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

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Our product team has been working on a number of improvements on the website. Our latest improvement has been to reorganize the personal homepage.

As soon as you login, you can see the new blackboard and layout. First, it’s easier to comment and ask questions on the new blackboard. In addition, now you will be able to see your blackboard posts combined with questions that you have asked. You can also reply in a thread, so your replies can stay linked together.

We’ve also added a side column that has updates from your italki friends. We hope this will make learning a language more social. Now you can see what your italki friends are doing. We hope you’ll spend a little time to answer questions from your friends, or help them with an language issue they are facing.

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We’ve also made a change to timezones recently. Many of you may have noticed that you have been asked to reselect your timezone. This is important as many students are scheduling lessons on italki, and issues like daylight savings make it crucial to synchronize clocks.

As always, please keep the feedback coming through our feedback link or through email (feedback at italki dot com). Your opinions really help us work on where we can improve the site. And keep checking out our blog. We have many more updates coming up soon, and we’ll always let you know about them here.

The italki team

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Have you ever traveled to a country and wished that you had some local friends to help show you around and deal with the language? We’re experimenting with this idea for the China Travel 2.0 tour.

China Travel 2.0 is bringing a number of travel editors for a two-week trip through China in early June. Their trip will look at the changes China is undergoing and how technology plays a role in that, with a specific emphasis on technology’s affect on travel. When traveling internationally knowing another language is incredibly useful,  so when we were asked to help them learn Chinese, we were ready and willing!

While Shanghai and Beijing are relatively foreigner friendly, a little bit of travel Chinese can go a long way for enhancing the experience. Imagine not being able to express thanks (xiexie, 谢谢) or say that you don’t want to purchase that tourist trinket (don’t want, buyao, 不要). Specifically, italki is helping the travelers find Chinese teachers through our Language Marketplace. We’re also helping the travelers find friends in each of the cities they are visiting, so they can get a local perspective on the best things to experience.

When the tour returns to Shanghai, we’ll get our chance to meet the travelers: Craig, Linda, Donna, Julie, Janelle, Marina, and the team at Trip Films. We’ll be curious to hear all about their experience in China, and we hope they learn some Chinese along the way!

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italki around the Web

April 19th, 2009 | Posted by Toffler in media - (3 Comments)

If you’re looking to connect with italki in places you already hang out around the web, you can view our social network profiles on these sites:

italki on Twitter – Follow Us!  http://Twitter.com/italki

italki Facebook Page – Become a Fan!

italki Facebook Application – Ask questions and connect to italki from Facebook!

italki Flickr Pictures – View pictures of the italki team and events

youtube italki videos on YouTube – Watch italki’s tutorial and funny videos!

myspace italki on MySpace

And in Chinese

italki videos on Tudou

youkuitalki videos on Youku

italki on Fanfou – Follow us on the Chinese Twitter

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italki Press Roundup: Language Marketplace

April 15th, 2009 | Posted by Kevin in media - (Comments Off on italki Press Roundup: Language Marketplace)

Since the official launch of our language marketplace, we’ve had hundreds of students and teachers join and transact classes on italki.  We’ve also gotten some press coverage as well.  We wanted to write this post to say thanks to all of the people who wrote about us, and to also show our users what the media has been saying.

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CNET Asia:  italki.com brings language teaching to market

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Venturebeat:  italki launches marketplace for language tutors

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Startupmeme:  italki: Your Language school on the web

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wwwhat’snew.com:   italki – Gana dinero como profesor de idiomas en Internet  (and in Portuguese)

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E-Learning Queen: Interview with Kevin Chen, italki (language learning): Innovators in E-Learning Series

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Kirsten Winkler:  italki officially launches its Language Tutoring Marketplace

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It’s always great to see online education get more attention in the media.  As you can guess, we are big believers in the potential for how the internet can change education, and especially in language learning.  And just imagine, we’re only at the start.

The italki team

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