CommonLit.org has been a beloved staple of reading and writing instruction in the United States since 2016, when the reading program launched as a digital platform in English. This program quickly grew through teacher word of mouth and has reached students in over 75 percent of American public schools.
In 2018, through the aid of a $3.5 million Google.org grant, our organization created an internationalized version of the CommonLit site, and wrote hundreds of lessons in Spanish as part of our full Spanish program, CommonLit Español.
CommonLit Español is core to CommonLit’s strategy, mission, and founding story. CommonLit Founder & CEO, Michelle Brown, whose mother grew up in Cuba, learned Spanish in her bilingual household and taught Spanish at the K-12 and university levels. “It’s been a dream of mine to be able to serve students in Latin America, and students in the U.S. whose primary language is Spanish. My family’s story is an immigrant story, and my mom was a dual language teacher in South Texas and was always strapped for resources. I remember when we moved to Texas, there was such a shortage of Spanish teachers. When she was picking me up from school one day, the principal asked her to get an emergency certification to teach. CommonLit Español is filling an important gap for cutting-edge education technology in Spanish.”
CommonLit Español now boasts over 800 digital reading lessons for grades 3–12 (or their international equivalents), featuring well-known hispanic authors like Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Alma Flor Ada, Horacio Quiroga, and many others. The digital library includes over 30 different genres of texts including over 400 informational texts and a wide variety of fiction including over 200 short stories and more than 100 poems. All texts in the library have related media recommendations and paired texts which support teachers in their planning, providing suggestions for discussion prompts and questions to use with students to encourage critical thinking.
We have a team based in Mexico City led by the former Director of Education at Sesame Street México, Gema Jara. Under her leadership, the team has developed dozens of partnerships with ministries of education, teachers’ unions, and NGOs in Mexico and across Latin America. Our partners include groups like UNETE, CONAFE, PRONI and DGESPE. This team also conducts important R&D to ensure the CommonLit Español program is optimized for the most marginalized students in Latin America. Philanthropic funding supports an innovative marketing and awareness campaign through popular channels in Latin America like WhatsApp, Facebook, and television.
To learn more about our work and impact in Latin America:
- Read Maestro Javier's story, a teacher in Guadalajara, México, who shares how CommonLit helped two students achieve their dreams and go to college.
- Learn more about our latest research in a QED showing the significant impact of our teacher training programs in Mexico
- Check out more resources for teachers in Spanish on the CommonLit Español blog.
Our Partners in Latin America
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, teachers around the world have had to reinvent learning through the internet. Across Latin America, CommonLit has focused efforts to spread awareness of our free services by partnering with NGOs, school networks, and ministries of education. Below is a summary of these efforts (last updated February 2023).
UNESCO — UNESCO and CommonLit partner two times a year to bring Summer Reading Challenges for students in the northern and southern hemispheres, focusing on marginalized students living in poverty throughout Latin America.
Mexico — Through a grant from Google.org, a team based in Mexico City has worked with UNETE, an NGO that outfits rural schools with high speed internet. Through this partnership, we have delivered the program to 800 high-need schools throughout Mexico, scaling our teacher training which focused on technology proficiency and best practices in literacy instruction using CommonLit. We also partnered with the Secretariat of Public Education to deliver training and curriculum to teachers across the country.
Chile — Since 2021, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chile Ministry of Education every year to disseminate the CommonLit Español platform to teachers across the country. We have also trained thousands of teachers to use our tools during monthly webinars.
Colombia — In the fall of 2020, the Ministry of Education of Colombia endorsed CommonLit Español and integrated its offline materials into its official Colombia Aprende Portal. Since then, CommonLit has supported several distance learning and low-connectivity projects to reach students without internet access. CommonLit’s openly-licensed materials eliminated the red tape involved in mass distributing educational content, and the platform supported continued education and training for educators.
Argentina– We've partnered with the Google Educator Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina to train hundreds of teachers to use CommonLit. These trainings will begin in March of 2023.
Peru — In 2020, the Peruvian Ministry of Education preloaded 800,000 tablets with a link to the CommonLit Español platform and 70 PDF lessons. These tablets went directly to students to support distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also partnered with nonprofits like APFAS and local governments like the Municipalidad de Lima to train Peruvian teachers on using CommonLit.
Honduras — We signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2021 with a USAID/EDC project called De lectores a líderes. This project reaches 400,000 students and 15,000 teachers and aims to promote literacy throughout the country. Through webinars, we are training their teachers to use CommonLit in their classrooms. We are also partnering with Learning Equality, a nonprofit organization that offers an offline-first learning platform to add CommonLit lessons and reach students that do not have internet access served by Shoulder to Shoulder, a nonprofit organization in Honduras.
Ecuador — In 2021 a link to the CommonLit Español platform was added to the official Ministry of Education platform and a letter of intent was signed. Our team trained thousands of teachers during weekly webinars organized by the ministry.
Dominican Republic — In 2020 we partnered with Fundación Glocal, an organization dedicated to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to environmental protection, to reach STEM teachers in the Dominican Republic.
Uruguay — In 2019 we partnered with ReachingU, a nonprofit in Uruguay to improve educational opportunities for students living in poverty. ReachingU has shared information about CommonLit Español through their social media accounts and via email to their teachers.