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EnglishCentral Launches New Speech Assessment Platform with Kirihara

Tokyo, Japan – June 13, 2019. EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversations solutions, and Kirihara Shoten, a leading provider of textbooks to the high school market in Japan, today announced the launch of the latest version of EnglishCentral’s AI-powered speaking assessment platform, IntelliSpeech℠ .

The new version of IntelliSpeech℠ is able to accurately grade and provide feedback not only on students’ pronunciation, but also on students’ word choice, vocabulary usage, syntax and even task completion. IntelliSpeech℠ can do this kind of complex assessment as it seamlessly combines state-of the-art automated speech assessment with human-assisted assessment.

The new platform was deployed this month with several of Kirihara’s highschool customers in Japan. The platform gives students sample test scores on speaking tests similar to those given as part of the Eiken Test in Practical English Proficiency, the most popular speaking assessment test given in Japan, taken by an estimated 3 million students per year. Significantly, in addition to test scores, the platform also gives detailed feedback on students’ spoken answers so they know the areas to practice and improve. Teachers using the new platform now have the opportunity to administer weekly practice tests for the Eiken exam and other English assessment programs, and get the benefit of accurate assessments, including detailed feedback, within 48 hours.

Most importantly, the use of IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment makes the test affordable to all public school children in Japan. There are more than 4,800 high schools in Japan and very few have native English speaking teachers. Bringing low cost speaking solutions into the high school market fits well with the Japanese government’s plan to introduce Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into the classroom and, for the first time beginning in 2020, to incorporate an English speaking test into college entrance exams.

“We are very excited to be working with Kirihara as our channel to market for our new IntelliSpeech℠ assessment platform,” said Hirofumi Matsumura, General Manager of EnglishCentral Japan. “We are at a real inflection point in the English learning market, given the focus on speaking by the K-12 market reacting to the upcoming changes in the college entrance exams. “

“This latest product deepens our partnership with EnglishCentral,” added Masaya Monma, CEO of Kirihara Shoten. “We already offer EnglishCentral’s advanced speech solutions to over 60,000 high school students, and we look forward to being able to provide cutting edge test solutions to high school students across the country with this next-generation AI platform.”

About Kirihara Shoten:
Kirihara Shoten is a leading publisher with a long tradition of excellence in the Japanese education market. Kirihara Shoten is a particularly major player in the high school market in Japan, with a leading position in both the English Language teaching and Japanese Language teaching segments. Some of its best-selling titles include FACTBOOK for grammar reference, Empower for grammar study and PRO-VISION and WORLD TREK for high school students studying English. Learn more at www.kirihara.co.jp.

About EnglishCentral:
EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 500 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantee results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners.

EnglishCentral Contact:
Hirofumi Matsumura, General Manager
Phone: +815038023236

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EnglishCentral Opens New R&D Center in METU Technopark

Ankara, Turkey – February 18, 2019 – EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, today announced the grand opening of an R&D center in Ankara, Turkey. EnglishCentral joined President Erdoğan of Turkey as part of the grand opening of the METU Technopark, IT & Innovation Center, a newly designated high-tech R&D Center in central Ankara.

At the heart of the Center is Middle East Technical University (METU), the leading technical university in Turkey. As President Erdoğan articulated at the grand opening, “the idea of the Center is to form a close collaboration between the university and industry, powered by the world’s leading technology companies that bring an innovative spirit to the technopark”.

EnglishCentral is proud to be one of the founding tenants in the new technopark, along with other technology leaders such as Samsung, Tüpraş, the largest energy company in Turkey, and Onedio, the premier social media site in Turkey.

The EnglishCentral team, located in the technopark, now consists of 30 members, and will serve as one of the key R&D centers for EnglishCentral globally, focusing on machine learning and speech recognition, the two technologies behind our proprietary speech assessment system called IntelliSpeech℠.

“We have been incredibly impressed by the level of talent we’ve been able to hire at our tech center in Turkey,” said Alan Schwartz, CEO of EnglishCentral, Inc. “We are hiring top talent out of METU, Bilkent and other universities, and the team there is now working on our most challenging projects to serve our customers in Turkey as well as globally in Japan and other countries.

