Families across the Arab world are always looking for ways to help their children improve their Arabic reading skills. So much so, that Arabic has become one of the most requested languages on the Read Along by Google.
The free Android app helps children over the age of five to improve their reading skills in an engaging manner, through the help of an in-app reading buddy. To support Arabic speaking families around the world, the app has now launched Arabic support for Read Along.
Since launching the app in other languages earlier this year, the developers saw a positive impact on children’s reading abilities. Those who read at a speed of less than 45 correct words per minute saw an improvement of anywhere from 35% to 85% in their oral reading fluency after using the app for 100 minutes over the course of two to three weeks.
Read Along, which works without internet after the initial download, uses Google’s speech recognition technology to give young readers visual and verbal feedback as they practice reading books from around the world.
This includes a series of original Arabic stories which focus on values such as empathy and perseverance, with Coco is going to the ball being published at launch. The original stories were written by Googlers from the Middle East, and aim to help expand the variety of Arabic content from the region.
To nurture the love of reading, an in-app reading buddy called Diya helps children by listening and encouraging them in real time. She gives them positive and reinforcing feedback along the way, just as a parent or teacher would. Children can also tap Diya at any time to help them pronounce a word or sentence.
Read Along can also make personalised recommendations based on each child’s progress. It also encourages them to collect stars, badges and play educational games to help them stay motivated.
Safeguarding children’s safety and privacy as they practice reading in Arabic is at the heart of Read Along’s design. The ability to work offline without Wifi or data helps prevent unsupervised access to the Internet. It also has no ads or in-app purchases, and does not require sign in. Even the voice data is analysed in real time on the device.
As part of the app’s commitment to promote reading across Middle East and North Africa, it is also inviting budding authors between the age of 5-11 to discover the magic of storytelling by writing and sharing their own stories. These budding young writers have until 30 September, for the chance to be published on global learning platforms like Read Along by Google, Global Digital Library and Pratham Books Storyweaver across multiple languages. The winners will be announced in October.
Reading enables creativity and confidence in children and Read Along is committed to helping children, wherever they may be, to discover the joys of reading and the magic of storytelling.