The literacy program at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church has two parts: Adult Basic Education (ABE) Tutoring and English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes. Our mission is to improve the lives of adults by improving their literacy skills.

Both the ABE and the ESL programs are always looking for additional volunteers! You don’t need any teaching experience, only a willingness to help. We are happy to work with you to provide all the skills and resources you need to be successful. More information about each program can be found below.

Adult Basic Education (ABE) Tutoring

The Adult Basic Education program serves adult students at all skill levels. ABE students are fluent in English, but some are just learning to read. Other ABE students read well but want to improve their writing skills. This is a very popular program and we almost always have more students than available tutors. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, we can almost certainly find a way you can help!

It can sound intimidating if you’ve never tutored before, but we will teach you everything you need to know. You will observe at least four classes before deciding if you are ready to work one-on-one with a student. We will provide all the books and teaching materials you will use in the lessons. You can meet students face-to-face at church, the public library, or even Starbucks. If face-to-face doesn’t work out, you can meet with students online over Zoom. Typically, meetings last about an hour and happen once or twice a week. Some students want to meet in the morning, others in the evenings, and we will work with your schedule when matching you with a student.

For more information about volunteering or observing an ABE lesson, contact Jon Durbin or Scott Wylie at You can fill out an interest form for tutoring. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions, both Jon and Scott would be happy to talk further about the program!

English As A Second Language (ESL) Classes

The ESL branch of our literacy program focuses on helping students improve their English conversational skills. These students seek both to understand native speakers and to be understood themselves. These skills help them communicate with health professionals, their children’s teachers, co-workers, and neighbors.

Classes are offered during the day and evening on most weekdays. In-person classes occur at the church and the Leander Library. Zoom classes are also offered.

The materials used for the ESL classes have students talking most of the time. This gives the teacher plenty of opportunities to help them with their pronunciation. Additionally, students have the opportunity to improve their pronunciation by recording short passages (3-15 min.) from online books. Volunteers listen to these recordings and provide students with feedback.

Students are assessed and placed in either beginning or intermediate classes. A typical class starts with students sharing a short English conversation they had during the week. The other students ask follow-up questions. Students love this part of the class; they get to know each other, offer support, and quickly become more confident speaking in English. They also love sharing a picture and telling the class about it. It can be something from their country, their family, or anything of interest to them.

Teachers and assistants are provided training and work with experienced teachers until they feel ready to work on their own with an assigned student.

Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Helping with one of the 2-hour classes. We have in-person and Zoom classes during the day and evening.
  • Creating PowerPoint presentations.
  • Listening to students’ recordings and writing a short note identifying words that need pronunciation practice.
  • Meeting once a week with one or more students via Zoom and listening to them read online books.
  • Placing tabs on students’ notebooks.
  • Xeroxing material.

For more information about volunteering, observing an ESL class, or more information about listening to student recordings contact Mary Hengstebeck (512-983-7009, or fill out this interest form.