Creating a Citizenship Class Website

Classroom with participants sitting at the desks.

Boat People SOS (BPSOS)-Houston Supplements Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Preparations by Providing Online Resources

BPSOS began serving the community by helping Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s and has since expanded its services to provide aid to immigrants, refugees, victims of trafficking, and disadvantaged students at five locations in the U.S. and three locations in Asia. Their citizenship and immigration services have helped more than 400 Vietnamese lawful permanent residents in Texas prepare for naturalization through citizenship education and naturalization application assistance. In July, 2017 BPSOS - Houston recognized their students’ need for additional practice and developed a class website through Google that has diversified the learning experience for students.

The website provides practice test questions based on the material covered in class, English reading materials, special announcements, and even make-up material for students who miss a class. BPSOS recognized that not all students feel comfortable using a computer, so instructors spend time at the beginning of each term helping students gain access to the site either through their mobile phone or by saving it to their homepage on their personal computer.

Once they have access, students can use a variety of resources on the website’s homepage. The most popular features of the website are the “Vocabulary Words” and “100 Questions” sections. Resources within these questions include a 100 Questions YouTube video for help with pronunciation and quizzes that students can use to test their knowledge of material covered in class, such as information about historical figures. The instructors have also added short sound clips with example naturalization interview questions that students can listen to and respond to out loud from home. For example, after the students learned about taxes in class, the instructor listed possible questions about taxes on the website so that students could assess their knowledge and study from home.

BPSOS also uses the tools on the website to gauge the learning progress of the students. When the students take the practice quizzes from home, the instructors are able to collect data on how well the class performed on them. This is particularly helpful for the instructor to keep track of the students’ learning comprehension and to plan what to review in class.

Finally, the students enjoy using the website and have provided positive feedback to this new addition. A former student, Le Thi Ngoc Huynh, stated, “The website is easy to learn [from], it is very clear and easy to understand.” Another student, Maria Canales, said, “I like the website because it has good information and a little of everything, like 100 questions, homework, and vocabulary.” In creating the website, BPSOS has provided an additional service to students that they requested themselves. The website allows students to continue their citizenship preparations independently and on their own time, while using the innovative tools available online.

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