Meeting growing English language needs
CognosOnline works across Latin America, helping its education and business clients to best meet their training and learning needs through technology. It is continually looking for new, innovative solutions that deliver value to its customers.
In 2014 the Peruvian government set a goal of raising the country’s proficiency in English, with the aim of achieving bilingualism by 2021. Given the size of the task, this has not only led to increasing investment in education and training, but also a focus on how technology can help. As part of this drive, university students in the higher education sector now need to demonstrate English language competency to graduate – whatever subject they are studying.
At the same time Peruvian businesses are focusing on boosting their own English language skills to help them expand sales overseas.
Active in Peru since 2013, CognosOnline is aiming to meet these needs for expanded English language teaching and certification. Already offering an online English language learning course, it understood that it required an online test to provide the complete solution to its customers.
‘Take a 20,000 student university – it is impossible to teach them all English using traditional classroom methods,’ explains José Humberto González, Commercial Director for Peru and Bolivia, CognosOnline. ‘There are not enough teachers or even enough classrooms – that’s why we knew that online solutions were the way forward. We already offered online English learning, but our customers needed an online test to deliver certification at the end of courses, rather than having to mark physical papers, which is time-consuming and inefficient.’
An online test for an online course
After meeting with Cambridge English, CognosOnline saw that Linguaskill was the perfect fit for its customers’ requirements. It provided a simple-to-administer, online test that didn’t require external marking, and delivered certification based on the internationally recognised CEFR standard.
Since beginning the relationship in September 2017, progress has been rapid, with the partnership working together to target the 50 largest of Peru’s 146 universities through joint events, visits and presentations. This has already resulted in Linguaskill being adopted by the Universidad Cientifica del Sur (UCSUR), based in Lima.
‘Linguaskill fits perfectly with the needs of our customers – combined with our online course it delivers a single solution’
UCSUR is using the combination of CognosOnline’s online English course and Linguaskill to provide a complete solution to English language learning and certification. This means that its 5,000 students are able to learn at their own pace, and then take the reading and listening modules of the Linguaskill test when they feel ready, at any point in their studies before graduation.
As part of its focus on English learning, UCSUR is currently testing 200 students every two months, a number that is likely to accelerate as more students move online for their learning. By switching to Linguaskill, the university is increasing efficiency, removing the need for test marking, reducing paperwork and administration by delivering instant results once tests are taken, and meeting government requirements that all graduating students are competent in English.
‘It is like a marriage – which sums up our partnership with Cambridge English. We’re working really closely together to address the enormous market there is in Peru and beyond.’ adds José Humberto González.
Supporting business growth across Latin America
While early in the process, UCSUR is seeing real benefits from working with CognosOnline and Linguaskill. It gives them control and flexibility, allowing the university to run tests as and when it needs, simply using the tokens it has purchased. UCSUR can then immediately access and download the results and digital reports, enabling it to meet certification requirements easily and cost-effectively. As the tests are all online and marked automatically it removes the possibility of cheating or fraud, delivering peace of mind.
With over 1 million students in Peruvian universities, the market for online English learning and testing is large – but CognosOnline feels that it is just the start. It is also talking to corporate organisations looking to test English language skills within the recruitment and selection process as well as the public sector. For example, English is an increasing requirement in the armed forces and within vocational and technical colleges, opening up further markets for CognosOnline.
It is also expanding Linguaskill sales across Latin America, with recent visits to 12 Bolivian universities and first customers expected soon in Colombia.
‘Linguaskill is a growing part of our business as it matches customer needs and enables us to offer a full solution, whatever sector or country the organisation is based in,’ says José Humberto González. ‘Given the tremendous expansion in English learning and certification requirements, in Peru and other countries, we see Linguaskill as a key part of our portfolio moving forward.’
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