“Our plan is to use Turkey as our base to expand to both toward Europe and towards the Middle East”, said Kağan Cihangiroğlu, EnglishCentral’s General Manager for Turkey & the Middle East. “In addition to technical talent, we have teamed with up with a number of the leading universities in Turkey to develop English language learning curriculum that leverages our strengths in Speaking Assessment, and Adaptive Learning.”

For a tour of our new office in Metu Technopark, check out this video:

About EnglishCentral:
EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 500 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantee results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. EnglishCentral entered the Turkish market in 2011, and now has over 500,000 registered users in Turkey. In addition, EnglishCentral has established partnerships with many of the leading universities and companies in Turkey, including, Bahçeşehir University, TOBB University, Bilkent University, Bilgi University, Turkish Airlines, Şişecam, Turkish Ground Services, and many more.
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EnglishCentral Contact:
Kağan Cihangiroğlu
General Manager for Turkey & the Middle East
Phone: +903122405045
Email: kagan.cihangiroglu@englishcentral.com

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Kyoto Sangyo University Adopts EnglishCentral Campus-wide

All incoming Freshman to use EnglishCentral in Blended Learning Program

Tokyo, Japan – April 25th, 2017  EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, today announced that Kyoto Sangyo University has adopted EnglishCentral for all incoming freshman, over 6,000 students, taking the compulsory “General English” class starting this year.   EnglishCentral will be used as part of blended learning curriculum that combines a traditional textbook  with EnglishCentral’s e-learning platform that emphasizes listening, speaking and vocabulary learning through interactive videos.
Kyoto Sangyo University has been testing  EnglishCentral in certain classes for several years.  A 2016 study at the University comparing TOEFL scores before and after the use of  EnglishCentral showed high levels of student engagement and TOEFL test score increases on average of 40 points, and as high as 80 points for the most engaged students, in just 10 weeks.   In 2017, Kyoto Sangyo decided to adopt EnglishCentral for all incoming freshmen.
The university’s compulsory “general English” course covers the 4 primary skills of English: reading, writing, listening and speaking.  Lectures are generally led by a Japanese faculty members in combination with classes focused on English communication led by native teachers.  The challenge of improving students’ speaking and listening ability is that the native teacher classes are held only once per week, giving limited time for students to engage in listening and speaking practice.
The idea behind adopting EnglishCentral broadly across the curriculum is to give students more exposure to conversational English and more opportunities to practice conversational English outside of class.  Each lesson in the students’ textbook corresponds with an interactive video lesson, where students can watch and listen to authentic English, easily build their vocabulary as they watch, and then practice speaking what they’ve learned getting feedback on their pronunciation and fluency.
In addition to allowing teachers to build interactive video courses mapped to textbooks adopted in the class, students are  able to use EnglishCentral’s diverse library of 10,000+ video lessons, covering over 50 topics,  including, for example, interviews with celebrities, politics, technology and more.  This library allows students to enjoy English based on their own interests and level, increasing their motivation to seek out more exposure to conversational English.
“EnglishCentral now plays an important role in our curriculum  because students  have few opportunities to be immersed in English except for one class a week,” according to Kyoto Sangyo University Associate Professor James Holsworth.  “Now that students can enjoy the EnglishCentral video courses linked to their textbook, they have  many more opportunities to practice outside of class.”
“We are very pleased that EnglishCentral has been widely adopted and used at Kyoto Sangyo University,” said Hirofumi Matsumura, the General Manager of EnglishCentral in Japan.   “After testing our platform for several years, we are very happy to work with the university to create a blended curriculum for their general English classes, allowing over 6,000 students to improve their English with the EnglishCentral app and platform.”

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Japan Professional Soccer Team Adopts EnglishCentral for Learning English

Albirex Niigata Singapore Players Learn English Online with EnglishCentral Video Lessons and 1-on-1 Lessons with Tutors

Tokyo, Japan – January 31, 2017 – EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, announced its 2017 sponsorship of the Japanese soccer team,  Albirex Niigata Singapore, the only Japanese professional soccer team based outside of Japan.  As part of the sponsorship, EnglishCentral will provide a curriculum of video-based self study materials as well as live 1:1 tutoring online to all members of the team.

