Here's some good news for worried parents - researchers have come up with an innovative way to help children learn to read.
A team ofWaikato University has developed a software, BookieMonster", which they claim acts as a reading coach for kids - in fact, it computerises a proven method of learning tuition, dubbed "repeated reading" using computer-generated voices andspeech recognition.
Children using thesoftware listen to text being read aloud by the computer, following the words as they are progressively highlighted on-screen in time with the voice, similar to karaoke, say its developers.
After hearing a text read to them a few times, they then read it back to the computer via a microphone.
The software recognises their speech and provides the same progressive text highlighting that they received while being read to.
The students now have a working prototype and are setting up trials in local schools. Ultimately they hope to see their software distributed via existing initiatives in developing nations where literacy in some places is as low as 50 per cent, say the researchers.
It also has the potential to assist in teaching a second language, they say.