Program uses LeapPad children’s learning tool to teach English

There have been plenty of programs that teach English to Hispanic adults, but until now, none of them have ever used a popular children’s learning tool.

With the influx of Hispanic workers into the United States, many industries face an ever-increasing language barrier when it comes to communicating with their Hispanic workers and having those workers communicate with customers. For this reason, California-based Retention Education developed a program called Sed de Saber, which uses Quantum LeapPad technology to teach Hispanics communication tools that help them get ahead in the foodservice and hospitality industries. Now, a similar program geared towards the construction industry is on the way.

Sed de Saber elevates the user’s English skills to a functional third-grade level by using LeapFrog interactive technology. This technology uses a LeapPad, an interactive electronic book that allows the user to point at various objects on the pages with an electronic pen for a detailed description. The pad also allows the user to hear a story and play games depending on which cartridge and book are installed on the pad. Along with teaching the user basic English, vocabulary and phrases relevant to work are also taught.

“The first six books teach general English, normal nouns and phrases, everyday life kinds of things,” says Dave Henninger, senior vice president of Retention Education. “It teaches the user how to call in sick, how to read a schedule, how to talk to your boss, how to talk about time. Things that are generally applicable to any kind of work.”

The program can be used at home, at the employee’s own pace and convenience, and can be completed in less than six months. The kit includes six books, six cartridges and a LeapPad.

“We are now in the process of launching this product for the construction industry,” Henninger says. “We have been flooded with construction company inquiries from roofing companies to general contractors to unions.”

To tailor a program towards the construction industry, a seventh or eighth book would be added targeting specific areas of expertise. For example, electricians would receive a seventh book dedicated entirely to wiring and junction boxes. Because the world of construction is filled with so many different trades, books specific to roofing, concrete, general contracting, painting, carpentry, etc. may have to be created.

“Right now, we are letting our minds open up to all these different opportunities,” Henninger notes. “Clearly there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of limited English proficient Hispanic workers in the construction industry and we are going to make a big difference.”