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New AIR Study Quantifies Positive Impact of Software on English Language Acquisition
January 30, 2019 News


A new study finds that community college students who used Voxy had larger English language proficiency gains than their peers in the comparison group who used a different software. The study, conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR), was designed to evaluate the impact of Voxy’s language learning software, which uses machine learning to personalize content and adapt online instruction for English language learners (ELLs).

“This research provides much-needed analyses concerning the efficacy of language learning technology and gives us hope that, with the right tools and support, more ELLs can succeed in college and their careers,” said Katie Nielson, Voxy’s Chief Education Officer. “This study found that Voxy drove a 15% increase in English language development in just one college semester. It is exciting to imagine the impact it could have in four years of use.”

With the rapid increase in English language learners in postsecondary education, institutions often struggle to provide effective, personalized instruction to this diverse population (which could include immigrants, refugees, or international students) at scale. From 1990 to 2014, the number of international students enrolled in U.S. colleges more than doubled, reaching a total of almost 1.1 million students in the 2017-18 academic year.

Technological advances in instructional design and machine learning now allow for more personalized and adaptive instruction through online platforms, to meet the diverse needs of ELLs. This in turn enables institutions of higher education to more effectively respond to student needs to ensure they have the best chance of succeeding in school. On the backend of Voxy, faculty and instructors can view analytics and dashboards to help them better understand the dimensions of learners’ language development and progress.

“This study suggests that educational technologies that provide personalized support for English language learning, like Voxy, can improve student language proficiency outcomes for English language learners,” said Rebecca Bergey, one of the authors of the study and a researcher in the Center for English Language Learners at AIR. “Learners with access to Voxy’s web- and mobile- platform learned significantly more English in 16 weeks than their peers in the comparison group.”