A Unique Learning Guarantee: Wall Street English Aligned to Global standards
18 Feb 2020
A New Kind of Quality Guarantee
How can learners know that they’re getting what they paid for in an English course? What do we mean by ‘quality’ and ‘efficacy’ in English language learning? (Clue: it’s about more than fully-equipped classrooms and smiling receptionists – although those things matter too.)
Wall Street English have carried out an independent research study which aims to provide a kind of quality guarantee never before available to language learners. So what is this guarantee, and why does this matter to students?
International standards of measurement have been an essential part of modern life since the introduction of the metric system in France over two hundred years ago. But what counts as a standard measurement of English ability?
For years people used words like ‘Beginner’ and ‘Advanced’, but these terms were much too vague to be much use when comparing courses or assessing language ability. Later on, exams like Cambridge First, TOEFL and TOEIC were used, but it’s difficult to compare one exam with another as they measure slightly different skills and have different scales of measurement.
Then, in 2001, the Council of Europe launched the Common European Framework (CEFR), with its six levels going from A1 to C2. Since then the CEFR has become the international standard, and almost all providers of English language instruction (including Wall Street English) use it to indicate the level of their courses.
What does it mean to say that a course is, for example, ‘at B1 level’ (an intermediate level on the CEFR)? Of course, it’s not enough that the content of a course or textbooks are ‘B1’; it must also mean that the students completing the course have demonstrated that they can actually use language at that level. This is what the current study from Wall Street English set out to validate.
Proving student progress
Wall Street English already tracks student progress with its comprehensive student data system, but for a genuinely objective assessment of student performance we needed a high-quality general-purpose test, with the results validated by an independent expert. And this is what we did: Wall Street English’s own learning experts used Pearson’s ‘Progress‘ test to determine the level of over 1,600 adult learners from 11 countries. The results were then independently verified by the psychometrician and education research specialist Dr. William Lorié.
Dr Lorié compared two scores for each student: their actual score on the ‘Progress’ test and the score that would be expected according to their Wall Street English level. He found a very high degree of correlation for the first ten levels (to the end of A2 on the CEFR), and a good correlation up to Level 14 (end of B1). In other words, Wall Street English have demonstrated that we do ‘what it says on the tin’: the students who have finished a course at A2 can actually use English at A2 level, and the students who have finished a course at B1 can use English at B1 level. Over 90% of Wall Street English students are currently studying at levels 1-14 (up to the end of B1 level). Not enough students from levels 15 and above participated in the study to validate learning at these levels, so a further study is planned.
A unique learning guarantee
When people enroll in an English language course they’re making a major investment of both time and money. So a responsible institution needs to demonstrate that the investment will pay off by showing that anyone enrolling in their courses will achieve the learning outcome they’re expecting. The Wall Street English method combines online and classroom learning and is flexible to each and every student’s needs, with highly-qualified teachers measuring and guaranteeing progress at every step. Already Wall Street English students can be reassured that this learning method and curriculum is backed by almost 50 years of experience; now they also have reliable and independent research showing that they will reach their intended learning level, and that this achievement is aligned to the best international standards. To the best of our knowledge, no other language learning system has been able so far to demonstrate the same degree of objective validation.
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