Virtual Office Featured Article

TokBox Enables English-Tutoring App in China

January 24, 2018
By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC

China is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

It has 1.3 billion people. It owns nuclear weapons. It’s working to modernize its military by taking a page from the U.S. military.

Chinese companies, like Huawei (News - Alert), have very quickly been able to capture worldwide market leadership positions. Its $1 trillion belt and road initiative to build transport infrastructure is being called a game changer. And the country, a major polluter with the abysmal and visible air quality to prove it, is now considered a world leader in addressing climate change.

But one area in which China seems to have lagged behind others is in learning English. Fewer than one in 100 (or about 10 million) Chinese speak English, according to this report.

And while the number and share of Americans who speak English is most certainly much lower, knowing English is considered an important skill, particularly for those in the business community. Because English is widely considered the language of business.

“English is the third most spoken language in the world (beaten only by Chinese and Spanish), with 335 million people who speak English as their first language globally and 1,750 million people who speak English at a useful level,” this story reports. “It is also the language of the web, with html, CSS (News - Alert), PHP and other computer languages all written in English. If you look at the source code of a Chinese website, it’s still written in English! Similarly, all air traffic control is done in English.

“English is also the global language of many businesses, even outside of the U.K., Canada, and the USA. If you have an international meeting in France, for example, odds are that you will be asked to speak English. Daimler-Chrysler, Nokia (News - Alert), Renault, Samsung, Technicolor, and Microsoft in Beijing have all said that English is their common corporate language, to name just a few of the largest international companies, but many smaller companies have the same policy.”


That said, the potential for new services that help the Chinese more easily learn English seems significant. Cambly offers such a solution. It allows people to use a mobile app to video chat with live tutors for whom English is a native language. And Cambly leverages the TokBox (News - Alert) WebRTC API to enable this application.

“China is quickly becoming a huge market for Cambly, as there is an increase in demand for students seeking online English tutoring from a native speaker,” blogs TokBox Platform Product Manager Donal Toomey. “However, China has notoriously unreliable internet connectivity both inside China and when accessing internet services located outside of China. This is obviously a problem if you have a scheduled session with your English language tutor.

“To solve this problem TokBox has partnered with Alibaba and deployed our China Relay service to Alibaba data centers in China,” Toomey explains. “This infrastructure seamlessly connects to the rest of the global OpenTok platform, providing great video chat experience for both students and tutors.”

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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