USA Learns is an online program for Spanish-speaking adults interested in learning to read, speak, and write in English. It was created by the U.S. Department of Education in cooperation with the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) and the Project IDEAL Support Center at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.
How Does USALearns Work?
USAlearns uses many multimedia tools that allow learners to read, watch, listen, interact, and even practice conversation online. The program includes modules on each of the following topics:
- Life Skills in English
In each module, you will watch videos, practice listening, and record your own voice speaking English. You will also be able to:
- Listen to the correct pronunciation of words
- Listen to sentences and check your understanding
- Record your voice to be sure you are speaking correctly
You'll also be able to actually practice conversations with a video-based person in real-world situations. For example, you'll be able to practice answering questions, asking for help, and making conversation. There is no limit to the number of times you can practice the same conversation.
What You Need to Know About Using USALearns
You must register to use USALearns. Once you register, the program will keep track of your work. When you log on, the program will know where you left off and where you should start.
The program is free, but it does require access to a computer. If you want to use the talk-back and practice features of the program, you will also need a microphone and a quiet place in which to practice.
When you complete a section of the program, you will have to take a test. The test will tell you how well you did. If you feel you could do better, you can go back, review the content, and take the test again.
Pros and Cons of USALearns
Why USALearns is worth trying:
- It's absolutely free!
- It uses well-regarded teaching tools that are used in school settings
- It allows you to learn in different ways -- by listening, reading, watching, and practicing
- There is no one watching, so if you make a mistake you will not be embarrassed
- If you need to repeat something, you can do so as often as you like
- The program allows you to practice real-world vocabulary and situations
Drawbacks to USALearns:
- Like all web-based programs, it can only teach you what it is programmed to teach. If you want to learn skills or language not included in the program, you will have to go elsewhere.
- The program does not include new or unexpected situations.
- There are advantage to working with real people who can help you with particular challenges you may face
Should You Try USALearns?
Because it is free, there is no risk to trying the program. You will certainly learn something from it, even if you still need to take additional ESL classes from live teachers.