This Startup Lets Children Worldwide Learn Mandarin on Demand With Instructors in China

August 24, 2017, 4:00 AM UTC
Student is taking on line course on touchscreen laptop computer
(FILE) BernardaSv—Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Chinese education startup which has attracted prominent investors including former NBA star player Kobe Bryant has launched an on-demand Mandarin learning platform for children worldwide.

Known as Lingo Bus, the service offers one-on-one language classes over the Internet.

According to its website, the service is intended to pair learners of Mandarin outside China aged 5 to 12 with qualified language instructors based in China, “wherever and whenever is convenient” for the learners.

“The demand to learn Mandarin overseas is beyond our expectation,” Lingo Bus director Su Haifeng told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

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Prior to the start of Lingo Bus, business was already booming for VIPKid in the other direction. More than 200,000 service users—mostly Chinese children—have been connected to over 20,000 teachers based in North America since the firm’s inception in 2013, according to the Post.

Users in China are given classes in English, maths and other subjects online by their North American instructors. Founder Cindy Mi told the Post that the company’s English-learning service generated $300 million in the first seven months of 2017 alone.

The latest launch comes on the heels of the latest round of funding for VIPKid, which saw it raise $200 million and hit a value of more than $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg reports. Its investors include Tencent, Sequoia Capital, as well as Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm co-founded by the NBA veteran.

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