Reflecting on our company’s current operations, our founder and Education Director shares his thoughts on how USA English has adapted to COVID-19.
COVID-19 has impacted our education quality, first negatively, but later in positive ways. With the transition from offline to online, we knew there was going to be a lot of downward pressure on our education quality. We had to do everything possible to push quality back up, but in a stable way.
Our company’s foundation is based on its mission to empower students to use English. Standing on this foundation, the most important pillar for our education quality has always been our team. We try to keep our team as stable as possible, both on the management side as well as the educator side. Throughout the pandemic, nobody quit – we have been moved by our team’s commitment.
The second most important pillar for us again has to do with people: the students. It is essential that students have stable learning plans with an appropriately challenging curriculum and similarly-leveled classmates. Although 20 percent of our students decided to stop or wait until we resumed offline, we cancelled almost no classes. This meant students could stay with their same instructor, in the same group, studying the same curriculum, and at the same time. The only change: We were online.
With strong commitment from our team and students, all we needed to unite them was a technology platform. Since online services were new for us, we went with the best company we could find: ClassIn. We chose ClassIn for a couple reasons
- They specialize in live online education, and their headquarters is within 1km of our location.
- Classin is an expensive platform, but it allows us to see the quality of the connection, and correct assignments over the platform outside group sessions.
- We further boosted stability by calling parents if a student is not in class on time. We also always had a backup instructor familiar with each day’s students, homework, and learning material “on call” in the event an instructor had a bad connection. (Outside the first day of our winter camp session, we have not cancelled or dropped any sessions.)
With the same team members, student groups, and curricula in place – supported by the best platform and a reserve instructor at all times – our pillars of quality education were stabilized.
It was time to further reinforce our education quality to compensate for the blow from going from offline to online.
We first increased our quality by incorporating 1-to-1 pronunciation and reading coaching for our students. We developed a reading program to track student reading and pronunciation errors across 120 reading categories. Every recording is reviewed on a 1-to-1 basis, to listen for pronunciation or reading mistakes. The errors are flagged and tracked over different books for each level to get to the identify persistent problems. Then these issues are presented in data-driven, well-designed reports so students can see which errors are careless mistakes and which are reoccurring issues that need to be addressed. Due to student demand, we trained two teachers to help review student recordings from the United States.
With the 1-to-1 pronunciation coaching in place, we are now able to enhance our semester speaking assessments to include a 1-to-1 reading fluency and comprehension assessment. Now our assessment is more comprehensive and has been expanded from 10-15 minutes to 20-30 minutes of individual time for each student. Now our students will get feedback on their pronunciation, reading speed, and reading accuracy in addition to speaking speed, sentence length, and spoken vocabulary. Best of all, we will be able to see how those different skills develop each semester as our students grow.
Our team eagerly awaits this June’s student assessment results. We hope they reflect our team’s firm commitment to uninterrupted, quality English education.