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In Rural India, Learning English via Cellphone

A project based at Carnegie Mellon University will study how effective games on cellphones are at teaching English to students in rural India.

Led by a professor at Carnegie Mellon, professors, graduate students and undergraduates have been working on developing games over the last six years. Now, because of financial support from Nokia, the professors will be able to lend 450 cellphones to children in villages in Andhra Pradesh, a region in the south of India. The children with games on the cellphones will be compared with children who will not play the games and will learn English in a traditional classroom setting.

“If it’s very difficult for so-called poor children to go to school regularly. You could take mobile devices and make it possible to access learning anytime, anywhere,” said Matthew Kam, assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon. Professors and students working on the project have been able to design games that match those played in the villages, Mr. Kam said, in order to make the games more attractive to students.

If the two-year study does show that students with the cellphones are able to improve their English, such projects could receive even more money from philanthropic organizations in the future, Mr. Kam added.

Learn more about the project here.

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