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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Dual-language instruction being pushed in Washington state

Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal has made it a goal to implement dual-language instruction in elementary schools across the state. The second language would not be the same everywhere; instead, it would be determined by local districts based on what would best serve their students.

Read more.

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Canada improves its position as destination for international students

Recent surveys have shown that since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has improved its desirability for international students. Viewed as both “safe and stable” and “open and welcoming”, Canada is now competing with the UK for top spot. We will point out that this means Canada has overtaken the US in this area.

Read more in CIC News.

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International students allowed back into Canada

As of October 20th, international students are again allowed into Canada provided that they are studying with an institution that has an approved covid-19 readiness plan. It will be interesting to see how quickly students return.

We should take this opportunity to give a shout-out to Languages Canada. They have been working hard since the outset of the pandemic to work with the government to advance the interests of this industry which, as we all know, has been hit particularly hard by this pandemic. They have pointed out that over 75% of English and French programs are at risk of permanently closing and that with international students contributing $22 billion to the economy every year, Canada needs international students as well. They developed the Study Safe Corridor, a well-thought out plan, that would ensure that students could get to Canada for their studies, ensuring that they depart safe, arrive safe and study safe.

Read more about the new regulations.

Read more about Languages Canada’s efforts.

Posted on

The higher a student’s level, the more they blame their teacher

We remember once teaching a beginning level class at a Toronto college. At the end of the course, the students startled us with a $200 gift certificate and a lovely card signed by everone. We were amazed at this and didn’t feel truly deserving; the students had made a lot of progress, but seeing as they had almost no English, it would have been difficult for them not to.

The following month, we taught an advanced level class. There was no gift certificate that time; rather there were some complaints that we hadn’t done a good enough job. We were annoyed. Certainly, advanced students did not make as quick progress as beginners. Furthermore, advanced students have such wildly different individual needs that it is difficult to address them while still following a curriculum.

And so we read with great interest an article in the EL Gazette that summarizes recent research that shows that, indeed, as students become more proficient, they tend to blame their teacher for their slow progress (beginners tend more to blame themselves when they do not make sufficient progress).

Read the article here.

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Lakehead University turns international students into ambassadors

In an effort to attract more international students, Lakehead University is turning to the international students it already has. With its Global Ambassador program, some students at Lakead will be recruited to help attract more students from their country. These students will be taught special speaking and presentation skills and will be featured on social media programs.

We are generally pretty cynical and jaded, but this sounds like a bright plan.

Read more on the CBC website.

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Post-secondary institutions in Sudbury dealing with racism against international students

International student numbers in this northern Ontario city have been growing as they have across the country. But as there has been little cultural or racial diversity, it is unfortunate if not surprising that international students are reporting threats and intolerance.

Find out more about some students’ experiences as well as the reactions of Laurentian University and Cambrian College on the CBC website.