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Berlin-based Lingoda is a new player in the online English learning space. The platform offers a mix of self-paced video based learning material, group classes and individual classes with a tutor. The premise is that the learner will be speaking English fluently within twelve months.
Lingoda has been founded by Fabian and Felix Wunderlich and seems to be an iteration of their other startup Easy Languages which offeres German and English classes with tutors via the Internet. According to Deutsche Startups, Lingoda has recently raised some funding from Global Founders Capital, the new investment fund of the Samwer brothers. It’s little of a surprise that the mentioned above Easy Languages received angel funding from people in the Samwer network, former staff and founders.
I have definitely noticed a lot of Google Adwords ads for Lingoda and Easy Languages recently, so the marketing machine seems to run already. Inevitably, being a former online language coach myself, I had to take a closer look at the new platform and compare it to earlier players in the space like Myngle out of the Netherlands, Learnissimo and Lingueo out of France or Shanghai based italki.
First of all, Lingoda only offers one language to learn, English. The other language learning platforms expanded very quickly in as many languages as possible. I guess focus on (one of) the most popular language to learn is a good decision though the market is of course pretty saturated.
Another difference to the earlier players mentioned above is that Lingoda is defining itself as an online language school whereas Myngle, Learnissimo and Lingueo took the approach of a marketplace for language tutors (they have since pivoted). This often led to discussions about the quality of the offered lessons and how much the platform was able to intervene in the different teaching styles.
To further distinguish the service from other players in the space, Lingoda offers a mix of three learning types combined with the promise to teach fluent English in twelve months. Interestingly the video lessons are provided by a startup we covered a couple of years ago on our mother site EDUKWEST, namely English Central.
English Central is offering a vast catalog of video content and a pretty nifty set of features that includes voice recognition and automatic correction for pronunciation. The aim is to offer content based on the interests of different learners and their level of English. Partnering with a startup that takes care of such a complex technology instead of creating it on its own is another clever step.
Learners also get a personal adviser that helps them to stay focused, organize the best learning schedule and motivate them along the way. This is something that is often missing in the mix, so again a plus for Lingoda.
The last ingredient are of course the English tutors on the site. Lingoda, like everyone else in the space, is touting that those tutors are well trained, certified and love teaching English. Back in the days I tend to get myself into the role of a unionist for online language teachers, decrying the dumping prices that got out of hand and left the tutor with pocket money for their work. As I get older (and maybe wiser) I promised myself that I won’t drive up my blood pressure about things like this, so I just state that if you want to teach for Lingoda, the hourly rate is €8.50.
Now, I would really like to let you know what a student has to pay per month to get access to the video library, unlimited 24/7 group lessons and private 1:1 tutoring. The thing is that in order to get the pricing users need to leave their name, email address, telephone number, age range and where they heard of Lingoda. Quite frankly, just to get a price chart that is too much data for my taste in order to get cold calls and emails from the marketing department. If anyone knows the pricing, please leave it in the comments below.
All in all, I think Lingoda get some important points right, but I really truly don’t like the compensation model for tutors and the data scraping in order to get detailed information about the product. Whether the startup is going to get significant market share in the online ESL space is hard to predict though the neutral company name would not prevent Lingoda from adding more languages later on.