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Cambridge English Language Teaching is one of the world’s leading English language teaching publishers. Our products are used by people in nearly every country across the world to teach and learn the English language and measure students’ progress. We work in close partnership with Cambridge English Language Assessment, the University’s testing experts, to develop courses for exams used by schools, universities, employers and government ministries around the globe as proof of English language proficiency.
Cambridge ELT marked 2015–16 with expanding sales, investment in a new generation of digital products, and structural changes to make the group more streamlined and closer to our customers.
English is becoming ever more deeply embedded as the world’s most shared tongue, feeding a strong appetite to master the language – be it for education, business or pleasure. With our powerful Cambridge brand and links with other University departments, we enjoy an increasingly robust market position.
But the market is changing rapidly and competition among providers is intense. During the year we focussed on five key initiatives to ensure that we meet customers’ changing expectations as efficiently and effectively as possible.
• Investment in new products as digital technology opens up fresh and exciting ways of teaching English and testing knowledge.
With our powerful Cambridge brand and links with other University departments, we enjoy an increasingly robust market position.
•Simpler production processes. We pulled together our print and digital workflows, standardised tasks, and ensured that the digital elements of a product are incorporated at the earliest possible point.
• A clearer focus for our customer and sales teams around our core markets, both emerging and mature. We recorded exceptionally strong growth in markets like China, Spain, the Gulf and Mexico.
•The employment of more people globally but fewer in Cambridge. In addition to building publishing capacity in key markets – we opened an office in Hyderabad, India, to work in an integrated way with our global publishing hubs by providing editorial processing support. Regrettably, our changes meant the loss of some jobs in Cambridge, although most of the redundancies were voluntary and we sought to minimise compulsory departures by finding other Press jobs for those affected by the shift.
• A further deepening of our partnership with our colleagues at Cambridge Assessment, with whom we publish exam preparation material and coursework. Teachers and students are placing ever-greater emphasis on a holistic approach to language learning, demanding a range of allied services offering the most effective learning. This includes a high degree of formative assessment integrated into their learning resources – so they can measure a student’s knowledge at different points in their learning journey, to help decide what they should best focus on next.
The Press, working together with Cambridge Assessment and the wider University, leaves Cambridge well placed to meet this demand for sophisticated digital and blended products.
A product underlining the approach is Cambridge English Empower, which was launched in 2014–15 but brought fully to market over the past year. A general course for adults and young adults, it combines content from the Press with testing from Cambridge Assessment.
Empower is a breakthrough in adult course publishing because its validated testing allows students to measure more accurately how they are progressing, offers remedial work where they are struggling, and creates a personalised profile of achievement correlated to international language learning standards. We are encouraged by the positive feedback we are already receiving from our early users.
This mirrors the success of Cambridge English Prepare!, which we launched in 2014–15. It is an entirely new secondary course designed specifically for exam preparation, developed jointly with Cambridge English Language Assessment.
ELT’s publishing highlights during the year included the launch in the adult market of a second edition of Touchstone, which has led the industry in blended learning courses over a number of years, and to which we have also added Viewpoint Online – two additional upper levels – making what we believe is the only fully-flexible six-level blended learning course for adults.
Touchstone’s effectiveness in part stems from research from the Cambridge English Corpus, the multi-billion word collection of written, spoken and learner texts collected by Cambridge to ensure that the language taught in our publications is natural, accurate and up-to-date.
Cambridge is well placed to meet the demand for sophisticated digital and blended products.
Around the globe, English is increasingly being learnt at a younger age, so over the past two years we have invested heavily in new products and research for schools, particularly the primary market, coupled with a much deeper understanding of the schools segments across our key markets.
New primary products during the year included Guess What!, with voyages of discovery incorporating beautiful photography. Secondary publishing included Think!, a print and digital series designed to engage teenagers by incorporating talking points such as values and self-esteem and tailored in versions for different countries: Citizen Z for Spain, and Make It! and Get Thinking for Italy. These and other products for primary and secondary led to strong growth globally in both segments.
Technological innovation and new financing models are feeding a demand around the world for improved educational methods and results. We are satisfying that demand across all our markets by developing rounded solutions for teachers and students such as teacher development, curriculum, and learning and assessment services, working with large institutions, ministries of education, and our colleagues in other Cambridge departments, all of whom share our goal of better learning.
Mexico had a notably good year in 2015–16, with strong growth in revenues, helped by a strengthening of our local sales team. The increase was driven by the market’s enthusiastic response to our latest publishing. Following two years of market research and the development of public high schools in Mexico, we successfully launched Cambridge for DGB – the first series published out of the Mexico office. Over 100,000 units have already been delivered to public schools throughout the country. We also saw outstanding performance by Cambridge English Prepare and Uncover in private high schools where our partnership with Cambridge English Language Assessment products, and our products including video from Discovery Education, proved an advantage.
The Press saw strong growth in Spain, driven by a suite of innovative products for primary and secondary as well as Cambridge Exams. Greenman and the Magic Forest, which taps into young children’s natural curiosity and optimism, was our first entry into pre-primary classrooms. In primary, Quick Minds entered the mid-level primary market, while Kid’s Box continued to perform exceptionally well in higher-level schools that prepare for Young Learner Exams. In secondary, Smart Planet and Out and About provided lower and upper secondary customers with fresh approaches to language learning highly tailored to local needs. Spain also saw the introduction of Cambridge English Empower, which entered a competitive market with a unique approach to integrated, validated assessment and personalised learning for the classroom.