marketing Program
The continued existence of libraries, if not their survivals, may well depend upon the use of marketing and planning strategies, communicated through effective public relations, to significantly alter the perceived role and position of the library in society.
In a real sense, Public Relation is the promotion component of a full marketing plan of library program. It can be seen as the communicated module which serves the promotion function; conversely, it may be easily depicted as a philosophical relationship between library and community which serves as a guiding light for promotion activities.
Both communication and research skills serve well in the marketing planning process of which Public Relations is an important component. Specific skills and knowledge are also needed in marketing planning programs for libraries. It goes without saying that both ongoing marketing planning and programs, and in particular, how the needs of different groups of users differ from each other. Library and information services are complex entities, as are the human users and potential users of these services.
Planning, promotion and campaigning are but all activities in the boarder exercise of marketing. User studies therefore, have a very wide range of uses in relation to the planning of library marketing programs of a service. They contribute in the planning, promotion and development of library services. In their contribution they help in the understanding of different user group behavior and their needs, and can assist in effective campaigning and planning process.
Three steps to planning library marketing programs are:
• Knowing what your beliefs are and therefore what you want to achieve;
• Communicating these beliefs as practical objectives to the people with whom you work, in order that these objectives can be fulfilled; and
• Creating a vehicle which allows this to happen. This can only be achieved by defining the basic components and through organization.
Methods of marketing in Sierra Leone Library Board
Book Displays and Exhibitions
Displays and exhibitions are widely used in most public libraries as a marketing strategy to sell their products or items. The SLLB displays jackets of new books which are not yet included in the lending department for easy access by users and to increase usage. It is also a means of drawing the attention of users and non-users to particular aspects of library resources and services.
Printed materials and Publications
In order to make a very good image of the public library and for public librarians to establish better communication between the library and users, publicity programs are put in place by the management of the Sierra Leone Library Board through news release. The management also considers annual reports and newspapers as basic publicity techniques. Publications such as bibliographies, guides and brochures are used by the library to communicate with the wider public.
Public Relations Office
Public relations according to Usherhood (1981) is concerned with gaining of public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution. It is a process that furthers mental understanding and cooperation between a government; or any organization and its various public. The Sierra Leone Library Board has a Public Relations Office charged with the responsibility to enhance a smooth system of communication.
User Education/Readers Advisory Service
This could be described as training a group of users in the effective use of the library and its resources. It is used to stimulate the users to make greater use of the library and introduces library staff to clientele who might be reluctant to seek their assistance. This is the principal means through which library staff can learn about readers’ needs, opinions and habits. Good communication with readers enables staff to inform and influence readers.
The Media
These involve printed and audio-visual forms of communication and any necessary equipment to render them usable. The Press, radio and television are important means of publicizing information service, since they offer potential of reaching many people from all walks of life. The media are cultivated so that messages are distributed with regularity. Publicity mechanism such as news releases, special events and brochures can also be employed.
The Social Media Groups (SMG)
The Sierra Leone Library Board makes use of the Social media groups such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘Watsapp’ as an effective way for publicity in order to put their messages across to users of their services.
Challenges of Marketing Library and Information Services at the SLLB
A lot of challenges have militated against the effective planning and implementation of library marketing programs at SLLB. The following are some of the challenges:
• Inadequate Staff: Although staff numbers have been maintained, the ratio of professional staff is very low. The library is manned mostly by paraprofessionals who mostly lack the skills to plan and implement marketing programs.
• Finance: The library depends heavily on government subsidy. The government has no specific or substantial funds for the running of the library thus the library administration has to foot most of the bills that have to do with marketing. The irregular flow of funds has served as a barrier to the progress of marketing library and information services at the SLLB.
• Lack of standard printed materials and publications: The SLLB lacks most standard printed materials and publications due to poor planning of marketing programs. This negligence has made the library handicapped of public relations tools in the form of printed materials and publications such as newsletters, questionnaires, diaries and calendars.
• Displays are improper and exhibitions seem almost absent: The library depends mostly on donations and most of the books are acquired without jackets. Therefore displaying book jackets in inconsistent. In fact exhibition programs are yet to survive as they are only recently introduced. The library lacks relevant display and exhibition materials to mount these activities.
• Inability to organize frequent Radio Programs: The SLLB lacks media communication facilities. The library cannot frequently organize radio programs on its own because of lack of funds. The absence of radio programs stands out as an acute problem to the progress of marketing programs in the library.
Conclusively, marketing is the instrument that libraries use to transform their aims and objectives into operational plans of action. In most developing countries’ public libraries such as the SLLB, marketing strategies cannot operate properly due to the existence of bottlenecks in planning programs. Good marketing programs actualize the plans and measures necessary for the achievement of goals and objectives.

