Learning Upgrade, an ESL/ESOL app developed by an XPRIZE Adult Literacy Team, now available

Technology and Learning, and English Language Learning Colleagues,

Perhaps like me you missed the February 22nd Digital Promise webinar on an adult ESL/ESOL smartphone or electronic tablet app called Learning Upgrade. However,  I just watched the one-hour archived version. It's an engaging presentation of the app. The publisher quickly presents it, then, there's a short, interesting video about it. Live teachers and students at a Chula Vista California adult ESL program describe how they have used the app and what they think of it. A tech coordinator joins the conversation, and then they all answer webinar participants' excellent, practical questions.

This app was developed by a team competing for the XPRIZE adult literacy prize. Since they developed their product last September, well before the March 2017 deadline, they have already begun testing it on their own with at least the Chula Vista adult ESL program.

The smartphone app (for Android and IOS platforms) is designed to be used in three ways: 1. with an adult ESL/ESOL class (which is what is discussed in this webinar); 2. in a volunteer ESL/ESOL tutoring program, for example in a library, where the volunteer is not necessarily an extensively trained and/or experienced ESL/ESOL teacher; and 3. eventually, for adult English language learners to purchase and use on their own without a teacher or tutor. 

When I went to the Learning Upgrade blog site, I noticed that they offer teachers a free trial of the app for up to 20 students, for three months. After that, individual students can get an app license for $30/year and schools or programs can buy a school license for $50 per student per year, for a minimum of 200 students. The school license comes with some other features.

This is not an endorsement of the product, of course. I have no experience using it with adult ESL/ESOL learners; all I know about it is from the one-hour webinar and their website. However, I am encouraged by the responses of the teachers, students and tech coordinator featured in the webinar, and by the app examples I saw. For some ESL/ESOL programs it might be worth trying out through a free trial. I am reminded that there may be dozens of interesting, perhaps engaging and effective adult learning apps available soon as a result of the XPRIZE Adult Literacy Prize competition. I eagerly await seeing more of them.

I believe the next step in the XPRIZE Adult Literacy competition is a jury that will select the winning app(s), and then these will be tested out in (last I heard, three) large cities. As the XPRIZE Foundation representatives frequently point out, there may as a result of the competition be other new adult-focused adult literacy and English language learning apps, not just those that are finalists or winners of the prize. I think we can expect over the next year or more to hear about many new apps that may be of interest to adult basic skills (including ESL/ESOL) teachers, tutors, and program administrators who are looking for new smartphone - based learning apps to integrate with and supplement their adult literacy and adult ESL face-to-face learning.

Did you see this webinar -- or if you watch it now -- what are your thoughts about this app -- or about the integration of smartphone apps with face-to-face adult ESL/ESOL learning?

If you try this out with your students, let us know what you think.

If you or your students are aware of other adult ESL/ESOL beginner, high beginner or intermediate level apps for smartphones, tell us about them.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Technology and Learning CoP