English at your fingertips

Student at computer

A set of English language learning tools developed at the University of Cambridge Language Centre is being made commercially available to learners in emerging economies across the globe by Pearson Publishing, a Cambridge-based producer of educational materials.

The product, English at Your Fingertips (EAYF), was developed by staff at the Language Centre in response to the increasing demand for English as a Foreign Language and English for Academic Purposes training courses at universities in the UK and around the world.

The courses use various scenarios to guide users through the process of learning English: from the basic, such as ordering a meal in a restaurant, to the specialised, such as answering a call for academic papers.

Built to complement an integrated learning approach, the material aims to develop learners' day-to-day needs within an English speaking country, as well as the more advanced English language skills required in an academic environment.

English at Your Fingertips consists of three levels: Intermediate, Higher and Advanced. Each level is divided into modules, with those modules divided into units. Each module consists of between 40 and 80 interactive activities.

“There has been a massive increase in the numbers of people learning the English language over the past few decades,” said Dr Charlanne Ward of Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialisation group. “An innovative product like English at Your Fingertips, with its scenario-based approach, will be a valuable tool to learners of the English language.”

“The pedagogical approach and language structures of this product really set it apart; particularly when coupled to careful market localisation. We are increasingly confident about its appeal to learners, teachers and institutions,” said George Pearson of Pearson Publishing.

Pearson, with its technology partners, is rebuilding the software while retaining its key strengths, easing its adaptation for different markets. The new, rebuilt versions of the courses should be available in spring 2011, with the first culturally-sensitive, market-specific versions by the autumn. It is anticipated that the courses will be made available online, with possible plans to provide them on fixed electronic media, such as memory cards.

Pearson is pleased to announce that Anny King, Emeritus Director of the Language Centre, University of Cambridge, who led the development of EAYF has agreed to be Consultant on this project. This will ensure that the methodology of learner support prevalent in EAYF and Cambridge excellence will be maintained.

The Language Centre was established in 1990, and supports the teaching and learning of languages throughout the University.

Photo credit: Ron Wieki