Learning English From Home

Learning a new language can be difficult and overwhelming, even when the language is a popular one. Many people hope to learn English through different ways of learning as a way to increase opportunities and job related skills, while others simply want to improve upon their personal knowledge. Different people learn best in different methods. Some people learn quickly by reading books themselves because they have better ability to process the information and remember it. Others might do it better when they go in a group. They can share and discuss more knowledge and gain new ideas with the teacher and friends. Some people even do better when they are alone because they don’t need somebody every time to practice. You can speak English on your own. Out of all the above options, learning English from home is the best option because it gives flexibility to learn at any convenient time.
So if you do not have adequate time to go out somewhere, but still you want to learn it anyhow, then learning English at home is the best option. Whether you are a complete beginner of the language or you already have a little knowledge of the English language, its possible to learn English at home no matter where you live. This type of English language learning will maximize your progress in English, in the shortest period of time, & that too in a relaxed and hospitable environment.
There are many advantages for choosing to learn English at home:

  • It will give you the options of different learning methods like online English learning websites, English learning kits, Podcasts etc.
  • You get flexible and hassle free learning sessions with it. Here you don’t need to plan your schedule or spend your time in going to a coaching class. You have complete convenience of choosing your own time and place for learning.
  • You are not dependent on anyone for your learning. You learn independently, which not only makes you independent but also increases your self confidence.
  • It allows the whole family as well as friends to learn using the same material. This is cost effective & furthermore it also provides flexible learning to everyone.
  • You can use these learning from home material anytime throughout your life. You can revise your learning even after a couple of months or years of your learning.

There are different ways of learning English at home. But the most important aspect is to stay motivated and practice regularly, so that you can improve your language skills. Different ways to learn English at home are:-
Books/Websites/English learning kits
To speak fluent English, you need to understand the rules of grammar. You can learn these through a book or a website or an English learning kit that specializes in teaching English. If possible, choose a resource that includes explanations in your native language. English learning kits are a huge success these days. With these, learning English has become absolute fun! These interactive English learning kits allow you to practice vocabulary as per your own time & convenience.
Flash Cards
Create flash cards that are relevant to the type of English that you wish to learn. For example, if you’re studying English for business, you’ll need to know English words that relate to business. Review the cards on a daily basis. This is a good way to build your vocabulary words.
Watching English movies
If you are a fan of English movies, then learning English can be more than fun. Learning English by watching movies is learning by input, which is both enjoyable & motivational. You learn a lot of things from watching English movies such as – pronunciation, vocabulary, style, intonation even western culture, habit etc.
Podcasts
Listening to others speak English is an essential skill. You can improve listening skills through Podcasts, which you can listen to on your Mp3 player. Start with Podcasts created for non- English speakers, which will include slow, clear language. As your skills improve, you can start listening to Podcasts on topics that interest you
Out of the several options available, it’s up to to the learner which learning method he/she wants to adopt to learn the language but one thing you should always keep in mind that whatever learning method you choose, you should be self motivated.
So learn English by staying at home & boost your confidence in your work & social life.

Learning English in an English Speaking Country

Those of you who have spoken to fluent or native English speakers will have heard them tell of the benefits of learning English in an English speaking country. The advantages of this are obvious. Providing you live with, or have daily communicative contact with English speakers, there is no doubt that this will enhance and speed up becoming a good English speaker. You will find yourself in typical everyday situations, where you need to understand and communicate in English. You are likely to find yourself in embarrassing situations, where you make mistakes, frequently misunderstand, or fail to understand completely. This can often lead to frustration and create an urge to try harder and commit more time to learning English. This can often have very effective results.

Learning English in a non English speaking country

Sometimes, learning English in an English speaking country is not possible. Instead, you have to do it whilst remaining in your home country. However, the results are often somewhat different. Input is often restricted to what you are exposed to in the classroom. Progress can often be slow and you will often find enthusiasm wanes after the novelty has worn off. This is because outside the classroom, there is no need to converse in English. The closest you get to this is through completing your homework, but often you will find this becomes a chore. Unless you are blessed with dogged determinism and enthusiasm, many of us will forget all about learning English until we step into the classroom again the following week.

Other benefits of learning English in an English speaking country

Not only does learning English in an English speaking country improve your general language learning experience, it also exposes you to other important factors attached to language learning. This includes the culture, the people and the overall functions of how certain countries do things. You will become familiar with the food people eat, when and how they eat, how people spend their free time, what people choose to spend their money on and how much things cost. The list is endless. It can provide you with an opportunity to really see how English speaking people live and provide you with an opportunity to see if you would like to live and work there yourself either permanently or temporarily in the future.

Making English speaking friends

If you spend a lot of time learning English in an English speaking country, you are very likely to make friends with native English speakers. You will go out with them, eat with them and experience all the things that they experience in their daily lives. This kind of interaction is especially good for learning the more informal aspects of the English language, like accent and dialect, proverbs and other “-ism’s” found in the English Language. You are only likely to learn these if you hear them spoken by a native speaker and are comfortable enough to ask what they mean. This is a very important part of becoming a fluent English speaker, as there are hundreds of these that are used frequently in everyday conversation among native speakers.

How to learn English in an English Speaking Country

Many of you will be thinking this is easier said than done. Going abroad costs a lot of money, and even once you’re there, issues of where you will stay and what you will do whilst learning to speak English will be on your mind. Fortunately, there are many schemes in place to facilitate this process.

Learn English Online to Master the English Language Easily and Affordably

As we all know, English is without doubt the international language. It is estimated the number of people speak English in the world is in the region of 600 million! Some even say one out of every five people on earth can speak English to some level of competence. It is therefore very important to learn English. It can be really rewarding and broaden your options in job and career advancement. There are many ways one could learn English but the most effective one is through the internet. Learn English online is effective and affordable as there are many good programs and courses available online for learning English. The advantage of Learning English online is that you can learn at your own time and can learn from any part of the world! You can use msn and skype to contact your online teachers and study English from the comfort of your home or office.

