As part of EF Education First, our online English school benefits from the hard work and expertise of English teachers, technical experts, academics, linguists and language learning specialists from all over the world. This month, we’re proud to introduce you to one very important person behind EF English Live, Tamsyn Brownie, Director of Content.
Tamsyn has been an integral part of the EF team in Shanghai for ten years now and has worked tirelessly to improve all aspects of our online English course. Together with her inspiring team of academic writers, translators and industry experts, she’s helped to evolve our course content to best meet the needs of the millions of people who learn English with us.
Not only does she work on EF English Live, she also oversees course content development for the multiple corporations making use of our business-oriented products, as well as several projects to support language training for recent Olympic events. With a broad range of knowledge along with personal experience as an EF English Live teacher herself, Tamsyn truly understands what makes an online English course fun and effective. We recently had to opportunity to ask her a few questions about the academic content behind EF English Live.
Q: How are new lessons developed for our online English school?
A: “When we develop course content, we collaborate with a great group of academics. Senior academics are dedicated to the core General English course, most recently when it came to tailoring EF English Live content for our smartphone app.
If we’re working with a corporate client, it often means creating online English lessons that are bespoke to their particular industry. The topics can be very interesting and very specific, for example, English for Steel and Mining. Because creating a course like this takes more than just academic knowledge, we also require a high level of industry expertise.
Sometimes the deadline can be tight to meet their business needs, but the wonderful part about creating this specialised content is that EF English Live students can benefit too when these lessons go on to form part of the Industry-Specific courses that we offer. We know that our students are often interested in improving their Business English, so this real-world course content is very useful.”
Q: Why is it important that our course is aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)?
A: “Years ago, when EF English Live originally started as Englishtown, the course content was developed according to our best understanding of what an English student needs to learn at different proficiency levels.
However, because the learning of English has expanded to so many different countries to meet so many different needs, there must be a universally-accepted standard of what skills students should be covering at each stage of language acquisition. Because we offer a robust course, it’s important that we map ourselves to something that is an internationally-recognised benchmark.”
Q: How does EF English Live create an online course that addresses the needs and goals of different students around the world?
A: “The goal when creating course content is to know who your learners are. Because such a broad range of people learn with us, we understand that a one-size-fits-all course isn’t necessarily the best solution.
We do know, for example, that beginners all need to cover the basics of the English language. However, once they hit a certain knowledge level, they will want to focus on specific skills according to their goals. That’s why we’re working to find ever better ways to personalise the EF English Live school and tailor our course content to meet different needs, goals and interests. Ideally, this is how the school will continue to evolve.”
Q: Is the Study Plan an important tool to help students achieve their personal goals?
A: “The Study Plan is a great way to offer our students guidance and provide personalised, structured support. Because our school has so many different pieces for our students to interact with—from self-study lessons to Business English to Group Classes and more—it can be difficult to know where to start. The Study Plan shows students how to pace themselves and manage their time, just like having a teacher there with you to offer guidance and motivation as you work towards your goals.”
Q: What is your favourite EF English Live learning tool?
A: “Our team did a lot of work around what the experience would be like for students learning on their smartphones, and I’m very proud of the result.
Moving an entire English school onto a phone platform was a huge project. The thought, the design and the team collaboration that went into making it a success was wonderful, so if I had to pick a favourite learning tool, it would be the EF English Live App.”