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Learning English via mobile, a big hit

world Updated: Dec 14, 2009 00:06 IST

Every morning, Ahmed Shariar Sarwar makes it his daily ritual to call number 3000 on his mobile phone to get lessons in English -- his passport to a better life in impoverished Bangladesh.

The mobile tutorial lasts only three minutes, but Rahman, 21, who is studying the textile trade says it is already helping him learn the language, which is key to getting a lucrative job in foreign firms based in Dhaka.

He is among hundreds of thousands of young men who have turned to the novel English teaching service since it was launched last month by a charity arm of the BBC.

The aim is to teach the language to six million people by 2011.

“It’s simple and good. It costs three taka (four US cents) per lesson -- the cheapest way to learn English in Bangladesh,” Rahman said. “There are a lot of English courses available here, but most rip you off and the quality isn’t so good.”

It is also easily accessible via all six of Bangladesh’s mobile phone operators whose networks cover almost the entire population.

Called Janala (window), the teaching programme allows students to take a lesson in conversation, pronunciation and basic English and involves them dialling in five days a week for 18 months.

It is already being hailed as a hit. “We are simply overwhelmed,” said Sara Chamberlain, head of the programme at the BBC World Service Trust.