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Children in the Philippines play with an XO laptop.

About the Speakeasy project

The Speakeasy project is an initiative that aims to foster English language literacy and expression among underprivileged children worldwide. It involves the development of free and open-source English language teaching software, similar to popular commercial products like Rosetta Stone, that can be deployed on low-cost laptops to communities in third-world countries.

Unlike books and other traditional modes of education, the project hopes to stimulate learning by using the format of a highly engaging, game-like software, in which children learn without knowing it and with minimal intervention from teachers. See Hole-In-The-Wall

The benefits of early English education are potentially enormous. English is a cornerstone language of the developed world, among the most widely spoken and widely printed, and is the most popular language of the Internet. English language skills can open the door to a universe of educational opportunity in print, digital media, interpersonal learning, and the Internet. Early development of English skills will enable youth to acquire a strong command of the language at an older age, leading the way to economic competency within the international, English-speaking community.

The Philippine pilot

Speakeasy will launch as a pilot program in the Philippines, where basic English literacy is common but fluency and command of the language has been considered subpar. This has resulted in less-than-spectacular scores in the IELTS and other English language tests worldwide, as well as difficulty finding jobs with foreign organizations both locally and overseas.

The pilot will ideally launch in a school/community with limited access to educational resources. After identifying a target school, XOs will be shipped to the school with the software pre-installed. Volunteers can then interface with the teachers to determine how best to administer a passive but effective learning program for the children. Improvement in English skill will be determined by administering a test before and after the program, and comparing the results.


Lester Leong
email: Lester.BLeong@gmail.com

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