Anything Under the Sun
Friday, April 25, 2008
SLS Karaoke with a Difference - India's Solution to mass literacy
Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is the simple idea of subtitling song-based programmes on TV in the same language as the audio. Thus, you will be watching Bollywood style Hindi film songs with the lyrics subtitled in Hindi, every word highlighted as it is sung. Ditto in 22 official Indian languages ... or any of the world's languages.
SLS is a deceptively simple idea for the enormous contribution it can make for mass reading development in countries where TV viewers already watch song-based programmes with a passion and reading skills are low.
SLS is Karaoke with a difference! Karaoke is entertainment for the literate. SLS is designed for mass karaoke on popular song-based TV programming, targeting the early literates, ie, those who may be able to write their name, but are not really literate.
SLS accelerate skill acquisition by creating practice opportunities at home. A strong impact on motivation for literacy is expected among non-literates and early-literates. One of the biggest challenges in literacy is learner motivation. With SLS, learner motivation to read along with the songs is inherent in people's passion for Bollywood. It is a well-researched point that if SLS is there, it will invite reading engagement in anyone with some alphabetic familiarity, like being able to recognise a few letters. Learner frustration does not build up among the early - literate, while reading along with songs. The "answer" to what they are not able to read fast enough is always there, instantly in the audio or, in their mind if they know the song. SLS on songs naturally infuses plenty of successful moments in a struggling reader's reading experience.
SLS has found national acceptance in India, but it is yet to become national policy, which would mandate SLS on every song in every language on TV. Finding roughly $20 000 per TV programme annually is a major challenge.
While the SLS project has always enjoyed short term funding from institutions like the World Bank and Google Foundation and a fellowship from Ashoka.org, this has not easily translated into steady funding.
This in not only an interesting way to increase literacy level especially for a country where TV and songs is an essential entertainment and one that can reach the masses readily. Good Luck to India to obtain more funding for this very worthwile project.