The institution will be renamed CES Toronto and will undergo a “slow rebranding,” CES managing director Justin Quinn told The PIE News.
The group has acquired 100% shareholding from the previous owner and president of Global Village Toronto, Genevieve Bouchard, who has recently retired.
Former director of Global Village marketing Robin Adams has been appointed president of the newly-named centre, but the rest of the staff will remain the same.
“[Canada] is a very exciting market to be present in”
The move is the result of CES’ long-time interest in the Canadian market, which Quinn said he had been observing closely, waiting for the right opportunity.
“My interest in Canada has been there for a number of years, I have been watching the market very carefully and it’s a very exciting market to be present in,” he said.
“I was just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.”
CES plans to further grow and develop the school, with a view to introducing new programs, including teacher training. Quinn also hopes the school will become an Eaquals member within the next 12 months. He is the current chair of the accreditation and membership body for language schools.
“One of the things that attracted me to the school is that there is growth potential, and I certainly feel we could probably be more aggressive in our growth strategy,” Quinn explained.
The school will undertake the process to maintain its Languages Canada membership, he added.
“It’s part of the conditions – [Languages Canada] will do due diligence on us as well. It’s an impressive accreditation system,” Quinn told The PIE.
“They look at the owners, and our strategy, and our plans going forward, rather than just looking at how the school is operating at a snapshot in time.”
In a statement, CES and Global Village (both IALC accredited) said they will jointly promote their locations, which include GV Calgary, CES Dublin, CES Edinburgh, CES Harrogate, GV Hawaii, CES Leeds, CES London, CES Oxford, CES Toronto, GV Vancouver, GV Victoria, and CES Worthing.
As a young adult in college, I decided to learn Japanese. My father’s family is from Japan, and I wanted to travel there someday.
However, many of my classmates and I found it difficult to learn a language in adulthood. We struggled to connect new sounds and a dramatically different writing system to the familiar objects around us.
It wasn’t so for everyone. There were some students in our class who were able to acquire the new language much more easily than others.
So, what makes some individuals “good language learners?” And do such individuals have a “second language aptitude?”
What we know about second language aptitude
Past research on second language aptitude has focused on how people perceive sounds in a particular language and on more general cognitive processes such as memory and learning abilities. Most of this work has used paper-and-pencil and computerized tests to determine language-learning abilities and predict future learning.
Researchers have also studied brain activity as a way of measuring linguistic and cognitive abilities. However, much less is known about how brain activity predicts second language learning.
Is there a way to predict the aptitude of second language learning?
In a recently published study, Chantel Prat, associate professor of psychology at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, and I explored how brain activity recorded at rest – while a person is relaxed with their eyes closed – could predict the rate at which a second language is learned among adults who spoke only one language.
Studying the resting brain
Resting brain activity is thought to reflect the organization of the brain and it has been linked to intelligence, or the general ability used to reason and problem-solve.
We measured brain activity obtained from a “resting state” to predict individual differences in the ability to learn a second language in adulthood.
To do that, we recorded five minutes of eyes-closed resting-state electroencephalography, a method that detects electrical activity in the brain, in young adults. We also collected two hours of paper-and-pencil and computerized tasks.
We then had 19 participants complete eight weeks of French language training using a computer program. This software was developed by the U.S. armed forces with the goal of getting military personnel functionally proficient in a language as quickly as possible.
The software combined reading, listening and speaking practice with game-like virtual reality scenarios. Participants moved through the content in levels organized around different goals, such as being able to communicate with a virtual cab driver by finding out if the driver was available, telling the driver where their bags were and thanking the driver.
Here’s a video demonstration:
Nineteen adult participants (18-31 years of age) completed two 30-minute training sessions per week for a total of 16 sessions. After each training session, we recorded the level that each participant had reached. At the end of the experiment, we used that level information to calculate each individual’s learning rate across the eight-week training.
As expected, there was large variability in the learning rate, with the best learner moving through the program more than twice as quickly as the slowest learner. Our goal was to figure out which (if any) of the measures recorded initially predicted those differences.
A new brain measure for language aptitude
When we correlated our measures with learning rate, we found that patterns of brain activity that have been linked to linguistic processes predicted how easily people could learn a second language.
Patterns of activity over the right side of the brain predicted upwards of 60 percent of the differences in second language learning across individuals. This finding is consistent with previous research showing that the right half of the brain is more frequently used with a second language.
Our results suggest that the majority of the language learning differences between participants could be explained by the way their brain was organized before they even started learning.
Implications for learning a new language
Does this mean that if you, like me, don’t have a “quick second language learning” brain you should forget about learning a second language?
First, it is important to remember that 40 percent of the difference in language learning rate still remains unexplained. Some of this is certainly related to factors like attention and motivation, which are known to be reliable predictors of learning in general, and of second language learning in particular.
Second, we know that people can change their resting-state brain activity. So training may help to shape the brain into a state in which it is more ready to learn. This could be an exciting future research direction.
Second language learning in adulthood is difficult, but the benefits are large for those who, like myself, are motivated by the desire to communicate with others who do not speak their native tongue.
We asked Simon Brewster, Deputy Director General at The Anglo Mexican Foundation, his views on the way that technology is changing the way we teach languages…
As far as technology is concerned, there are obvious advantages for learners in terms of access to information, greater communicability and the reality of learning outside the classroom.
Where I think we need to be careful is in not assuming that technology somehow replaces the need for good teaching. It is in the end another tool at our disposal but you can still have a bad class even with technology.
I am also not convinced that the use of online courses and whiteboards is any more effective in terms of learning than using more traditional tools. No-one has been able to provide any evidence that they are. If it is true that you can learn a language using different approaches and methodologies, I think it is also true that you can learn a language with a fairly minimal amount of material and equipment.
I would say that good teaching affects learning much more than the technology available. I went to an interesting talk which contrasted e-centric teachers with t-(as in teaching) centric teachers which made the same point.
It is also not the case that everyone has access to technology. Mexico has 80 million cell phones but relatively few people have access to the most sophisticated technology outside the more privileged groups.
In the case of formal education, our pupils cannot take cell phones into class for obvious reasons. A lot of technology they use is for socializing not study or reading: facebook, twitter, text messaging etc.
Where I do see technology having a significant impact is in areas such as intranets which connect students, teachers and parents, access to Internet for research purposes and support from websites for everything from making a poster to producing video and the fact that technology makes everything much faster.
For our students in the language teaching centres, as opposed to schools, we are focusing on getting teachers to encourage students to use existing components such as CD-Roms and course related websites at the same time as we develop a support website for students to consult as a value added element to their courses. We will do this at low cost including elements that are available at low or no cost.
I have to mention that aside from cost issues – a whiteboard comes in at around US$300 – there are big security issues with technology for schools as well as related questions of cyber bullying. We have experienced problems in both of these areas and are now very active in raising awareness in pupils about the risks of social networking online.
by Gianfranco Conti, PhD. Co-author of 'The Language Teacher toolkit' and "Breaking the sound barrier: teaching learners how to listen', winner of the 2015 TES best resource contributor award and founder of www.language-gym.com