To improve your English, you have to learn the meaning of many English words and need to understand the usage of English grammar in great detail. Reading is the best way to increase vocabularies and learn how to avoid making wrong use of words. If we read magazines or newspapers written in English regularly, we will pick up and remember the many new words we come across. You can use online dictionaries to search for meaning of a word or word that you are not sure to pronounce. It can instantly look up accurate and extensive definitions and word meanings, and hear the audio pronunciations of the word selected. Using online dictionary is just like having a teacher close at hand. It makes reading a very enjoyable pastime as we could understand the whole story in detail. You should also test your knowledge of English language with the many free interactive grammar and vocabulary exercises platform available online as well.

Besides learning to read English, we must also learn to speak in English. Practice speaking in English with your family members and friends is one of the best ways to learn spoken English. Try listen to radio stations or online stations if you are away from home. You might not understand at first, but keep listening and maintain a regular habit of listening to the stations will eventually pick up the spoken English. Online learning usually is interactive and you should be able to hear the word being said to you. It is a well known fact that people learn quicker when they hear and see things together

We should also try to talk to native English-speaking people as much as we could because it gives you a real native conversation practice. You should not be afraid to speak in English. If we never learn to take risks to open mouths, it will be impossible to improve speaking skills. There is no reason to be ashamed of speaking poor English. If we can learn from our mistakes, failure can become part of our success. In fact, the secret of success is come from failure.

In conclusion, there is no short cut to learning English. Persistence and consistency is the keys to success. If you want to write and speak perfect English, don’t ever give up trying to achieve your goal. If we are prepared to work hard at it, we will be successful in the end. Learn English online is just like having an online teacher available around the clock, along with the web’s widest range of course and interactive learning tools available. So learn English online is one of the most effective and faster ways to master the English language.

Use of RFID Technology in Libraries: An Automated Metheod of Circulation, Security, Tracking and…

1. Introduction

RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a technology that allows an item, for example a library book to be tracked and communicated with by radio waves. This technology is similar in concept to a Cell Phone.

Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a broad term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. There are several methods of identification, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a person or object, and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it.

2.Concept of RFID for Libraries

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the latest technology to be used in library circulation operations and theft detection systems. RFID-based systems move beyond security to become tracking systems that combine security with more efficient tracking of materials throughout the library, including easier and faster charge and discharge, inventorying, and materials handling.

This technology helps librarians reduce valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items.

RFID is a combination of radio -frequency-based technology and microchip technology. The information contained on microchips in the tags affixed to library materials is read using radio frequency technology regardless of item orientation or alignment (i.e., the technology does not require line-of-sight or a fixed plane to read tags as do traditional theft detection systems). The RFID gates at the library exit(s) can be as wide as four feet because the tags can be read at a distance of up to two feet by each of two parallel exit gate sensors.

2.1 Components of an RFID System

A comprehensive RFID system has four components:

(1) RFID tags that are electronically programmed with unique information;

(2) Readers or sensors to query the tags;

(3) Antenna; and

(4) Server on which the software that interfaces with the integrated library software is loaded.

2.1.1Tags

The heart of the system is the RFID tag, which can be fixed inside a book’s back cover or directly onto CDs and videos. This tag is equipped with a programmable chip and an antenna. Each paper-thin tag contains an engraved antenna and a microchip with a capacity of at least 64 bits. There are three types of tags: “read only”, “WORM,” and “read/write.

“Tags are “read only” if the identification is encoded at the time of manufacture and not re-writable.

“WORM” (Write-Once-Read-Many)” tags are programmed by the using organization, but without the ability of rewriting them later.

“Read/write tags,” which are chosen by most libraries, can have information changed or added. In RFID library, it is common to have part of the read/write tag secured against rewriting, e.g., the identification number of the item.

2.1.2 Readers

The reader powers an antenna to generate an RF field. When a tag passes through the field, the information stored on the chip in the tag is interpreted by the reader and sent to the server, which, in turn, communicates with the Integrated library system when the RFID system is interfaced with it.

RFID exit gate sensors (readers) at exits are basically two types. One type reads the information on the tag(s) going by and communicates that information to a server. The server, after checking against the circulation database, turn on an alarm if the material is not properly checked-out. Another type relies on a “theft” byte in the tag that is turned on or off to show that the item has been charged or not. It is then not necessary to communicate with the circulation database.

Readers in RFID library are used in the following ways:

Conversion station-where library data is written to the tag;

Staff workstation at circulation- used to charge and discharge library materials;

Self check-out station-used to check-out library materials without staff assistance;

Self check-in station-used to check in books etc. without staff assistance;

Exit sensors- to verify that all the books etc. leaving the library have been checked-out;

Book-drop reader- used to automatically discharge library materials and reactivate security.

Sorter and conveyor-automated system for returning books etc. to proper area of library;

Hand-held reader-used for inventorying and verifying that books etc. are shelved correctly.

2.1.3 Antenna

The antenna produces radio signals to activate the tag and read and write data to it. Antennas are the channels between the tag and the reader, which controls the system’s data acquisitions and communication. The electromagnetic field produced by an antenna can be constantly present when multiple tags are expected continually. Antennas can be built into a doorframe to receive tag data from person’s things passing through the door.

2.1.4 Server

The server is the heart of some comprehensive RFID systems. It is the communications gateway among the various components. It receives the information from one or more of the readers and exchanges information with the circulation database. Its software includes the SIP/SIP2 (Session Initiation Protocol), APIs (Applications Programming Interface) NCIP or SLNP necessary to interface it with the integrated library software. The server typically includes a transaction database so that reports can be produced.

