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EnglishCentral Launches New Pronunciation Center

New Machine Learning Techniques Double Precision for Learners

September 9, 2020. Boston, MA. EnglishCentral today released its new Pronunciation Center, the industry’s first online English pronunciation tool trained on over 1 billion learner events.

For the last 10 years, our learners have provided us over 1 billion learning events on how they learn English, said Alan Schwartz, Founder & CEO of EnglishCentral. We have used this data to create what we call a “Teacher-Machine Learning Loop” that leverages our team of over 600 trained professional English teachers to train and improve our IntelliSpeechSM machine learning platform.

The new Pron Center, powered by IntelliSpeechSM, more than doubles the accuracy in detecting errors in learners’ pronunciation and fluency compared to previous versions. The goal with AI-feedback on EnglishCentral is to emulate what great teachers do. For example, instead of pointing out each and every pronunciation mistake a student makes, a great teacher focuses on just those egregious mistakes that make the students speech unintelligible. This is key to maintain students’ motivation to keep practicing. The 2x increase in accuracy in our latest version is specifically related to reducing “false alerts”, i.e., penalizing learners for mistakes that are in fact not mistakes that matter for intelligibility.

“EnglishCentral has led the market here for English pronunciation training for almost a decade now,” said Dr. Charles Browne, PhD at Meiji Gakuin University, and developer of the New General Service List (NGSL), a popular high-frequency vocabulary list used worldwide. “In addition to the accuracy improvements with this latest Pron Center, the tight integration with high-frequency vocabulary lists means learners can focus their speaking practice on just those words that matter the most. EnglishCentral is the only vocab tool on the market I am aware of that allows students to systematically practice speaking high frequency words in context,” added Dr. Browne.

The Pronunciation Center is currently available on the desktop and mobile version of the EnglishCentral website. It will be available on Android and iOS apps later this year.

Press Contact:
Shun Furuyama, Marketing Director, press@englishcentral.com, Phone: +815038023236

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EnglishCentral 2020 Course Catalog

  • Over 20 new courses launched in 2020.
  • Expanded coverage for Business English.

  • You may also download the PDF version here

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    AI Expert Steven Chambers to Join EnglishCentral Advisory Board


    May 15, 2020. Boston, MA. EnglishCentral, the most widely adopted AI-powered English language conversation platform in the world, today announced that Steven Chambers will join as a strategic advisor.

    Mr. Chambers is a recognized leader in artificial intelligence and speech recognition, having served as President at Nuance Communications, the world’s leading speech recognition company, and as CMO of Sense, Inc., named by VentureBeat in 2019 as one of the world’s top 100 artificial intelligence companies.

    “Steve’s background in AI is super helpful to us at this stage in our corporate life given his leadership of both entrepreneurial and multi-billion dollar organizations at scale”, said Alan Schwartz, CEO of EnglishCentral. “Additionally, Steve’s recent focus exploring the nexus of innovation and educational pedagogies via his PhD candidacy at the Harvard School of Education fits directly in with our key mission: how best to combine recent advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence to support better teaching and better outcomes for learners. With industry-leaders like Steve and Mike Phillips, CEO of Sense, on our team, I am confident we are on the right path to build the industry’s leading solutions combining live teaching and artificial intelligence into what we call our Teacher-Machine Learning Loop.”

    About EnglishCentral:

    EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted AI-powered English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 1000 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 video lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech℠ speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantee results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners.

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    Meet the New EnglishCentral

    The latest version of EnglishCentral is now live!

    We are proud to announce the latest version of EnglishCentral is now available in 10 languages. It’s a ground-up rewrite of our platform using the latest progressive web technology, built by our teams in Boston, Ankara, Tokyo, Seoul, and Manila.

    And, we are just getting started… We have a new version of our IntelliSpeechSM assessment platform on the way next quarter too. To help us continue to innovate further in applying the latest technologies to language learning, we are hiring speech science engineers, mobile UX developers as well as great ELL teachers and linguists. If interested, please reach out at careers@englishcentral.com.

    My Feed

    Get course, video, and vocabulary study recommendations that match your interests and level.

