Putting Children’s Reading Literacy on a Path to Lifelong Practice and Improvement
PlanetRead’s Same Language Subtitling (SLS) was declared as one of the winners of All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development, a grant competition during an International Literacy Day celebration organized by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), headquartered in Washington, DC.
A total of 32 innovations that will improve child literacy were announced at international literacy day event organized by USAID and its partners World Vision and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). The grand challenge had received more than 450 proposals from over 75 countries.
PlanetRead and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, are championing the SLS innovation that uses TV to solve the problem of mass weak reading skills across India by implementing SLS on every Bollywood film song on TV, in 22 official languages. They will further explore the possibility of implementing SLS in other countries in Africa and South Asia, or wherever reading skills are weak and music-videos are popular.
SLS is simply the idea of subtitling the lyrics of existing Bollywood film songs on TV, in the same language as they are sung in. Essentially, it is Karaoke on popular film songs and music videos. Reading skills are practiced, automatically, subconsciously, and inescapably, as an integral part of staple entertainment already consumed by 650 million TV viewers nationally. SLS is also known to improve program ratings by 10-15%.
PlanetRead and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, have already implemented SLS nationwide, on 10 weekly TV programs of Doordarshan, India’s public service broadcaster. One weekly program is broadcast in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Punjabi. A Hindi song is shown with the lyrics subtitled in Hindi, Tamil songs with Tamil subtitles, and so on. What you hear is what you read. The subtitles are designed to change the color of every word in perfect timing with the song, thus, reinforcing fragile text-sound associations.
Independently collected data by Nielsen’s ORG Center for Social Research, found that regular SLS exposure more than doubles the number of functional readers among primary school children. SLS has also become a major contributor to the growth of newspaper circulation.