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Google launches 'Bolo' app to help children read in Hindi, English

Google has launched a new application called ‘Bolo’ that aims to help children in primary school to read in Hindi and English. The application features an animated character called 'Diya', who encourages children to read stories aloud.

Mar 7, 2019 15:05 IST
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Google on March 6, 2019 launched a new application called ‘Bolo’ that aims to help children in primary school to read in Hindi and English.

The app, which is being launched in India first, uses Google's speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. It comes with a built-in fun and helpful reading buddy, an animated character called ‘Diya’. The reading material available on the app will be completely free of cost.

Key Features

The animated character 'Diya' encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word or understand its meaning. The character also lauds the reader when he or she completes the reading.

Besides helping in reading, the app would enable children to play interesting word games and earn in-app rewards and badges, helping reading become both fun and a daily habit.

Multiple children would be able to use the same app and it would track their progress separately. Over time the difficulty level of recommended stories will adjust according to their reading skills.

The app has been designed to work offline, in order to enable children to just focus on reading and is completely ad free.

Further, the app has been designed with children's safety and security in mind and all personal information shared will always stay on the device. The users will not be asked for details like email ID and gender for logging into the app.

The app currently comprises up to 100 stories in Hindi and English and more will added with time.

The app will be available for download on Google Play Store in India for all smartphones running Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and higher.

Significance

The Bolo app aims to help improve the reading ability of children, as the lack of it can significantly impact further education and ultimately children's ability to realise their full potential.

Google identified limited access to quality material, under-resourced infrastructure and barriers to learning outside the classroom as some of the challenges that children often face.

Background

According to the ASER 2018 report, only half of the students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook.

Google had piloted the 'Bolo' app in about 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh and preliminary results showed an improvement in reading proficiency in 64 per cent of children in just three months.

Now, the tech giant is looking at expanding the app to other Indic languages such as Bengali, soon.

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