Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that its Reading Progress tool — a free platform that allows teachers to assess students’ reading progress — will include Ukrainian in its list of available languages.
The company added Ukrainian to Reading Progress to help educators ease educational difficulties that Ukrainian refugees have faced as they enroll in schools in their new community. Reading Progress will translate reading passages into Ukrainian in order to make them more accessible to newly arrived Ukrainian children, while also allowing them to continue developing their Ukrainian language literacy outside of their home country.
Currently, the platform supports more than 40 languages, in addition to several regional variants of languages that are particularly widely spoken, like English, Arabic, and Spanish. The platform aims to streamline the process of assessing students’ reading abilities, by using artificial intelligence to automatically detect irregularities in a student’s reading. Namely, the program checks to make sure that a student’s pronunciation of individual words is accurate and that the rhythm of their speech is fluent.
Teachers simply upload a reading passage and have students record themselves reading that passage — teachers can then personalize the assessment upon closer examination, however an educator does not necessarily need to speak the language in order to assess students’ reading abilities.
Given the large number of refugees that have had to leave Ukraine during the ongoing war there, Microsoft hopes to ease the educational transition for young children learning to read in Ukrainian. As of May 8, nearly 5.9 million Ukrainian residents were forced to leave their homes due to the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Of course, Microsoft’s Reading Progress tool will also be useful in helping educators teach Ukrainian students the native language of their host country — the platform is also available in Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, and Slovak, all of which are widely spoken in countries that have taken in especially large groups of Ukrainian refugees.