Chile Turns to Social Media To Expand English Literacy

With the goal of encouraging its population to become bilingual in order to compete in the industrialized world, the federal government of Chile has chosen social media service, a free site originating in Denmark, to provide the tools the nation's students will need to achieve fluency in English.

Mingoville offers users a virtual world similar to that of other social networking sites, but with the overriding goal of teaching users to speak, read, and understand English. And there is one other noticeable difference from other networking sites: All avatars are pink flamingoes. (Hence the name.) Each user creates a custom pink flamingo avatar and endows it with his/her choice of physical and personality traits, to represent that user in the virtual world. Users then meet other people/flamingoes who share their goal of fluency, visit virtual locales, watch cartoons, listen to songs, draw and animate pictures, and play a variety of multiplayer games that allow them to interact and converse using their newly developed (and developing) language skills.

Owing to the approval voiced by both the president and the minister of education, as well as a series of public service announcements on network TV, more than 130,000 students and teachers have responded to national sign-up campaign. In addition, the government has launched courses nationwide to help educate teachers in the use of interactive media in instruction, a completely new approach for most educators.

The Chilean government, said a spokesperson, launched the Mingoville campaign after recently having invested heavily in technology upgrades, including broadband access and digitalization of content, as an initial step in its ongoing effort to ensure the country's student population will be prepared to compete in the global economy.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.