    Weekly Progress

    Set daily goals and earn “streaks” when you study every day.

    Overall Progress

    Track your progress and what’s required to reach the next level on EnglishCentral.

    Discover the New EnglishCentral

    Try the new design and features and let us know (contact us) what you think.

    Happy learning

    The EnglishCentral Team

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    EnglishCentral Launches New Comprehensive Vocabulary Learning System

    Includes tools to learn high-frequency vocabulary effectively

    Nagoya, Japan – November 5, 2019. EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversations solutions, announced a new suite of vocabulary learning tools at this year’s Japanese Association of Language Teachers annual conference (JALT) held in Nagoya, Japan.
    The new suite of vocabulary tools were built on data collected from over 500 million learn events collected from over 1 million learners at over 5,000 learning institutions around the world using EnglishCentral.

    Unique in context Learning with videos

    The core of EnglishCentral’s vocabulary learning system is a library of over 14,000 authentic English learning videos, each word of which has been semantically tagged with its in-content meaning sense and which also supports multi-words and collocations.

    Wordlists ensure coverage of high-frequency words

    The system includes dozens of research-supported high-frequency wordlists, including a Core Vocab* list of 2800 words, which covers 92% of words students are likely to ever meet in an average newspaper, book, magazine, TV show, movie or daily speech.

    Based on the New General Service List and other lists provided by Browne, C., Culligan, B. & Phillips, J. (2013).

    Optimized for individual learners

    Unlike many vocab learning tools that demotivate students by forcing them to learn repeatedly words they already know, the EnglishCentral tools automatically mark words as known based on a diagnostic mode used when first introducing words to students to study.

    Speak Mode

    Includes a state-of-the-art “speaking recall” mode, powered by EnglishCentral’s IntelliSpeech SystemSM, which tests students’ ability to recall words correctly by speaking them in context. The system also supports multiple other modes of increasing retrieval difficulty, including dictation, multiple-choice and typing, in each case with and without hints.

    Multilingual Support

    Supports eight different L1 languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish and Portuguese.

    In Class Vocabulary Progress Tests

    Weekly in-class vocabulary progress tests seamlessly tie outside of class study with in-class progress tests. The tests also ensure students review past words for each week’s test, as each test is based 50% on new words and 50% on review words, covering the full range of all past weeks. Research shows* that tying vocabulary study to weekly in-class tests can boost student engagement by over 100%.
    Based on study by Prof. Stuart McLean at Osaka Jogakuin (2019)

    Vocab Assessment Tests

    Third-party assessment tests (from VocabLevelTest.Org) are used to both onboard students at the correct level at the beginning of the semester and assess students’ progress at the end of the semester.

    Teacher Tools

    A full suite of teacher tools allows teachers to set weekly goals for students, track the number of words students study each week, view results of weekly progress tests and quickly identify students who are falling behind on their vocabulary study.

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    EnglishCentral Opens New R and 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.
    ­
    EnglishCentral Contact:
    Kağan Cihangiroğlu
    General Manager for Turkey & the Middle East
    Phone: +903122405045
    Email: kagan.cihangiroglu@englishcentral.com

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    Teaching & Learning Vocabulary on EnglishCentral

    High Frequency Word Lists

    EnglishCentral offers a series of high frequency vocabulary lists to help identify gaps in students’ knowledge in Core Vocabulary.

    • Core Vocabulary is a set of 2800 words used most frequently in daily life.  It covers ~92% of the English learners would see in newspapers, magazines, books, TV and movies.  It is an updated version of what is commonly referred to as the General Service List (GSL) in the vocabulary field.
    • Academic Vocabulary is for learners looking to master words that appear frequently in academic texts and lectures. When learned together with the Core Vocabulary 2800, this list gives ~92% coverage of typical academic materials used in universities in English-speaking countries. It is an updated version of what is commonly referred to as the Academic World List (AWL) in the vocabulary field.
    • Business Vocabulary contains 1700 words for learners looking to master general business English situations.  When learned in combination with the Core Vocabulary of 2800 words, this list provides ~97% coverage of the English needed in most general business situations.
    • TOEIC Vocabulary contains 1200 words that appear most frequently in the texts and listening materials that appear on the TOEIC exam. When combined with Core Vocabulary 2800, this list provides ~99% coverage of words that appear on the TOEIC exam.  This figure applies to the recent changes to the TOEIC® Listening and Reading test updates, which first appeared in Japan and Korea in May 2016, will be implemented in public test administrations worldwide, beginning in April 2018.

