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June 2, 2011

OneAmerica Launches Project to Expand English Language Learning Opportunities

Today, OneAmerica launches an innovative project that merges technology with new models for learning English in order to meet the increasing demand for learning English by immigrants and refugees.

Washington State’s immigrant population is growing rapidly yet community based organizations and community colleges that provide adult English Language Learning (ELL) programs are facing steep cuts and waiting lists are growing. OneAmerica's Innovations in English Language Learning Project (English Innovations) recognizes the core realities that immigrants want to learn English and that it benefits the entire community to help immigrants learn English. The English Innovations project aims to test new models of utilizing technology to help meet the rising demand for ELL.

“Our project provides a unique and powerful opportunity for immigrants to combine learning English with technology skills, giving them the tools they need to integrate into their community and workplace,” says OneAmerica Executive Director Pramila Jayapal.

The pilot project, supported with funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will explore how students engage and learn when receiving English instruction through a technology-based and community-centered approach. Participants will utilize a classroom setting to learn online, using dynamic e-learning programs so that technology becomes the teacher and with technology coaches on hand to help guide them through the web-based ELL programs. Students will be provided with free laptops and access to the internet for the duration of the courses, so that they can practice at home, utilizing online chat rooms and tutoring opportunities. Students will also be matched up with volunteer OneAmerica members and friends, who are native English speakers and available as online conversation partners.

This ground-breaking project focuses on mobility, technology, and community in order to create a system that functions seamlessly in the life of an immigrant. The project will be hosted at a mix of traditional and non-traditional learning sites, including work places – Sea-Tac Airport and Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, the Seattle Public Library, Renton Technical College, and St. James Cathedral.

“Providing a convenient space and incentives for our employees to learn English at work is a win-win scenario,” says Tutta Bella Founder Joe Fugere. “When employees improve their English, they enhance their personal career options, but also help strengthen our community.”

English Innovations pilots consist of two 12-week sessions featuring language courses supported by technology coaches who will guide the e-learning process and document engagement and progress. OneAmerica has developed unique partnerships for this project with technology providers , including Seattle-based Live Mocha, the world’s largest online language learning community, who will be partnering with the project to provide its ActiveEnglish course for the first session. The second session uses U.S.A. Learns, a web-based multimedia system for adults learning ESL.

Media

For more information or to arrange interviews with English Innovations participants or partners, contact Charlie McAteer, OneAmerica Communications Director, 206-452-8402, charlie@weareoneamerica.org

About OneAmerica

OneAmerica, formerly Hate Free Zone, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice by building power within immigrant communities.

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