Aldeas Infantiles SOS x BOOKR Pilot Project
Healing with reading – improving well-being and social development in SOS Children’s Village Guatemala.
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What a special feeling: to witness your mission statement come to life, right before your eyes. To see your youngest clients thrive, to recognize the change that you mean to create with your product – that’s pretty much the dream of every startup, and that’s what we’ve been lucky enough to experience over the last 6 months.
BOOKR Class – the English learning app of BOOKR Kids – is a library of animated books and games that help the youngest learners master the English language in a fun and engaging way. It increases children’s interest in reading and the language itself while improving English vocabulary and grammar.
We could elaborate for pages on how important it is to be able to speak a foreign language! English as a second language opens doors to opportunities beyond borders and allows children to make connections outside their country or culture. It can make a real difference. As a tech company in the educational sector, we carry the responsibility to aim for equity in language education and support underprivileged learners the best way we can: with the power of stories.
Aldeas Infantiles – internationally known as SOS Children’s Villages – is a non-profit organization that works for the right of children to live as a family, to grow with love, respect, and security, and to have adequate development and growth. That last bit is where we come to the picture: each child should have the right and opportunity for academic growth.
Many amazing and dedicated educators and social workers make sure that this need is met in these Children’s Villages, but their resources are limited.
We wanted to provide a tool that will exponentially increase the children’s knowledge of the English language while helping them fall in love with reading as well.
Collaborating with Aldeas Infantiles SOS in Guatemala, we planned a 6-month-long pilot project enabling children in the organization to try learning English with the BOOKR Class digital library application. (Due to national and school holidays, there have been 4,5 active months at the end.)
Over a hundred little ones from ages 4-14 participated in the program with 10 tutors of Aldeas Infantiles.
Even though BOOKR Class is a teaching and learning app designed specifically for ESL education / English teachers, thanks to the language variations in instructions and the intuitive UI, tutors who are not trained to teach English can also incorporate this tool into their activities.
The aim of the project
We did lay out the exact mission of this project more precisely before jumping in: the most important aim was to make English learning and reading a habit as stories and reading have a direct impact on children’s well-being and social development.
Another key purpose was to test the effects of using context, stories, and songs to improve not only children’s language skills but soft and social-emotional skills as well.
It was important that both qualitative and quantitative data were collected during the project so that we could examine different factors of the equation.
The numbers were outstanding
The quantitative data collection included, the time students spent reading, the number of books and tasks opened and completed, and even how successful students were in completing the exercises. In this last one – the number of successfully completed tasks – we can definitely see overall development in the kids’ language skills as it shows continuous growth. Students completed the assignments with a 94% completion rate. There were almost no days during the pilot that the kids spent without reading at least an hour.
Overall 80% of opened books were finished, which is a very high completion rate. This proves that based on the statistics BOOKR Class is highly engaging for students.
The BOOKR Class experience
So how did the kids achieve such amazing results, and how did this plan out on a qualitative scale?
It’s important to highlight that the app does not only improve English speaking, reading, and listening skills but is created to develop essential 21st-century skills such as creativity, social-emotional skill and problem-solving. Not to mention the love that BOOKR helps children develop for books and reading in general. Based on the qualitative research conducted during and at the end of the project period, the little ones seemed to be engaged and interested in the topics of the books that often made them think about relevant social, and environmental issues.
As time went on, tutors noticed that many students gained confidence in expressing themselves in English and had a broader vocabulary than before.
Some of the observations teachers shared with us about engagement, user experience and soft skills that children showed improvement in:
Overall we experienced that the children’s emotional well-being improved, they enjoyed learning with the class and showed enthusiasm while using the app. They gained more confidence speaking English, improving pronunciation and vocabulary, as well showing affection for the language itself. Last but not least, reading has become part of their daily routine, which is bound to further deepen their knowledge in the future.
If you are interested to learn more about the results of the research we conducted, we have a more detailed analysis for you. Click on the link and dive right in!
What can you learn from the lessons in this project and how you can implement the takeaways into your own BOOKR Class journey?
BOOKR Class can be perfectly used in an environment where resources might be limited as far as human resources are concerned, and when English teachers may not be available. The amazing, dedicated tutors and social associates of Aldeas Infantiles SOS in Guatemala do not teach English, yet they were able to assist the children in their experience and the kids were able to learn using the intuitive illustrations and animations of the app.
We recommend the app mostly for children who can read and write – however, this pilot proved to us that even smaller children can learn a lot with the songs and games that the app provides. Little ones of ages 3-5 were able to memorize many English words with the help of native narration, songs, and illustrations.
Reading improves wellbeing. One of the missions of the pilot was to make English learning and reading a habit as stories and reading have a direct impact on children’s well-being and social development – and we were happy to observe that this goal was achieved. Tutors – who have known these underprivileged children for a long time – were able to tell the difference between the beginning and the end of the project.
All we hope is that these children keep up the amazing habit of reading, learning and improving themselves for the rest of their lives. If that happens, we can 100% say that not only were the project goals accomplished but also our company’s mission statement. And to be able to tell that is not a small thing to say.