Google has launched a free app to help children in India learn English and Hindi. Called, Bolo, the completely offline app has been designed to work in rural areas with poor mobile coverage.
The beta version of Bolo, launched in India first, is optimized for native Hindi speakers and uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.
Bolo comes with cartoon characters and a friendly voice assistant, Diya, to make learning English and Hindi more fun for children. It features lessons aimed at primary grade level students. There are also stories in both languages on the app that are suitable for different reading levels. There are currently 50 stories in Hindi and 40 stories in English. There are also digital word games to practice what you have learned.
The digital voice assistant Diya is also on hand to help with pronunciation or words children find difficult to say. Diya will automatically detect problematic words and offer support before moving on with the story. The meaning of the English words is also presented in Hindi, allowing children whose native language is not English to build their vocabulary.
Google has developed and released Bolo in the name of philanthropy. The company says it is not looking to monetize the app in any way and that it is completely safe for children to use. Google also said that it will continue to support the app, with more content and support for more Indic languages coming soon.
According to a recent study, only 44 percent of grade five students in India are capable of reading books written for grade two students. Google says its new app can help bring that number up, and a pilot scheme with almost 1,000 children showed that 64 percent of participants improved their reading skills after using the Bolo app.
Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager, Google India said, "Bolo is designed as a reading-tutor app that helps primary grade students to improve their reading – anytime, anywhere. With Bolo, we aim to encourage and engage kids so their love for reading grows and it becomes a daily habit.
"We believe that technology can be a powerful enabler, and we want to ensure that students, parents, teachers and the education ecosystem, benefit from it. We have been piloting Bolo in 200 villages, and the early results are very encouraging. We are now actively working with a number of nonprofit partners to take it to more people across the country who could benefit from it."
You can read more about the Bolo app, as well as find a link to download it here.