2.2 Optional Components

Optional RFID system includes the following three components:

1. RFID Label Printer

2. Handheld Reader

3. External Book Return

1. RFID label Printer

An RFID-printer is used to print the labels with an individual barcode, library logo etc. When the print is applied, it simultaneously programmed the data in to the chip. After this process, the RFID label is taken from the printer and self-adhered to the book. It also checks each RFID label for function.

2. Handheld Reader/Inventory Wand

The portable Handheld Reader or inventory wand can be moved along the items on the shelves without touching them. The data goes to a storage unit, which can be downloaded at a server later on, or it can go to a unit, which will transmit it to the server using wireless technology. The inventory wand will cover three requirements:

· Screen the complete book collection on the shelves for inventory control.

· Search for books, which are mis-shelved.

· Search for individual book requested.

Other applications can be written for the inventory wand, since the system utilizes a personal data terminal (PDT).

3. External Book Return

Libraries can offer a distinct service, which is very useful for users like ability to return books during off hours. External book return is a machine with a slot with a chip RFID reader integrated into the wall. It works the same way as the Self Check –Out Station. The user identifies himself/herself (if required by the library), and then puts the book(s) in to the slot. Upon completing his/her return, the user will receive a receipt showing how many and which books were returned. Since they have already been checked-in, they can go directly back onto the shelves. These units can also be used with sorter and conveyor systems.

3. Key Features of RFID in library

The reliability of the system, its ease of operation, and the flexibility of tagging all kinds of media easily, is important criteria in choosing an RFID system. The main aim for today’s libraries to adopt RFID is the need to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Automation and self-service can help libraries of all sizes toward achieving these aims, and RFID has the added advantage that it can also provide security for the range of different media on offer in libraries. The technology can also improve circulation and inventory control, which helps to optimize the allocation of labor and financial resources. This means that libraries can relieve their professional employees of routine work and operational tasks.

All of the tags used in RFID technology for libraries are “passive.” The power to read the tags comes from the reader or exit sensor (reader), rather than from a battery within the tag.

A few libraries use “smart” card, which is an RFID card with additional encryption, is an alternative to merely adding an RFID tag on staff and user identification cards. Not only does that identify users for issue and return of library materials, but also for access to restricted areas or services. This would make it possible to make it into a “debit” card, with value added upon pre-payment to the library and value subtracted when a user used a photocopier, printer, or other fee-based device, or wished to pay fines or fees.

3.1 Speedy and Easy User self-charging/discharging

The use of RFID reduces the amount of time required to perform circulation operations. This technology helps librarians eliminate valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items. For the users, RFID speeds up the borrowing and returns procedures. The Library professionals, instead of scanning bar codes all day long in front of a queue of users, are released for more productive and interesting duties. Staff is relieved further when readers are installed in book drops.

3.2 Reliability

The readers are highly reliable. Several vendors of RFID library systems claim an almost 100 percent detection rate using RFID tags.

Some RFID systems have an interface between the exit sensors and the circulation software to identify the items moving out of the library. Were a library user to run out of the library and not be catched, the library would at least know what had been stolen. If the user card also has an RFID tag, the library will also be able to determine who removed the items without properly charging them.

Other RFID systems encode the circulation status on the RFID tag. This is done by designating a bit as the “theft” bit and turning it off at time of charge and on at time of discharge. If the material that has not been properly charged is taken past the exit gate sensors, an immediate alarm is triggered. Another option is to use both the “theft” bit and the online interface to an integrated library system, the first to signal an immediate alarm and the second to identify what has been taken out.

3.3 High-speed inventorying

A unique advantage of RFID systems is their ability to scan books on the shelves without tipping them out or removing them. A hand-held inventory reader can be moved rapidly across a shelf of books to read all of the unique identification information. Using wireless technology, it is possible not only to update the inventory, but also to identify items, which are out of proper order.

3.4 Automated materials handling

Another application of RFID technology is automated materials handling. This includes conveyor and sorting systems that can move library materials and sort them by category into separate bins or onto separate carts. This significantly reduces the amount of staff time required to ready materials for re-shelving.

3.5 Tag life

RFID tags last longer than barcodes because, the technology does not require line-of-sight. Most RFID vendors claim a minimum of 100,000 transactions before a tag may need to be replaced.

4. Demerits of RFID Systems

4.1 High cost

The major disadvantage of RFID technology is its cost. While the readers and gate sensors used to read the information typically cost around $1,500 to $2,500 each; and the tags cost $.40 to $.75 each.

4.2 Accessibility to compromise

It is possible to compromise an RFID system by wrapping the protected material in two to three layers of ordinary household foil to block the radio signal. It is also possible to compromise an RFID system by placing two items against one another so that one tag overlays another. That may cancel out the signals. This requires knowledge of the technology and careful alignment.

4.3 Removal of exposed tags

RFID tags are typically affixed to the inside back cover and are exposed for removal. This means that there would be problems when users become more familiar with the role of the tags. In Indian libraries this is a major challenge to keep the tags intact.

4.4 Exit gate sensor (Reader) problems

While the short-range readers used for circulation charge and discharge and inventorying appear to read the tags 100 percent of the time, the performance of the exit gate sensors is more problematic. They always don’t read tags at up to twice the distance of the other readers. There is no library that has done a before and after inventory to determine the loss rate when RFID is used for security.

