‘I would do better if my English communication was stronger!’ – so all students, job seekers and working professionals believe.
The result of a global survey undertaken by EF Education First, suggest that out of a total of 54 countries that were surveyed, India ranked 14th under the English proficiency index with a third category level of “moderate proficiency” with countries above exhibiting “high” and “very high proficiency” levels. While we find applicants and students possessing a certain degree of expertise in their area of study, they lack the employability skills (Singh, 2019; India Today, 2019; Mangala and Manisha, 2018).
In India, rightly or not, fluency in English language builds trust, equity and respect – it gives you upward mobility in society and in careers. The English language learning market is stated to in the ballpark figure of 4.5 bn USD and is seeing a spurt in online learning courses. With strong English communication skills being one of the most coveted in a job profile, the takers for such courses are only growing.
Ask any parent to list the top 3 academic goals for their wards – one amongst the three will always be ‘To speak confidently in English’ and this is independent of the parent being from a metropolitan city or the heartland of India.
We know that a second language is learnt best through immersion and active conversations. The question to ask is – can a language class with 40 children give enough speaking opportunities for even 20% of the children ? To speak fluently in English, students need to interact with their peers, actively listen, handle short social exchanges and comprehend passages on familiar topics and engage with the languageat home and in their social settings.
To address this needfor conversational skills, a virtual non-judgemental speaking partner is what every learner wants. Macmillan Education India and Amazon’s Alexa team have partnered to develop Altura English Skill a voice interactive tool which provides learners with opportunities to develop their English language skills. The Macmillan Altura skill uses curriculum grade English learning content and is designed to inspire curiosity among learners. The skill’s simple voice interface enables learners to learn in an interactive manner, at their own pace. The skill can keep learners motivated and engaged by awarding stars and badges. Learners can access Macmillan Altura skill on all Amazon Echo smart speakers, Echo Show smart displays, Alexa mic on Amazon shopping on their Android smartphones, or Alexa app on smartphones.
Altura English Skill is different from other generic courses out there, it is specially designed to scaffold for language skills and deftly guide a learner through receptor and productive skills. It is built around a variety of themes which appeal to young learners like Adventure, Sports and Travel. At a mere click a learner can practise grammar activities, listen to stories, and challenge oneself to speak better. Inhibitions around correct pronunciation keep people back, from speaking in English; Altura with guided speaking helps learners get the right pronunciation, tone and modulation. Children love the autonomy that it gives them in learning across levels and learning at their own pace.
The significance of English proficiency as a currency for achievement in academics and at the workplace in India, cannot be emphasized enough and Altura English Skill is a step towards achieving this proficiency.
Ms. Vandana Juneja
Director – Marketing & New Initiatives