Shanghai Expo and May Holidays

April 29th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (0 Comments)

The World Expo is about to start in Shanghai, and we are excited to be here. Shanghai has been under construction for years in preparation for this event, and now the world will be able to see the results of that work.

This year’s Expo theme is Urban Development, and there will be numerous pavilions dedicated to how we can improve the way we live. We think this theme is very timely, given the level of urbanization in China, and the problems it faces in terms of sustainable economic growth. Events like the Expo present a great opportunity for people to exchange ideas about these increasingly universal issues.

italki is also trying to facilitate the exchange of ideas, virtually through the internet. Even though technology has driven the costs of communications to almost zero, language still represents a significant barrier in communication. It’s hard to imagine how people can work well together to tackle global issues if they cannot communicate well with each other.

If you are coming to the Expo (or are just curious), try posting it on your blackboard or in your notebook. Many italki users are interested in meeting in person, and there are lots of members in Shanghai (where we are based)! If you also happen to be in town (for the Expo or otherwise), please come and stop by — we like using Skype, but we’d love to meet you in person!

The italki Team



中文版: 连到我们的中文博客: 中国银联在 italki.
China UnionPay
We’re excited to now offer China UnionPay on italki. China UnionPay is China’s largest interbank payment network, and almost every ATM card in China supports China UnionPay. For many Chinese, paying with their bank card is one of the most convenient methods of purchasing products and transfering money. By simply going to any ATM machine, a person can use their card to directly transfer money to another card.

When you use China UnionPay on italki – you’ll first be taken to China UnionPay’s payment gateway. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to choose which bank issued your card. Each bank will have its own payment process — most will let you transact online with your bankcard.

China UnionPay - Bank OptionsChina UnionPay - Enter your details

We hope this allows more users in China to get access to italki teachers and italki marketplace partners. We also want to say keep paying attention to the blog, because we have many more improvements coming soon.

We just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Lantern Festival and Year of the Tiger. The Lantern Festival is traditionally the last day of the Chinese New Year Holiday (also known as the Spring Festival Chūnjié 春节), and it is a festival that is supposed to bring good luck and hope.

We hope that everyone’s 2010 is off to a great start. At italki, we’re really excited about this year, because there is so much to do. We’ll be putting a lot of effort this year into improving the site, and building features to make it easier for you to learn a language. Thanks again for being part of the italki community, and we’ll work to make the Year of the Tiger our best year yet.

The italki Team

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