Part of English in Action, BBC Janala ('window' in Bangla), is an award-winning, multi-platform service which has enabled millions of Bangladeshis to learn English affordably – through their mobile phones, the web, television programmes, print media and peer-to-peer learning.
Our main target audience is adults aged 15-45 years, from a wide range of socio-economic groups. So far over 28 million people – a quarter of the adult population in Bangladesh – have accessed EIA media products.
BBC Janala aims to change perceptions of learning English (previously considered difficult and expensive) amongst the adult population, reduce barriers to learning and support the development of an innovative educational media sector. It is arguably one of the most ambitious multi-platform initiatives, aiming to increase the English language skills of adults, anywhere in the developing world. BBC Janala harnesses the latest communications and multimedia technology to provide high-quality English learning tools, using mass-media platforms, to millions of people in Bangladesh, many of whom live on less than £2 a day.
BBC Janala also ensures that people with limited experience of using information and communication technology can access and navigate the services with ease.
One of the most innovative uses of technology has been the award-winning BBC Janala mobile phone service, which transforms a simple handset into a low-cost learning device. With over 95 million active SIM cards in Bangladesh today, access to the platform is increasingly commonplace, even amongst the poorer and the harder-to-reach communities. BBC Janala provides short audio lessons to adult learners who want to improve their English language skills in order to get a better job and access to the global economy. Anyone can learn and practice English by calling a mobile short code (from any Bangladeshi mobile operator), for the cost of 50 paisa (half a penny) per minute.
The mobile lessons and quizzes can also be accessed and downloaded through a dedicated website.
BBC Janala lessons are also published four times a week in the leading Bangla daily newspaper Prothom Alo, attracting over 800,000 regular learners. So far, 180,000 copies of three BBC Janala CDs, containing the popular ‘Essential English’ and ‘English for Work’ lessons, have been sold. A ‘BBC Janala English Learning Book’ launched in December 2011, has sold over 40,000 copies and with a second book and CD package launched in late 2012. BBC Janala materials have also been combined into a free book and CD which, with the support of 14 local NGO partners is allowing the formation of 1,000 peer-led English learning clubs across the country.
A TV first
The project's reach increased further with the launch of educational television shows which have taken an accessible and entertaining approach to learning, and have increased the number of BBC Janala users.
Youth magazine show BBC Buzz was the first of its kind in Bangladesh. Broadcast weekly from October 2009 to September 2010, it reached an audience of nearly 5 million viewers. The fast-paced programme showcased the aspirations, achievements and ambitions of young people across Bangladesh, creating a rich context for learning English.
In October 2010, two landmark television programmes– a major supernatural drama series Bishaash and the accompanying game show BBC Janala - Mojay Mojay Shekha ('Learning with Fun') enabled 20 and 18 millions of people respectively to learn English.
Mainly in Bangla to attract as large an audience as possible, Bishaash includes an introduction to everyday English woven into the storyline. BBC Janala - Mojay Mojay Shekha is an educational game show, built on the English used in the drama, and provides viewers with a fun way to learn English. A second series of BBC Janala - Mojay Mojay Shekha launched in 2012, attracting more than 13 million viewers. With a fresh look, style, pace and onscreen design, the show seeks to motivate audiences to learn English through fun and games, presenting and practising English language from the project’s structured English course.
A new TV series, following the journeys of eight real-life people as they grapple with learning English for the first time, will launch in summer 2013. BBC Janala Nijay Nijay Shekha (Learning by yourself) builds on the emerging popularity of “reality” TV in Bangladesh to give viewers an English learning experience as well as provide motivating and inspirational examples of real people undertaking a learning challenge.
Amar Engreji ('My English) course
Our Amar Engreji course is the common syllabus for all media platforms, providing accessible and progressive content focused on improving functional, communicative English skills. Learning is personalised, allowing those using the service to proceed at their own pace, and providing step-by-step learning and interactive quizzes so that learners can track their progress.