Virtual education growing opportunity for foreign companies
China's online education development has been faster than anywhere else in the world, which has brought huge dividends and opportunities for foreign companies, according to a senior company executive.
Hugh Yao, founder and CEO of LingoAce, an online Mandarin Chinese-teaching platform, said: "As a Singaporean company, we have actually enjoyed a large pool of talent amid the booming development of China's online education sector."
"The past years have witnessed the return of a large number of talented individuals, including overseas Chinese graduates and professionals, into the nation's online education sector, which offers a large talent pool for LingoAce."
He pointed out that more than 2,500 teachers of LingoAce are based in China. It has also helped LingoAce gain an advantage over rivals in the field, whether it be in business operations or user experience.
"We have our teaching and training center here in Wuhan, Hubei province, and our research and development center in Beijing. We plan to recruit over 5,000 teachers from the country by the end of this year," Yao added.
As China's online education sector continues to grow, the company is also able to absorb some of the experiences that domestic companies have had during their expansion, especially as a slew of local online education firms have been faced with bottlenecks in boosting profits, Yao said.
LingoAce, founded in 2016, offers one-on-one personalized Chinese lessons for children aged between 4 and 15. The teachers on the platform are all native Chinese speakers, and at least attained a minimum of level 2-A on Putonghua Proficiency Test.
These teachers should have accreditation to teach Chinese to nonnative speakers or teaching certification from China's Ministry of Education. A minimum of three years of teaching experience is also required, he added.
"Compared with other companies, we have a much larger supply of talent from China, and we are better at beefing up our presence in overseas markets," Yao said.
"It only took us around three years to set up our subsidiaries in the United States, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore with users from more than 100 countries and regions," he added.
Despite rising geopolitical tensions, Yao said that he felt more and more foreigners have begun seeing taking Mandarin lessons as a must. "Previously, many foreigners tended to learn it out of personal interest, which may have led to the abandonment of learning when they lost interest," he added.
A Chinese Academy of Sciences report showed that more than 200 million people are learning Chinese overseas as of the end of last year. Among the enthusiasts surveyed, children from North America and Europe had the greatest passion for learning Chinese, with nearly 60 percent of children learning the language in the two regions.
"But in recent years, we found that more and more people take it as an asset, a skill that is very likely to help them get higher salaries and better career choices or a better future," Yao said.
Some 50 countries and regions have closed schools temporarily due to the COVID-19. UNESCO estimated that some 850 million young students around the world have had their academic schedules disrupted due to the impact of the pandemic.
"We find ourselves well positioned to be able to deliver online learning of Mandarin for young learners," Yao said.
"It has helped us to directly save on advertising fees in many countries, and we plan on continuing this momentum in the upcoming years," he added.
Lyu Senlin, founder of Guiding Light Think Tank, said: "There is rising demand for people to learn Chinese in overseas markets. It is sure to be a promising market given China's growing influence as a major nation."