Instituto piloted a new ESL model combining a traditional online program, real-time video-chat and online interaction between teachers and classmates, classroom sessions, and a unique set of supports and enrichments.
Independent researchers found that 58% of students advanced one or more grade levels during the 16-week period, a substantial gain over traditional ESL courses. In addition, Cyber-ESL students advanced 26.42 points in Listening and Speaking (compared to 5.93 in the comparison group) and 23.89 in Reading and Writing (compared to 7.38).
Feedback from students was resoundingly positive in accommodating their scheduling needs, providing unique support, and providing a space to learn free from embarrassment. For example:
- “It’s funny that this is a virtual program, but yet there is a lot human interaction and personal attention to help you. I feel that is a very strong style of this program.”
- “Cyber-ESL was perfect for me because I could have managed my time much better. I had been watching my mom during the day, and I been working part-time on the evening.”
Thanks to support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Cyber-ESL was launched in response to the significant gap in ESL programming. At the time, adult education providers had the capacity to serve 15.7% of potential ESL students statewide. Further, traditional classes often have ridged schedules and require travel, making student retention difficult given their work and family needs.
The research findings are significant and demonstrate a potential solution to reach millions of English language learners across the country and address the need for quality, customizable programming, allowing them to quickly advance their language skills and in turn, advance their economic potential and security.
Learn more about the program and related research here: