At EF Education First, we see education as a conduit for transformation and exploration. Even when faced with a challenge, our core values keep us looking forward and thinking about what’s next.
While many of our staff and customers remain at home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it would be very un-EF of us to sit on the sidelines. Around the world, we’ve been lending our resources and putting innovation front and center where it can help most.
Making language learning more accessible
While EF is known for educational travel, you may not realize we were also a pioneer in online learning: We launched the world’s first online English school with Apple in the 1990s, now known as EF English Live. EF has the world’s leading suite of digital learning tools for the billion-plus people who aspire to learn English, and our deep history in technology allows us to roll out responsive programs on short notice to support learners.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, EF is partnering with governments and companies to provide language learning resources that people can use from home. EF was selected by the French government as the exclusive language partner to support citizens who are working from home with free online English courses. These same resources are being made available to Italian medical workers, doctors and dentists, and EF also partnered with McDonald’s to offer all of its 22,000 Italian staff access to English training. More than 10,000 other McDonald’s employees from, Japan, China, Spain and Belarus are already enrolled. In Brazil and Colombia, EF is offering one free month of courses for all citizens in partnerships with their respective federal governments.
Putting education first in China
When China’s quarantine went into effect during the Chinese New Year holiday, EF China’s staff, students and teachers found themselves spread around the world. In a massive undertaking, EF’s IT, education, and customer service teams worked together – remotely – to transform EF’s in-classroom interactive whiteboard software into a remote learning platform that students could use from home. Using video conferencing and interactive lessons, this enormous tech, education, and logistics effort has kept learning consistent for even EF’s youngest customers. EF also offered free English resources to all Chinese citizens immediately after the initial outbreak, including 2,000 hours of adult coursework and digital content for kids and teens. So far, more than 5,300 EF teachers have led 270,000 classes – that’s more than 1.2 million hours taught!
In another initiative called “English for Angels,” EF is providing six months of free online English lessons for frontline medical workers across China. The pilot kicked off in Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, and Guangzhou, and since launching in March 2020, more than 7,600 frontline workers from 400 hospitals have signed up.
Keeping healthcare and frontline workers safe
Taking care of those who risk their health every day is top-of-mind for many. Recognizing the need for more personal protective equipment in our own communities, in Switzerland, EF donated 50,000 face masks via the Kanton of Zurich and the Kanton of Lucerne. 40,000 went to Spitex Zurich, an organization of nurses who visit patients at home, and Kispex, an organization of pediatric nurses. Another 10,000 were given to the Lucerne Kanton coronavirus medical task force.
In the U.S., Massachusetts was one of many states facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. To aid our hospital neighbors (many of which can be seen just across the river from EF’s North American headquarters in Cambridge), EF donated 5,000 face masks to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state’s warehouse staff processed the donation, which was distributed to public health heroes statewide.
These initiatives celebrate EF’s mission of opening the world through education. In what are challenging times for many, when health and safety are the most important priorities, we are proud to have the opportunity to support local communities and people worldwide, and look forward to exploring the world together again soon.