During UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week, a new service debuted on the Nokia Life+ web app called Learn English, which provides content to help people learn English on their mobile phone.
This exciting addition to the educational services on Nokia Life+ is the result of a new partnership between Nokia and the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
Nokia and the British Council co-developed the Learn English service for Nokia Life+ to benefit millions of young people who wish to learn or improve their spoken English, and in the process, improve their job or social prospects.
The global language
In many developing countries having a good grasp of English is a crucial gateway to getting a job, advancing your career or unlocking opportunities in further education.
Apart from the vocational and educational benefits, the ability to communicate in English also makes it easier to engage with people from other countries, whether that is through social networks or meeting them face-to-face.
According to the British Council, 375 million people speak English as a first language; 750 million are believed to speak it as a foreign language and a quarter of the world’s population has a basic grasp of it.
With these statistics, it’s hugely beneficial to have some degree of competence in English to be a part of the global conversation.
English learning in bite-size portions, delivered regularly and with the ease and immediacy of an instant message conversation, is the aim of the Learn English service.
This provides learning content across three levels: Easy, Medium and Hard. There are weekly themes that provide six pages of learning and conclude with a short quiz.
I’m a native English speaker but they say you never stop learning so I had a quick go at the Hard level.
The week’s theme for the Hard level was medicine, and there were four short messages that I had to read about the following topics:
Future of medicine
For example, on medical opinions, I read a transcript between two people discussing the merits and drawbacks of human cloning. My task at the end was to decide whose opinion I agreed with.
Maybe, it was just because I was doing the hard level but I liked the fact that the quizzes required thought and discussion rather than simple yes/no questions.
In fact, when I switched over to Easy (you are free to do this whenever you like) the format remained the same but rather than a challenging topic such as human cloning, there was a discussion around the meaning behind John Lennon’s Imagine and you have to check that the two participants understand each other.
Learn English takes basic English a step further by emphasising comprehension and discourse. The aim is to encourage people to think critically about what they are reading and then take the learning outside into the ‘real’ world, rather than focussing too much on rules around English spelling and grammar.
Learn English is available through Nokia Life+. The Nokia Life+ web app is supported across a range of Nokia handsets, including Series 40 phones and Asha Touch smartphones.
In addition to Learn English, other Nokia Life+ services include Live Healthy, for advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and information on a wide-range of health topics, and Life Skills, which helps young people to develop their inter-personal skills and manage their personal finances.
Learn English is a free service on Nokia Life+ although operator data charges may apply. However, Nokia Life+ works in tandem with the Nokia Xpress Browser, which compresses your data by up to 90%, so it also helps you to save money.
The Learn English service is now available in 18 markets including India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh, South Africa, Malaysia, Kenya, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Singapore, the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana.