October 26, 2020

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard, in collaboration with UMass graduate and undergraduate students and the International Language Institute in Northampton, MA, has recently published a new driving curriculum

This driving curriculum is the result of a community partnership between Professor Rebecca Lorimer Leonard and her students at University of Massachusetts Amherst and the International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI) in Northampton, a non-profit community language school. The driving curriculum’s ten lessons, free and available online, teach learners the language and literacy skills necessary to navigate the RMV process of applying for a driver’s license in Massachusetts. The curriculum covers everything from how to navigate necessary documentation, what to do at the RMV, and how to study for the RMV written and road test. Importantly, the curriculum treats “language and literacy skills” not just as vocabulary or terms to be learned but also the social practices and insights that drivers, particularly those who experience heightened discrimination and danger on U.S. roads, need to know.

With deep thanks to the following participants who contributed to designing this curriculum:

International Language Institute of Massachusetts staff

  • Caroline Gear, Executive Director
  • Macey Faiella, Director of English Programs
  • Laura Robinson, FEP Coordinator
  • Geordie Morse, ESOL Instructor
  • Michelle Walch, ESOL Instructor
  • Amy Ben-Ezra, Volunteer Tutor Program Coordinator, Educational Counselor for FEP, Host Family Coordinator for Intensive English and TESOL Programs

UMass Amherst team

  • Rebecca Lorimer Leonard, Associate Professor, English Department
  • Danielle Pappo, English Department graduate student
  • Kyle Piscioniere, English Department graduate student
  • Ashley Canter, English Department graduate student
  • Undergraduate students from English Department course 391ml “Multilingualism and Literacy in Western Massachusetts”: Stacey Cusson, Pavithra Devarajan, McKayla Lovering, Lauren Murphy, Kate Pfeil, Garrett Sager, Emma Shaw, Sarah Spillane