Hundreds of thousands across the world enroll in a MOOC that targets English.

MOOC-english-ELLThe humanities aren’t often known for their pull when it comes to attracting a MOOC crowd, but one online learning platform may have found a global crowd pleaser with its current English Language Learning (ELL) course that’s quickly become the largest attended MOOC on record.

The biggest single run of a free online course began on FutureLearn last month, with more than 400,000 learners enrolled from over 150 counties.

FutureLearn, the first UK-based provider of massive open online courses, began offering courses in October 2013. As a social learning platform – designed to enable learning through conversation – the platform tries to focus on interaction between course participants to bolster the learning experience.

FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University (OU) which has 45 years of expertise in distance and online learning. More than 1.6 million learners from 190 countries have registered since the first courses began in October 2013, generating more than 3.2 million course registrations between them.

The record course – ‘Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests’ –  is run by FutureLearn partner, the British Council, with the record registration numbers demonstrating what the partners say is the massive global demand for English Language learning resources.

A demand that showcases to online course providers, including colleges and universities, that there are basic, fundamental skill sets outside of business and STEM courses that resonate with large learning populations—especially when those skills are bolstered by internationally accepted tests and certifications.

“English is a language of opportunity and these sign-up figures show just how much people across the globe want to use English and the IELTS exam to open up doors, whether it be for work, education or to better connect with the growing millions of English speakers around the world,” explained Sara Pierson, head of English for Education Systems at the British Council. “As an organization, we have been teaching English internationally for more than 80 years – using innovative platforms like this MOOC allows us to share our expertise and the well-respected IELTS exam with an even wider audience and give them the chance to realize their English language ambitions even sooner.

(Next page: How the course works and understanding the pull of ELL’s IELTS)

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