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.
It’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