The team at Texthelp are well known for their Read&Write product. It’s been helping millions of users for many years right across the world – and, for the last few years has been deployed in schools across the Middle East.
As an education company who are constantly innovating, Texthelp has some big news for schools in the region with the launch of a new, dedicated Arabic version. Now for the first time ever, this amazing tool that helps to improve literacy and fluency can truly support everyone – in both Arabic and English.
Read&Write has a simple aim – to help everyone understand and be understood. With that simple mission, it provides a wealth of tools to help improve literacy at every level, and for every student.
“It’s fair to say that initially Read&Write was adopted by schools in the region as a tool for special needs students”, said James Ball, Texthelp Education Lead for the region. “But as schools have embraced Read&Write over the last few years, it’s grown as a solution for every student”, added Ball.
Ball isn’t wrong. Traditionally viewed as a tool for pupils with specific individual needs such as dyslexia, Read&Write now offers a comprehensive set of tools for every student. Take those students that perhaps struggle with reading and writing, impressive features such as text to speech, prediction, dictionary and picture dictionary are all built with the student in mind to scaffold and support each step of their learning.
Pallavi Mallick, Head of SEND at the Winchester School has been a fan of Read&Write and its impact with students from the very start. “Read&Write enriches teaching and learning for every pupil who needs discreet, friendly support with day-to-day literacy tasks.”, Mallick tells us. The Winchester school case study shows how pupils and teachers are benefiting – summed up perfectly by one Learning Support Teacher:” Read&Write helps us instil confidence in children to attempt regular tasks involving reading or writing that they would otherwise find challenging”
Built on a solid understanding of how to improve literacy and fluency, Read&Write has proven its impact in schools, colleges and universities the world over. It has been shown to increase comprehension, vocabulary and correct word sequences – all fundamental steps to increasing literacy levels towards raising attainment.
It doesn’t stop there though, schools have been using Read&Write as an incredibly effective study and research aid. One simple feature is the inbuilt highlighter tool – allowing pupils to draw out key passages and excerpts from web pages and Word docs and with a simple click of an icon, turn these into a one-page revision guide. Further still, one more icon click and the words on the page are turned into an audio file – allowing pupils to listen on the go.
All of these impressive features make a compelling case for using Read&Write with students to improve literacy. Recently though, it’s use has really stood out across the region in its support for bilingual and multilingual students. Those students who may be studying through the medium of English and have Arabic as their mother tongue. Or, the reverse – students learning English as their second language. Either way, building vocabulary alongside oral and written fluency has proven to be key to success. To have this support there, when they need it, and in the language, they need it in is vital. Students in these bilingual settings are often ‘translanguaging’ – moving between both languages as they search out the words they need. Having a set of tools always available in multiple languages is crucial to support this.
Listening to James Ball, it’s clear that Texthelp is responding to the needs of the region. “We like to think we are a company that listens to the needs of learners and respond with innovations and features that genuinely do help more students,” says Ball. Which explains why, for the first time, Texthelp have a dedicated version of software in Arabic. “We didn’t want to simply add one or two features or a token ‘plugin’” adds James. “Instead we’ve put a year of Research and Development into ensuring that we have delivered a dedicated Arabic version of Read&Write that comprehensively benefits every student”.
The new Arabic version of Read&Write is fully localised for the region. With a simple change in its options, users can move to a full user interface in Arabic. From there, text to speech is fully supported in a natural, localized Arabic voice. Add to that the regionally appropriate Arabic dictionary and its associated picture dictionary and all students now have access to the tools they need to improve reading, writing and fluency in their language of choice.
Texthelp is clearly focused on teaching and learning, with each feature of Read&Write grounded in research and pedagogy. That focus is still clear when it comes to the practicalities of technology. The Arabic version of Read&Write is designed as a toolbar which sits right on top of the Windows desktop. Simple to deploy and to use, it’s there every time a student is using Word or the web. Purchased as a site, or school-wide licence, Read&Write is available to every student both at school and at home. For language development, this home use is essential. Having it supports students outside of school which is particularly important when family may not be confident in the use of an additional language and therefore ensures that students have support at all times.
Patrick McGrath, Education Technology Specialist at Texthelp helps schools around the world implement Read&Write effectively. He’s there to help and support schools in maximising impact with Texthelp tools.”For us, helping every student achieve their full potential is our aim”, said McGrath. “And as educators we know and understand that it is vital for a school to evaluate any technology and maximise their investment in time and money – all whilst seeing improvement in literacy and fluency across the school” adds McGrath.
To support this, Texthelp has launched a well-structured evaluation pilot programme specifically for its new Arabic version of Read&Write. It provides a mechanism for any school to try the technology for 90 days. And it’s comprehensive. The programme provides help to get up and running, guides for teachers, training packs and pupil lesson plans that span the breadth of the product. Of course, all of the resources are available in both English and Arabic – a further commitment by Texthelp to support the region and the wider development of pupil language, literacy and fluency.
Getting started with this couldn’t be easier – just send an email to James Ball – firstname.lastname@example.org titled ‘Evaluation’. From there, expect an email with everything you need to know to get started with Read&Write Arabic and experience the huge impact it can and will make for every student.
Texthelp is planning a series of events across the region throughout November when schools can get a closer look at this exciting new version of Read&Write and enjoy some fantastic, accredited CPD around the innovative use of EdTech to improve literacy.
Read&Write Arabic version. Helping every pupil understand and be understood in both Arabic and English is available for all schools from. To find out more, visit www.texthelp.com/arabic