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Free webinar June 23rd: Tackling some Common Challenges of Distance Teaching and Learning

Since COVID-19 forced many teachers and learners worldwide to move quickly online, a number of common challenges have arisen. This webinar draws on research recently conducted by Macmillan ELT with teachers working in a variety of new circumstances. We’ll look at some practical solutions to the issues many of us are facing now: how to keep learners engaged and motivated? How to encourage meaningful collaboration and communication? And what to do about wellbeing – both online and offline, for both learners and teachers?

Register here.

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Free webinar June 10th: Teaching and Motivating Adult Learners Online (and Offline)

Still online and still loving it?! How has the pandemic affected your teaching? What does motivation mean and how can we, as teachers, create motivating lessons for our students online (and offline)? In this webinar, Rhona Snelling explores the meaning and role of motivation in the young adult/adult language classroom, and the positives of teaching online. This interactive webinar will discuss useful points to remember and present practical classroom activities and ideas.

Register here.

Posted on Launches AI-Powered conversational English learning chatbot

First ever English learning tool where learners can “say anything”

MiMism is the world’s first AI-powered, conversational English learning tool, where learners can say anything and get instant feedback on their vocabulary, grammar, nativeness, fluency and more. 

Current chatbots for English learning use fixed dialogs, limiting learners to a fixed set of responses.    For that reason, these “chatbots” are less effective helping students learn to speak English.   With MiMi, users can speak freely, like they are speaking to a human, and get instant feedback.

How does it work?

  • A library for over 15,000 video lessons — covering 7 levels (from CEFR A1 to C2) and over 50 topics covering business, travel, media and more–   now each contain discussion questions that serve as the prompt to initiate conversation with MiMi.
  • The learner’s answer is transcribed into text, auto-punctuated, auto-capitalized, and displayed in the UI.  Learners can manually edit the text before requesting feedback
  • MiMi provides automated, instant feedback for fluency, nativeness of pronunciation, vocabulary level, and grammar accuracy

MiMi is powered by our IntelliSpeech platform, which has been uniquely trained on hundreds of millions of lines of speech data gathered from non-native speakers in over 100 countries. To learn more about our Teacher-Machine Learning Loop, click here. This makes MiMi more accurate than even Google’s speech assistant on non-native speech.

Our vision

Being able to speak English allows people to expand the opportunities available to them, whether it be in their work, traveling the world, or pursuing their pastimes.   The problem with most computer-based, English learning solutions is that they don’t effectively teach learners to speak, which is the key skill that is in demand.

EnglishCentral provides the most effective and affordable way to learn conversational English combining artificial intelligence with quality tutoring. Our vision is to provide everyone in the world with an affordable, personal English teacher.

MiMi is a key element to deliver on our vision.   This version of MiMi integrates with our library over 15,000 authentic videos allowing users to discuss the videos with MiMi in their own words.  Our plan is to continue to develop MiMi’s natural language understanding to become the world’s most capable virtual English teacher, delivering an affordable and personalised learning experience to English learners everywhere.

Human teaching remains at the core the EnglishCentral experience and we now have over 600 EnglishCentral teachers. MiMi  doesn’t replace them; instead, she provides a great way for learners to warm up for live lessons, helping learners build confidence and motivate them to take lessons with live teachers.  MiMi gives learners an opportunity to practice speaking English on their own, receive valuable feedback, gain confidence, and ultimately improve faster.   

What’s Next For now, learners can say anything but MiMi is limited in her responses.   Over time, MiMi  will gain more dialog capabilities, allowing for more interactive conversations.  By the end of the year, we will be able to drive a more personalised conversation, based on a user’s interest or specific learning objectives.  Eventually, she will be able to teach and assess a learner’s ability to perform tasks, such as ordering a Pizza, or booking a hotel room.

Call or email us to find out more about, becoming a BETA teacher or academic pricing.

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International students want to get back to face-to-face learning

This may not come as a surprise to many (though it maybe to the dismay of some program chairs) that students prefer in class to online learning. Two new surveys confirm as much and also indicate that students are willing to get vaccines and go through quarantine in order to get back to the classroom.

Read more in the EL Gazette.

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When will language programs recover from the pandemic?

With vaccinations making great progress, the light is at the end of the tunnel (for those of us in wealthy countries, at least). The idea that things can start returning to normal soon is comforting and realistic to a certain extent. But for those of us in the language teaching industry, we are now more aware than ever that our industry is very tied in with the tourism industry and that leaves us not entirely sure when things will return to normal for us.

Well, a recent article in The PIE News reports on the recent Languages Canada virtual conference and its discussion of when full recovery can be expected. Spoiler alert! It says that the flow of international students will not fully resume until 2023, which is a little depressing (we are sick of treading water and imagine we are not the only ones). On the positive side, it says that Canada is well positioned right now to be the top destination in the world when that recovery comes.

Read more in the PIE News.

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Canada’s 15 research universities are losing market share of international students to other Canadian universities

Leave aside the 80% drop in study permits Canada issued from 2019 to 2020. Since 2017, more international students have chosen not to study at one of the U15 Group of Canadian Reasearch Universities. In 2016, 51.8% of study permits went to students studying at one of these U15 members; by 2019, this number shrank to 36.7%.

Read more at ApplyBoard.

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ILAC partners with Air Canada to offer discounted airfare to international students

Air Canada is offering any student looking to study at ILAC or any of the 80 institutions that have a pathway agreement with ILAC a 15% discount on their flight. The discount is valid until the end of 2021 but flights must be booked by June 30th.

See ILAC’s press release.

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Pandemic has created a mental health crisis amongst international students

One Voice Canada recently released a study that looks at the difficulties that international students, specifically Indian students, face. While these difficulties existed before, they have become amplified by the pandemic. The study notes that there has been an increase in mental health problems and suicide.

Read the report.