Online English provider holds PH-China education summit

Online English education provider 51Talk recently co-organized with the Economic Observer the China-Philippines Education Forum held in Beijing, China.

Photo shows (from left) Jimmy Lai, CFO 51Talk; Vanessa Caceres, 51Talk manager for government relations; Dr. Aurelio Vilbar, English professor at University of the Philippines in Cebu; Antonio Valdes, former undersecretary of Department of Education; Dr. Maricel San Diego, CHED representative; and Jennifer Que, VP of operations at 51Talk Philippines

Themed “Connecting One Belt and One Road in Culture, Talent and Education,” the event centered on how to build and develop a universal education system that enhances the learners’ learning capability amid diversity and geographic differences.

In his speech, 51Talk founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Jack Huang analyzed the status of English education market in China at present.

He said that this is a fast-growing business in the world’s most populous nation — of which 22.58 percent is Web-based. The figure is expected to increase further to 36.09 percent on the back of K-12 education, which refers to the North American designation for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, that will claim more market share in China’s second-, third- and fourth-tier cities.

Despite the rosy outlook, however, Huang said that there is still a gap in the communication skills of the more than one billion Chinese population using the universal language other than their native lingua franca.

With this in mind, he emphasized the importance of developing a strategy to strengthen the cooperation between the Philippines and China in so far as English online education field is concerned.

“Foreign teachers in the Philippines are patient and kind, and have a similar cultural background with Chinese students. The two groups are good match,” said the top executive during the forum slated in the capital city of China recently.

Since both countries complement each other, Wang Yan, director of Department of International Cooperation at the National Institute of Education Sciences, is confident of their continuous collaborative effort in this space.

“Holding such a forum is of great significance in promoting friendship between China and the Philippines, bringing more benefits to the people of both countries as well,” he said.

Pushing further the educational trade, nevertheless, does not end with partnership, but also leveraging on the Internet and technological advancement.

“Human beings have undergone three great historic changes, from agricultural civilization to industrial civilization and the information civilization,” said Li Zhimin, vice president of Chinese Society of Educational Development Strategy.

“At present, children who take advantage of the latest technological advances can learn anytime and anywhere. In the future, online learning will play a bigger role in the market.”

51Talk is already ahead of this upcoming trend. Established as an online English education provider in 2011, it connects highly-competent Filipino electronic-educators (e-educators) to Chinese foreign language learners.

What makes the local teachers suitable for them is their fluency in English language. Proof of which is the high level of mastery of Filipinos, based on the Business English Index report.

“Also, the Philippines pay great attention to international exchanges in the educational field,” cited Dr. Aurelio P. Vilbar, associate professor of the University of the Philippines and director of the Philippine Language Teaching Association.

“In a country where English is the official language, the teaching level of the Philippines and the overall quality of teachers are superior.”

“In addition, children from China and teachers from the Philippines do not have to worry about the ‘time difference’ problem, and they can do online courses more frequently and efficiently,” noted Dr. Maricel San Diego, director of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education.

Apart from understanding well the learning needs of their students, Filipino English language teachers are known for their dedication, passion in delivering high-quality of service. All these attributes have made 51Talk successful at introducing e-educators from the Philippines to China over the past seven years.

Since 2012, 51Talk has been creating thousands of online teaching opportunities for Filipinos, enabling them to make positive lifestyle changes, such as working from home
and being with their loved ones while working. Teachers can earn more than an average full-time job’s wage as 51Talk gives numerous income opportunities.

To date, around 15,000 qualified Filipino teachers are already onboard the online education platform. Last year, the company administered live training to about 6,000 home-based teachers in 20 cities nationwide, and a total of 10,000 educators through online and offline channels.

51Talk, the first Chinese online education company to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol COE, has five branches in Manila, Bacolod, Davao, Cebu, and Baguio, with over 1,000 local employees interviewing and training teachers.

It plans to have 10 local centers in the Philippines by March 2019, including one each in Cavite, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo, as well as two new hubs in Cebu and Davao.

The firm will introduce 100,000 online Philippine foreign teachers to China in the next five years and expects to expand its workforce here to 3,000.

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