Bangladeshis Rush to Learn English Through Mobile Phones

BBC World Service Trust is attempting to harness the power and pervasiveness of mobile phones to provide English language lessons for the 50+ million mobile users in Bangladesh.

In a wonderfully ambitious new project, BBC World Service Trust is attempting to harness the power and pervasiveness of mobile phones to provide English language lessons for the 50+ million mobile users in Bangladesh. This first-of-its-kind effort marks the first time that mobile phones have been used as an educational tool on this scale.

The project plans to offer English learning tools via the mobile phone, television, and Internet with BBC making Audio and SMS lessons available through its BBC Janala (“Window”), which transforms a mobile phone into an affordable “tutor” capable of coaching Bangladeshis through 250+ lessons.

Another key component is the economics: in order to achieve maximum reach, the BBC has teamed up with all six of Bangladesh’s mobile operators, who have agreed to cut the cost of calls to the service by up to 75%. The result of their cooperation has dropped the cost of the three-minute phone call “lessons” to about 3 taka (4.3 US cents). Because most Bangladeshis live on about $3.30 per day, the cost of the program is clearly an important consideration for potential users.

The program appears to be a success, with more than 300,000 people signing-up before its official launch.

[via Textually and BBC]

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