Connect Chicago Toolkit: USA Learns

Establish a smart community benchmark and toolkit for broadband access and use” is initiative four of the City of Chicago Tech Plan. The Connect Chicago program is an essential component of that initiative.


Stephen Alderson, Director of Adult Education at Instituto del Progreso Latino spoke at the last WeConnectChicago meetup to talk about their CYBER-ESL program, a blended online English as a second language  program for adult ESL learners.  One component of this program is the use of the USALearns website.

Introduction to is a website designed to help people learn English through use of videos and other education activities. The site is free to use and has three main courses to choose from.

Per their website:

U.S.A. Learns is an outgrowth of a project that was conceived by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult EducationDivision of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL).

How USALearns Works


After a quick signup process, you have the option of picking between the three different courses. If you’re unsure of where to start, you can take a short quiz asking both reading and audio comprehension questions to determine which course you can take.

For self-guided courses, the website will take the user through a guided set of classes using graphic, audio, and visual cues to help teach the English language. At the end of each course, the site will provide a short quiz. The quiz also allows for practice sessions speaking English words. The site will say a word, then use the computer microphone to record the student speaking the word. The site will play both the correct word and the students answer so the student can hear how they’re progressing.

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For teachers, you’re given a dashboard where you can create a class, print registration instructions, and monitor your students progress and download the curriculum. The teacher accounts can work across multiple classes and so for teachers in different locations, you only need one account.

How to start using USA Learns

Registration with the USA Learns website is free and easy, but students will need access to a microphone and speakers in order to take advantage of the courses.