Each year, there is the potential for a student from the Hamilton Literacy Council to be awarded The Hamilton Spectator Adult Learner Literacy Award.  The award is presented at ABEA’s annual Leaders in Literacy Breakfast event which will be held virtually again this year, on June 10th. This award celebrates the achievements of adult learners who embody the spirit of lifelong learning and show commitment in moving towards their goal(s). This year we are happy to announce that Noura Mahamat will be receiving the award as recognition of her determination and achievements.  Please keep an eye out for the video which we will post to our website following the LLB event.  In the meantime, take a moment to learn a little bit about Noura.

Noura entered the Hamilton Literacy Council program to better understand what she was reading, to be able to express herself more clearly verbally and in her writing and, tackle math, a subject she really did not like.  For Noura who grew up in Chad and came to Canada as an adult only a few years ago, learning is something she is doing for herself. Her schooling was often interrupted as a child, and she was not given the opportunity to continue her education after grade school. Noura set several goals for herself: upgrade her skills to achieve her High School diploma, pass her Canadian citizenship test and find better employment, possibly even having her own business one day.

Noura has persevered even after having to take a few breaks from learning for personal reasons and she recognized that she learnt best when working with a tutor even though she had enjoyed the small group classes, which made her feel less alone in her learning. Noura has been fortunate to have been working very well and consistently with her current tutor, for the past 18 months. She has proven to be adaptable working remotely with her tutor during this pandemic and acquiring new technical skills along the way.

One of the things that surprised Noura was her ability to understand math concepts.  Starting with the basics, she was soon completing a book every 3-4 weeks.  She wondered how it was possible to do so well when she really did not like the subject or thought she did not.  Noura is now learning about decimal fractions and the next level introduces Algebra – she has come a very long way because she was open to the possibility of learning something new.
Teachings come from everywhere when you open yourself to them.  That’s the trick of it, really. Open yourself to everything and everything opens itself to you.*

Noura had been working diligently with her tutor and on her own for the last few months, studying for the Citizenship test which included online practice tests.  She did not have basic computer skills when she entered our program but despite her anxiety, this is another essential skill that she wanted to learn. On March 26th, Noura took the test, online and passed!  Noura has made us all very proud, including her tutor, for achieving this goal. She is very excited to receive her Certificate and share the news she is a Canadian citizen.

When talking with Noura, it is apparent that her improvements have given her more confidence and she is also better able to express herself.  She is very motivated to learn and is continuing to manage her learning by seeking guidance on how she can best achieve her goal of a High School diploma and, asking questions about other programs available, to help her with future employment goals.  While in our program, Noura has also successfully completed several Milestones as part of the OALCF (Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Framework). These accomplishments highlight the progress she has made since she first came to us, she truly is an inspiration.

* Richard Wagamese (1955-2017), an Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario and one of my favourite authors. Quoted from his beautiful book of meditations, Embers.


At the HLC, one of the reading strategies that we use with learners is the technique Cloze.  Some of our tutors have found this powerful tool helpful to use with their students because it forces a reader to surmise the meaning from what is on the page and then make logical predictions about what is not there.  This is done through grammatical and contextual clues.  The reader develops prediction skills, it helps teach and test comprehension, assess the readability of material and reinforces grammatical concepts.  You can have a lot of fun creating this activity and below is an example of one that you can try to decipher.


Most of us started out wearing socks when we were infants. No baby shower seems complete without the opportunity to ooh and aah over the cuteness of these            offerings.  Many of us have a designated sock             and now our choices can reflect our                 ranging from the unique, crazy, and fun novelty socks to the utilitarian.  Socks are created in various lengths and                , from which we can also choose an assortment of          , patterns and themes.  There is also a pair of                 for each occasion and               , such as dress socks, sport socks, business socks, thermal socks, compression socks, running socks, ankle socks,                  socks, hiking socks, tube socks, toe socks and reading socks, to name a few.  It is                  when you consider the evolution of the sock from their              beginnings.  Yet, the one thing that they have in common, is their curious                 to lose their mate.  How many lone socks do you have              in your dresser anticipating the day that the pair can be reunited once again?  Perhaps one day, the mystery will be solved.

Suggested words: 1) tiny 2) drawer 3) personality 4) sizes 5) colours 6) socks 7) function 8) knee 9) astounding 10) humble 11) ability 12) resting   In some cases, different words may apply, did you come up with other options?

If you wish to know a little more about socks and learn one of my family’s secrets, read on!

Socks have become a staple of our wardrobe, but they are often the most overlooked part when assembling an outfit.  Have you ever wondered about the origin of socks?   It seems they have a long history dating back to the Ancient Greeks who utilized matted animal fur to wrap their feet.  Leather strips were tied around the Roman’s feet until they started sewing together pieces of fabric to make fitted socks.  Egyptians however, created the knitted sock featuring split toes and these were designed to wear with sandals.  An unfortunate trend that can still be seen today, but that is just my opinion!

Several people attest that their socks have been absorbed within the hungry bowels of the washer and are forever lost.  Others declare the dryer is responsible for splitting up numerous pairs and banishing one sock to another realm.  In my home, many of these socks do not even make it to the washing hamper before their disappearance is noted.  My stepsons have the unusual habit of removing one sock (although on rare occasions, it will be both), and stuffing it between the cushions wherever they happen to be sitting.  And there they stay unless their dad or I notice the dudes happy to be walking around with one foot exposed and implore them to begin a search party at once. It seems they come by this quirk naturally. Their dido (grandfather in Ukrainian) was famous for leaving his socks rolled up in the couch cushions, which confounded my mother-in-law throughout their life together.  Ah the wonder of socks!