|Philip Hult, Chairman|
Alex Hult, Co-Chairman
Number of employees
EF Education First (abbreviated as EF) is an international education company that specializes in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange. The company was founded in 1965 by Bertil Hult in the Swedish university town of Lund. The company is privately held by the Hult family.
As of 2017, EF had approximately 52,000 employees in 116 countries. The company has particular focus in China and other Asian markets under the brand name "English First".
Bertil Hult dropped out of college to launch EF in 1965. He had earlier dropped out of junior high and gone to work for a ship broker in London, where he learned English by immersion; he had been unable to learn it in school due to dyslexia. The company started selling a French language course to Swedish students seeking to study in France, but he thought English was a bigger market and started offering services throughout Europe. In 1972 a friend convinced him to open a school in Japan, just when English-language keyboards were introduced there, and the company experienced explosive growth. The company expanded to the US in 1983, first establishing headquarters in California, then in Boston in 1988.
Hult never took outside investment, growing the business with revenue. By 2014 EF had approximately 37,000 employees in 55 countries. By that time Hult had stopped running the company and had passed leadership to three of his sons, Philip, Alex and Eddie.
EF Learning Labs publishes the annual EF English Proficiency Index, a ranking of English language skills by country.
EF has developed a standardized English test called the EF Standard English Test.
The company also offers e-learning program for adults called "EF English Live", which was formerly known as "EF Englishtown". EF English Live program has been certified by the Education Alliance Finland for pedagogical quality. Through a division called EF Tours, the company offers educational tours, service learning tours, and conferences.
In 2018, they became the owner and title sponsor of the Slipstream Sports cycling team, which then became known as EF Pro Cycling.