Development of online English education
The online English education industry has witnessed rapid growth in recent years. Since 2016, online English learning institutions such as VIPKID, DaDaABC and 51Talk have penetrated the market swiftly, while traditional offline companies including New Oriental and TAL Education have set up their networks and brought intense competition to the market.
Foreign language skills are necessary
In the last issue, we discussed how the popularity of online learning has resulted in investors favouring certain online education institutions and offering financial support. Due to its nature, language education is in high demand among various demographic groups, including students and working people. Ever since China accelerates its pace of internationalisation, the country is close to fully integrating into the international finance community, especially after it has joined the WTO. This has driven the explosive development of the language education market, which is expanding and growing fast across the country. Foreign language ability will become one of the necessary skills for the primary target group of the sector, in particular for people aged below 22. Amidst the change of the education industry brought by the Internet and other modern technologies, traditional leading English learning enterprises strive to stay in tune with the trend and speed up establishing their business presence. With policy and capital support, the online English learning sector will continue to develop and capture increasing market share.
Market exceeded RMB35 billion in 2017
Industry data from Sootoo showed that the online language education market has increased by over RMB10 billion from 2014 to late 2016. It is expected that the market size will reach RMB36.4 billion in 2017 and go beyond RMB45.0 billion in 2018. The four main streams for language studies are English, Japanese, Korean and French, with English education taking up nearly half of the market. Given the growing high net worth population and rising awareness of children’s education in China, more and more parents send their kids to study abroad and step up their spending on international education resources. Under this context, English learning is viewed as increasingly important. Among the 41.2% of students taking online English courses to improve examination performance, K12 students are the majority. Taking this into consideration with the educational philosophy adopted by younger parents in the new society, it is not hard to see why the market for English learning for kids is flourishing. There are 33.4% of users attending online English courses to enhance job skills. On the other hand, study aboard, immigration and overseas travel are also the main purposes of taking online courses, accounting for 20.4%, 4.6% and 3.1% of students respectively.
China’s online English education market is undergoing differentiation. For examples, there are apps for English learners focusing on vocabulary, listening skills, oral training, one-to-one tutoring, English for children, workplace and travelling. Customised to cater the needs of different people, online English courses play a significant role in promoting the online language learning market. Meanwhile, the integration of online English education with live broadcasting, social network, VR and other functions further satisfies customers’ demand for fun learning and introduces new elements to the market.