Learn to Earn Toolkit

A free online resource for intermediate and advanced adult learners of English and basic skills

Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
National Center for Families Learning
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material

Learn to Earn Toolkit is a free online resource created to guide adult learners in building employability skills. Created in response to the report Are They Really Ready to Work?, the Toolkit addresses 10 in-demand employability skills. Skills included in the toolkit were rated by reported survey respondents as both very important and deficient in new employees entering the workforce with a high school education. The skills to master include: 

  • Critical Thinking
  • English Language
  • Oral Communication
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Teamwork
  • Diversity
  • Information Technology Application
  • Professionalism
  • Social Responsibility
  • Written Communication

Website content is presented at intermediate and advanced ELL levels, which correspond to intermediate and advanced basic skills for adult basic education. Learners can choose their learning level as they access content. Students and teachers can create free accounts allowing them to track progress.

Online toolkit topics are introduced with an overview that includes:

  • Introduction to the topic
  • Specific mention of a job that uses the skill
  • Links to three related lesson articles, which includes:
    • Informational text about the featured skill
    • Specific mention of a job that uses the skill
    • Highlighted vocabulary and one featured idiom with definitions
    • Mastery quiz for comprehension and vocabulary
    • Extension activity ideas to continue learning

Offline instructor resources provide ideas for using the toolkit:

  • Summary of the topic and related articles
  • Adult education ideas for speaking (S), listening (L), reading (R), and writing (W)
  • Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time® and Family Service Learning connections
  • Vocabulary word wheel and idiom lists for advanced and intermediate levels for each article
What the experts say

Learn to Earn Toolkit is well organized and practical for implementation. It features lessons in ten employability skills that employers hold in high value and can be used across all adult education programs regardless of their location. The Toolkit has an outstanding base of resources to draw from education and workforce skills. It is a good example of a distance learning tool enhanced with suggested classroom activities and a teacher-enabled portal. It can also be characterized as an employability tool with links to family literacy. The ten lessons include well-curated links to other online adult education resources including TV411 videos, Skills to Pay the Bills videos, and GCFLearnFree.org lessons.

More work is needed on this resource to make it useful for the individual learner. If teachers would like to use it in the classroom, they would need to design wrap-around activities that follow adult learning principles and standards. The reading, listening, and vocabulary levels of the materials are quite advanced. Although there are designated intermediate and advanced level lessons, videos, and multiple choice tests, there appear to be no difference between the levels. Indeed, the level of language used for English language learners, for all the materials, including the English language lessons, was easily NRS level 5 or above.

For example, in the intermediate level lesson on thinking creatively, learners watch a YouTube video and answer questions. At the advanced level, users are asked to simply look at some creative inventions on a YouTube video that has no oral language, and write an essay or discuss their ideas about these inventions. This is arguably an easier task than that given to the intermediate level, as it is more personal, and the language used is under the learners’ control. It is a relatively easy task for a learner to react personally to something. It is harder to discuss the text itself and find all the answers in there.

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