In an effort to boost the speed in which English language learners could grasp and comprehend the language, the State of New York had introduced a new English language program for free. Many immigrants in the U.S., even if they have been in the country for several years, still struggle with the English language and can barely manage to hold or start a conversation. The new free program launched by the state involves English language classes given through phone and via text messages.
Simpler and faster way to learn
The new lessons are simpler and faster to learn, without requiring learners to attend physical classes that could take them away from their jobs or their work at home. Those interested to learn are required to sign up for the classes. A learner could call a number when he or she has time to listen to recorded lessons. Questions are asked throughout the lesson, which the learner could answer via text messages. This is a means to confirm that the lesson had been understood. If the answer is right, the learner moves on to the next lesson. If the answer is wrong, a coach will call the learner to explain the lesson further.
The program is low-tech and does not need a high-end smartphone to access the lessons. A basic phone will do. It is flexible so users are able to choose how fast they want to proceed with the lessons in their own time.
There are already 300 people who have signed up for the pilot program. The English language lessons by phone pilot program was launched through the Office for New Americans early this year. The lessons are provided free of charge. The signers only have to pay the phone charges for phone minutes and the receipt and delivery of text messages.
Jorge Montalvo, who is the Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity and the person overseeing the project said that they wanted the program to be as accessible as can be. Their end-goal is to help learners gain enough knowledge and skills so they could pass the English requirement included in the naturalization examination.
At the moment, signers for the lessons come from the Finger Lakes/North Country region, New York City area and from Hudson Valley. Montalvo said they would monitor the program’s progress and review the results for about one year so they would be guided if the state plans for the program to be expanded.
The lessons are provided by San Francisco Bay Area-based Cell-Ed and New York is the first state to provide funds for a cellphone language learning program specifically tailored to the immigrant populations. It will take 25 hours for a level to be finished. At the moment the classes in New York offer Level I and Level II. There is also a citizenship class. Initially the instructions start out in Spanish. As the lessons get more advanced, they shift more to English. By the end of Level II learners would be more comfortable with the language to start conversations.