alipay

Alipay

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_page

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

SPEAKENG Course 1Y 10000004-2 We wanted to write more about our first partner company, Eleutian Technology, and its product SpeakENG.

Eleutian is based in Wyoming, USA, in a little town called Ten Sleep (google map).  Their mission is to teach the world English, using online courses and US-based teachers.  In a time when much of the US is in recession, Eleutian has been hiring certified teachers to satisfy the global demand for learning English.  Eleutian is an interesting globalization story in that English teaching is being “in-sourced” to the US. Another intriguing aspect about Eleutian is its surprising technology infrastructure (news report).

screenshot of SpeakENG

click for detailed explanation page of SpeakENG

The other part of Eleutian’s SpeakENG product is online courses that are powered by Pearson’s English Language Learning and Instruction System (ELLIS).  SpeakENG (Pearson ELLIS) has an impressive amount of English content for online self-study. There are video lessons, scripts, recordings, skill drills, in-depth explanations of grammar points, and much more.  We’ve been told the package normally retails at a very expensive rate, and that the pricing on italki reflects Eleutian’s desire to grow aggressively in this market (this pricing might not last).

If you want to find out more information (pictures and walkthrough), take a look at our in-depth explanation on Eleutian SpeakENG.

Eleutian SpeakENG is offering to italki users:

You can see the full list here.

If you’re learning English, we really can’t recommend trying SpeakENG enough. It’s an amazing product for self-study and combined with tutoring from US certified teachers, we’re sure this is something that you shouldn’t miss out on.

View the press release (PDF)

The italki Team

eleutian_logo_400 We’re excited that we have expanded the Language Marketplace to include language companies and schools. Now language learning companies can partner with italki and offer their services and products to italki users. We think this is a major step towards making italki a destination site for language learning.

Our first partner company, Eleutian Technology, targets the largest language learning market in the world: Learning English.  Eleutian uses American certified-school teachers and the highly-regarded Pearson English Language Learning Instruction System (ELLIS) to teach English online.

marketplace screenshot

click to go to marketplace

Language Learning Ecosystem

Our plan is to expand the marketplace to include every language, and to support a variety of services.  By creating an ecosystem for language learning, we believe everyone benefits:  students, independent teachers, language training companies, and application developers.

Students benefit by having more choices.  They can pay for premium services, or use the free community generated ones.  Students are able to share information about different service providers and make informed choices.  Students are also able to pick and choose a combination of services that may be useful to them.  Most of all, a central location helps students find online providers of language education.

Teachers and companies benefit by having an active market with demand for their service.  Companies and teachers can reach out to students around the world, and transact without having to deal with individual payment issues.  Quality teachers and companies also benefit by having their reputation socially confirmed by their customers.

Again, we’re thrilled to be opening our expanded marketplace, and to have Eleutian join us as our first partner.  If you’re not learning English, just be patient — we’re planning to add more companies and services for other languages soon. If you represent a company that might be interested in partnering with italki, please contact us at business at italki dot com.

View the press releasePDF)

The italki Team

language-marketplaceIt’s been two months since we launched the open beta of our Language Marketplace (announcement), and we wanted to say we’ve been very pleased so far. The Language Marketplace is where students can pay for online lessons and teachers can get paid to teach a foreign language. In this short time, we’ve already had over 2500 teachers register to teach 70 languages online! Of the teachers, over 20% are professionals, meaning we have over 500 experienced language teachers ready to teach you on italki.

Through looking at our marketplace, we’ve also learned a lot about paying students. It’s not a surprise that English is the most popular language to study. Over 50% of the sessions taught have been for learning English. Given that most non-native speakers have a general desire to learn English, we think this is a sign of how much unmet demand there is for English language teachers. Interestingly, learning Chinese Mandarin is the second most popular choice, followed by learning Spanish. As Chinese Mandarin grows in importance, we believe more and more people will look online to find a teacher. In many areas around the world, Chinese teachers may not be available, and online teaching rates seem very reasonable.

We’ve also found that many students are using the Free Trial feature to find the right teacher for them. This is a great way for students to test out a couple of teachers and find the one that has the most compatible learning style. It’s also a good opportunity for teachers to get a better understanding of how the system works, and a student’s particular needs and ability level.

Overall, we think the growth in the number of students purchasing italki credits and bookings sessions with language teachers is a sign that people are getting more comfortable with the idea of learning online. This should be good news for all the internet startups in this space (Edufire, WizIQ, ForteMall, Sclipo, and Moontoast) who have a similar vision that education will eventually come from many sources.

Keep telling us what you think about the site and our Language Marketplace. And keep following the blog — we’ll keep you updated as we put up new features. The italki team