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Take me to a world in which students teach and are free to share themselves, their languages and their cultures.

If you speak English, you say city. German, stadt. Spanish, ciudad. Swahili, mji. And Finnish, kaupunki. It is easy to see why we often feel like language keeps us unable to understand one another. But language is incredibly powerful. Language connects us to a community of speakers—both the community in which the languages we know are spoken as well as the human community. Unlike city and hundreds of thousands of other words, TAXI—whether it looks like or —sounds the same in most languages. Anywhere you go, whoever you talk to, people understand TAXI. It is a word that symbolizes the powerful and important way language can connect us. TAXI to Tomorrow takes the power of language and changes lives. TAXI pairs college students studying foreign languages and cultures with recently immigrated refugee high school students in a mutualmentorship relationship. These students teach one another. We believe that the opportunity to teach, to share one’s knowledge and experience with another, is one of the most satisfying human endeavors. College students experience the languages and cultures they study outside the classroom with students who live and breathe them. Each high school student has support in their integration to NYC and their learning of English as well as the opportunity to feel that their language and their culture—who they are—is of value in their new home. As students from all over the country and the world come to NYC, we believe they should feel a special connection to this city and the people in it. As the emblem of NYC, TAXI is an invitation to explore all that the city has to offer and to feel truly at home here.

WHAT’S INSIDE Introduction // 5 Mission Core Values Vision What We Provide // 7 Who We Are // 8 The Pilot Program // 10 How to Get Involved // 16

What these black boxes are about: As you continue to learn about TAXI to Tomorrow, these black boxes will provide insight into some of the large body of research supporting the methods and aims of the program.


INTRODUCTION TAXI to Tomorrow is a non-profit mentorship program which pairs refugee, asylee and immigrant high school students with New York City college students who alternate tutoring each other in their respective languages. In two hour meetings occurring twice a week, TAXIs, the pairs of students, spend equal time working on and speaking in their respective languages. Through twice monthly cultural outings, students have the opportunity to experience the diversity of New York City. Some outings will be familiar to the college student, some will be more familiar to the high school students, and some will provide new experiences and understanding of NYC for all students.

Research shows that it takes 4-10 years for English language learners to acquire proficiency. Many high school aged English learners have not been in the country nearly this long, but must demonstrate proficiency in order to graduate. TAXI is targeted at students struggling with English who risk failing to graduate. Sessions will help students with their course work and state standardized test preparation, as well as increase their conversational comfort level in English. However, the program also offers much more: it instills confidence What these black boxes are about: and feelings of worth by reminding students who Critical Period As you continue to learn about TAXI have in many cases suffered a great deal, that they to Tomorrow, these black boxes will too have something to offer. The critical period is the time when TAXI to Tomorrow sets itself apart from other language tutoring programs because it is built on a unique model of reciprocal mentoring. Everyone benefits from a deeper engagement with the language they are learning and also contributes by sharing their own language, which can be just as rewarding. The college student participants get

provide insight into research supporting language learning is easiest and the methods and aims of the program. occurs before puberty. Students comming into the country later in life and entering secondary education have the added challenge of learning a language after this critical period. Of course, it is not impossible, but this added challenge should be met with added support.


the unique experience of learning from a peer who is a native speaker and can contextualize their language learning by experiencing and learning about a foreign culture. TAXI gives students the chance to be teachers and leader and encourages them to take pride in their multiple communities. Through sharing, students recognize that their cultures and experiences are valuable to one another. TAXI also gives students a new connection to New York City, the common thread that links all TAXI participants. Through cultural outings including visits to museums, musical performances, plays, and cultural celebrations, students will become familiar with the city and develop an appreciation for its diversity and community. TAXI seeks not only to facilitate teaching and learning, but also to create citizens who actively work to better their communities and their countries. Though the organization is inspired by New York City, expanding TAXI to other areas, especially those with large immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations, is an important long-term goal of the organization. In the future, TAXI hopes to become a trusted resource for language learners around the country. There are 5.5 million English Language Learners in the U.S. and, according to the MLA, 1.5 million college students studying foreign languages. TAXI hopes to make a difference by reaching all corners of the country.

MISSION TAXI to Tomorrow empowers adolescent refugee, asylee and immigrant students, as well college students studying foreign languages and cultures, with the confidence and tools to learn, share and feel at home in their new communities.

CORE VALUES Empowerment through teaching Cultural understanding, exchange, and diversity Appreciation for and connection to ones multiple communities

VISION A world in which students experience being extraordinary teachers and are free to share themselves, their languages and their cultures.

TAXI PROVIDES Refugee, asylee, and immigrant students with the empowering and confidencebuilding opportunity to teach their American peers College students with the unique opportunity to teach English while learning another language and culture without leaving the country A learning space without fear of judgement or persecution All participating students with the opportunity to develop a shared appreciation of diversity through the experience of New York City



WHO WE ARE TAXI to Tomorrow is about inspiring passion for learning and encouraging students to use their knowledge to make an impact on the world. In this spirit, TAXI’s leadership team is driven by this ideal.

