Sattva Consulting
Evaluating Effectiveness of Technology in Improving Spoken English
May 13, 2020

Evaluating Effectiveness of Technology in Improving Spoken English


In India, out of 15 million who are employable each year, 75% aren’t job ready.

In the last decade, the importance of English has improved with an increase in the number of jobs that require fluency in spoken English. In a 2012 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 70 % of executives said that their workforce will need to master English to realise corporate expansion plans, and a quarter said that more than 50 per cent of their total workforce would need English ability. Yet, only 4% men and 2% women in wage employment in India report speaking fluently in English.

Key Insights

To address this, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation partnered with Sattva to evaluate the effectiveness of ed-tech leveraged models to improve spoken English across 14,000 students. This intervention ran from 2017 to 2019. The following were the key learnings from the ground:

1. Students who were trained showed a 2.1x improvement in spoken English over students who weren’t.
2. While pure online learning worked well for advanced students, blended models with offline content was most effective for beginner students.
3. ALL types of students improved, but beginners showed 6X improvement over advanced level students
4. Background factors like family income and parents’ education influenced starting levels but did NOT affect learning patterns and improvement.
5. Students who signed up on their own, voluntarily improved 36% more than students who were mandated by their colleges and schools
6. Specific mobile application features such as leaderboards can increase effectiveness and adoption among students.
7. Students with better English proficiencies earned 23% higher salaries
8. Factors such as semester of intervention, college support, type of cities were critical to the success of the intervention
9. Fully on-line models had the lowest cost of delivery and were most suitable for scale

What does this mean?

Ed-tech is an effective, affordable and scalable English-language learning tool that can improve employability for low-income, aspirational Indian youth at scale. The results of this study gains greater relevance in the light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Given the economic impact of the crisis, there will be a stronger need for students to improve their chances of employability and their readiness to the market. At the same time, the continued risk of the pandemic and the emerging reality of social distancing would mean the role of technology in education will continue to grow.
Hence, we hope our insights provide relevant answers when such technology solutions gain increased attention and adoption among colleges, skill development institutions and other social impact programmes.

Most schools around the world have been temporarily closed. These nationwide closures are impacting over 90% of the world’s student population, with 320 million children of 1.4 million schools impacted in India of which 70% of the schools are run by government bodies.

There is a huge need for customised, thoughtful and scalable programmes design to ensure learning continuity. The time for Ed-tech has arrived.

The full report can be accessed below.


Sattva has been working with various corporate clients and social organisations to help them define their social impact goals. Our focus is to solve critical problems and find scalable solutions. We assist organisations in formulating their long-term social impact strategy by strategically aligning with business to provide meaningful solutions to social issues.

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