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Lingo Bus launched to ride wave of interest in Mandarin

By Zhao Xinying | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-24 16:21

Online education startup VIPKID launched its new business in one-on-one teaching of Mandarin to children overseas in Beijing on Wednesday.

Lingo Bus targets children aged 5 to 12 who are passionate about learning Chinese.

Su Haifeng, head of the Lingo Bus program at VIPKID, said China's growing economic and cultural impact across the world has triggered more interest in learning the language, which inspired his team to launch this program.

"A lot of parents overseas want their children to learn Mandarin but don't know where to find high-quality teachers," he said.

What Lingo Bus does, Su said, is to bridge teachers in China and children overseas via the internet. It's similar to what VIPKID has been doing since it was founded four years ago - enabling language teachers in North America to teach Chinese children English through one-on-one video education.

Su said Lingo Bus has gained more than 1,000 users - without any marketing or publicity events - in countries and regions including the United States, Canada and Egypt since a trial operation started in June.

Su is optimistic about the program: "We hope to attract more than 50,000 users overseas in the next three years. Meanwhile, we plan to prepare more brilliant, young educators in China by training more than 10,000 Chinese language teachers to teach children exclusively."

On Wednesday, VIPKID also announced that it has finished the D round of financing and has raised $200 million.

The financing is led by Sequoia Capital. Other investors includes Tencent, YF Capital, Matrix Partners China and ZTwo Capital.

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