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Lingo Bus extends Mandarin learning offering

By Cheng Yu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-28 10:56
A screenshot of Lingo Bus' official website. [Photo/lingobus.com]

Lingo Bus, a subsidiary of China's largest online education startup VIPKID, is looking to expand its overseas presence significantly to become the world's largest online Chinese-teaching platform within three years.

"We will beef up our presence in the overseas market, especially in Southeast Asia as well as countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative," said Su Haifeng, head of Lingo Bus.

"We plan to attract a total of 50,000 paid users overseas and more than 10,000 skilled Chinese teachers in three years," he said.

Different from classroom courses, Lingo Bus provides one-on-one personalized online Chinese lessons for children aged between 5 and 12.

Data from the company showed that the platform has gained momentum in the past year. Its registered users grew from around 1,000 a year ago to over 10,000 by August this year. Users come from 73 countries and regions including the United States, South Korea and Spain.

"The move is as expected, since there is rising demand to learn Chinese in overseas markets," said Lyu Senlin, founder and chief researcher at Learneasy Times Online Education Research Institute, an industry research consultancy.

"It is sure to be a promising market given China's growing influence as a global power," Lyu said.

A Chinese Academy of Sciences report showed that more than 160 million people are learning Chinese overseas and this figure is expected to hit 200 million by 2020.

According to the report, among the enthusiasts surveyed, children from North America and Europe boast the greatest passion for learning Chinese, with nearly 60 percent of children learning the language overseas coming from the two regions.

Children of overseas Chinese have become the main pillar of demand, according to Lingo Bus. The company announced on Thursday it will officially launch its online courses for kids of overseas Chinese to tap into the increasing demand.

Su said that in the past year the group has divided its business into two main parts, with one focusing on overseas Chinese. Courses for overseas Chinese are developed according to core standards both from China and the US, and emphasize learning through reading.

"Compared with other similar products, Lingo Bus has an edge in terms of the content as well as teachers," said Su.

In addition to a 25-minute one-on-one online class, students will also have to review videos and other materials to gain the maximum exposure to Mandarin Chinese.

All the classes are 100 percent immersive, according to Su. Children will gradually learn to sing a song effortlessly, without even realizing it, or build their Chinese vocabulary with each passing day, he said.

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