The EnglishCentral Online Learning Solution will be available not only to the professional players on the team, but also to the next generation of soccer players coming up through the team’s soccer school.  In addition, EnglishCentral and Albirex Niigata Singapore are planning various campaigns to promote cross-cultural communication during matches at Jurong East Stadium and Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore, at  team events  and on the team’s  website.  These activities fit into the broader mission of the club to develop the next generation Japanese soccer player to face the challenges of the world by building a strong character, including global communication skills.

Albirex Niigata Singapore is the first team in 20 years’ history of SLeague to achieve in 2016 the quadruple crown, by capturing four titles:  “Community Shield”, “League Cup”, “League Regular Championship”, and “Singapore Cup”.   As the Albirex Niigata Singapore team seeks to repeat its championship season in 2017, the EnglishCentral logo will be prominently displayed on the team’s uniform.

Shuto Inaba,  the team’s midfielder, who has been using the innovative online learning solution since 2016, commented: “I couldn’t speak English at all before joining the team. Learning English through this platform, I gradually came to understand what opposing team members say during the game and finally am able to communicate with referees smoothly. We will defend our championship, learning English with EnglishCentral, as part of our training.”

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Profile

Shuto Inaba

□ Position: Midfield

□ Uniform Number: 6

□ Date of Birth: Jun 29, 1992

□ Hight/Weight: 172cm / 66kg

□ Place of Birth: Osaka

□ History: Hijiri SC → Osaka Central → Risho Shonan HS. → Fukuoka Univ.


This is the 4th year EnglishCentral (formerly know as Langrich) will be sponsoring the Albirex team in the Singapore SLeague. EnglishCentral is “happy to be part of helping the next generation of soccer players become comfortable using English, making them ready for the challenges of the soccer world and beyond”, said Hirofumi Matsumura, General Manager of Japan.

About EnglishCentral

EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 400 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantees results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. EnglishCentral partnerships include the world’s largest private and online English language schools including Open English (Latin America), UOL(Brazil), NTT Learning (Japan), and Siwon (Korea).

Learn more at EnglishCentral or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

■About Albirex Niigata Singapore

Albirex Niigata Singapore organized with only young Japanese players, joined the SLeague, the professional soccer league in Singapore, in 2004, and won the championship in 2016 season for the first time since its establishment. The team also aims to contribute to developing Singapore soccer culture as well as to promote international experience for its players. As a comprehensive community sports club, Albirex Niigata Singapore is expanding its sports business beyond soccer and is developing into Malaysia, Myanmar, and Spain.

http://www.albirex.com.sg/en/

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Leading Japanese Educational Publisher Makes Strategic Investment in EnglishCentral

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Leveraging New Opportunity for Improving the Speaking Proficiency of English Language Learners as Japan Reforms Its University Entrance Exams

ARLINGTON, MA – December 21, 2016  EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, today announced a multi-million  strategic investment from Kirihara Shoten K.K., the leading provider of high school textbook products and services for the Japanese education market.   As part of the deal, the companies also entered into a distribution agreement to integrate EnglishCentral’s engaging and interactive English language speaking solutions into Kirihara Shoten’s English textbooks adopted as an official government textbook for high schools in Japan, giving  Japanese students a new way to improve their speaking proficiency.

In an age of globalization and in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan is making radical changes in English-language education, elevating the importance of English speaking.  Japan’s education ministry has set new standards for those wishing to enter universities in the 2020 academic year, incorporating speaking on the test for the first time. This policy change has triggered a domino effect whereby high school English curriculum designers are eagerly looking for ways to improve student’s English speaking ability to prepare their students for the changes in the college entrance exam.   

“Japanese educators now understand that you can’t learn to actually speak English just from a textbook alone,” Kirihara’s CEO, Satoshi Saito.  “With EnglishCentral, we now have a low cost solution to offer speaking practice to high school students.  We are excited to open this new door and pave the way towards a new era of English education in Japan.   We believe so strongly in this approach, we wanted to become shareholders in EnglishCentral to show our commitment.”

