Humans can express an infinite set of ideas using a limited set of language symbols. Language Acquisition is the process by which humans acquire the ability to perceive, communicate and comprehend in a language. Children learn their First Language in stages, beginning with babbling and gradually achieve complete linguistic comprehensibility. Second-Language Acquisition is a different process from learning the first language.
Linguistic and neuroscience research has tried to understand the most effective methods of language acquisition. Recent studies have been inclined towards the use of multi-sensory and technology-enabled approaches to language learning. Self-learning of second languages like English is possible with the right tools and methods.
Multi-Sensory Learning for Language Acquisition
Advanced research in neuroscience suggests that Multi-sensory Structured Learning Education (MSLE) has great potential to improve the methodical acquisition of language skills. We experience the world in the form of multi-sensory stimulations in our everyday lives. In the real world, information is available in physical, auditory and visual forms, which gets easily integrated and interpreted by our brains. Therefore, it is likely that the human brain is capable of developing, learning and operating effectively in a multi-sensory environment.
MSLE uses the idea that languages are learnt optimally in a multi-sensory environment. It promotes active student engagement to enhance learning. And the approach makes way for learning that is systematic and sequential. MSLE can be used in a variety of settings where students are learning to read. It can be used for students in groups or individuals looking for focused learning. The importance of this approach lies in its versatility within different learning environments. This structured approach provides evidence-based reading instruction that includes all components of reading (phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) presented in a systematic and sequential fashion.
Technology-Enabled Learning for Language Acquisition
The role of technology-enabled tools in the development of second language learning is gaining recognition from educators and policy-makers for its ability to provide solutions for classroom, group or individual learning environments. Studies worldwide have demonstrated the impact of different technologies on English language learning, and the results have shown promising improvements in the language acquisition of participants.
Numerous studies suggested that the use of visual media supported vocabulary acquisition, reading and comprehension, and helped increase achievement scores. Research worldwide has proved the credibility of technology-enabled learning tools. The question that remains unsettled for many is how to integrate technology into classroom instruction.
The RightToRead Intervention
English in India is an aspirational language. Studies have shown that higher English language proficiency is linked to better education and job opportunities. However, achieving English literacy and proficiency is still a challenge for many.
The RightToRead program is aimed at improving English literacy in government schools in India. The program deploys multi-sensory reading and comprehension AI software (ReadToMe®) in schools to enable students to improve their English reading and comprehension skills. ReadToMe® provides a multi-sensory learning environment which enhances the learners’ engagement and improves the ability to retain new learnings. The software is trained to read curriculum prescribed textbooks. It empowers learners to develop vocabulary, comprehension and pronunciation. The use of the software is easily integrated into the school timetable for the regular English periods. With the use of this software, teachers achieve their syllabus goals without additional investment of time.
RightToRead was launched in 2013 in 100 schools. The program is now deployed in 25,000 schools reaching 8 million students. When schools return to normalcy, expansion projects that are currently suspended, will be resumed thus enhancing RightToRead footprint to 100,000 schools within 2020.
The RightToRead implementation model leverages existing infrastructure and teaching personnel. The program operates with strong partnerships between service providers and with NGOs, governments, local authorities and community. RightToRead is an evidence-based program. Assessments conducted in schools across India have demonstrated that students, in ReadToMe® enabled classrooms, improve beyond 50% in English reading and comprehension with sustained exposure to the program.
Going Forward – New Ways
The current COVID 19 crisis has forced the closure of schools. While schools catering to students from higher-income echelons have swiftly swivelled to online learning, this has not been possible for the vast majority of government schools. RightToRead has already demonstrated the use of technology in the classroom is a democratic opportunity. Now the goal is to create affordable, online and self-learning solutions to enable schools and students at the lower end of the economic pyramid. Will this pandemic force a true transformation leading to wide-scale technology-enabled learning? We believe it is necessary and possible.
To know how to use ReadToMe® pronunciation tool, please click here.
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