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Startup VIPKID opens new window to learn Chinese

By Cheng Yu in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province | | Updated: 2017-12-07 16:26
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Online education is catching up not only in China but also across the world as leading Chinese startup scrambles to integrate teaching with advanced technology as well as beef up its presence in overseas markets.

"Expanding our overseas business will be a major task in the coming year, especially promoting our Mandarin platform Lingo Bus to the countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative," said Mi Wenjuan, founder and CEO of VIPKID, during an interview at the 4th World Internet Conference held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. 

In August, VIPKID officially launched Lingo Bus, a new platform for children around the world to learn Chinese online, taking this four-year-old startup a step forward.

Latest data from the company showed that in the past four months, the newly released platform has attracted over 4,000 registered members from over 46 countries and regions and over 5,000 Chinese teachers have applied to join in.

Judy, a 41-year-old mother from the US who has two children, registered as soon as her friend who is passionate about Chinese culture recommended it to her.

"I do want my children to learn some Chinese in the hope that they could explore some interesting perspectives of this charming country. Both convenient and efficient, the platform offers us a good opportunity," she said.

Mi said that the company plans to develop a total of 50,000 paid users and over 10,000 skilled Chinese teachers in three years.

In the past few years, VIPKID has been innovating English-language education by providing Chinese children with one-on-one online English courses, connecting teachers in North America with Chinese children aged between 4 and 12.

"Our core competitiveness is the integration of teaching with advanced technology such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence," Mi added. "Technological innovation will also be a priority next year."

Big data and AI are two main technological innovations that the Beijing-based company uses in its platform, which digitalizes and personalizes English education.

During the process of teaching, teachers can adjust teaching based on face recognition of the platform, which captures students' facial expressions and analyze their moods while having the lesson.

"We leverage advanced technology to achieve intelligent teaching, making in-depth and personalized education to large scale," Mi said.

China's online education is growing by 20 percent each year. Last year, the market scale reached 156 billion yuan ($23.5 billion), according to the Beijing-based market consultancy iResearch.

With that kind of momentum, and given many Chinese parents' ample budgets for children's education, total market value is expected to reach 269.3 billion yuan in 2019.

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