4.5 Invasion of User Privacy

Privacy concerns associated with item-level tagging is another significant barrier to library use of RFID tags. The problem with today’s library RFID system is that the tags contain static information that can be relatively easily read by unauthorized tag readers. This allows for privacy issues described as “tracking” and “hot-listing”.

Tracking refers to the ability to track the movements of a book (or person carrying the book) by “correlating multiple observations of the book’s bar code” or RFID tag. Hot-listing refers to the process of building a database of books and their associated tag numbers (the hot-list) and then using an unauthorized reader to determine who is checking out items in the hot-list.

4.6 Reader collision

One problem meet with RFID is the signal from one reader can interfere with the signal from another where coverage overlaps. This is called reader collision. One way to avoid the problem is to use a technique called time division multiple access, or TDMA. In simple terms, the readers are instructed to read at different times, rather than both trying to read at the same time. This ensures that they don’t interfere with each other. But it means any RFID tag in an area where two readers overlap will be read twice.

4.7 Tag collision

Another problem readers have is reading a lot of chips in the same field. Tag clash occurs when more than one chip reflects back a signal at the same time, confusing the reader. Different vendors have developed different systems for having the tags respond to the reader one at a time. Since they can be read in milliseconds, it appears that all the tags are being read simultaneously.

4.8 Lack of Standard

The tags used by library RFID vendors are not compatible even when they conform to the same standards because the current standards only seek electronic compatibility between tags and readers. The pattern of encoding information and the software that processes the information differs from vendor to vendor, therefore, a change from one vendor’s system to the other would require re-tagging all items or modifying the software.

5. Best Practices guidelines for Libraries

As libraries are implementing RFID systems, it is important to develop best practices guidelines to utilize the technology in best way and to keep the privacy concern away. The following may be the best practices guidelines for library RFID use:

· The Library should be open about its use of RFID technology including providing publicly available documents stating the rational for using RFID, objectives of its use and associated policies and procedure and who to contact with questions.

· Signs should be pasted at all facilities using RFID. The signs should inform the public that RFID technology is in use, the types of usage and a statement of protection of privacy and how this technology differs from other information collection methods.

· Only authorized personnel should have access to the RFID system.

· No personal information should be stored on the RFID tag.

· Information describing the tagged item should be encrypted on the tag even if the data is limited to a serial number

· No static information should be contained on the tag (bar code, manufacturer number) that can be read by unauthorized readers.

· All communication between tag and reader should be encrypted via a unique encryption key.

· All RFID readers in the library should be clearly marked.

· ISO 18000 mode-2 tags should be used rather than ISO 15693.

6. Installations

While there are over 500,000 RFID systems installed in warehouses and retail establishments worldwide, RFID systems are still relatively new in libraries. Fewer than 150 had been installed as of the 2004.

Most installations are small, primarily in branch libraries. The University of Connecticut Library; University of Nevada/Las Vegas Library, the Vienna Public Library in Austria, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and the National University of Singapore Library are the only sites that appear to have tagged more than 500,000 items each.
So far in India only two University libraries have Installed the RFID system. First among them is Jayakar Library of Pune University and second is Dhanvantri Library of Jammu University. The use of RFID throughout Indian libraries will take at least four to five years.

7. Recent Developments

Recent developments in hardware and software for RFID systems have increased the potential of this technology in library automation and security. ‘Today, the one important result for libraries is the ability to use non-proprietary systems, now that the new generation of RFID-chips with standard ISO 15693 (to be integrated into ISO 18000-3) is available,’ explains Dr Christian Kern, system development manager of Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, a Swiss company specializing in such systems for libraries. ‘With this technology, libraries do not have to depend on one single supplier for tags. As libraries make a long-term investment, which mainly consists of the quantity of tags needed, this is a very important requirement.’

8. Vendors

The products of six manufacturers of library RFID systems are available in India through their business associates: Bibliotheca, Checkpoint, ID Systems, 3M, X-ident technology GmbH represented by Infotek software and systems in India and TAGSYS— the last represented by Tech Logic, Vernon, Libsys in India and VTLS .

There are several other companies that provide products that work with RFID, including user self-charging stations and materials handling equipment.

Conclusion

It is quite clear from the above discussion that an RFID system may be a comprehensive system that addresses both the security and materials tracking needs of a library. RFID in the library is not a threat if best practices guidelines followed religiously, that it speeds up book borrowing and inventories and frees staff to do more user-service tasks. The technology saves money too and quickly gives a return on investment.

As far as privacy issue is concerned it is important to educate library staff and library users about the RFID technology used in libraries before implementing a program.

It may be good for librarians to wait and watch the developments in RFID for some time before the cost of tags comes down to $.20 or less, the figure which librarians has determined is the key to their serious consideration for the use of technology.

While library RFID systems have a great deal in common with one another, including the use of high frequency (13.56 MHz), passive, read-write tags. Lack of Standard and Compatibility of tags produced by different vendors is a major problem in implementation of RFID in Libraries. Current standards (ISO 15693) apply to container level tagging used in supply chain applications and do not address problems of tracking and hot listing. Next generation tags (ISO 18000) are designed for item level tagging. The newer tags are capable of resolving many of the privacy problems of today’s tags. However, no library RFID products are currently available using the new standard. Apart from that cost of the RFID Tags and equipment is also a major problem for libraries to implement the same in a developing country like India.

