Health Literacy Initiative is Under Way!

The Literacy Department has undertaken a new initiative to help promote Health Literacy, while of course promoting Reading and English Literacy at the same time! You may already be aware that we released a lesson plan earlier in March to coordinate with National Nutrition Month. We plan to release a second lesson for March, and more throughout the year. We hope that tutors will enjoy taking a break from the traditional teaching materials to explore some new ideas and boost language competence among our students when it comes to having the ability to discuss their healthcare and nutrition needs.

Low skill in Health Literacy is believed to be a significant factor that prevents people in the demographic that we serve from accessing healthcare. According to, “For many individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), the inability to communicate in English is the primary barrier to accessing health information and services.” And, limited literacy skills overall are considered to be an indicator that a person is less likely to seek and obtain healthcare.

For these reasons, we are trying to make a bridge between the services we already offer, and Health Literacy. We will be creating lessons and storing them in our shared drive where you can access, download, and print them whenever you would like to use them. They don’t necessarily have to be used in the month for which we create them, so feel free to try them out whenever you want a change of pace from Lifeprints, Laubach, etc.

What about Conversation Corners? They can use these materials as well. I recommend dividing up your groups into smaller groups and have them work through the activities together. The Corner host can circulate around to check on their progress and support students as they go along.

You’ll notice that we have included (Thanks, Laura!) the perennial favorite: word searches and crossword puzzles. These are great partner activities as well as at home follow-ups to the lesson. After students complete a crossword, I recommend that you ask more questions using the targeted vocabulary. These lessons are also a great opportunity for a doctor’s office role play, a grocery store role play, or any scenario where students can practice a speaking situation they may face when making health decisions.

According to national directive, any public service, including health care, receiving funding from the federal government must provide information about their services in various languages pertinent to the demographics of the area. They must also provide “plain language” information (i.e. jargon free) about their services. We can make sure we are at least providing some exposure to such “plain language” about health care and health issues. Please feel free to express any recommendations or questions in the comments, and please enjoy the lessons!

Also, FYI, the fact sheet I cited (linked below) is great lesson material.

A very special thank you to Laura for all her hard work on this month’s lessons!

Find lessons here.


Citations “Quick Guide to Health Literacy.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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