App can teach kids to read in all 11 official languages

Picture: iStock

Feed the Monster, a free app developed by Bellavista S.H.A.R.E, a division of a Johannesburg remedial school, Bellavista School, addresses the basic building blocks of reading.

The country’s children can now learn to read in all 11 official languages with the help of a new free app developed to improve literacy in South Africa.

Feed the Monster, a free app developed by Bellavista S.H.A.R.E, a division of a Johannesburg remedial school, Bellavista School, addresses the basic building blocks of reading.

According to Bellavista School principal Alison Scott, one of the main stumbling blocks hindering the development of reading skills in a lot of children was the absence of reading material in their mother tongue, or home language.

“Language instruction is a complex issue in South Africa. The hard reality is that, despite laudable efforts to ensure that all official languages are represented in our curricula, we’re still faced with a lack of resources, from teachers to schools or materials.”

She said many children learned to read in a language they had not yet properly mastered, which hindered their proficiency.

Children who could not read properly were unable to learn more complex material and this could eventually damage the country’s competitiveness on the global stage, Scott added.

In a gamified format, Feed the Monster gives reading instructions in English, isiXhosa, isiZulu, TshiVenda, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, XiTsonga, SiSwati, Afrikaans, isiNdebele and Swahili.

In an easy format, readers aged between six and eight learn by matching letters with sounds to understand how these sounds combine to form words and how words create sentences.

“Even if we don’t consider how lack of literacy will affect our children going into the future, many are facing the more immediate reality that if they cannot read properly, they cannot work through the distance learning packs made available by schools during this time,” Scott said.

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