Sarah Zapiler Executive Director Sarah graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University in May 2011 with a degree in the science and philosophy of Language. Sarah concieved of TAXI to Tomorrow’s unique model—reciprocal mentoring—and combined it with her interest in how we experience the world thorough language. At TAXI, Sarah oversees outreach and the language learning and teaching approach. She is focused on promoting the mission and vision of TAXI, ensuring the organization always works towards its goal of empowering students and simultaneously propelling TAXI into new schools, regions and states. She also works to ensure that the most successful and appropriate language teaching practices are employed.

Maggie Carter Managing Director Maggie is currently a Junior at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, working towards a B.A. in individualized Study and, as a participant in a dual-degree program, an MPA in Public and Non-Profit Management from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. At Gallatin, she studies Anthropology and


Human Rights with a regional focus on Latin America, and at Wagner, she studies International Development. Maggie, who has several years of experience in logistical organizing, runs the day-to-day elements of the organization, coordinates program operations, and serves as the communication liaison for TAXI participants. She also oversees cultural programs and researches and implements best practices for cross-cultural interaction into the program structure.

Kelley Carter Chief Advisor Kelley Carter has been teaching English language learners and students with learning differences in Dallas, Texas for ten years. She has helped many struggling student achieve success and gain self-confidence. When she began teaching Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students a few years ago, she found a passion for helping refugees and immigrants who, despite their intelligence and love of learning, could not pass the state exams and therefore fail to graduate. Her success in helping so many students of these students to pass their exams gained her the Dallas Independent School District Master Teacher Award. Kelley advises TAXI on the best practices for LEP tutoring and working with refugees. She will also will occasionally lead workshops for TAXI participants.

THE PILOT PROGRAM The pilot program of TAXI to Tomorrow will take place in the spring semester of 2012 (January to May). College students will apply and high school students will be recommended to the program by their school. The high school students will be from one school and from one or two immigrant communities. TAXI to Tomorrow staff will pair students - one college student and one high school student - into a TAXI. The pilot program will be run with between 10 and 20 TAXIs. Students will write letters to one another in their learning language about who they are and what it is they hope to accomplish as a part of TAXI before meeting their partner. An all day tutoring training session will be held with college students and an afterschool tutoring training session will be held with high school students followed by an all day TAXI training session with all TAXI participants. At biweekly tutoring meetings, TAXIs will create daily GPSs (Goals, Problems, Solutions) for themselves and will reflect on their successes and failures that day as both teachers and learners. Bimonthly program-wide culture outings will provide cultural exchange and community building opportunities for all students. A series of culminating questionnaires and interviews will be used to evaluate both the participants assessment of the program as well as to provide longitudinal linguistic competence. A culminating event will bring together all of the participants to celebrate their hard work and new-found friendships.



TAXI : A pair; one high school student and one college student. Driver : The person of the TAXI whose needs are dictating the interaction. Learning Language : The language that a student is working to master. GPS (Goals, Problems, Solutions) : Form filed out by Drivers to allow TAXIs and TAXI to Tomorrow staff to track student progress.


College Student Application TAXI to Tomorrow will interface with collegiate language and culture departments to access student bodies in order to advertise the program. Interested participants will fill out an application with contact information and short answers to several questions assessing suitability for program. When submitting the application, students agree to commit to being available from 3:30 to 6:30 either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday and to miss no more than one of the cultural events. Students will be required to submit a Language Skills Assessment completed by their most recent learning language professor and a recommendation (can be, but need not be, completed by the same professor). Initial review of the applications will assess the viability and qualifications of the applicant, paying particular attention to previous experience with tutoring and/or demonstrated understanding of effective tutoring principles. Interviews will be conducted with finalists in order to ascertain further information or clarify questions raised as a result of the application, impart the importance of consistency and commitment to the program and begin to sense what strengths and weaknesses future participants will bring to their TAXI. Once awarded a position on a TAXI, the student will need to go through a background check and fingerprinting if required by the high school.

High School Recommendation With a recommendation from the high school for students who could benefit from TAXI to Tomorrow, students and their families will be contacted and informed about the program. Contact information and consent forms will be gathered and a Language Skills Assessment will be generated by the student’s teacher. Week-day availability will be determined and a schedule of cultural exchange events will be provided so families may plan for outings. (It is our commitment that participants are not expected to incur any cost as a result of their participation and are only expected to profit from our services, so transportation costs will be covered.)


Single School Strategy While the future goal of TAXI to Tomorrow is to work with many immigrant communities in many schools, for the purposes of this pilot we will keep our focus narrow. The reason is three-fold: first, to ensure that we appropriately prepare college students for potential cultural sensitivity issues; second, to secure a space in which to hold the program that is easily accessed by the high school students (likely the high school itself) and third, to increase the meaningfulness of our measured results by keeping more variables constant.

