Thank you, readers and followers.

Today we are very proud to announce some big news. italki is announcing its Series A funding, with China’s leader in online education, Hujiang, having invested $3 Million USD on June 21, 2016. We are very excited about developing new features, expanding our reach to mobile customers, and helping many more people become fluent in any language. Thank you all for your continued support.

Please find the press release below:

italki, a marketplace for online language teachers, announced a $3 million USD Series A funding from Hujiang, China’s largest e-learning platform.

The funding will be used to expand italki’s marketplace, which connects learners with online language teachers for 1-on-1 language lessons. The company states it has over 3000 active language teachers, and thousands of paid online lessons take place daily.

Hujiang has been expanding internationally, and has made partnerships with the world’s largest education companies, including McGraw-Hill, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and HarperCollins. Hujiang’s latest funding was for $157 million USD, and its investor list includes China Minsheng Investment, and Chinese tech giant Baidu.

The investment by Hujiang highlights the growth potential in education technology, which is estimated as over $20 billion USD in China alone. It also shows Hujiang’s interest in expanding into markets outside of China; notably, italki’s largest markets are the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Brazil. Both companies plan to expand their services in China, where Hujiang already has over 100 million users.

About italki
Drawing on his own personal experiences learning French and Chinese, Kevin Chen, co-founded italki with Yongyue Jiang in order to help people learn a foreign language by connecting them to native speakers.

“When I studied Chinese in Shanghai, my progress was a lot faster than when I learned French in high school. It wasn’t because the textbooks or teachers were better. The difference was that I had many opportunities to meet native speakers and to use the language for real communication. We’re trying to give learners everywhere that same opportunity by connecting them to native teachers online,” said Kevin Chen.

Finding online language teachers and language partners is becoming a popular way to learn a language. Many “polyglots” or “language hackers” like Tim Ferriss, Benny Lewis, Richard Simcott, and Olly Richards, believe that communication with native speakers is the key to language acquisition.

Teachers on italki set their own prices, and italki generates a 15% commission from the lessons transacted on the platform. The average price for an hour of personal lessons on italki is $10-15 per hour, which can be significantly more affordable than traditional language schools and tutoring.

italki started in 2007 as a social network for language exchange, and in 2009, it launched its teacher marketplace. italki has grown to over 3000 active teachers giving language lessons in over 70 languages. The most popular language to learn is English, which accounts for roughly 50% of the lessons transacted on the site, followed by Spanish, French, Chinese, and Japanese. The site even offers endangered languages such as Native American Blackfoot, and South African Xhosa.

About Hujiang
Hujiang is China’s largest e-learning platform, aiming to provide users with convenient, high quality and comprehensive online learning products and services. Since its establishment, Hujiang has built four business units: learning news, learning community, learning tools and learning platforms, covering various content including higher-education entrance examinations, examinations for studying abroad, languages, careers and hobbies.

In recent years, Hujiang has strongly supported start-ups in online education and actively built an online education ecosystem to achieve a win-win situation. In the meantime, Hujiang has collaborated with traditional schools to narrow the educational gap and promote the educational equity, bringing high quality educational resources to every corner in the world through Internet. Now, as the leader in online education, Hujiang has over 100 million users and has influenced 200 million learners.

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italki 2016 Olympic Language Challenge Public Pledge videos !

June 17th, 2016 | Posted by Sandra in Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki 2016 Olympic Language Challenge Public Pledge videos !)

So a few language challengers have created Public Video Pledges to help them finish the language challenge. Don’t forget to sign up for yourself, this time is FREE! Get the Olympic Language Challenge of to make you speak fearlessly!

Life Hacks research has shown that if you put yourself up to something by making a public commitment, are likely to reach your goals because others are watching.  Use peer-pressure to your advantage! Help out your fellow language learners participating in the challenge!  Leave words of encouragement on their notebook entries!

 

Koray from Canada is learning Turkish!

Koray is learning Turkish because his father is from Turkey and plans to visit his dad’s family in there. We have no doubt he will be chatting with his family like a pro after our challenge!

 

Joan from Wisconsin, USA is learning Chinese, Shanghainese and Japanese.

Joan has high ambitions after moving to China.  After settling in Shanghai and speaking Mandarin, she’s not taking the easy road with one language but trying to learn 3!   Shanghainese, Japanese and Chinese are her target languages for this challenge!  . Good luck Joan!  Your hard work is going to pay off!

 

Nathaniel from Indonesia is learning Chinese and Spanish!

Nathaniel is from Jakarta and already has a lot of confidence while speaking!  Best of luck to Nathaniel as he continues to improve both Chinese and Spanish at the same time.

Angel from France is learning Spanish and Portuguese!
Angel a professional teacher & polyglot with 12 years of experience. She has a a master’s in didactics of french as a foreign language. I speak a total of six languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Esperanto. She’s deeply passionate about bringing the beauty of languages to everyone both through personal lessons and free content, such as exercises based on real-life material and runs a language learning blog – www.frenchlover.org to help anyone master a language.  She even wrote that she’s taking the challenge here.

