Using computers to teach English

Article "Tech know" -  SANJAY GUPTA and  PRIYA VISWANATH.

Good idea.... bad design???

"The audio-visual ‘lab’ was equipped with a solar-powered E-prashala (a multi-purpose educational computer). D.S. Athave, the English teacher, opened the textbook — digitised and available on the reading platform — and asked the Std. VIII students to read. They read along with the voice on the software. Later the teacher encouraged them to read without the voice. Slowly the class began to read the textbook. When they found it difficult to pronounce words — the chapter was on Sherlock Holmes! — Athave used the syllabification tool and the students learnt to pronounce ‘Holmes’. During the 40-minute class, comprehension tools — the dictionary and picture dictionary, the vernacular list in Marathi — were used. Colleagues who were visiting with us then engaged the students in conversation."

On one hand, it is indeed an excellent idea. using computers to create and provide audio books (digitised materials) can help students in language learning.

Launched in 2013, as a partnership between Dell, American India Foundation and EnglishHelper™, RightToRead initially covered 100 government schools in six states touching the lives of 20,000 students and 1000 teachers. The results were very encouraging! A White paper — Large Scale Multi-Sensory ELL Learning — details the improvement of reading and comprehension skills of students.

How does it work? The operating model is built on simple and pragmatic principles: Ensuring implementation by effecting minimum change (use of prescribed textbooks during normal school hours by existing teachers), rigorous programme governance (training, usage and class room observations) and learning outcome assessments by qualified, independent agencies.

RightToRead, in essence, is addressing a challenging goal. The key is to build a coalition of partnerships. Eventually governments must lend support through policy and resource allocation, NGO partners must enable transparency and the private sector will provide innovative solutions and execution rigor.