Learning to break down language barriers
The innovative project makes use of existing multimedia kiosks located at Adult Learning Centres across the city. The interactive kiosk software, developed in conjunction with Derby software specialists REALSENSE Solutions Ltd., welcomes visitors to the service in their own language (initially Punjabi and Urdu are being trialed), introduces courses for learning English as well as many of the other courses on offer at the service across numerous learning areas. The kiosk also provides guidance on how learners may be able to obtain various levels of learning support and what steps they need to follow in order to identify and enrol on a course at a level appropriate to their learning needs.
The project came about as a result of the need to address communication 'barriers and hurdles' that DALS staff regularly find themselves faced with when liaising with individuals from Ethnic Minority Groups. It was identified that these barriers could be addressed and overcome by combining an understanding of commonly recognised individual needs and queries, with language expertise in order to improve upon the response given to individuals. The languages initially identified and most relevant for this project were Punjabi and Urdu.
When an individual arrives at a DALS learning centre seeking information and advice, DALS staff endeavour to provide a basic level of response that is helpful and useful to the individual. However, the quality of this response is dependent upon DALS staff's:
- competence of the language spoken by the individual
- knowledge of the information and advice most commonly sought after by similar individuals
- understanding of the individual’s needs and the possible options available to them
- ability to convey the right information to the individual
With the above dependencies in mind, we recognise the need to bridge the communication gap identified and provide a more consistent, coherent and clear message to individuals from ethnic minority groups.
Aims & Objectives
The aim of the project was to improve initial contact and communication with individuals from Ethnic Minority Groups when they arrive at a Derby Adult Learning Centre. This is now being achieved in the form of an interactive multi-lingual multimedia kiosk - an audio visual experience in which the individual is presented with information in their chosen language using an appropriate level of text and media.
The objectives of the computer based project are to provide the individual(s) with:
- a warm and welcome introduction to the service in their own language
- an easy-to-use language selection process i.e. English, Punjabi or Urdu
- a simple menu providing access to information (in their selected language) about:
- Courses. Do you need English classes - Yes / No (link to courses)
- Enrolment and Registration information
- Wide range of courses available
- Information about DALS centres
- Help about finances, child support etc.
- Information about Course fees and reductions
- Information about specific support needs
The approach makes use of the technical infrastructure already established at DALS learning centres for the multimedia kiosks i.e. hardware and software already installed, setup and configured. The solution will also be deliverable online and as such can be delivered via the main public website www.adult-learning-derby.org.uk
Sample screenshots taken from the English Version of the Kiosk
This solution, if successful, could be evolved with additional language variants at a later stage. Similarly, the solution could be further evolved to address the needs of individuals with visual and hearing impairments e.g. Makaton, Sign Language etc. at a later stage.
Other Councils and Education Authorities in particular that face similar language barrier challenges could benefit from the underlying platform produced by REALSENSE Solutions Ltd.
Please contact the information line on 01332 717900 for more details about this project.