POLITICS

NY becomes first state to offer English lessons via cellphone

  • A young latino speaking on a cell phone, walks past the famous building of New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street.  (Photo by Miguel Pereira/Cover/Getty Images)

    A young latino speaking on a cell phone, walks past the famous building of New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street. (Photo by Miguel Pereira/Cover/Getty Images)  (© MIGUEL PEREIRA)

  • HAVANA, CUBA - JANUARY 20:  Cubans exchange contact information with their mobile phones in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana January 20, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. Last week the Obama administration began to permit commercial shipments of devices like mobile phones and laptops, as well as related software and hardware, to Cuba to promote more open Internet access. The United States hopes that historic normalization talks this week with the Cuban government will open doors to a more open Internet in the island nation.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    HAVANA, CUBA - JANUARY 20: Cubans exchange contact information with their mobile phones in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana January 20, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. Last week the Obama administration began to permit commercial shipments of devices like mobile phones and laptops, as well as related software and hardware, to Cuba to promote more open Internet access. The United States hopes that historic normalization talks this week with the Cuban government will open doors to a more open Internet in the island nation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York will be the first state to offer English-language lessons to Spanish speakers over their mobile phones.

Cuomo announced the pilot program Monday. It's designed to help immigrants who don't have the time or means to get traditional language lessons.

The service uses audio and texts and is free — aside from typical fees for minutes and texts.

A version for Spanish-language users will be introduced first in New York City, the Hudson Valley, North Country and the Finger Lakes. Other languages could follow if the initial $14,000 program is extended.

The state is working on the initiative with Cell-ED, a company that got its start using cellphones to improve literacy.

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