Microsoft Research Lab – Asia

Microsoft Research Lab – Asia

Established 1998

Pearson and Microsoft Research Asia Partner to Empower Personalized Learning with AI technologies

February 6, 2018

Beijing, Jan 31, 2018, Pearson and Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) jointly announced that they have signed a three-year strategic partnership agreement after successfully launching Longman English+, an English language learning application last year.

The cooperation between Pearson and Microsoft Research Asia started in Sept 2017.  Since then, the two parties have been working closely to focus on the development of Longman English+. Perfectly integrating Pearson’s authentic Longman Welcome to English curriculum and Microsoft’s artificial intelligence technologies, Longman English+, a WeChat-based and AI-powered English language interactive learning application was created to provide students with a personalized learning experience.

Adopted by over 100 leading primary schools, Longman Welcome To English has helped over 200,000 primary school students in China to improve their English skills within the past decade.  It is one of many English language titles in the Longman family, a brand owned by Pearson with nearly 300-year history.  Longman English+ is a typical product blending high-quality content and cutting-edge technology that addresses the requirements of Chinese learners’ in the era of mobile and AI technology.

“Rich resources are available for both teachers and students, yet teaching and learning English as a foreign language is still highly challenging. Longman English+ will provide a synchronized learning environment from offline classroom studies to online in-class learning, mobile solutions, and social media through live tutoring,” said Joe Lam, managing director of Pearson Greater China. “Longman English+ not only complements classroom learning but also presents higher visibility of students’ performance that will contribute to greater efficiency and effectiveness of teaching.”

The AI technologies that empowered the intelligent and interactive learning experience of Longman English+ came from Microsoft Research Asia. For 20 years, Microsoft Research Asia has been dedicated to pushing the state of the art in computer science —pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in technology and seeking for breakthroughs. Microsoft’s record-breaking research advances in AI have led the community to surpass human parity in computer vision, speech recognition, and machine reading. These achievements accelerate the progress of industry application and make the collaboration between Pearson and Microsoft Research Asia a natural fit.

Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, corporate vice president of Microsoft and managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, said: “Longman English+ is a great example of using Microsoft AI technologies to empower education. We hope that the partnership between Microsoft and Pearson can improve the language learning experience and enhance the outcomes of English language learners in China. Pioneers in the education industry, including Pearson, are seeking ways to apply AI in their pursuit of digital transformation. As a technology enabler, we are pleased to be part of this. We are committed to providing ‘Digital-Transformation-as-a-Service’, to help our partners achieve digital difference. ”

Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, corporate vice president of Microsoft and managing director of Microsoft Research Asia

The two key technologies, among others, used in the application are speech evaluation and natural language processing. Speech evaluation in the App is backed by Microsoft’s speech recognition and speech synthesis technology; other technologies, such as semantic understanding, memory curve model, and pronunciation error detection, were also employed. The realization of “people to machine conversation” provides strong aid to improving the listening and speaking skills of learners.  Key modules in the App include Morphology Planet, Listening & Reading Magic House and Phonetics Charging Station, etc.

Pearson’s strategy is content and assessment powered by technology and services, with which Pearson hopes to enable more effective teaching and personalized learning at scale.  Microsoft provides a powerful platform and leading innovations for organizations to infuse intelligence into products and services. Longman English+ is one of the greatest examples for Pearson’s digital transformation strategy and showcases its approach of winning through partnerships.

John Fallon, CEO of Pearson

Witnessed by John Fallon, CEO of Pearson and other executives from Pearson and MSRA, the two parties signed strategic partnership agreement at the ceremony held today in Beijing for further cooperation that would potentially yield results to benefiting millions of learners in China and other regions.