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    The Core Vocab Course is based on  New General Service List (NGSL)  developed by a team led  by Dr. Charles Browne from Meiji Gakuin University.  The origin of Core Vocab list is a 2-billion-word corpus developed by Cambridge University.  Dr. Browne and his team analyzed the Cambridge University corpus to determine the core high-frequency vocabulary words for students of English as a second language.

    We recommend that students complete all words in all units of the Core Vocab. Vocabulary Lists are divided into quizzes of 20 words, which take approximately 3 minutes per quiz, depending on the student’s level.

    We recommend teachers assign one Unit each week for 100 new words per week, or about 20-30 minutes of study time per week.   In a one year-program (28-week program), 100 words per week means about 3000 unique Words (Core Vocab, plus Academic Vocab or TOEIC)  can be covered in the full year.

    Level Tests

    We provide a Vocab Level Test as a diagnostic test of knowledge of the Core Vocab (NGSL) and Academic Vocab (NAWL) lists that is designed  to level students within those lists.

    Our version of the NGSL level test is comprised of 140 items, 20 for each of five approximately 500-word bands of the Core Vocab and 20 for each of the two bands of the Academic Word List.   It supports both an English version and bilingual versions for Japanese,  Turkish, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish versions of the test.  We recommend the bilingual version if it is available in the students native language.   Try it out here:

     

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    We use a cumulative 90% correct threshold to determine the students “Vocab Level“, and then match students to one of 7 levels on EnglishCentral.   These seven levels can be mapped to CEFR, TOEIC or TOEFL, etc. scores as follows:

    ec levels

    MyWords

    Students however usually don’t master vocabulary — that is commit words to their long term memory or enable productive use of the word — with one exposure.  Rather, multiple exposures are necessary over time in what we call Time Interval Learning.

    The MyWords application is where the Time Interval Learning takes place on EnglishCentral.  All words studied in Vocab Courses (such as Core Vocab, or Academic Vocab)  — whether correctly or incorrectly answered — are added to MyWords, so students can study them over time.

    Words are automatically ordered by “Ready to Study” based on the time interval learning algorithm.

    Students can focus exclusively on words they got wrong   from the assigned Course or from Learn Mode or Quiz Mode in Video Lessons.  These “incorrect” words are automatically added to MyWords.

    Students can also focus on words they have Favorited  during their study of the vocab course or while doing Video Lessons.  Favorited words are  also automatically added to MyWords.

    Vocab Mastery 

    Students demonstrate “mastery” of a certain number  of words during the course of their study on EnglishCentral using the Time Interval Learning System.    Mastery requires 5 correct learns over different time intervals.  The 5 time intervals set by the system are: 1 day, 3 day, 10 days and 30 days, and finally . . . mastery =  !

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    Teacher Tools: Setting Goals & Tracking Student Progress


    Please use this post as a guide as you create your syllabus and use our teacher tools to set goals for students and track their progress through our reports:

    %e3%82%b9%e3%82%af%e3%83%aa%e3%83%bc%e3%83%b3%e3%82%b7%e3%83%a7%e3%83%83%e3%83%88-2017-03-01-15-14-51Learn/Quiz Progress

    Students get “Learn Progress” for any word they successfully complete in learn mode or in a vocab quiz. This allows teachers to set word study goals that cover both the word typing cloze activity in Learning Mode as well as the definition matching quiz in Quiz Mode.

    Because our hope is to help students retain knowledge of the words they are studying in their long-term memory, Time Interval Learning in MyWords will continue to drive how words are studied on EnglishCentral. Students can make progress on words only after the applicable time interval has elapsed.

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    Therefore, Time Interval Learning constraints prevents a student, for instance, from getting credit for studying the same word five times in one day. On the other hand, it does give students credit for learning the same word after the applicable time interval has lapsed. In this way, the system encourages review and multiple exposure to words.

