Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

BBC reaches Bangladesh mobile phone landmark

Bangladeshi man with a mobile
Bangladesh is one of Asia's fastest- growing mobile markets

Mobile phone users in Bangladesh have accessed more than one million English lessons using a new service, BBC World Service Trust (WST) officials say.

The WST - the BBC's international development agency - says that the BBC Janala (Window) service is transforming the way people learn the language.

Launched in November 2009, the service has proved popular with the country's 50 million mobile users.

Many of them want to learn English to improve access to the global economy.

The BBC WST says the BBC Janala service is the first of its kind in the world and has turned the mobile phone into a low-cost education device by offering hundreds of three-minute audio lessons and SMS quizzes through people's handsets.

By simply dialling 3000, almost anyone in Bangladesh can participate in new classes each day, ranging from essential English for beginners, to story telling in English.

The BBC WST says that so far 1,030,583 lessons have been accessed, with users engaging with Janala's interactive services, which include audio quizzes, English story recording and direct feedback, an additional 130,000 times.

"Part of its success is the price, with the BBC teaming up with all of Bangladesh's mobile operators to offer a national service at half the cost of a typical call or SMS - just 1 Taka (1 pence) a minute," said BBC WST spokesman Damian Wilson.

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