(reviewed Winter 2010)
Reviewer: Amy Altmiller
U.S.A. Learns is a Web site that provides practical video instruction for adults to learn English and improve basic skills in reading, writing, speaking, and life skills. Each lesson contains short videos of classroom instruction or scenarios that support the grammar or vocabulary lesson. Quizzes and an opportunity to record one's voice for playback are also provided. The lessons consist of the First English Course (Beginning English skills), Second English Course (Low-Intermediate English skills), and Practice English and Reading ( Intermediate reading skills). This site was developed by the Sacramento County Office of Education in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL). Core funding for the site was provided by ED and additional funding was made available by the California Department of Education, Office of Adult Education.
I highly recommend including this site in your bookmarks. This is a great site for self-study for the adult ESL student. The material is well-organized and proceeds at a nice pace and is very user-friendly. In the lessons, the student is able to read the text and listen to it at the same time, which is very helpful. The videos, the vocabulary, and the grammar are all relevant and useful for an adult who is learning English while also having to work and live in an English speaking community. The material that the site covers is practical, so that the process of learning English grammar and vocabulary is integrated with adult life such as working, parenting, and being a member of the community. I just started using this site with an ESL learner that I am tutoring and she likes it so far. She does not have a computer at home and is not computer literate, so we work on it together. If an ESL student has a computer or is computer literate, this is a great resource for supplementary study. The one drawback to this otherwise great site is that some of the video has very low volume. It is not true for all of the videos, but it can be a distraction to have to strain to hear the voices on the videos with low volume.
Subject Headings: ESL students, self-study, grammar, vocabulary, video