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Uber will offer free Rosetta Stone to ride-hail and delivery drivers

Uber aims to lower the language barrier between Uber drivers and their patrons, while also giving gig workers new skills for finding other jobs.

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Uber will give drivers and delivery people free Rosetta Stone classes. 

James Martin/CNET

Uber is now offering free Rosetta Stone language classes to ride-hail and deliver drivers, the company said Thursday. It aims to make interactions between drivers and patrons easier while teaching drivers new skills that can help them find jobs beyond Uber. 

The drivers will have free access to all 24 languages Rosetta Stone offers, directly from the Uber Driver app. The partnership will be available to drivers and delivery people who have achieved gold, platinum or diamond status through the Uber Pro program in more than three dozen countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, the UK and US. Uber also worked with Rosetta Stone to develop some language education focused on interactions drivers often have with their riders.

Uber said that 82% of London's drivers and 90% of New York City's drivers are immigrants "who might benefit from language learning." And it noted that it partnership with Rosetta Stone is an effort toward a larger goal of helping drivers and delivery people find careers beyond Uber. 

This isn't the first time Uber has worked with Rosetta Stone. Last year, Uber partnered with Rosetta Stone to give riders and other Uber customers points for language learning through Uber's rewards program. If a rider earns 750 Uber reward points, the person can receive a month of Rosetta Stone language learning in one language. 

The language lessons are the latest effort by Uber to provide some perks for drivers. It offers free tuition at Arizona State University for its top drivers and delivery people. But Uber and rival Lyft also fought a hard battle in California -- and other locations -- to avoid classifying drivers and delivery people as employees. Had the gig workers gotten employee status, they would have received benefits like health insurance and paid sick leave. Instead, Uber and Lyft drivers and delivery people have independent contractor status, which comes without benefits full-time workers receive. 

Uber on Thursday said it will give drivers and delivery people letters that describe the work they've done while using the Uber app. It will be on Uber letterhead and include when they first started driving or delivering food, the number of trips they've completed, their average customer rating and top feedback they've received. 

"Drivers and delivery people can use these letters as evidence of their experience in jobs or other applications," Uber said.