English learners in China can get italki and SpeakENG through Alipay

August 2nd, 2009 | Posted by Kevin in announcement | marketplace


Learning English is the primary goal of most users on italki, which is natural given that the majority of users are not native speakers of English. Our largest group of users come from China (20% of total users). We’ve just started a marketing partnership with Alipay to make it easier for Chinese users to purchase italki credits.
Alipay is a payment platform owned by the global e-commerce company Alibaba. Alipay works similarly to Paypal, and is very popular in China. For the month of August, we are offering a 10% bonus to purchases of italki credits over $30 USD through Alipay.

Learning English in China


Alipay - italki page

We hope that by making it easier for Chinese users to pay online, this will lead to more transactions on the italki marketplace. There is certainly an immense demand for learning English in China. Chinese students start learning English at an early age (depends regionally, but average age of 10-13). However, after studying English for five years or more, many students graduate with “哑巴英文” (mute English). They often have not had any opportunity to use their English, and the vast majority are taught by Chinese teachers with varying levels of proficiency.

Given the demand for English, English training centers in China are a huge industry. These centers often are very expensive (10,000 – 20,000 RMB or ~$1500-$3000 USD). This amount of money also needs to be viewed in an economic context where the average monthly salary is roughly between $200 – $600 USD (depends on the city and region).

Anecdotally, we’ve been told that many Chinese find their experiences at these teaching centers to be disappointing. The centers are strong at marketing, but weak at delivering real improvement for students. Students have very limited access to teachers and are stuck listening in large classes.

Naturally, we believe that online learning can change this equation radically. italki partners, like Eleutian, can deliver an online product (SpeakENG), direct to students at an incredibly low costs. Students can get Eleutian’s certified teachers or find independent teachers which they can schedule according to their own time needs. In addition, student tuition doesn’t go into supporting building rents in expensive city districts, massive marketing campaigns, or large school administrations. Given the natural benefits of online learning, we think this will become a major alternative to offline learning in the near future.

View the English press release (PDF)
View the Chinese press release (PDF)

The italki Team

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  • Giraffe

    You would really benefit from streamlining the process to book a tutor. It seems like the system has been designed so that a student will book random one-off sessions with various tutors rather than developing an ongoing relationship. Here are several features that I would like to see implemented: 1) allow me to request an ongoing session each week at a specific time (like marking a recurring event in an online calendar) and 2) when I complete a session and ok payment, show a message that says “Would you like to book the same time for next week? Click here. ”

    In the current design, it's like I have to start from scratch every week.

  • italki

    Hi Giraffe,
    You're totally right, and we're actively planning a major revision of the tutoring system. We'll definitely be adding the features you've mentioned, as well as many other improvements. Thanks for the feedback. Also, I think we'll try to create an area where it is easier to provide public feedback about italki features. Thanks again —

  • Very good idea, Giraffe. I would like to see discount options, packages, different prices for different topics / levels from the tteacher's side.

  • teacherinchina

    I am teaching in Accounting in China rightnow and live teaching is the best.

  • teacherinchina

    I am teaching in Accounting in China rightnow and live teaching is the best.