Promoting Literacy in School Libraries in Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

The heart of information literacy is contained within definitions used to describe it. Traditionally librarians have given ‘library induction’ or ‘library skills training’ in a limited role. Library users need to know where the catalogue is, what the services are, and most importantly where the inquiry desk is. This is not to reduce the value of traditional library induction, but libraries and information are also changing. The provision of information through a library in a traditional form has gone through radical alterations. Already in most library and information organizations staffs are adjusting their services with the provision of new media and access to information provision within these organizations. Thus librarians are talking about social inclusion, opportunity, life-long learning, information society and self development.

A plethora of definitions for information literacy abound in books, journal papers and the web. Some of these definitions center on the activities of information literacy i.e. identifying the skills needed for successful literate functioning. Other definitions are based on the perspective of an information literate person i.e. trying to outline the concept of information literacy. Deriving therefore a single definition is a complex process of collecting together a set of ideas as to what might be, should be, or may be considered a part of information literacy. For example Weber and Johnson (2002) defined information literacy as the adoption of appropriate information behavior to obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, together with critical awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of information in society. The American Library Association (2003) defined information literacy as a set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. While CLIP (2004) defined information literacy as knowing when and why one needs information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. Succinctly these definitions imply that information literacy requires not only knowledge but also skills in:

• recognizing when information is needed;
• resources available
• locating information;
• evaluating information;
• using information;
• ethics and responsibility of use of information;
• how to communicate or share information;
• how to manage information

Given therefore the variety of definitions and implied explanation information literacy is a cluster of abilities that an individual can employ to cope with, and to take advantage of the unprecedented amount of information which surrounds us in our daily life and work.

STRUCTURE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

Sierra Leone’s current educational system is composed of six years of formal primary education, three years of Junior Secondary School (JSS), three years Senior Secondary School (SSS) and four years of tertiary education-6-3-3-4. (The Professor Gbamanja Commission’s Report of 2010 recommended an additional year for SSS to become 6-3-4-4). The official age for primary school pupils is between six and eleven years. All pupils at the end of class six are required to take and pass the National Primary School Examinations designed by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to enable them proceed to the secondary school divided into Junior Secondary School(JSS) and Senior Secondary School (SSS). Each part has a final examination: the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) for the JSS, and the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for SSS, both conducted by WAEC. Successful candidates of WASSCE are admitted to tertiary institutions based on a number of subjects passed (GoSL,1995)

The curriculum of primary schools emphasizes communication competence and the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. At the JSS level, the curriculum is general and comprehensive, encompassing the whole range of knowledge, attitudes and skills in cognitive, affect, and psychomotor domains. The core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social studies are compulsory for all pupils. At the SSS level, the curriculum is determined by its nature (general or specialist), or its particular objectives. Pupils are offered a set of core (compulsory) subjects with optional subjects based on their specialization. Teaching is guided by the teaching syllabuses and influenced by the external examinations that pupils are required to take at the 3/ 4-year course. English is the language of instruction (GoSL,1995).

The countries two universities, three polytechnics, and two teacher training colleges are responsible for the training of teachers in Sierra Leone. The Universities Act of 2004 provides for private universities so that these institutions too could help in the training of teachers. Programs range from the Teacher Certificate offered by the teacher training colleges to the Masters in Education offered by universities. Pre-service certification of teachers is the responsibility of the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Other Academic Awards (NCTVA). There is also an In-service Teacher Training program (Distance Education Program) conducted for teachers in part to reduce the number of untrained and unqualified teachers especially in the rural areas.

LITERACY IN SIERRA LEONE

In Sierra Leone as it is in most parts of the developing world literacy involves one’s ability to read, write and numeracy. It is the ability to function effectively in life contexts. A literate person is associated with the possession of skills and knowledge and how these could be applied within his local environment. For instance a literate person is believed to be able to apply chemical fertilizer to his crops, fill in a loans form, determine proper dosage of medicine, calculate cash cropping cost and profits, glean information from a newspaper, make out a bank deposit slip and understanding instructions and basic human rights.

Literacy is at the heart of the country’s development goals and human rights (World Bank, 2007). Wherever practiced literacy activities are part of national and international strategies for improved education, human development and well-being. According to the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of 34 %. Implicitly Sierra Leone is an oral society. And oral societies rely heavily on memory to transmit their values, laws, history, music, and culture whereas the written word allows infinite possibilities for transmission and therefore of active participation in communication. These possibilities are what make the goal of literacy crucial in society.

In academic parlance literacy hinges on the printed word. Most pupils are formally introduced to print when they encounter schoolbook. School teachers in Sierra Leone continue to use textbooks in their teaching activities to convey content area information to pupils. It is no gainsaying that pupils neither maximise their learning potential nor read at levels necessary for understanding the type of materials teachers would like them to use. Thus the performance of pupils at internal and public examinations is disappointing. Further pupils’ continued queries in the library demonstrate that they do not only lack basic awareness of resources available in their different school libraries but also do not understand basic rudiments of how to source information and materials from these institutions. What is more worrisome is that pupils do not use appropriate reading skills and study strategies in learning. There is a dearth of reading culture in schools and this situation cuts across the fabric of society. In view of the current support the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) to establish literacy standards in school this situation has proved frustrating as teachers do not know how to better help pupils to achieve this goal. Thus they look up to the school librarians to play a more proactive role.

