Our group worked on a vocab-karaoke product that would be used in rural India as an aid in teaching English as a Second Language to elementary-aged students. We chose to focus on helping the lower-income children in India to learn common English nouns through a karaoke DVD. We originally considered using traditional Hindi folk songs, but eventually decided upon Bollywood children songs. These songs would be subtitled in Hindi with certain words substituted in English whenever an image defining that word appears.
We researched if music can also be used to boost learning in still-developing nations, especially among a lower economic sector. We performed a literature review to research three basic areas: India and the context for this proposal, the theory of music in learning and learning vocabulary in foreign languages. We also conducted an overview of what technology is already out that has a proximal relation to our product concept, such as Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book and ‘Same Language Subtitling’ products like Planet Read.
When studying the prior knowledge of these students, we found that we should be prepared for native language illiteracy as is typically the case in most of India.
We discussed using recognizable imagery that users would instantly be able to relate to within their own life. The visiospatial sketchpad would be activated through the use of this figurative imagery representative of the vocabulary being taught. The phrases would need to be extensively broken up to chunk up vocab to further provide clear, simple, understandable learning examples for memorization.
Celik (2003) proves that code mixing works as a method for teaching ESL students vocabulary. Code mixing is when teachers replace words in Language 1 (L1) with the opposite (or other) translated language. One thing that is emphasized as this method’s advantage is that it is so context-driven.
ESL is an essential competency for young Indians entering the workforce, and since this would be used as a teaching tool directed towards novice learners, we decided to focus only upon basic English vocabulary. The product would take the form of a DVD that would be delivered regularly through a subscription service. We chose the form factor of a DVD primarily based on our research that indicates that rural Indian schools still do not have desktop or laptop computers, and that many only have TVs and DVD players.
The user interface will be very straightforward, consistent with the designed interactions of other DVDs. After initially being loaded up there would be a menu with options to either enter into a randomly selected song or for the user to select their own choice. Once the song cues up, short segments of the lyrics will be at the bottom of the screen, with an indication of what word is being said. The indication in our example will be a light green color and a yellow ball that is synched with the lyrics being spoken in the audio of the song.
It’s expected that the lessons likely would be played over and over again because of the catchiness of Bollywood song catalogues, thus providing for an accessible spaced-recall, ensuring that the learners are grasping the material. Indian students will instantly recognize the Bollywood imagery and audio as part of their prior knowledge from contemporary Indian culture. It is possible that students may come to the class with a false understanding of what English sounds like and how to speak it, possibly through an imitation of the accent. With Vocabaoke they will be able to learn through the same media where they gained these preexisting assumptions and understand the semantic relationships between the image and the new word. They will actively engage with a type of media that they might otherwise passively consume.
ESL Instruction for the Rural Indian Classroom
- January-May 2011