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Connecting great academic research to the ESL market


Until about a decade ago, research pointed at repetition being how children learnt their own native language (and so did the ESL – English as a Secondary Language – world believe that was the best way to go about teaching English). On the contrary, research in the last decade shows that it is not repetition, but context variation that determines the speed of language acquisition. To learn efficiently, a child must connect words and structures to as many varied experiences as possible. To replicate the way children learn their own native language in only two hours a week, we selected a structured path of English language building blocks, and organized them into an intensive program of varied contextualised experiences.
Children practice new words and structures through a variety of tasks and games that mentally "transport" children into different environments and contexts. Of course, the classroom environment poses a physical limitation to the varied contextualised experiences that can be created, so we looked at how we could create a broad variety of experiences within the classroom environment. We created activities and role plays that mimicked different situations and locations to practice new words and structures through many different approaches. Our activities require children to handle English as if it were their own native language; NOT to be thinking in their native language while translating into English everything they do and say – the worst thing you can do to an English learner is to get him/her into the mindset of translating back and forth. If each activity and game can stimulate the children in different ways and give them different learning approaches to the same “bits of knowledge”, their learning efficacy can be boosted tremendously.


The use of abundant auditory, visual and kinesthetic prompts is fundamental to help children link new knowledge to sounds, images and movements, and create lasting memories (for more information about the importance of kinesthetic learning, look into TPR). An example of using auditory stimuli is mimicking the sound of each animal when repeating the name of each animal, mimicking a freezing voice when learning to say: “I’m cold”, or speaking very slowly when learning to say: “It’s slow.”. Analogously, a visual stimulus requires, of course, having images for each new word or structure. An example of kinesthetic stimulus can be as simple as making up a movement for each fruit the children learn or moving your open hand from right to left to mimic an open mouth when learning “I am going to eat you!”, and snapping the mouth shut at the end of the movement. This helps inductively transmit that “I am going to…” corresponds to future tense in English.


In language learning, inductive learning refers to a teaching method that allows learners to infer language rules from the experience of using the second language. It is a teaching method that emphasizes the use of language rather than the description of language rules. In contrast, deductive learning is a type of teaching method based on learners learning rules first and applying such rules when using the language. Many linguists believe inductive learning in second language acquisition to be more effective mainly because learners finding their own language rules is often more accurate and practical, while the memorization of rules “from a textbook” might create deviations in real application. Linguist Shaffer argues that by focusing too much on language rules, deductive learning pushes students to indulge in passive acceptance and makes them give up active and independent participation in the learning process. Similarly, linguists Fischer and Hammerly believe that language learners benefit from inductive learning because by “discovering” language rules in first person, learners store language knowledge more effectively. Inductive learning can inspire students to challenge traditional passive-cramming learning, and make students challenge the authority of textbooks and teachers. It can therefore better stimulate students' initiative and help them learn independently in the future.


Giving the same "medicine" to everybody is an antiquated and wasteful teaching method. Personalised learning is currently the major area of innovation in education. Khan Academy being the leader in Maths, personalised learning will certainly reshape the field of ESL too. Education Bridge focuses on two ways of implementing personalised learning:

  • Drafting a personalised learning path in the creation and sorting of groups, based on each student's English level, learning style and personality characteristics.

  • Assigning personalised homework, through the use of speech recognition and learning analytics tools in constant development, to insure that students do not have to waste time on abilities they have already grasped, while instead focusing on abilities they yet have to master.


As much as we recognise our limited range of action within a couple hours a week dedicated to ESL, we work to motivate children to become independent learners, in particular within the area of language acquisition of course. Constant change is normality in today’s society, and the education sector should reform following changes in society. The education sector in many countries in the world is facing a great challenge: it is still built to respond to the needs of an industrial society, namely: stability, uniformity and efficiency. In the meantime, the world’s economy and society are quickly changing, transitioning to a global service economy and information society at great speed. Many education systems do not respond to their societies’ future needs, and the pillars they are based on are quickly becoming anachronistic. It is of utmost importance for children nowadays to learn to become lifelong independent learners. With this in mind, we at Education Bridge work to transmit independent learning abilities such as:

  • A passion for learning, by connecting positive emotions to the process of learning. If children grow up with a belief that learning is a painful and unpleasant process, they will subconsciously sabotage their learning opportunities. If they grow up with positive emotions linked to learning, they will become proactive lifelong learners.

  • The ability to do independent research.

  • The ability to reflect on their own learning strategies, and constantly teach themselves new ways to acquire information and abilities.


What's worse than the "make-simple-matters-complicated" bureau? The "make-complicated-matters-simple" bureau, of course. Although we are all fans of the "keep-simple-matters-simple" bureau (ok, that was the last one), a great and rising risk in society is that of oversimplification. The quantity and speed of information in the digital society has amplified the "butterfly effect". Now more than ever, it is important to train future generations' reflective capabilities and respect for complexity. Since a very young age we help our children embrace complexity with humility and self-confidence. Our critical thinking activities in our near-native curriculum are particularly aimed at equipping our children with tools and strategies to positively engage with and make sense of complexity.


Aside from running our own English training centres, private Kindergartens and schools can outsource their ESL departments to us. Rather than each educational institution building its own ESL department, we believe the future of ESL resides in outsourcing. The economies of scale that an external provider servicing a multitude of educational institutions can enjoy naturally overrides the strength of a single entity, especially when factoring in increasingly important tech tools. Working both with big and small institutions, outsourcing can empower smaller educational entities to have competitive ESL departments, helping them overcome logistic difficulties and challenging monopolistic competition by enhancing greater mobility in the education market, and, in so doing, empowering pedagogic plurality. In education there are skillsets and there are pedagogic philosophies. For the health of a pluralistic society, we provide the skillsets while working with our partner institutions to respect the uniqueness of their pedagogic choices.


Simple... the best way to learn is to have fun! "How is it that kids went in crying and came out laughing?" Darren's dad asked me after Darren's first class. Children don't feel like this is just another boring, stressful lesson, they actually want to come!

Teaching Principles: List
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