New Mobile App to Serve ELLs on the Go

Industry News
The app, created as part of the Adult Literacy XPrize Competition, delivers literacy instruction for a wide range of English learners

Learning Upgrade, an innovative ed tech company providing digital, differentiated literacy curriculum designed for English language learners (ELLs), today announce the launch of a mobile app to increase accessibility and expand offerings to a wide range of English learners.

The app enables students to access Learning Upgrade’s high-interest musical lessons on their own using any device, including phones and tablets. With the app, Learning Upgrade aims to improve students’ time on task by no longer limiting them to sitting in front of a computer. ELLs of all ages are now able to work through lessons anytime and anywhere.

“Low-literate, low-income adults often do not have computer and internet access at home. However, about 75% of them do own a smartphone,” said Vinod Lobo, co-founder and CEO of Learning Upgrade. “If effective learning can be delivered through smartphones, more ELLs can ‘self-serve’ by downloading the program on to their phone, signing in, and making progress. This way, millions of learners that are not served by schools or adult education can finally receive quality literacy instruction.”

The app is part of the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPrize Competition, designed to address the 36 million low-literate adults in America. The competition challenges teams to develop mobile applications that result in the greatest increase in literacy skills among participating adult learners in just 12 months. The solutions will overcome key barriers to literacy learning by improving access, increasing retention, and scaling to meet demand.

“As the needs of our nation evolve, so must our educational resources. We are ready and willing to collaborate with any school or organization interested in improving English language proficiency among ELLs,” said Lobo. “Thanks to technology, we are able to reach even more ELLs and promote English proficiency in the United States.”

The Learning Upgrade app includes more than 300 sequenced lessons including topics on phonics, decoding, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and listening. The curriculum includes engaging songs, videos, games, and rewards that encourage all learners to achieve mastery. Each lesson provides practice problems accompanied by immediate intervention and remediation with multimedia supports. Students can repeat lessons until they master them, earning a gold certificate when they become proficient in each of the standard’s benchmarks.

Adult learners at Sweetwater Adult Education in Chula Vista, California, are already using the app on students’ personal smartphones as part of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The innovative blended learning approach combines instructor-led classes and on-site computer labs with at-home smartphone use. Instructors can track a learner’s progress and assess their literacy skills regardless of where the learner completes their lessons. The goal is to accelerate what is often a long path to proficiency, so that English Learners can qualify for GED, technical, and community college classes.

The app is available now as a free download from the Google Play Store, with Apple App Store access planned for release later this year.



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