How AI is helping government school students learn English – Times of India

English proficiency in government-run schools is often a challenge for students, especially since many schools use the local language to teach. According to the Eighth All India Educational Survey (AIES), English as the medium of instruction is only 15.49% in primary school, 21.08% in upper primary, 28.73% in secondary and 33.06% in higher secondary. Learning a language is difficult for public school students for a variety of reasons – English phonetics is arbitrary and challenging for students who do not come into contact with English in their daily lives. Also, there are problems due to teacher crisis and English proficiency of teachers.

To address the challenge, EnglishHelper (EH), an adtech company founded by Boston-based social entrepreneur and knowledgeable scientist Venkat Srinivasan, has launched the RightToRead program using an AI platform ‘ReadToMe’ to facilitate multi-sensitive reading and comprehension. “The goal is to ensure a free basic program while improving students’ reading, comprehension and spoken English skills,” said Sanjay Gupta, Global CEO of English Helper. Adtech has partnered with Intel and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide software to government-run schools and to support students in more than 25,000 schools.

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How it works

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The program integrates with existing curricula (where the software enables reading school textbooks). “Schools with only a PC / Laptop are able to use the software by conducting English classes during normal school hours in a designated AV room,” Gupta explains. They can use platforms like Zoom that virtually deliver classes using their phones or laptops.

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Learning outcomes

After the program, it seems that there has been a 20-40% improvement in reading and comprehension. “This result is due to the continuous exposure that enables students to learn English phonics and improve word recognition. In addition, adapting to the curriculum ensures practical implementation of the prescribed textbook and eliminates the need for extended classroom sessions,” said Akanksha Bilani, Intel’s Asia Pacific and Japan Regional. The alliance chief said.

Talking about technology-enabled learning solutions, Bilani thinks it could become a big equivalent for disadvantaged children where affordable overall education is key. “We have already seen organizations develop and distribute learning modules through apps and live classes on popular social media platforms. Effective industry collaborations to accelerate cloud, network and end-to-end technology innovation can pave the way for a more dynamic and accessible learning environment, ”he added.

Tackle challenges

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To bridge the English language gap in government-run schools, another adtech entity using AI and natural language processing has come to the fore. Founded in 2016 by G Ramamurthy, Gauri Mahesh and Saraswati Ramamurthy, Bangalore-based Adtech uses an interactive, personalized teacher assistant to make English learning interactive for students.

Management method

“The virtual voice teacher built on AI enhances proficiency in English in a conversation style,” Saraswati told Learning Matters, where it costs Rs 100 per student per month as it is an economically viable initiative. “For access and learning with a virtual teacher, students only need an Alexa device or smartphone, helpful books (either hard copy or e-book format; for both teachers and students) and an Internet connection. Schools collect an Alexa-enabled device of their choice. “We provide access to books and virtual voice teachers. Students follow a specific outline of lessons within each course,” Saraswati added.

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The voice teacher repeats lessons, interacts with students, asks questions, listens to answers, responds, and corrects grammatical mistakes over and over again, just as a human would be a conversation partner. With their speed and repeated practice to gain skills. An impartial learning environment is created for students to speak with confidence without fear of trial, ”said Saraswati. In the long run, the star approach is to teach a variety of academic subjects.

The program has five levels that are linked to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). “Alignment with the CEFR standard means it does not take into account the level of skill and age of the teacher. The duration of the program is about 10 months to complete a teaching level of 4 hours frequency per week, ”said Saraswati.

Level of academic loss

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According to him, losing and regression in learning English skills is “an animal to deal with” and the problem is more acute in government schools. The Annual Status Education Report (ASER) shows that fifth graders in rural India do not understand grade II level text. “The biggest reasons for this are the severe resource constraints and the alarming lack of qualified teachers that lead to low proficiency in English and poor learning outcomes. Over time, the effects become more complex, severely affecting the ability to understand text and exam question papers. Grade leads to dropouts and unemployment. If proficiency in English can be solved by both students and teachers at the same time, the root causes of this systemic challenge can be effectively addressed, ”said Saraswati.

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