EnglishCentral’s expansion into the high school mark is part of a larger program the Japanese government has to introduce Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into the classroom to enable innovative new technologies in Japanese K-12.   During a recent onsite visit to an elementary school in Tokyo, Japan’s Minister of Communications highlighted EnglishCentral’s unique online English conversation solution as an effective method to improve student’s English speaking ability in the elementary school market as well.

“We are pleased to welcome Kirihara as an investor and strategic partner,” said Alan Schwartz, Founder & CEO of EnglishCentral. “Kirihara has a broad portfolio of successful government textbooks and supplementary materials for learning English and a proven track record of creating value in this industry. We believe this mutually beneficial relationship will open new opportunities for our conversation solutions across Japan, particularly in light of the new speaking proficiency requirements in university entrance exams.”

About Kirihara Shoten

Kirihara Shoten is a leading publisher of educational materials for high school students in Japan. Kirihara publishes textbooks on English Language approved by Japanese government for use over 40% of high-end private high schools in Japan.  Some of its best-selling title include Forest for Grammar reference, Next Stage for Grammar and PRO-VISION for high school students. Learn more at http://www.kirihara.co.jp

About EnglishCentral
EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 400 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantees results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. EnglishCentral partnerships include the world’s largest private and online English language schools including Open English (Latin America), UOL (Brazil), NTT Learning (Japan), and Siwon (Korea).  Learn more at  www.englishcentral.com.

 

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EnglishCentral Improves Test Scores at Japanese University

EnglishCentral is used by many students seeking to improve their scores on standardized English language tests such as the TOEIC, TOEFL, OPIc, IELTS and many more.

Recently EnglishCentral undertook a study with university age students in Japan to determine just how effective EnglishCentral is in improving test scores using EnglishCentral over a 10 week period.

The results below demonstrate that if students follow the recommenced plan each week, they can improve their overall TOEFL scores 50 points in just 10 weeks.

Research Design & Methodology

  1. Students were given a TOEFL pretest to determine their TOEFL score.
  1.  Students were ask to complete 20 video lessons a week and use EnglishCentral GoLive! (1:1 live tutoring) 2 times per week (“EnglishCentral’s Premium Plan“)
  1. Students who completed the program were given a TOEFL post test to determine their TOEFL score.  This was compared with their pretest and the amount of improvement determined.

Results

In the first semester, 26 students followed the Premium Plan over a 10 week period.  The results were as follows:

  • 11 students achieved gains of 50 points or greater, the highest being 80 points.
  • The average gain for all 26 students was 36.4 points.

Conclusion

The results from the 1st September  compared very favorably with the gain for last year’s 1st year University students, which was 48 points for the entire year.

Stay tuned for an update to this blog at the end of the year to compare full year results.

EnglishCentral thanks Dr. Tom Robb, fellow teachers, staff and the students of Kyoto Sangyo University for their help and participation in this study.

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Thomas Robb, Ph.D. , U. of Hawaii (Linguistics), teaches at Kyoto Sangyo University where he is member of the Faculty of Foreign Languages and chair of their English Department. He is a long-time user of computer technologies and the Internet, and has created a number of websites for various student projects, interactive learning and professional exchange. He is currently chief developer of MReader module which administers quizzes on Graded Readers to students under controlled conditions. The site now has some 60,000 students in over 25 countries. He is Chair of the Extensive Reading Foundation and is a past president of both JALT and the PacCALL.

Kyoto Sangyo University is a medium-sized university in Kyoto, Japan with nine faculties with a heavy emphasis on science and technology. The Faculty of Foreign Studies offers majors in 10 foreign languages, the most of any private university in Japan.

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The Minister of Communications of Japan Tries Out EnglishCentral at an Elementary School in Tokyo

TOKYO, JAPAN– September 23, 2016 – EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, participated with the Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs & Communications, Sanae Takaichi, as she inspected an English class at a Tokyo Elementary School as part of the Ministry’s  plan to promote the use of information technology in the classroom called “Creating the Learning Environment of the Future” .