LITERACY DEMANDS ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS

In everyday situations school pupils are expected to be able to identify and seek information they need. Providing a variety of reading and writing experiences using varied materials in the school library can help develop pupils’ literacy ability (Roe, Stoodt-Hill and Burns, 2004). The mode of assessment in schools in Sierra Leone includes class exercises, tests, written and practical assignments, as well as written examinations to see pupils through to their next levels. These pupils, for example, need to read content books and supplementary materials in school for homework. Pupils have even more literacy needs in their activities outside school. They need to read signs found in their communities, job applications, road maps and signs, labels on food and medicine, newspapers, public notices, bank statements, bills and many other functional materials. Failure to read and understand these materials can result in their committing traffic violations, having unpleasant reactions to food or medicine, becoming lost, losing employment opportunities and missing desirable programs. Equally so pupils need to write to their relatives and loved ones, instructions to people who are doing things for them, notes to themselves about tasks to be completed, phone messages for colleagues and many other items. Mistakes in these activities can have negative effects on them. Good literacy skills are especially important to pupils who plan to pursue higher education studies. The job market in the country calls for pupils to be literate. For instance most jobs advertised these days require people who have completed their JSS. The fact is that workers need to be able to understand graphic aids, categorized information and skim and scan to locate information. Also the nature of reading in the workplace generally involves locating information for immediate use and inferring information for problem solving. The reading and writing of a variety of documents like memos, manuals, letters, reports and instructions are necessary literacy skills in the workplace.

SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

School libraries in Sierra Leone are perceived as integral aspect of the county’s educational system. These institutions bring together four major components of the school community: the materials, pupils, teacher and library staff. The main purpose for the establishment of these institutions in schools is to complement the teaching/learning process, if not to support the curriculum. This purpose is achieved in two ways: by providing pupils with the means of finding whatever information they need; and by developing in pupils the habit of using books both for information and for pleasure. Pupils need information to help them with the subjects they learn in school. The textbooks they use and the notes they take in class can be an excellent foundation. They may also be sufficient for revision purposes. But these could not be enough to enable pupils to write good essays of their own or to carry out group projects. School libraries then are expected to complement this effort and therefore are perceived as learning centers.

Pupils need information on subjects not taught in school. School libraries are looked upon as places pupils find information to help them in their school studies and personal development. Through these institutions pupils’ habit of using libraries for life-long education is not only developed but also school libraries could be used to improve pupils’ reading skills. In the school community both pupils and teachers use school libraries for leisure and recreational purpose and for career advancement. The culture of society is also transmitted through use of school libraries. Because of the important role school libraries play in the country’s educational system they are organized in such way that pupils as well as teachers can rely upon them for support in the teaching/learning process. Most of these institutions are managed by either a full-time staff often supervised by a senior teacher. Staffs use varied methods to promote their use including user education.

JUSTIFYING THE LIBRARIAN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PROMOTING LITERACY IN SCHOOL

A pre-requisite for the development of autonomous pupils through flexible resource-based learning approaches is that pupils master a set of skills which gradually enable them to take control of their own learning. Current emphasis in teaching in schools in Sierra Leone has shifted from “teacher-centred” to “pupil-centred” approach thereby making pupils to “learn how to learn” for themselves so that the integration of process skills into the design of the school curriculum becomes crucial (GoSL,1995). It is in this area of “learning” or “information literacy” skills that one can most clearly see the inter-relationship between the school curriculum and the school library. For pupils to become independent users of information and for this to occur it is vital that they are given the skills to learn how to find information, how to select what is relevant, and how to use it in the best way possible for their own particular needs and take responsibility for their own learning. As information literate, pupils will be able to manage information skillfully and efficiently in a variety of contexts. They will be capable of weighing information carefully and wisely to determine its quality (Marcum2002). Pupils do recognize that having good information is central to meeting the opportunity and challenges of day-to-day living. They are also aware of the importance of how researching across a variety of sources and formats to locate the best information to meet particular needs.

Literacy activities in schools in Sierra Leone are the responsibility of content area teachers, reading consultants and school librarians. Of these the role of the school librarian is paramount. As specialist the school librarian is expected to provide assistance to pupils and teachers alike by locating materials in different subjects, and at different reading levels by making available materials that can be used for motivation and background reading. The school librarian is also expected to provide pupils with instructions in locating strategies related to the library such as doing online searches and skimming through printed reference materials. The librarian is expected to display printed materials within his purview, write specialised bibliographies and lists of addresses on specific subjects at the request of teachers. He should be able to provide pupils with direct assistance in finding and using appropriate materials; recreational reading can be fostered by the librarian’s book talks or attractive book displays on high-interest topics like HIV/AIDS, child abuse, child rights, human rights and poverty alleviation. In view of this the fundamental qualities expected of the good school librarian include knowledge of his collection and how to access it; ability to understand the needs of his users more so those of pupils; ability to communicate with pupils and adult users; and knowledge of information skills and how to use information.

