Language learning research at EF
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Language learning research at EF


A language is the basis of our human cognition. But, at the same time,
it’s a window to different cultures. Ultimately, it’s the vehicle –
the way to understand human civilization. We teach languages around the world in lots
of different environments, which means that, over time, we’ve accumulated a lot of
knowledge about our students: where they come from and where they’re going. We’ve decided to partner with leading
institutions around the world to give them access to this incredible
data so that we can explore more about how languages are learned,
and also help the field teach them better. Researchers are very excited about working with
EF because we have such a wide range of students. We have students from three years old
up to executives and professionals. We also have students studying in
a lot of different learning environments, including online and face-to-face classroom
experiences, and study abroad. The EF research network includes
universities around the world including University of Tokyo and the
Harvard Graduate School of Education. But, our longest running partnership
has been with Cambridge University. The first project we did was to put together the
EF-Cambridge Open Language Database, EFCAMDAT. EFCAMDAT is a corpus of writings of the thousands
and thousands of EF students across the world. The reason we built that is because it gives us
the opportunity to study the writings and understand the different
patterns, errors and challenges that learners from different backgrounds face,
and to get a better understanding of the developmental trajectory
of different groups of learners. Students’ first languages affect
how they learn a second language. They influence the types of errors they’re likely
to make, as well as what they find easy to learn. We help build a very unique resource
and I think, for the first time, we can look at many different profiles of learners
across the globe, from very different linguistic backgrounds. For the first time, we have the opportunity, if you wish,
to build the world atlas of second-language acquisition, so that’s really exciting and very optimistic. I’m very excited about the future
of language-learning research. I think the kind of data we have
now is totally unprecedented, so we’re able to make discoveries that
would have been impossible just 20 years ago.

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