As part of her visit, she joined the school’s English class and tested out  EnglishCentral interactive speaking technology IntelliSpeech℠ using a Chromebook Tablet device.

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Minister Takaichi tests her English speaking skills using EnglishCentral’s IntellispeechSM conversational English learning platform.

The Maehara Elementary School in Tokyo is aggressively using new technologies to motivate student to study English.    For the class visited by the Minister, the students were using an interactive, video-base version of the English textbook “Hi Friends!” published by the Ministry of Education and adapted by EnglishCentral for use on the Chromebook tablet.

Minister Takaichi commented, “This program is well designed for the school because it helps improve students’ speaking ability, including their pronunciation, as well as makes it easy for teachers to monitor students’ speaking progress at a glance.”   The school is also using EnglishCentral’s learning management system (LMS) that allows teachers to monitor student progress and even listen in on their speaking practice sessions.

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EnglishCentral’s General Manager for Japan, Hirofumi Matsumura, explains EnglishCentral’s  conversational English learning platform to the Minister of Internal Affairs & Communications at a Tokyo Elementary School.

The Minister  actually tried the EnglishCentral program herself in the classroom, sitting next to children in the class.  She noted that children who practiced their pronunciation operating tablets by themselves seemed to speak English quite fluently using EnglishCentral.

Hirofumi Matsumura, General Managers of EnglishCentral  Japan,  commented “there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing  Japanese children improving their English speaking using the EnglishCentral platform.  It’s a true honor for the Minister to have visited this class and tried out EnglishCentral herself. I feel there is a revolution happening in Japan English education, moving from a traditional grammar based curriculum towards a curriculum that emphasizes real listening and speaking skills that students can really use in real life.   We are happy to contribute to that revolution with our EnglishCentral platform.”

About EnglishCentral

EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 400 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantees results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. EnglishCentral partnerships include the world’s largest private and online English language schools including Open English (Latin America), UOL(Brazil), NTT Learning (Japan), and Meten (China), Learn more at  www.englishcentral.com of find us on Facebook/EnglishCentral or Twitter at @EnglishCentral1.

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EnglishCentral Wins Golden App Award

EnglishCentral App Wins at Russian Golden App Awards

kathEnglish Conversation Solution Honored for Its Unique Ability to Integrate Video Self-Study With One-on-One Online Tutoring

ARLINGTON, MA–(July24th , 2016) –  EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, today announced that it has launched its web version in the Russian market.

The EnglishCentral mobile app has been available the last 4 months and already has been awarded a prestigious Golden App award.  The Golden App  Awards are an annual program that honors innovative applications in the Russian market over many categories.

The awards were announced June 21st, 2016 in Moscow, Russia.  EnglishCentral placed 3rd overall in the “Best Application” category.  It also places 3rd overall in the Productivity, Services and Education category competing with major Russian government and corporate entities. View the results in full.

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It is a great honor, we’ve worked a lot to localize our app for iOS and Android and provide users with an outstanding service of learning English”, – says Kathryn Zhilich, representative of EnglishCentral in Russia, – “It has been a race with time. We have just started in Russia, and we are extremely glad to receive such wide recognition. Our company is dynamic so our users will see a lot of new features and improvements in the coming months.”

The award announcement specifically highlighted as exemplary EnglishCentral’s video-based vocabulary learning system and its IntelliSpeech(SM) assessment system. The award committee also pointed to EnglishCentral’s unique approach of using authentic and engaging video content as a key element setting it apart from other learning platforms.

We are excited the Golden Apps award committee recognized our latest GoLive! product with this award. The market continues to validate the product as the number of students using EnglishCentral globally has doubled in the last year, and we are delighted with the award for our Russian app.” said Alan Schwartz, CEO & Founder of EnglishCentral.

About the Golden App Awards

The Golden App  Awards annually recognize the best applications from all over Russia. Companies compete in 22 categories. “Theme-based” nominations include Music, Games, Health, Lifestyle, Education and more. “Golden” nominations embrace best Design, Technical solution, Business model… The main award and focus category is  “Best Application”.

