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Duolingo to further tap China's edtech sector

By OUYANG SHIJIA | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-09 09:31
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Duolingo, a United States-based language-learning platform. [Photo/VCG]

In an era marked by globalization and digital transformation, language proficiency has emerged as a crucial skill, with an increasing number of individuals seeking opportunities for international study and career advancement. Among the companies at the forefront of this trend is United States-based edtech company Duolingo, which has set its sights on the lucrative Chinese market.

Rogelio Alvarez, vice-president of business for Duolingo and general manager of the Duolingo English Test (DET), emphasized the strategic importance of China in the company's expansion plans, expressing strong confidence in the huge growth potential of the rapidly growing market.

"I think the economic growth that China has had in the previous years is very strong, and China has a plan to continue to grow," he told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Monday in Beijing. "What we're expecting is that the growth that we're going to have here is going to be in parallel with the growth the country's having as well."

He highlighted China's position as one of the top five countries for Duolingo's language learning app as well as being among the top two markets for the DET business with a continually expanding user base, saying there is a rising number of students seeking to study abroad and more people trying to learn new languages.

Currently, China is one of the fastest-growing international markets for Duolingo. Its active users for learning English from Chinese customers have grown by over 100 percent over the past few years.

"China is a market that has shown a lot of interest in learning new languages and taking the Duolingo English Test, and it will continue to steadily grow in terms of the number of test takers and in terms of interest in our products," Alvarez added. "For us, it's very important to actually be here and continue to grow our presence here and increase the awareness of our products. "

Looking ahead, Alvarez said Duolingo will continue to boost spending in China and expand its footprint in the market, aiming to become one of the top players in China's edtech market.

"We see China as a market that we can invest in, and the return on investment is high. So, we're going to continue investing in the China market. In the next two or three years, I hope that we can double the amount of people that we have in this office."

With its gamified course design and a variety of over 40 languages, the Duolingo language-learning platform has been downloaded over 500 million times worldwide. Its DET, a computer-adaptive language proficiency exam, is gaining momentum as proof of students' English language proficiency for applying to universities globally.

"Duolingo's brand mission is really to develop the best education and make it universally available to the audience. I think that brand mission applies for both China as well as the rest of the world," said Wang Chen, head of China growth for the DET.

"We deeply believe that language learning as well as testing are not barriers, but more of a bridge. So we want to keep offering our services and to help people from different countries get to know each other better, understand each other better and collaborate with each other and to drive the economy," she added.

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