From the views of keen observers, nothing seems to be ready in the host country. And the reality is that at this stage even the three important stadiums are still to be finished and tested. Airports, other venues and plans may not be ready as well. But when you look closely, at least there are groups in the country that are preparing for the millions of people expected to descend on Brazil in June. They are using modern communication technology to get ready. They are the cab drivers of Brazil.
Most Brazilian cab drivers are getting tech-savvy these days. They own smartphones and are using an application that help them find for customers. Now, they are using their mobile phones to learn the English language, in preparation for the World Cup.
The Brazilian taxi app, 99Taxis, has partnered with Voxy, a language learning platform based in New York City, to provide free English lessons to Brazilian taxi drivers. That means about 40,000 cab drivers. There are already 2,000 that have signed up to receive three months of language instruction for free. The number, though low for some, compared to the actual number of cab drivers, is already plenty, according to Katie Nielson, the chief education officer of Voxy. The language app is available for download to their smartphones.
Voxy’s approach to teaching the language is on a needs-based program. It means that they do not begin their language lessons with the basics. Since the target group is made up of adults, they would be learning things that are relevant to their present needs. Voxy employs several means for their language lessons – videos, audio and news stories – that are focused on the needs and interests of the users. They also use tweets for their lessons.
For the cabbies of Brazil, they have prepared lessons that revolve around the real world of taxi drivers. They had recorded tourists interacting with Brazilian cab drivers that already know how to speak English. What they wanted to know was the English phrases that tourists used when talking with the taxi drivers.
Most of the interactions that they found were about directions, which they can easily turn into simple language lessons. They will be learning words such as trunk, driver’s seat, meter, keep going straight, turn left, turn right and so on. In short the drivers will be immersed in lessons that they will use daily in their coming interactions with tourists and football fans.