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Chasing Time English: Leading Global EdTech Innovation from the Waikato

For Chasing Time English, they couldn’t imagine a better place to produce their world leading English Language Learning TV drama style series than here in the Waikato. From script to screen to learner, Chasing Time English’s engaging content library is produced by the Waikato company’s long serving in-house team. 

Chasing Time English began 5 years ago when Founders Scott Granville and Ben Woollen saw a gap in the market for narrative drama series for English language education and filled it with their English Language education series, engaging a massive international market of learners.  

The pair, who had worked together in the filmmaking industry for over 15 years, were initially surprised to see a gap in the English language learning film sector and hunted for a solution that they would eventually build themselves. “We spent a lot of time trying to find what we wanted to make because it felt like it should exist. When we realised it didn't exist, we created a pilot series,” says Scott. 

That first pilot series created half a decade ago has since transformed into 12 television drama series, all proudly filmed in the Waikato. “We pride ourselves on our team being from this local area, including the cast and the talent that we use,” says Scott. Chasing Time English’s roots are firmly planted in the Waikato region, and they have chosen to stay rooted here for several compelling reasons. With an abundance of stunning locations, from the beaches of Raglan to the rugged coasts of Coromandel, the Waikato provides an unmatched backdrop for their captivating TV drama series that explores the middle ground between English language education and filmmaking.  

Beyond the scenery, Chasing Time English values the strong connections made with local businesses that have supported their drive for innovation. They often collaborate with local cafes, restaurants, farmers, and more, “It’s having a network of people you know and trust that allow us to continue to build an offshore product,” says Scott. 

This year, Chasing Time English took the bold step to build their own online learning platform to deliver their TV drama series, “Generally, what happens is people take a YouTube video or an existing TV series that's made for English language speakers and kind of shoehorn it into a learning lesson,” Scott explains. Chasing Time’s platform is unique, with the capability to deliver customisable online courses to schools, companies, and organisations, offering self-guided learning at 4 levels of language proficiency just to scratch the surface. To bring the online learning programme to life, they partnered with local technology company MEA to build the platform. The partnership has remained to this day with MEA maintaining the digital platform as Chasing Time English grows.   

Impressively, their longstanding connections extend to the retention of their senior team. “Everyone has stayed with us for five years. It’s allowed us to have continuity and take our learnings to create bigger and better projects all within in the Waikato,” says Scott. Today, their team includes PhD linguists, film making professionals, and English language educators dedicated to designing teaching and learning resources based on contemporary, research-backed approaches.

Chasing Time English recognises the importance of diversity in films, exposing learners to a variety of accents and speaking styles. This diversity in casting was an organic result of a realisation that English language learners benefit greatly from hearing different accents, not just North American English speakers. “We're in this amazing country, why are we trying to pretend we're somewhere else? From the second series onwards, we've proudly incorporated New Zealand English, along with a range of global accents including non-native speaking English or second language speakers, and that provides that real authenticity,” says Scott. By intentionally casting a diverse range of actors, including those who were once English language learners themselves, Chasing Time English creates a learning experience that receives satisfaction and engagement scores in the incredible 90% range in post programme surveys. 

Chasing Time English has a range of exciting projects in the works. Their work in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia has expanded their global reach, impacting language learners from diverse cultures. They are set to deliver short courses to several university across Asia, further enriching their international presence. Recent collaborations with Education New Zealand and Vietnam in the "Future Skills Camp" initiative highlight their dedication to shaping the future of language education with a focus on creating a wide reach internationally. As Scott states, “Even on a global scale, we're really leading the way in how we produce English language education”. 

As Chasing Time English continues to evolve, they remain steadfast in their mission to empower language learners worldwide. Their dedication to diversity, innovation, and meaningful connections with the Waikato community has laid the foundation for a future of a large international audience motivated to learn from Chasing Time’s drama series. 

Scott’s advice to Waikato locals looking to break into and/or grow in the industry: “The creation and delivery of edtech content takes on many forms which is exciting because it means there are multiple pathways into the industry. So, try and gain experience across a range of roles to build up a solid knowledge base, don't forget that patience is your friend, and perhaps more importantly, learn how to build resilience to inevitable setbacks along the way.”

Learn more about Chasing Time English by visiting their website:

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