Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is simply the idea of subtitling existing Bollywood film songs on TV, in the same language as the audio. The lyrics of Hindi songs subtitled in Hindi. Tamil songs subtitled in Tamil and so on in all languages.
SLS is deceptively simple for what it can do. In India, 800 million people -- children, youth, and adults -- watch on average two hours of TV a day. A significant portion of the content consumed is song-based, including, film, folk and devotional songs. If all the songs were "Karaoke-ized" with the addition of SLS, 800 million viewers, half of whom are weak readers, would get automatic reading practice, every day and lifelong.
From June 2013 to May 2015, nearly two years, PlanetRead added SLS on all the songs of 10 weekly Marathi moviestelecast in prime time, on Zee Talkies, the state’s most popular 24 x 7 Marathi movie channel. The song-subtitledmovies were further repeat-telecasted in other slots on Zee Talkies and on Zee Marathi, also the state’s most popular Marathi general entertainment channel.
Together, this resulted in an unprecedented scale up of SLS in the Maharashtra, far more than even the project had planned for or anticipated.
Did the SLS scale up in Maharashtra have any impact on school children’s reading skills in the state? Yes! we are happy to share with you the results of the impact study that was conducted independently by Pratham. Please read the attached document for a detailed report and find below the main findings:
Generally, Grade 3 is a good point to assess a school system’s deliverance of reading skills. The trajectory of further reading skill development and educational progress is to a large extent determined by what has transpired by the end of Grade 3. So we took a snapshot of Grade 3 reading skills in Maharashtra, at the baseline (June 2013) and the endline (May 2015). In Maharashtra, 30.5% more children in Grade 3 progressed to Grade 1 reading ability. In Gujarat, only 2.1% did. Overall, we have seen that there is a 10% to 14% more children were able to experience marked improvements in the reading skills.
We are excited to let you know that PlanetRead was recently featured in The Economist.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
MILLIONS of Indians watch Bollywood movies for the broken hearts, lost fortunes, dishy actors and catchy tunes. But beyond mere escapism, such fare may have a role to play in fighting illiteracy. Between 1991 and 2011 India’s official literacy rate rose from 52% to 74%. But about 400m of those counted as literate are only barely so. Bollywood, with its powerful pull among the least-educated, may help the many who can read only simple words.
Brij Kothari of PlanetRead, an NGO, believes that “same-language subtitling”—providing subtitles for the lyrics of catchy Bollywood songs—offers valuable reading practice. Fans keen to mimic their screen idols are drawn to the written versions as they scroll by. The repetitive verses offer a chance to practise more complex words. Children learn well when a ball bounces along the words on screen. Adults generally prefer the words to be highlighted as they are sung.
To read the complete article, please visit: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21649537-india-tries-cheap-and-cheerful-way-teaching-people-read-bolly-good-read
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Program Title: Same Language Subtitling on TV: Putting Children’s Reading Literacy on a Path to Lifelong Practice and Improvement
In September 2012, 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.
With the help of ASER, Pratham’s research wing, PlanetRead conducted a baseline study in the months of June 2013 to understand the reading levels of children aged 6-14. Various household information relating to these children was also collected. Four districts in Maharashtra, selected based on a gradient of media penetration and reading skills in the children, were surveyed. Two districts in Gujarat, selected to be at a similar level of reading achievement to the Maharashtra districts, were also surveyed in order to compare the performance in a state with no telecast of SLS.
Since then for the last 2 years, PlanetRead has been working closely with the ZEE TV network in Maharashtra to telecast films with SLS in local language (Marathi). PlanetRead has been adding SLS to 10 Marathi films every week. These movies were viewed by school children on a regular basis.
Now, in order to gauge the impact of SLS on the reading and writing skills of children, aged 6-14, PlanetRead is getting ready to conduct an end line assessment on the exact same children who were surveyed for the baseline in June 2013. The aim of this research study is to determine their current reading skills after 2 years of exposure to SLS.
This project has witnessed the highest level of exposure to SLS for one language in one week. We are very excited to have come this far and are eagerly waiting to complete the endline assessment to see how SLS has helped all those children in Maharashtra. We will share with you updates on the endline report as soon they are ready.
PlanetRead's Same Language Subtitling (SLS) was covered by Amos Roberts of SBS One, an Australian news channel. Amos travelled all the way to India to film a documentary of PlanetRead's work.He met many people in the field who have benefitted from SLS. The film is available on SBS One's YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOsWToI2PIw along with a brief article of on their website here: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/bollywood-lessons
Here's an excerpt from the article:
India has high illiteracy, but a simple idea of showing Bollywood movies with subtitles is having a remarkable effect on reading skills.
One of India's biggest success stories, Bollywood, is being used to tackle one of its biggest failings, illiteracy.
The country has the greatest number of illiterate people in the world, but a remarkably simple idea is gradually changing that. Amos Roberts meets Brij Kothari, who wondered if subtitling the song and dance numbers in films would teach people how to read.
The PlanetRead Team from Pondicherry, India recently went on a field visit to understand the level of access of various kinds of media and how they could possibilt improve the reading skills of children. Please find below the highlights of the trip:
Ambika, a 4th grade girl, was all smiles! She could not understand how a weird looking gadget (iPad) suddenly started playing a cartoon. She watched the animated story for about 2 minutes. Then we asked her about the story. She had understood most of it – the animals, the conversations between the characters etc... She was ecstatic and explained how much she liked the AniBook and thanked us for showing her this story.
Now the interesting part is that we showed this simple story in English: http://youtu.be/XpqFAX6vRlM. Ambika explained to us what she understood in Tamil, her mother tongue. She was able to easily guess what was going on with the visuals. But unfortunately, though in the 4th grade, she could not read or follow most of the conversations in the story. The Headmaster of the school then told us their children have never seen such content and admitted quite frankly that Ambika wouldn’t have been able to read or follow the dialogues.
Ambika joins the ranks of 234 million primary school children in India in the 6-14 age group. This was the highlight of our one day field visit to a government primary school in India in a village called Mangalam that is situated approximately 15 kilometers away from Tiruvannamalai, a district in South India. This school has been functioning for over 20 years and this was the first time anyone had visited them or inquired about children’s content, their facilities and their reading levels.
Though Tamil Nadu is thought of as a high literacy state but it may come as a surprise that, according to ASER (2013), only 29% rural children in Grade 3 are able to read a Grade 1 level text. This figure has remained in the 27.2% to 30.6% range from ASER (2009) to ASER (2013). The national average in ASER (2013) was 40.2%. In this case, we are talking about their own mother tongue.
The main conclusion of our trip was that we could use the help of local cable TV operators to telecast programs with SLS and thereby help improve the literacy/reading levels of the entire district.
Same Language Subtitling (SLS) provides automatic and inescapable reading engagement among weak-reading viewers. This engagement then leads to measurable reading skill improvement. Originally conceived by our project leader in 1996, SLS is on its way to become national policy in India on film song-based programming on TV.
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