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Google Bolo Launches in India to Help Children Improve Reading Skills

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Bhaswati Sarkar
Bhaswati Sarkar
She is a feminist pursuing a M.A. degree. She likes to lose herself in music and daydreams quite often. Travelling excites her and photography is her passion- nature is her favorite subject. Writing is cathartic for her. A happy-go-lucky kind of person, she tries to remain calm and serene through daily life.

Google India has announced ‘Bolo,’ a speech-based reading-tutor app that can help primary students learn how to read and improve their reading skills, thereby contributing to the betterment of education facilities available for Indian primary grade students and language learners alike.

The app is currently optimized for native Hindi speakers and plans to incorporate additional languages later on in the near future.

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Bolo is powered by Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. The app even comes with an inbuilt “reading buddy” called ‘Diya’ who acts as a tutor to a child reading aloud, aiding students, explaining to them certain relevant stuff, rectifying the mistakes they make, and providing positive feedback. The app also includes word games that children can play and earn in-app rewards and badges to make learning fun.

Google Bolo will contain a large variety of reading material, which is free to be accessed, and initially will include 50 Hindi stories and 40 English stories from Storyweaver.org.in, with additional reading material to be added by other partners.

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Moreover, the app buddy can read aloud texts and even explain the meaning of the English text in Hindi.

Designed in accordance with children’s safety and security, Google Bolo contains a multiple-accounts facility and can track individual progress and accordingly recommend difficulty levels.

Google Bolo works both online and offline and is completely free of advertisements.

All Android smartphones using Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and higher can access the ‘Bolo’ app by downloading it from the Google Play Store.

For the past few months, Google India has been working with ASER Center to spread ‘Bolo’ across 200 villages in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where they found improvement in 64% of primary grade students spanning the duration of 3 months. Now, Google India rolls out the app to the whole of India under an open beta program.

Google India plans to improve Bolo and extend their reach by working with four non-profit organizations- Kaivalya Education Foundation – a Piramal Initiative, Pratham Education Foundation, Room to Read, and Saajha.

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