italki receives Series A funding!

June 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Ivan in announcement | feature - (Comments Off on italki receives Series A funding!)

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.

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.

 

2015 October italki Challenge Winners – Send us your After Video and earn an extra 50 ITC!

November 9th, 2015 | Posted by Iker in announcement | feature | Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on 2015 October italki Challenge Winners – Send us your After Video and earn an extra 50 ITC!)

We finished the 2015 October italki Language Challenge! 6 hours of italki lessons in October!

Even though this was only 6 hours, completing the Challenge was definitely hard!  A few of us at italki took the Challenge and here are our results!

Marketa learning Chinese Completed!
Roman learning Japanese Completed!

We just did some calculations and found out that a whopping 94% of Challengers who submitted a Public Video Pledge for the October Challenge actually completed the Challenge!

In italki tradition, we’re awarding 50ITC as bonus for an after video.  Below is Marketa’s AFTER Video for Chinese!

Marketa’s AFTER Video for Chinese

Join us by making your very own AFTER video!

If you won the Challenge, here’s your chance to show off your Challenge achievements in a video. Not only that, but we’ll be rewarding you with an additional 50 ITC! 

Here are some ideas of what you can include in your video:

Show off your improvement in the language you were learning

  • Introduce yourself and tell us what language(s) you were learning for the Challenge
  • Tell us about your italki teacher(s). What did you like about them?
  • What did you learn about learning a new language after completing the Challenge?
  • Do you have any advice for people who are thinking of taking the Challenge in the future?

Label the video: “(italki username) completed the italki Language Challenge October 2015!”

Write a Notebook Entry “I completed the italki Language Challenge October 2015″ and paste the YouTube/Youku URL.

Send the link to your notebook entry to support(at)italki.com and we will send you a 50 ITC voucher straight away!

And we leave you with some last words from Marketa:

“October has come to an end and so has the italki Language Challenge. It is the first event of this kind that I have ever attempted, but I already know it will not be the last one. The Challenge helped me realise that having set a clear goal and telling both my friends and colleagues about it made Chinese learning more fun, and helped me speed up my progress. I simply could not fail with this many people supporting me and asking about my improvement!

I cannot tell how much my spoken Chinese has actually improved, but the feedback I received was positive and inspiring. The main reason I signed up for the challenge was to become a more confident speaker and that, I believe, worked out well.”

Congrats to everyone and see you at the next Challenge!

 

So… in the spirit of giving, we’re offering this bonus again to help you complete the Challenge!

If you’ve signed up for the italki Language Challenge October 2015 , we’re giving away even more ITC to motivate you to succeed!  Do you really want to complete the challenge?  Use peer pressure (in a good way) to help yourself achieve your language learning goal! Life Hacks research has shown that if you put yourself up to something by doing it in public, you follow through because others are watching. Things that you put on the Web have a better chance of getting done!

BONUS 50ITC! Upload your Language Challenge Public Video Pledge

Make a Public Video Pledge by uploading a video to YouTube or Youku before you begin your first session (or your first few sessions).

What should you say in your Public Video Pledge?

Youtube video:


Youku video:

(more…)

 We finished the 2015 June Language Challenge! 12 hours of italki lessons in June! (well some of us did)

italkersEven though this was only 12 hours, completing the Challenge was definitely hard!  A few of us at italki took the Challenge and here are our results!

Tracy learning Esperanto (in Chinese) Completed!
Ivan learning Chinese Completed!
Javi learning Chinese Completed!
Andrey learning Chinese Did not Complete the Challenge!

Andrey wanted to clarify that “My Chinese Teacher went on vacation halfway through the Challenge and I really didn’t want to get another one.  If I did, I’m sure I would have completed the Challenge!”

Excuses aside, it’s hard and that’s why it’s called a Challenge!  We just did some calculations and found out that a whopping 91% of Challengers who submitted a Public Video Pledge for the June Challenge actually completed the Challenge!

In italki tradition, we’re awarding 50ITC as bonus for an after video.  Below is Tracy’s AFTER Video for Esperanto.  She started with zero Esperanto ability!

Tracy’s AFTER Video for Esperanto


Join us by making your very own AFTER video!

If you won the Challenge and previously sent into to us your Before video, here’s your chance to show off your Challenge achievements in a video. Not only that, but we’ll be rewarding you with an additional 50 ITC! 

Here are some ideas of what you can include in your video:

Show off your improvement in the language you were learning

  • Introduce yourself and tell us what language(s) you were learning for the Challenge
  • Tell us about your italki teacher(s). What did you like about them?
  • What did you learn about learning a new language after completing the Challenge?
  • Do you have any advice for people who are thinking of taking the Challenge in the future?

Label the video: “(italki username) completed the 2015 italki June Language Challenge!”

Write a Notebook Entry “I completed the 2015 italki June Language Challenge” and paste the YouTube/Youku URL.

Send the link to your notebook entry to support(at)italki.com and we will send you a 50 ITC voucher straight away!

And we leave you with some last words from Tracy:

“So, even though I took the language challenge to learn Esperanto, I actually ended up learning a lot about time management and good study habits.  
Specifically, I sometimes have trouble scheduling things in advance because I worry about what other things might happen that I’ll need to adjust to, but once I actually booked the classes and got them on my calendar, it was actually sort of a relief to know for sure what my schedule would be like.  Even if you’re really busy, just book the classes in advance. Yes, I gave some things up to finish my classes, but it’s all about priorities.

I also learned some things about watching which study habits were easy or difficult for me to maintain.  It’s important to practice every day, but I would recommend choosing a “passive” thing to practice every day – for example writing out sentences or reading something.  Not because passive practice is better than active practice, but because you’re probably more likely to actually do it!

And I never would have WANTED to finish it without my awesome italki teachers.  It’s a great feeling to WANT to review your material so you can have another great conversation soon!”

Congrats to everyone and see you at the next Challenge!