About EnglishCentral

EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 400 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech(SM) speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantees results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. EnglishCentral partnerships include the world’s largest private and online English language schools including Open English (Latin America), UOL(Brazil), NTT Learning (Japan), and Meten (China), Learn more at www.englishcentral.com or find us on Facebook/EnglishCentral or Twitter at
@EnglishCentral1
.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

info@englishcentral.com

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Chiba University Case Study

As part of the Global Studies initiative in 2016, over 14,000 students at Chiba University, in over 10 departments, were given access to EnglishCentral.    EnglishCentral surveyed the students who used the system and the responses were extremely positive:

  • 71% of Students said they enjoyed studying on EnglishCentral.
  • 92% of Students said they would continue studying on EnglishCentral after the program ended.
  • 76% of Students said the product was easy to use.
  • 93% of Students said they would recommend to other Students.

The service was particularly helpful in getting students to speak outside of class. Engaged students speaking an average of 30 minutes per week outside of class and getting feedback on their speaking pronunciation and fluency.   Students particularly enjoyed the game dynamic built into the Speaking Features on EnglishCentral, which lets students speak and get instant feedback on their pronunciation and fluency and then try to improve their score.

Check out the features of EnglishCentral here.

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The Top 5 Strategies To Increase Student Engagement Online

This article by our CEO and Founder,  Alan Schwartz originally appeared on Xconomy. Read the original here.

aschwartz-1283Good teachers often say that “95 percent of good teaching is just getting students motivated.” Online learning presents a new opportunity to both measure engagement and create learning methods that increase it. Facebook sets the high bar for online engagement—65 percent of its billion-plus users are on the platform for an average of 40 minutes per day.

For online learning, the current stats are much less impressive. For example, the initial enthusiasm for massive open online courses (MOOCs) dampened when data showed that on average, completion rates were below 10 percent.

Here are 5 strategies that showcase what best-in-class online learning platforms are using to do just that.

1. Let the students drive. Giving students the choice of a content path is key to increasing engagement. It’s the YouTube effect: let learners discover one video that piques their curiosity and then present them with a learning path going forward from there. Khan Academy has done a fantastic job of this with their learning map.

2. Adapt to the students’ level. Learners need to feel challenged, but not frustrated, and the key to this is real-time adaptive learning. Getting learners content at the right level at the right time, and adapting levels over time is key for keeping up motivation levels.

3. Use game dynamics. Online learners, like online gamers, react to incentives. Brain training is a great example of giving students “bite size” nuggets of learning that they feel compelled to consume every day. These incentives can be modeled more towards the experience points of online gaming platforms like the Xbox, or towards badges or certifications like those offered by Duolingo. The best game dynamics also involve collaboration and/or competition among learners. Knowing where you stand among your age group or even better among your friends can be a huge source of motivation to impress and therefore improve.

4. Go mobile. A slick mobile app is a sine qua non to boost engagement. It’s a simple fact that learners spend more time with their mobile devices than with their computers, and mobile access allows them to make progress and engage anywhere and anytime during their day. Duolingo has achieved over 100 million downloads of its language-learning app and claims great user engagement by making a mobile-focused product that allows for snacking on language learning in 10-minute chunks.

5. Amplify the teacher’s voice. The best online platforms don’t eliminate the teacher’s presence in the learning formula, they amplify it. The best platforms maintain a strong instructor presence through frequent teacher messaging (which can be automated) such as “I noticed you didn’t practice in the last 3 days,” or through tools that allow teachers to listen in on student progress and provide asynchronous and personalized feedback. Hybrid platforms go one step further and enhance the self-study learning path by, for instance, providing a “Talk to a Teacher” button along the way to enable access to live tutoring in real time

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Alan Schwartz is CEO & Founder of EnglishCentral. He started his career in edtech as an English teacher in China over 25 years ago. After that he spent over a decade in the speech recognition industry, including as head of Nuance’s Mobile & Consumer division. Follow @EnglishCentral1