     

    Speak Progress

    Speak Lines

    In March 2017, we settled on Spoken Lines as the key metric for setting speaking goals and measuring student’s speaking progress.  We count only unique lines, so while students are encouraged to speak lines multiple times to improve their video speaking grade, only the final instance of the line will be counted towards their line goal. We recommend setting a goal of 50 lines per week (this is now the default), which is equivalent to approximately one hour of study time. You can, of course, increase or decrease the number of lines for the goal, depending on the needs of your students or your curriculum.

    Speaking Grades

    To assessing student’s speaking ability, rather than just quanity of student’s speaking output, we recommend teachers use Speaking Grades (A to F).    Teachers can see grades for a single video or across all final lines spoken by the student over any defined period of time.  Note, we count only the last attempt the student made on a line towards the calculated overall grade

    GoLive Tutoring

    Teachers that are using our Premium GoLive! Product that include 1:1 tutoring (“GoLive!) can now set goals for numbers of tutor sessions in the Teacher Tools.  Note this only applies to teachers who are using our Premium Product (see Plans for more details). For most teachers using our Academic Product, they will not see any setting for GoLive! in the goal setting interface.

    Mobile Access

    Student progress is now fully available on their Android or IOS mobile devices.    Students can see their progress on their “My Classes” home from the main menu on their apps.

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    New Search Feature Now Available

    We are pleased to announce an improved version of our search feature.

    Here are some of the benefits:

    1. Increased performance and speed. Our new search is powered by Amazon’s ElasticSearch and is 5 times faster than its previous version.

    2. More accurate search results. Our new search yields more accurate search results. For example, inflections of search terms are now included in the video search results (ex: bikes and biking for the word bike.) Word search results also show the closest match plus all inflected forms of the word.

    3. Favoriting words from search results. You can now add new words to My Words directly from word search results by favoriting them.

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    4. Add videos and courses directly from search results. Teachers can now build their class curriculum directly from the search results page by “adding to class” with one click. Before, teachers could only add videos and courses to class pages by clicking the “add to class” button on Browse, video detail page, or course detail page.

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    Search Roadmap

    Here is our roadmap for further enhancements to our search feature.

    1. Teacher Tools

    The new search feature will be added to the Curriculum tab so teachers can add videos and courses directly from that page.

    2. iOS and Android apps

    We are also going to add search to our IOS and Android apps. Our plan is to provide the same enhanced features described above for the Web, implemented natively in both apps.

    3. Others?

    Please add your own suggestions and comments below, or contact us regarding how to improve Search functionality on EnglishCentral.

    Happy Learning,
    The EnglishCentral Team

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    What’s new on EnglishCentral for 2018

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    EnglishCentral is showcasing 3 new products and services for the 2018 School Year:

    • Custom Course Creation.  We have worked with a number of universities to build custom web and mobile courses to map to their school’s existing curriculum.  This means schools can adopt EnglishCentral for their current classes, without changing their textbook or other materials.  Contact us for a Case Study by Prof. Michael Holsworth on how Kyoto Sangyo University implemented an EnglishCentral custom course with over 6,000 students in its general English program. 
    • Special Purpose Content.   Many schools have asked us for career- specific,  or English for Special Purposes (ESP),  curriculum for their schools.   In response, EnglishCentral has partnered with a number of leading publishers to bring the best ESP content to the EnglishCentral platform,  including:
      • Courses for Aviation, Hospitality, Medical English, from Cambridge University, here;
      • A practical Business Communication Course, from Compass Media, here;
      • 40 courses based on the industry leading Career Path Series from Express Publishing, here.
    • New Vocabulary Courses.   EnglishCentral has completed a major upgrade of its vocabulary learning platform, with new lists developed by Dr. Charles Browne, of Meiji Gakuin University.  These new lists are based on a 2-billion-word corpus from Cambridge University and include lists developed specifically for core vocabulary, Academic Vocabulary, TOEIC Vocabulary and Spoken English Vocabulary.   Learn More here.

    The EnglishCentral Team