SLS – Same Language Subtitling:
“Self respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price”
Even Literacy. I am not talking about education, which comes at a huge price tag these days. But plain literacy – the ability to read and write, at least in one language.
If at all technologies like internet have to reach the masses, literacy for the masses is extremely critical.
Books have their advantages. One interesting argument I have read about books is that it encourages creativity by letting your imagination run and explore freely while the TV dumps the producers imagination onto you. “Books are the masters who instruct us without rods or ferrules, without words or anger, without bread or money. If you approach them, they are not asleep. If you seek them, they do not hide. If you blunder, they do not scold. If you are ignorant, they do not laugh at you” – Richard De Bury. But therein lies the flaw – You have to approach them, you have to seek them.
News papers and magazines are informative medium for people who are already literate. There are so many people who have discontinued their school at a very early stage of their lives. And more still, who haven’t gone to school at all. Local language news papers do help, but the fact is, it is still out of the reach of masses as they simply cannot read.
The only other popular mass medium is TV. Though there are quite a few education based channels like Gyan Darshan etc, I really wonder who sees them. Most popular programs in the TV are entertainment based. The songs, movies, serials, etc. get good viewership. Can this medium help increase literacy levels? Specifically, can the entertainment based programs on TV help people read better?
TV may not be the best medium for promoting literacy and entertainment based programs may not be the best choice for increasing literacy levels, but they have one advantage over all other media – Reach. They reach almost every nook and corner of the country. They reach the masses, who watch them out of their own interest.
SLS – Same Language Subtitling is an interesting concept wherein subtitles appear in the same language for popular entertainment based programs – Like songs, movies etc. If a person is watching a Hindi song, the subtitles appear in Hindi along with the pace of the lines being sung. So, as they listen and read the script (in subtitles) at the same time, they can be sure (some times even if only by guessing) that a certain word correlates with a certain script. This is especially useful with people who know only the basic words, but have lost touch since a long time and hence their ability to read has also decreased. After exposure to the subtitles in TV, which they automatically start reading, the script sub-consciously gets registered in their minds as they always flash along with the voice. After a period of time, the reading ability increases and they can even start reading the headlines in the newspaper.
How’s that for a change? Literacy to the masses while having fun. And that too, by the same box which was considered to be idiotic. No force, no lectures. So simple.
Maybe we could utilize this concept in the cinemas too. In the towns, the English channels could have English subtitles for people to improve their English vocabulary. Especially in cartoon and kids channels, which is watched endlessly by the kids. The possibilities are unlimited, if the private channels start adapting SLS.
At the beginning, I had said that there is a price for everything. Even literacy. The price for SLS is approximately one paisa per person per year – according to Dr.Brij Kothari, president, Planet Read. The whole concept, and the credit for implementing it in certain DD channels, goes to him. Please do visit the link given below to know more about the initiative.
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|Literacy for a billion with Bollywood songs
PlanetRead uses the power and reach of entertainment to fill the need for education. In India, Bollywood songs appear on national television – Doordarshan with PlanetRead’s Same Language Subtitling (SLS). This provides automatic reading practice to 300 million early literates. With SLS the viewers subconsciously associate the songs with the text, so the familiar lyrics on screen reinforce their literacy skills.