Literacy Day: Google upscales ‘Read Along’ app for primary school kids

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By Stellamaris Ashinze

Lagos, Sept. 8, 2020 As part of activities marking the International Literacy Day (ILD), Google says it is upscaling its ‘Read Along’ app, a speech-based reading app designed to help primary grade kids learn to read.

Naija247news reports that ‘Read Along,’ formerly known as Bolo, acts as a personal reading tutor for children.

Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, Google Head of Brand and Reputation, Sub Saharan Africa, said in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday that the read along app used speech-based technology to provide personalised assistance in students’ reading journey, correcting them when they needed help and encouraging them when they got it right.

Aderemi-Makinde said that students could select stories to read from a growing app-based library and earn stars and badges when they read correctly.

She said that after an initial download, the app works offline, even on low cost phones, making it more accessible and relieving worries of privacy and security.

According to her, the read along app now includes improved features that make it easier for multilingual children to switch languages or get phonics support when they tap a word.

‘’The app also has more than 700 unique books across all nine languages, including Arabic, with a refreshing new look for the content library.

“Google is taking the education journey back to the basics by providing a digital platform that will make learning to read simpler and fun especially in the light of COVID-19 related school closures.

‘’We believe technology can help children around the world learn how to read to achieve the goal of basic universal literacy.

‘’Google will run a global story-a-thon from Sept. 8 to Sept.30, 2020 to encourage children bring out their imagination through writing,’’ she said.

According to her, by participating, children stand a chance of getting published on the Read Along app.

Aderemi-Makinde said parents could share stories written by their children in September while read along would publish some of those submissions on the app.

She said that since the introduction of read along, children have cumulatively spent more than three million hours on the app reading over 32 million stories.

She said Google’s internal analysis, as well as feedback received from parents and children across the globe was encouraging.

The Google had said beginner readers register an improvement of between 38 per cent and 88 per cent in their oral reading skills after reading for 100 minutes on the app.

NAN reports that the theme for the 2020 UNESCO’s International Literacy Day on September 8 is “Literacy Teaching and Learning in the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond.”

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