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Kids bring English learning home: Introducing EF Study Buddy

How can we create more opportunity for even the youngest students learning English?

This question was top-of-mind when EF Education First recognized a proficiency gap among some of its youngest students in China. Immersive learning is core to EF’s mission, and early exposure to foreign language can lay the foundation for future educational success. However, young learners whose families spoke English at home had better performance than their peers who lacked exposure to English outside the classroom.

EF EdTech, EF’s global research and development team, recognized an opportunity to strengthen students’ learning outcomes and rose to the challenge. The team combined EF’s proprietary curriculum and product innovation expertise to create EF Study Buddy, a next-generation, artificial intelligence-powered smart speaker that delivers language skill content for students ages 3-6. Based on characters from EF’s Small Stars course for young learners, EF Study Buddy lets students explore songs, stories and games in a fun, interactive format. The device is currently being piloted among learners who participate in Small Stars at EF’s mainland China schools.

EF EdTech’s mission is to use technology to create a connected learning experience, one where every touch-point between a student and EF comes together to create one consistent experience, whether in a physical school, through online lessons, in homework assignments or via practice tools like EF Study Buddy. These elements not only reinforce learning, but offer every student a personalized learning journey.

“EF Study Buddy is as much about the platform as it is the physical product. Because it’s a connected device that’s aligned with course content, the experience grows over time as the student progresses,” said Tim Ackroyd, Creative Director. “The content evolves in scope and difficulty as the learner continues to interact and becomes more fluent; it uses environmental context, such as the time of day, to make activities even more relevant and to help build better learning habits. By creating a device designed specifically for young learners, EF has given students ownership over their learning and the power to drive their own experience.”

While EF Study Buddy continues its pilot period within China, the device is already getting rave reviews, earning a prestigious 2020 iF Design Award in the Product Design category for consumer products. EF Study Buddy is the only language education product for kids to have ever won an iF Design Award.

“We’re so proud to be recognized by iF, which took design, content, user experience and overall innovation into consideration,” said Manon Dave, Vice President of Product Innovation. “The response to EF Study Buddy has been so positive because it’s part of this larger ecosystem that EF has built. Its content taps into what kids see in the classroom and they recognize the characters, so they’re excited to be able to take that interaction and extend it beyond school walls.”

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