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 October 2015 Language Challenge BEFORE and AFTER videos !

November 17th, 2015 | Posted by Nicolò Talignani in feature | Language Challenge | Learning English | members | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki October 2015 Language Challenge BEFORE and AFTER videos !)

Check out Videos of Students Who Completed the October 2015 Language Challenge!

So, first of all we would like to thank everyone of you who have joined the October 2015 Language Challenge. Whatever your reasons of learning languages, we hope that by doing this challenge you will have a consistent language learning habit throughout 2015!

Here are some of the best videos that we received for this challenge:

Alex Barnes from United Kingdom completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning German!

In July Alex already did italki language challenge in Chinese and this time he would like to do it in German. He studied Chinese and German at University in England but last year he was in China, so he has forgotten a lot of German. Alex has no particular goals but he wants to improve his pronunciation and accent and to be a bit more fluent when he talks. He has finished his October Language Challenge.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Alex Gureev from Russia completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning English!

He decided for this Language Challenge to improve his English skills.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Blair from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Dutch!

Blair wants to improve his target language that is Dutch.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Israel from China completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Swedish!

Israel decided to learn Swedish because he is leaving in Sweden right now! He has finished his italki October Language Challenge!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Helga from Russia completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Italian!

Helga was going to learn Italian. She speaks Italian quiet well but she was so struggle with propositions, articles and talking about the past.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Jesper from Denmark completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Japanese!

Jesper has just completed the italki October Language Challenge where he was studying Japanese!

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Pierre Bredel from Brazil completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning English!

Pierre is learning English. This was his fifth italki Language Challenge.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Zeeshan from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Spanish!

Zeeshan is learning Spanish. This time he was going to a continue practice in his Spanish because he wanted to achieve a really high level. His goal is to able to sustain high level conversations and more advanced topics such as global warming or alternative energies.

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Ric from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Spanish!

The main goal for Ric was to be able to speak Spanish faster!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

Jonathan from the United States completed October 2015 Language Challenge learning Spanish and Italian!

Jonathan is learning Spanish and Italian. He wanted to improve his Spanish also because his family speak Spanish. Moreover Jonathan wanted to improve his Italian because he travels frequently for work in Italy!

Here is the public video pledge that he made before the challenge:

And here is the video after challenge:

 

We really do hope that after the challenge you will not stop learning languages. We hope that this challenge gives you that extra push to keep learning languages throughout the year!

 

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!

 

When I was asked to join the italki October 2015 Language Challenge, I was a little hesitant. Not that I did not want to participate, but I felt a little intimidated – as an introverted person the idea of shooting a video pledge simply scared me.

However, the more I thought about it, the more excited I became about the whole concept of sharing my progress and inspiring other people to take the challenge with me.

How am I doing?

First of all, let me tell you that on its own, 6 hours is not that much time to make huge progress, especially when I work and also have several essays to write for university back in the Czech Republic at the same time.

Right now it is almost the end of week 1 of the challenge and so far I have only finished 2 sessions out of 6. I decided to stick to having sessions with only one teacher throughout the challenge as I seriously need to work on my sentence structure and I feel I would lose too much time explaining what my weak points in Chinese are before each and every session.

Anna, my Chinese teacher, tailored the sessions to suit my needs. During the first half an hour we usually go through a written dialogue from a textbook, reading it out loud, explaining grammar points, new words and structures. The second half an hour is focused on speaking. I summarize the dialogue using given vocabulary, answer various questions about it and then we just have   a random chat about ourselves, our plans or other current topics like Chinese holidays or food. I particularly like this part of our class because not only do I learn about the Chinese language, but Anna also explains a lot about the Chinese culture which is very helpful in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the Chinese mentality and lifestyle.

Finding the right strategy

Revising what I have learned during my italki sessions is a crucial part of learning. Honestly, at first I had not been doing very well. I was lucky enough to realize this at the very beginning though. From then I started adding all of my new vocabulary into Anki, a spaced repetition flashcard program that I highly recommend.

Also, using new structures in sentences and rewriting them over and over again turned out to be helpful. Above all, I found that the most important aspect of the revision process is reading out loud! I cannot stress enough how immensely it helps me. As for me, speaking is essentially the hardest thing to master when it comes to learning a new language.

Having adopted this strategy, I believe my progress will be more evident and I will eventually reach my goal of being able to hold a 5-minute conversation about myself with one of my Chinese colleagues.

See Who’s Taking October Language Challenge

If you are taking October Language challenge we’re giving away 50 free ITC if you make a video challenge pledge. 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.  So use peer pressure to your advantage!  So help out your fellow language learners participating in the challenge!  Leave them words of encouragement on their notebook entries!  And don’t forget to sign up for yourself, and get the summer of to a great start!

Click the links below to see:

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 1

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 2

October Language Challenge Video Pledges 3

 

Amy from the United States, is learning Cantonese

Amy is a Chinese Professional Teacher and this time she is going to learn Cantonese. Her goal is to be able to express herself fully. Give her some support by leaving a quick message in her notebook.

 

Blair from the United States, is learning Dutch

Blair wants to improve his target language that is Dutch. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Zeeshan from the United States, is learning Spanish

Zeeshan is learning Spanish. This time he is going to a continue practice in his Spanish because he wants to achieve a really high level. His goal is to able to sustain high level conversations and more advanced topics such as global warming or alternative energies. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Diego from Chile, is learning Russian

He has already completed the June challenge and this is his second time taking the Language Challenge on italki. The previous challenge was in Czech, now he chooses Russian. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Sang from United Kingdom, is learning Korean

Sang is taking part of italki October Challenge. He has chosen Korean because he likes the culture, dramas and food. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

 

Scott from the United States, is learning Spanish

Scott is going to continue learning Spanish. He hopes to work a little bit more on verb tenses. He wants to expand his vocabulary and just learn some of culture things. Give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.