How mobile phones can help you read

In honour of Sesame Street Day, we’re looking at how mobile phones have changed the way we learn to read.
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How mobile phones can help you read

Sesame Street Day is upon us. It happens every 10 November to celebrate the anniversary of its first broadcast on this day back in 1969.

Sesame Street introduced us to some of our favourite TV characters like Cookie Monster, Elmo, and the awesome twosome - Bert and Ernie.

It also introduced us to one of the most annoying TV characters ever, so it wasn’t perfect.

Despite Big Bird’s meddling, Sesame Street has had a hugely positive educational impact on the world, and it was one of the first interactive ways for pre-schoolers to learn the alphabet.

Things have changed since 1969 though, and today it’s mobile technology rather than puppets that are changing the way we learn to read. Let’s take an educational trip around the world to find out more.

Learning to read in developing countries

You might think that classrooms in developing countries rely on traditional textbooks, with mobile technology unavailable - but the reality is very different.

One of the main barriers for people learning to read in developing countries is having limited access to books. Mobile technology is changing this, and even basic mobile phones can offer loads of reading material at a fraction of the cost of physical books. Research by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has revealed that hundreds of thousands of phone owners in developing countries are learning to read using mobile devices.

And since 2010, the non-profit organisation, Worldreader, has donated Kindle e-readers to schoolchildren in a number of developing countries.

More recently, it has produced a Worldreader app, with 28,500 titles available for free in 43 languages. This app is now on almost 4 million handsets around the world.

Learning to read in the UK

Nearer home, adults learning to read and write English can also call on their mobile devices to help them out. LearnEnglish online is a free website from the British Council, and it’s packed with apps to improve reading and writing.

One of their most popular is LearnEnglish Grammar (FREE on iOS, Android and Windows Phone).

LearnEnglish Grammar has been designed to help anyone build their grammar skills, with thousands of interactive questions suitable for all levels: beginner, elementary, intermediate and advanced.

Back home to Sesame Street…

If you’re looking for an app to help your little ones learn their ABCs, check out our recent list of best apps for learning to read. We didn’t include any Sesame Street suggestions on that list, so if you’re in the mood for learning with Elmo, head on over to the Sesame Street website app page, and download Elmo Loves ABCs. It’s free on the usual devices.

If you’ve got any other suggestions for learning to read with the help of your trusty mobile, we’d love to hear them. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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