EnglishCentral, the leading provider of online English conversation solutions, today announced a $1.3 M USD strategic investment from Kirihara Shoten K.K., the leading provider of high school textbook products and services for the Japanese education market. In addition, the companies also entered into a distribution agreement to integrate EnglishCentral' s engaging and interactive English language speaking solutions into Kirihara Shoten's English textbooks used in over 400 high schools in Japan, giving Japanese students a new way to improve their speaking proficiency.
In an age of globalization and in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan is making radical changes in English-language education, elevating the importance of English speaking. Japan's education ministry has set new standards for those wishing to enter universities in the 2020 academic year, incorporating speaking on the test for the first time. This policy change has triggered a domino effect whereby high school English curriculum designers are eagerly looking for ways to improve student's English speaking ability to prepare their students for the changes in the college entrance exam.
"Japanese educators now understand that you can't learn to actually speak English just from a textbook alone," Kirihara's CEO, Satoshi Saito. "With EnglishCentral, we now have a low cost solution to offer speaking practice to high school students. We are excited to open this new door and pave the way towards a new era of English education in Japan. We believe so strongly in this approach, we wanted to become shareholders in EnglishCentral to show our commitment."
EnglishCentral's expansion into the high school mark is part of a larger program the Japanese government has to introduce Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into the classroom to enable innovative new technologies in Japanese K-12. During a recent onsite visit to an elementary school in Tokyo, Japan's Minister of Communications highlighted EnglishCentral's unique online English conversation solution as an effective method to improve student's English speaking ability in the elementary school market as well.
"We are pleased to welcome Kirihara as an investor and strategic partner," said Alan Schwartz, Founder and CEO of EnglishCentral. "Kirihara has a broad portfolio of successful government textbooks and supplementary materials for learning English and a proven track record of creating value in this industry. We believe this mutually beneficial relationship will open new opportunities for our conversation solutions across Japan, particularly in light of the new speaking proficiency requirements in university entrance exams."
About Kirihara Shoten
Kirihara Shoten is a leading publisher of educational materials for high school students in Japan. Kirihara publishes textbooks on English Language approved by Japanese government for use over 40% of high-end private high schools in Japan. Some of its best-selling title include Forest for Grammar reference, Next Stage for Grammar and PRO-VISION for high school students. Learn more at http:// www.kirihara.co.jp/
EnglishCentral is the most widely adopted online English language conversation platform in the world, changing the way students and professionals across the globe learn to speak English. Adopted by over 400 universities, schools and corporations in over 100 countries, the company delivers interactive, video-based language learning experiences for both self-study and one-on-one tutoring, providing one of the most widely adopted and complete platforms for practicing and mastering English conversation online. Its extensive library of videos lessons, proprietary IntelliSpeech(SM) speech assessment technology, and pre-built course modules guarantees results for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. EnglishCentral partnerships include the world's largest private and online English language schools including Open English (Latin America), UOL (Brazil), NTT Learning (Japan), and Siwon (Korea). Learn more at www.englishcentral.com.