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italki 2016 New Year Language Challenge Wrap-up

March 29th, 2016 | Posted by Ivan in event | italki Team | Language Challenge - (Comments Off on italki 2016 New Year Language Challenge Wrap-up)

The 2016 New Year Language Challenged has come to a close, and the experience was and inspiring and productive one.

This has been by far the largest language challenge in the history of italki, and we are deeply grateful to our students and teachers for inspiring us with your passion for language learning.

Thousands of italki learners have completed tens of thousands of hours of lessons, and the language challenge videos that you have submitted are truly inspiring!

As many of you noticed, we have changed the format of the challenge, adding intermediate rewards, while also making entry into the challenge free. Among these intermediate rewards was the chance to win $500 towards a trip to a destination of your choice. We’re very excited to congratulate Cyd, a student of French from the UK!

As is italki tradition, several of our own team members have participated in the challenge. Check out the “after” video of our very own designer, Andrey, who has taken more than 30 lessons in Portuguese, to prepare for his visit to Brazil. Congratulations, Andrey, on becoming a language Captain!

Thank you very much. We are already looking forward to the next one!

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italki is migrating our data to a new system! What it means for you…

January 15th, 2016 | Posted by Ivan in announcement | italki Team - (Comments Off on italki is migrating our data to a new system! What it means for you…)

On Monday, January 18th, the italki website will be undergoing maintenance approximately 5 hours and 20 minutes (From UTC 00:40 to UTC 06:00).

We apologize for the inconvenience, and want you to know that this interruption is necessary to implement several important changes to our data infrastructure. As we make changes to make our site function better and faster (as well as making it prettier and more user-friendly) we are also improving the infrastructure behind the site.

After this change, you can look forward to the following enhancements to the site:

  1. Our database infrastructure will be improved, meaning faster and more reliable performance from the site.
  2. Future maintenance and changes to the database infrastructure will not interrupt your access to the site.
  3. Overall, the system will be more resilient, meaning the site will be significantly less likely to experience interruptions.

Our data will now be housed in two separate places, allowing us to continually improve the performance of the site and service without interrupting your ability to schedule sessions and access your data. This will translate into faster implementation of the changes and improvements to the site, and should make your italki experience faster and easier.

We are constantly trying to improve the system, and there are loads of cool new things coming italki that will make your learning easier and more fun (at least from the technical side, as we haven’t discovered technology to download vocabulary and speaking practice directly into your brain… yet).

Thank you for bearing with us, and if you have any concerns or questions during this maintenance period, our support staff are standing by to help. Please use this form to create a service request, or write to our support staff directly: support@italki.com.

 

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italki 2016 New Year Language Challenge Public Pledge videos !

January 15th, 2016 | Posted by Kevin Z in Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki 2016 New Year Language Challenge Public Pledge videos !)

Don’t forget to sign up for yourself, this time is FREE! Get the New Year of to a great start! Life Hacks research has shown that if you put yourself up to something by making a public commitment, are likely to reach your goals because others are watching.  Use peer-pressure to your advantage! Help out your fellow language learners participating in the challenge!  Leave words of encouragement on their notebook entries!

Roman  from Russia is learning ASL(American Sign Language)

Roman is a member of Mobile App development team in italki. He has already completed previous italki Language Challenges and this time he’s going to discover the mysteries of ASL (American Sign Language)! The rest of our team enjoyed his public pledge video, so give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

Tay is learning Italian!

She’s been learning Italian for a year already and has set goals to master pronouns and carry on a conversation with a native speaker.  We have no doubt she will see lots of improvement in time for her to lead a tour to Italy!

 

Laeticia is learning Korean!

We have no doubt she’ll soon be ordering food like a champion and chatting all day on KakaoTalk with her friends in Korea!  Good luck!

Kai from Singapore is learning Korean!

 

Mamen  from Spain is learning Italian!

Mamen is a professional Spanish teacher on italki and she’s participating our New Year’s Language Challenge learning Italian!

 

Indran from Missouri, USA is learning Arabic!

He already has a lot of confidence while speaking!  Best of luck to Indran as he continues to improve his Arabic.

 

 

Alyssa is learning Slovene!

AND FRENCH!!!

Alyssa has studied French before but is worried she will forget her it if she doesn’t use it.  What a great opportunity to refresh skills she learned in the past!  Use it, so you don’t lose it!

 

Omar from Mexico City is learning Latin!

Omar already speaks fluent Spanish and English.  Now he has the dream to travel to Vatican City to attend and understand a mass with the Pope…given entirely in Latin!  Good luck, Omar!  Carpe Diem!

Hannah a.k.a. Océanne is learning Icelandic and Finnish

Hannah’s friends have been telling her about italki for a long time and she’s ready to join us.   Good luck learning Icelandic!  We look forward to seeing your progress!

 

Eileen is learning Portuguese!

Her goal is to speak fearlessly when talking to her tutor.  We have no doubt she will be chatting like a pro after our challenge!

 

Michaela from New Zealand is studying Hebrew and Arabic!

Good luck Michaela!  Your hard work is going to pay off!

Vera is working to improve her English!

Good job, Vera.  Your English is already very good, and it will continue to improve with this challenge.

Kevin is learning Urdu!

Wow, it already sounds great Kevin.  Keep up the good work!

 

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