Tella, an English tutoring platform serviced on mobile messenger Kakao Talk, combines tutoring service with social networking. It offers a different type of English educational service where students engage in conversations with the tutors on Kakao Talk, making learning a language more approachable and personal.
Tella is also more accessible in terms of cost. According to Statistics Korea, each student spends about eighty-one dollars per month on learning English. Tella costs about forty dollars for lessons twice a week. Each session lasts two hours and the students have the flexibility of choosing a lesson time out of seven available sessions. Unlike other educational services that assign one specific tutor to a student, Tella’s users may select a different tutor each time, or multiple tutors a day to get a wide spectrum of lessons.
As it is offered on Kakao Talk, each student can collaborate and customize the curriculum with the native speaker tutors. Students engage in conversations spanning a wide variety of topics, from casual greetings to business meetings. Tella’s focus on day-to-day conversational English attempts to target South Koreans who often prefer language learning experiences that are less by the book. Despite spending an average 20,000 hours from kindergarten to university in English education, many South Koreans feel uneasy putting the language to daily use. Most of the teaching focuses on preparing students for the college entrance exam or standardized tests, which tend to be more passive than interactive. Tella’s offering comes as an opportunity for Koreans to interact directly with native speakers, while feeling more comfortable within a virtual space.
On August 13, 2014, Tella hosted a summer “Winter Wonderland” to reach customers out of its IM home ground. Total of six tutors and twenty-five users participated at the event. Both the tutors and the students met to communicate in person through icebreaker games and cultural activities. By hosting one of these offline events every other month, Tella plans to continue marketing its learning experience as a more accessible and personal one. The next event is projected to take place in October.
By pioneering in the “blue ocean” of mobile English tutoring service, Tella has about 3,000 registered users since its launch this past February. Tella also recently implemented a joint program with the Ugandan government by hiring Ugandans as tutors. This service will be available starting later this year.
Tella is “a tutor in my pocket”, offering personalized and practical English learning service.