Online English teaching platform 51Talk caps 2020 with campaigns that empowered the Filipino teaching community
From natural calamities to a global pandemic, 2020 will be remembered in history as both unprecedented and unexpected.
Beijing-based online English teaching platform 51Talk continued with its 5-year journey towards growing its home-based online English teacher population to 100,000. Since 2020 had heightened awareness and demand for online education, 51Talk will be marked with focused execution towards achieving its growth mission of providing more Filipino teachers for students to speak English effectively.
Turning challenges into opportunities to help
The start of the year saw popular tourist attraction Taal volcano erupting which affected thousands that prompted massive evacuations. 51Talk and its teachers were quick to act and respond by pooling resources and donations worth approximately PHP 500,000. The cash assistance and relief goods were turned over to hundreds of residents in the affected areas particularly from Batangas province, where the volcano is located.
Shortly after, COVID-19 happened. As no one anticipated the surge of virus infections, especially in highly-populated urban areas, there was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 test kits, among other medical supplies and equipment. 51Talk expeditiously shipped PHP 5.25M worth of PPEs from China as a way to help out hospitals facing supply challenges.
Due to government policies such as lockdowns and social distancing measures that prioritized the safety and health of the people, many industries suffered. Reportedly, over 7 million lost their jobs due to the shutdown of 75% of the Philippine economy.
In China, the subsequent lockdowns resulted in a surge of students enrolling to take English lessons at 51Talk. 51Talk teachers earned more because of a marked increase in their booked lessons. Through all these, the 51Talk platform remained not just stable and resilient, but it has proven to be a great earning opportunity to the thousands of 51Talk teachers throughout the pandemic.
51Talk’s growing teacher community
As a way to combat the heavy job losses, 51Talk opened its doors to attract 30,000 online English teachers who can earn at the comfort of their own homes and safe from the COVID-19 virus. 51Talk launched campaigns to promote the opportunity to Filipinos and to spread awareness about the advantages of being an online English teacher. 51Talk appeared heavily in the news, from TV and radio interviews to print and online features. It was quite a welcome change because while people were seeing grim news about the loss of lives and jobs due to the pandemic, 51Talk provided hope and opportunity to Filipinos.
In July, 51Talk launched Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach as their brand ambassador. 51Talk’s Philippine Country Head Jennifer Que shared during the launch that “Pia is a national pride of the Filipinos through winning Miss Universe and she enjoys an international reputation that fits 51Talk’s brand image. She represents confident, beautiful, and intelligent women much like our 51Talk Filipino teaching community.”
51Talk also celebrated its 9th founding anniversary its humble roots as a start-up in China and as a brainchild of its Founder and CEO Jack Huang. Recently, 51Talk has provided home-based online teaching opportunities to 30,000 Filipinos.
Bringing Filipino teachers to the world stage
Since its launch, 51Talk has been heavy in promoting Filipinos as effective English teachers in China especially to the discerning Chinese parents who strongly value the education of their children.
“Before, the Chinese consider native English speakers as the best English teachers but this perception has changed in recent years because the Chinese have realized, through 51Talk, that Filipinos are fun, passionate, and patient teachers, especially to young kids,” shared Jack Huang, 51Talk Founder and CEO.
“Nowadays, Filipinos are well-received among Chinese families and have come to know them as professional English teachers,” Mr. Huang added.
As such, many 51Talk Filipino teachers became popular in China because of their talent for teaching and their remarkable stories.
Teacher John Lucas, 51Talk’s teacher ambassador, has become an online sensation in China because of his cool and animated antics while conducting lessons. He now has a strong following on social media where he shares teaching tips and techniques to aspiring teachers. He also won international teaching awards because of his creativity, passion, and skill in teaching.
At the launch of 51Talk brand ambassador Pia Wurtzbach, another teacher became an overnight star. Teacher Ann Pearl, a grounded flight attendant searching for a new source of income was interviewed by Pia herself. Pearl was struggling to make ends meet as a young mom when she discovered 51Talk. During the interview, Pearl became emotional because of all the negative news surrounding the pandemic and the challenges she was facing as a grounded flight attendant and a new mom. Pia was moved and touched by Pearl’s story of determination and surprised her with a new laptop as a gift.
Lyndon Bacon, 51Talk’s new star teacher, who is an English teacher by profession teaches high school kids in the morning, takes classes for his master’s degree in the afternoon, and teaches online English classes at 51Talk in the evening. Lyndon’s inspiring story was also well applauded after representing 51Talk in several virtual events in China. He also ventured into content creation by sharing teaching videos on social media.
51Talk’s Partnerships and Linkages
51Talk also enjoys the support from its government and industry partners in empowering Filipinos to maximize their potential through digital livelihood.
“In October, we hosted our 2020 Sino-Philippines Educational Exchanges Seminar attended by education and government leaders, including the ambassadors from China and the Philippines,” Mr. Huang shared. “Through live streaming, we engaged over 5,000 people from China and the Philippines to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, showing mutual cooperation and our positive role in cross-border relations.”
At the event, 51Talk was awarded a Guinness World Record of “the largest online video album of people waving.” 51Talk initiated the world record attempt to express the friendship and unity between the peoples of both countries.
In December, 51Talk held a virtual appreciation and thanksgiving program to recognize its partners for another fruitful year of working together to empower Filipinos through online livelihood opportunities available at 51Talk. With the theme “Creating Opportunities for Filipinos Together,” the annual event saw partners from the government, the academe, industry, and job portals expressing their commitment to continue rolling out programs and projects that will help uplift the lives of Filipinos through maximizing their skills and potential as netizens in the present digital age and new normal.
Through all these programs, 51Talk is eager to face a challenging 2021. In their latest financial report, the company disclosed its third quarter of 2020 net revenues of RMB538.5 million (US$79.3 million), a 31.8% increase from RMB408.7 million for the third quarter of 2019.
“51Talk’s K-12 one-on-one mass-market non-tier-one city strategy is working, our teams are executing and the groundwork we’ve laid is allowing us to take advantage of more and more market opportunities. With these pieces in place, we will continue to drive sustained long-term growth and maintain balanced bottom-line profitability,” concluded Mr. Huang.
“Clearly, Chinese families are gaining greater familiarity and comfort with online learning channels and recognizing the strong value we provide. As they do, they are sharing their positive experiences with their friends and our high-quality brand reputation is spreading,” added Mr. Huang.
This spells good news to the Filipino English teaching community in 51Talk as more students mean more lessons and earnings. This also brings 51Talk closer to its goal of having 100,000 online English teachers using the platform in the next three years which will open up livelihood opportunities to Filipinos seeking a safe, stable, and resilient career.
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