EnglishHelper recently submitted an application for the TPrize 2020 Challenge focused on Latin America and the Caribbean: How can disadvantaged communities design and participate in skills-based and lifelong learning opportunities to create productive and prosperous livelihoods in the 21st century?
Latin America: the Reading Challenge and Learning English
Latin America has a reading crisis. Results from PISA 2018 reveal that, on an average, a 15-year old student from this region is three years behind in reading compared to her counterpart from OECD countries.
It is estimated that 400 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are aspiring to learn English. Studies have proven that an increase in English proficiency is potentially correlated with increased Gross National Income and GDP.
There are 70% of people who access the internet. However, only 35% of schools leverage education technology. There is sufficient evidence that technology can help solve for reading and to learn English.
RightToRead Program in Latin America
The RightToRead Program from EnglishHelper aims to improve the English reading and comprehension of millions of children globally. In Latin America, RightToRead was initially piloted in Colombia. Since then, the program has expanded to Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In Honduras, ReadToMe is used in early grades (kindergarten). Schools in Nicaragua and Honduras record high usage of the software and the general feedback from teachers is very encouraging. They like the software because it allows them to teach English more easily and, in fact, helps them to improve their own English and self-confidence.
These schools are often located in low-income and rural areas. The schools are a mix of privately owned, privately sponsored and aided by governments.
In some countries in Latin America, schools are required to include English as a second or third language. However, schools often are unable to provide students with books and do not have access to teachers with requisite English proficiency.
The RightToRead Program has demonstrated relevance and impact in the region. Learning content that is CEFR graded is found useful across schools. The multi-sensory learning methodology using ReadToMe to read books or learning content has yielded significant results in terms of students’ reading and comprehension improvement. Students are engaged and excited. Teachers feel empowered and are enthusiastic since they see visible outcomes.
Students exposed to the program demonstrate an improvement of 30%-50%. In addition, a strong correlation between program usage and outcomes has been observed.
Teachers Play a Key Role
Like any change, using technology in the classroom is not always easy for teachers. However, the RightToRead Program has found enthusiastic acceptance. The technology is simple to use. The process is integrated with the school timetable. English is an aspiration and students and teachers enjoy the demystification of English phonics with the help of the AI software. When students and teachers begin to feel comfortable reading and comprehending English, the battle is won!
Though the software is intuitive and easy to navigate, training teachers to get them started is an essential driver of success.
The Path Ahead
RightToRead is poised to expand exponentially in Latin America. The next few countries will include Peru, Argentina and Brazil. Importantly, product variants will help with quicker and wider spread across the continent. ReadToMe Student Edition, an app available on Playstore, is expected to assist students with reading English at home. ReadToMe Virtual Classroom will be a terrific opportunity to maximise teacher ‘arbitrage’ i.e. teachers will teach English to students across the physical constraints of political borders.
If English can make a difference to lives in Latin America, there is every reason to learn from success and exploit the power of technology to reach English learning to every student now.
For more details on the RightToRead Program in Latin America and the Caribbean, please visit https://solve.mit.edu/challenges/TPrize/solutions/16945
To know how to use ReadToMe pronunciation tool please click here.
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