ROLE OF THE SCHOOL LIBRARIAN

Pupils’ success in school depends to a large extent upon their ability to access, evaluate and use information. Providing access to information and resources is a long-standing responsibility of the school librarian. The school librarian should provide the leadership and expertise necessary to ensure that the library becomes integral in the instructional program of the school. In school the librarian is the information specialist, teacher and instructional consultant. He is the interface responsible for guiding pupils and teachers through the complex information resources housed in his library (Lenox and Walker, 1993). He is looked up to assist and guide numerous users in seeking to use and understand the resources and services of the library. In this respect the school librarian should inculcate in these users such skills as manual and online searching of information; use of equipment; developing critical skills for the organization, evaluation and use of information and ideas as integral part of the curriculum (Lonsdale, 2003). The school librarian should be aware of the range of available information retrieval systems, identify that most suitable to the needs of pupils and provide expertise in helping them become knowledgeable, if not comfortable, in their use. Since no library is self-sufficient the school librarian can network with information agencies, lending/renting materials and/or using electronic devises to transmit information (Tilke, 1998; 2002).

As information specialist the school librarian should be able to share his expertise with those who may wish to know what information sources and/or learning materials are available to support a program of work. Such consultation should be offered to the whole school through the curriculum development committee or to individual subject teachers. The school librarian should take the lead in developing pupils’ information literacy skills by being involved with the school curriculum planning and providing a base of resources to meet its needs. He should be aware of key educational initiatives and their impact in teaching and learning; he should be familiar with teaching methods and learning styles in school; over all he should maintain an overview of information literacy program within the school (Herring, 1996; Kuhlthau, 2004).

Kuhlthau (2004) opined that information seeking is a primary activity of life and that pupils seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them. When therefore, information in school libraries is placed in a larger context of learning, pupils’ perspective becomes an essential component in information provision. The school librarian should ensure that skills, knowledge and attitude concerning information access, use and communication, are integral part of the school curriculum. Information skills are crucial in the life-long learning process of pupils. As short term objective the school librarian should provide a means of achieving learning objectives within the curriculum; as long term information skills have a direct impact on individual pupils’ ability to deal effectively with a changing environment. Therefore the school librarian should work in concert with teachers and administrators to define the scope and sequence of the information relevant to the school curriculum and ensure its integration throughout the instructional programs (Tilke, 2002; Birks and Hunt, 2003). Pupils should be encouraged to realize their potential as informed citizens who critically think and solve problems. In view of the relationship between the curriculum and school library, the librarian should serve on the curriculum committee ensuring that information access skills are incorporated into subject areas. The school librarian’s involvement in the curriculum development will permit him to provide advice on the use of a variety of instructional strategies such as learning centers and problem-solving software, effective in communicating content to pupils (Herring, 1996; Birks and Hunt, 2003).

Literacy could be actively developed as pupils need access to specific resources, demonstrate understanding of their functionality and effective searching skills. In this regard pupils should be given basic instruction to the library, its facilities and services and subsequent use. Interactive teaching methods aimed at information literacy education should be conducted for the benefit of pupils. Teaching methods could include an outline of a variety of aides like quizzes and worksheets of differing complexity level to actively engage pupils in learning library skills and improving their information literacy. Classes should be divided into small groups so that pupils could have hands-on-experience using library resources. Where Internet services are available in the library online tutorials should be provided. Post session follow-up action will ensure that pupils receive hands-on-experience using library resources. Teaching methods should be constantly evaluated to identify flaws and improve on them.

Further the school librarian should demonstrate willingness to support and value pupils in their use of the library through: provision of readers’ guides; brochures; book marks; library handbooks/guides; computerization of collection; helpful guiding throughout the library; and regular holding of book exhibitions and book fairs. Since there are community radio stations in the country the school librarian could buy air time to report library activities, resources and services. He can also communicate to pupils through update newspapers. Pupils could be encouraged to contribute articles on library development, book reviews and information about opening times and services. The school librarian could help pupils to form book and reading clubs, organize book weeks and book talks using visiting speakers and renowned writers to address pupils. Classes could also be allowed to visit the library to facilitate use. More importantly the school librarian should provide assistance to pupils in the use of technology to access information outside the library. He should offer pupils opportunities related to new technology, use and production of varied media formats, and laws and polices regarding information. In order to build a relevant resource base for the school community the librarian should constantly carry out needs assessment, comparing changing demands to available resources.

The Internet is a vital source for promoting literacy in the school library. The school librarian should ensure that the library has a website that will serve as guide to relevant and authoritative sources and as a tool for learning whereby pupils and teachers are given opportunity to share ideas and solutions (Herring, 2003). Through the Internet pupils can browse the library website to learn how to search and develop information literacy skills. In order for pupils to tap up-to-date sources from the Net the school librarian should constantly update the home page, say on a daily basis, if necessary. Simultaneously the school librarian should avail to pupils and teachers sheets/guides to assist them in carrying out their own independent researches. He should give hands-on-experience training to users to share ideas with others through the formation of “lunch time” or “after school support groups”. Such activities could help pupils to develop ideas and searching information for a class topic and assignment.

Even the location of the library has an impact in promoting literacy in school. The library should be centrally located, close to the maximum number of teaching areas. It should be able to seat at least ten per cent of school pupils at any given time, having a wide range of resources vital for teaching and learning programs offered in school. The library should be characterized by good signage for the benefit of pupil and teacher users with up-to-date displays to enhance the literacy skills of pupils and stimulating their intellectual curiosity.

CONCLUSION

Indeed the promotion of literacy should be integral in the school curriculum and that the librarian should be able to play a leading role to ensure that the skills, knowledge and attitudes related to information access are inculcated in pupils and teachers alike as paramount users of the school library. But the attainment of this goal is dependent on a supportive school administration, always willing and ready to assist the library and its programs financially. To make the librarian more effective he should be given capacity building to meeting the challenges of changing times.

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