You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

EF Education First collaboration with Harvard Grad School of Ed team looks to unlock mysteries of language learning

EF Education First, a company with offices in Sweden and Switzerland and its North American headquarters in Cambridge, said is now collaborating with a team from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that seeks to unlock some of the mysteries of how Chinese and Russian speakers learn to write in English.

Teaching English as a second language has turned EF into a global company with 35,000 employees, including 900 in Cambridge. To accommodate its growth, it has a $125 million building under construction next to its existing Cambridge facility. The second building is expected to open in the spring of 2014, and the company is looking to add 300 more employees in Cambridge.

Continue reading below

Meanwhile, the collaboration with the Harvard team from the Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is set to explore why students from certain countries learn English more easily than students from other places.

“The collaboration will begin by focusing on how students acquire written English proficiency,” EF said in a press release. “Associate Professor Paola Uccelli and her PhD students from HGSE’s Language & Literacy Program will access written works submitted by Russian, Chinese, and Native English speakers who have studied with EF. The team will contrast the essays, chronicle recurring differences in the prose, and attempt to understand which academic approaches worked best in developing written English language proficiency.”

At some point, so-called Big Data analytics could be incorporated into this project.

“We are proud to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation in language education,” EF co-chairman Philip Hult said in a statement. “Our research project with the HGSE team is exciting and may reveal how a data-driven assessment of language learning can help students learn English more effectively in the future.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at
Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of