Making English accessible

Government school students are learning English in a comprehensive way using ReadToMe, an AI-infused technology program.

Ten-year-old Vaishnavi, who is in standard four at Reclamation Chapal Road Municipal Hindi School, has seen remarkable progress in her English. From pronouncing words like ‘loaf’, ‘shiny’, and ‘pair’, to identifying and forming sentences, English has become easy for her. For someone with Hindi as her first language, Vaishnavi’s improved English is an outcome of AI technology ReadToMe.

The technology, which is a part of the RightToRead initiative by education tech company EnglishHelper, enables users to read English textbooks in class, and is presently being implemented in 65,000 government schools in Maharashtra. In Mumbai alone, 603 schools have been identified for the implementation, out of which it is functional in 400 schools across Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai.

An AI-powered multi-sensory reading and comprehension platform, ReadToMe provides pronunciation, meaning and pictorial representation of English words, allowing students from fourth to 10th grade to get a grip over the language.

The software is pre-installed with the coursebook content, and works in distinctive steps. With the text displayed on the board, the AI first reads the text aloud while children listen intently to the pronunciations. Once students have heard the text, they read it along with the AI, which highlights each word, which eventually empowers students to read on their own.

“ReadToMe has been of great help. Not only does it read the text with exact pronunciation, it allows the children to know the meaning of the words in Hindi as well. The added benefit of pictures for the words helps the children remember the word in English much easily,” shares teacher Surekha Yadav.

The highlight of the technology is that it doesn’t require an Internet connection to operate. Built with the sole purpose of not leaving a single student behind, the technology can be used on any platform. “A simple android phone, a Windows computer set-up, TV screen, or an overhead projector, the technology just needs a few mouse clicks,” shares Sanjay Gupta, Global CEO of EnglishHelper. According to Gupta, the need to introduce such a technology stems from the need to reach out to 170 million students that go to government schools in India and are unable to read in their first language, forget English.

“Research shows that multi-sensory learning of language optimises and enhances language learning, and enables retention of that learning in a much better way than any other methodology. And we wanted to do things in a way that students and teachers would both accept,” he adds.

Having come across students with the eagerness to master English, Principal Suman S Pandya advocates for ReadToMe. For she has seen students in the last three months picking up words and sentences faster than before. “Earlier, the student couldn’t speak at all. And now, the pronunciations have improved. This has also enhanced the communication between the student and the teacher. The changes are evident in the students,” smiles Pandya.

With this technology, the principal hopes that more students can opt for Hindi medium schools. “Such technology is much needed in government schools, where the student’s first language is Hindi. They don’t have anyone around them to speak in English, but now they speak English with pride and without any hesitation,” she concludes.

Next Story