Television drama and game show teach families English
English in Action has launched two television programmes in Bangladesh - a drama series and game show - to enable millions of children and adults of all ages to learn English.
Bishaash, a 24-part drama set in Bangladesh and the UK, and educational entertainment show BBC Janala - Mojay Mojay Shekha (‘Learning with Fun’), have both been made by the BBC World Service Trust as part of its educational initiative aimed at raising the language skills of 25 million people in the country by 2017.
The programmes are being broadcast back-to-back on BTV and BTV World, and started with a two-hour special on 16th October.
With a focus on family, tradition and love, Bishaash is the first supernatural detective series in South Asia and features stories ranging from treasure hunts in Old Dhaka to an alien looking for a wife and romance on the streets of London.
Characters mainly speak in Bangla to attract as large an audience as possible, with a functional introduction to English woven into the storylines. It brings together both established and emerging Bangladeshi stars, including actors A.T.M. Samsuzzaman, Md Shaidul Islam Molla (Babu) and Shama Rahman, as well as director Giasuddin Selim.
Bishaash is immediately followed by BBC Janala - Mojay Mojay Shekha, an educational game show which builds on the English used in the drama, providing viewers with an entertaining, accessible and free way to learn the language.
It is presented by high-profile actress Rumana Malik Munmun, with the help of two co-hosts - comedian Kamal Bayazid and English teacher Alexandra Tyers. Together, the trio lead a weekly contest, held in and out of the studio, during which two teams compete to develop their English skills.
And, beyond the broadcasts, the audience can continue to develop their language skills in lessons and quizzes linked to the drama and game show on mobile (dial 30004), online
), as well as in national newspaper Prothom Alo. This offers up to four hours of study every week.
English in Action, which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), aims to contribute to the country’s economic growth by providing English language as a tool for better access to the world economy.
Charlotte Imbert, the BBC WST’s country director in Bangladesh, explained that the shows aim to harness the power of television to “reach millions of ordinary people who have low English language skills, but high aspirations to learn”.
She said: “Viewers will learn a range of essential dialogues and vocabulary to use in their everyday lives, providing them with the building blocks to speaking English. Meanwhile dedicated learners that take advantage of the complete educational package across TV, mobile, print and web will significantly increase their English skills.”
And Chris Austin, of DFID, who hailed this “exciting new phase” of the language initiative, said: “Demand for English is extremely strong in Bangladesh – and central to the aspirations of millions of women, men and children to find a better job, increase their access to education and participate fully in the country’s economic and social development. We are delighted to support this initiative.”