Voxy and CASL Announce Research Partnership to Find Effective Ways of Tailoring Language Instruction to Match Cognitive Profiles

NEW YORK(PRNewswire)  — Voxy, a leading online English learning solution, and the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) have announced plans to launch a joint empirical study to measure the effects of different instructional approaches on learners with distinct cognitive profiles.

Image provided by CASL (PRNewsFoto/Voxy)
Image provided by CASL (PRNewsFoto/Voxy)

This strategic partnership represents an opportunity for breakthrough findings on how to effectively teach foreign languages, personalize language learning, and identify individuals with a high potential for advanced language learning success.

CASL is a premier University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) that supports the needs of the DoD and continues to lead the language aptitude research that will help change the way technology is used for language learning.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the type of research that we conduct at CASL is the potential broad application of so much of our work,” said Michael May, Ph.D., CASL Executive Director. “This joint venture represents our first opportunity to concretely transfer the product of a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) into the public realm. This is the kind of far-reaching impact that sponsored research should seek to achieve and we are very excited to see the results of this partnership.”

In the seven-month study, in addition to using Voxy’s online English course, study participants will be given four assessments from CASL’s Hi-Level Language Aptitude Battery (Hi-LAB), including tests that measure working memory capacity and the ability to learn new information implicitly. The Hi-LAB assessments measure how the participants’ brains work when learning a foreign language. The results will help to identify what teaching methods will lead to the highest proficiency gains for individual learners.

Voxy will be the first private company to use Hi-LAB’s cognitive assessments as a way to tailor instruction based on brain activation during language learning. With its personalized language curriculum, the ability to reach hundreds of thousands of language learners around the world, and its cutting-edge technology platform, Voxy is uniquely positioned to test multiple instructional approaches for each learner.

“CASL has spent many years developing and validating the Hi-Level Language Aptitude Battery,” said Catherine J. Doughty, Ph.D., CASL Area Director of Second Language Acquisition. “The original impetus for our work was to be able to match language instruction to cognitive language aptitude to help adult learners attain very advanced levels much more efficiently and quickly. We are delighted to be partnering with Voxy to put the ideas into a real-world test bed.”

“We have admired CASL for many years, and the Center’s research in the field of second language acquisition (SLA) has always been a key input into the pedagogical principles underlying Voxy’s platform,” said Voxy CEO Paul Gollash. “We are thrilled to be formally partnering with this passionate team of SLA experts and cognitive scientists to help shape the future of personalized English learning.”

Voxy’s personalized courses currently adapt to meet learners’ needs based on performance, proficiency levels, interests and language learning goals. The collaboration with CASL will allow Voxy to identify learners’ cognitive profiles, and subsequently determine which activity sequences are best suited to individual learners. When Voxy can add cognitive profiles to its personalization algorithm, it will be able to meet learners’ needs even more efficiently and effectively.

“Voxy’s mission is to build a maximally effective language learning platform based on the findings from rigorous empirical research,” said Katie Nielson, Ph.D., Voxy’s Chief Education Officer. “We are incredibly excited about the research CASL has been spearheading on cognitive aptitudes and its potential for differentiating instruction even further. Partnering with CASL will allow us to take our personalized approach to language learning to the next level.”