Pairing TAXIs In order to best ensure the TAXI is beneficial for both students, several factors will be considered while forming pairs: age, gender and skill in learning language. To provide the possibility of long term tutoring relationships, TAXI to Tomorrow will aim to pair first year high school students with first year college students, second year high school students with second year college students, etc. Based on several studies in gender pairing generally and several more focused on girls in particular demonstrate that same-sex gender pairing is most effective in tutor relationships, so we will take that into consideration in the formation of TAXIs. Most importantly, however, is a good learning language pairing. Students weaker in their learning language will be paired with students who are more proficient, preventing a situation in which both students are unable to communicate enough to teach one another.

Training Sessions There will be three different training sessions before the program begins. One specifically for college drivers will emphasize training in teaching strategies tailored to Limited English Proficiency students, the importance of a positive learning environment and strategies for creating that environment, an understanding of appropriate feedback and preparation for cultural differences. One specifically for high school drivers will give them language teaching strategies with an emphasis

“A more important quality than achievement in peer tutors is the ability to instruct the tutee without making value judgements” (Rekrut 360).

on providing specific feedback as well as begin to introduce them to the process of the program including the daily routine. The final training session will bring all the students together to meet their TAXI partner and other TAXIs. The focus of this meeting will be for students to start to get to know one another and get more comfortable with one another as well as practicing specific teaching strategies learned in the previous tutoring trainings designed to avoid value judgements. At this meeting, students will also fill out an annual GPS recording their expectations and hopes for their participation in the program as well as create videos of themselves talking about what it is about TAXI to Tomorrow that excites them. These will both be used by TAXI to Tomorrow staff as tools to steer the program and as baseline data which will be used to assess each person’s progress at the completion of the program.

Tutoring Meetings Training sessions will be held in the school. Every session will be attended by at least one TAXI to Tomorrow supervisor whose role it is to facilitate the session, to be available for questions, concerns or issues and to keep notes on the progress of the TAXIs and the group as a whole. They will also provide a healthy snack for all participants for the first 15 minutes of the session. After a long day, a good snack that promotes brain health and increases the presence of complex sugars provide energy for the upcoming session.

A SAMPLE SCHEDULE 4:00 - 4:15 4:15 - 4:59 4:59 - 5:01 5:01 - 5:45 5:45 - 6:00

Snack and Daily GPS - Step 1 High school student drives Group stretch College student drives Daily GPS - Step 2 and Clean Up

While eating their snack,a TAXI works together to create a GPS for each driver. Goals are specific to that day’s session and problems and solutions specific to that day’s goal. “Problems”



is intended to be a wide ranging category including, for example, a book being forgotten at home, previous inability to successfully complete a similar goal and resulting lack of confidence or sleepiness. GPS forms focus TAXIs on attainable goals for each session and encourage preparation for and anticipation of challenges. Part of designing the GPS is a determination of which student will drive the meeting first. After 44 minutes of tutoring, the TAXI to Tomorrow supervisor will lead the group in a stretch. Stretching to increase blood flow and to provide a transition time between drives will allow both students to stay refreshed as the other driver takes over. After 44 minutes of tutoring with the other driver leading, students fill out the second part of their daily GPS reflection on their performance as teachers and learners. While it might be expected that the tutor would reflects on their tutee’s performance and that the person who needs help is a passenger, we emphasize the importance of moving toward an ability to self-direct learning situations to encourage meta-awareness of linguistic competence.

At the end of the session, TAXI to Tomorrow supervisor will ensure all GPS forms are properly filed, all TAXI files are together and her daily notes for that day’s session are filed as well. Along with paperwork, all supplies brought to the school will be “Self-managed/ self-directed learning requires the learner to accounted for. If the school assess accurately and to manage actively his or her learning permits materials to be stored goals, behaviors, environment, and outcomes. Results of there, they will be left for the experiments in self-directed language learning include next session. If not, the TAXI to increased productivity, higher motivation, less frustration, and higher retention rates when self-directed language Tomorrow supervisor will take learning is allowed.” everything with them when William P. Rivers they leave. Autonomy at All Costs: An Ethnography of Metacognitive Self-Assessment and Self- Management

Cultural Outings Through twice monthly cultural outings, students have the opportunity to experience the diversity of New York City. Some outings will be familiar to the college student, some will be more familiar to the high school students, and some will provide new experiences and understanding of NYC for all students. Through visits to museums, musical performances, plays, and cultural celebrations, students will become familiar with the city and develop an appreciation for its diversity and a relaxed environment for cultural exchange. Additionally, events will build the TAXI to Tomorrow community as a whole as well as develop community building opportunities for students who attend the same places of learning.

Metrics A series of culminating questionnaires and video interviews will be used to evaluate both the participants assessment of the program as well as to provide longitudinal linguistic competence. A culminating event will bring together all of the participants to celebrate their hard work and new-found friendships.



HOW TO GET INVOLVED Like what you see? Want to participate? Have a suggestion or a question? GREAT! You can contact Sarah, Maggie or Kelley by sending an email to: You can also contact TAXI to Tomorrow at 720 231 1030


TAXI Pilot Program  

This brochure introduces and explains the pilot program of TAXI to Tomorrow

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