Lingueo launched in 2007 as language learning marketplace, similar to startups like Myngle, eduFire and italki back in the days. But after the most recent makeover of the service, Lingueo seems to have become much more “conservative” and to position itself away from the open platform idea where everyone can offer language lessons the team started with. I am sure the funding round back in June 2010 is part of this strategic change.
First of all, there is a quite significant change in the pricing structure. Now, only packages are available, starting at around 30 Euro per hour which is about twice as much as teachers charged before the change on the platform. As someone (the only one?) who preached higher prices for live lessons over the years, this is of course something I am glad to see. I believe, this is much healthier for Lingueo in the long run. The upfront payment for entire packages is also a good way to get cash flow for the company as I guess that Lingueo will pay out the lessons one by one to the teachers, similar to what we have seen at Myngle.
Lingueo also added a new market segment with the latest addition to its courses and now offer tutors to help students with their homework and for the older ones some training in preparation for the A levels. It is interesting to see that goFLUENT took the same decision just a couple of weeks earlier by launching NOVO English.
Does this mean that tutoring high-school kids is such a lucrative market? Maybe. As more learning is happening online, why not take advantage of it and find a tutor online. On the other hand, services like Tutorspree let you find your kid’s tutor online but the learning is taking place the classic way. In EDUKWEST #49 with Aaron Harris, the CEO of Tutorspree he stated that most parents felt more comfortable with having the tutor come at home whereas goFLUENT COO Arnaud Carré, responsible for the NOVO English project told me that mostly a parent was sitting next to their kid during the live Internet session to assist if necessary. As we can see, a few open questions around that topic remain.
LingueoPro’s approach is actually a nice spin-off from the classic consumer product. Main arguments are an easy to use interface for the Human Resource managers to track the employee’s progress and a decreasing pricing structure. The more lessons a company buys, the bigger the discount. Again, very similar to the other Paris-based training company goFLUENT which specializes in Business English training though.
Lessons are created based on the current position of the learner in the company and their specific objective or target and the way the person wants to learn, e.g. via Internet, telephone, software or in the company.
What I like best about the corporate offer is the idea of offering sign language lessons as social asset for innovative companies. Lingueo has always been strong in this special field of language training and making it an essential part of the new corporate offer is a nice and also valid idea.
The questions that remain open to me are how the teachers are recruited. There are some rather vague bullet points on recruitment and assessment on the site but I also see a lot of teachers / tutors from before the strategy change on the site. All of which leads me to the second question about the material used in the classes. Are the teachers still entirely in charge for the lesson or is there now an overall educational framework available providing tutors some binding rules and with material . I think, I have to visit the guys on my next trip to Paris in July and sit down for an interview.