This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Contxto – Venezuelan-founded edtech Open English commercials are a familiar sight for Latin American television viewers. On them, the startup has always emphasized its key selling points: on-demand English teachers anytime, anywhere in an online environment.
Thus, discarding the traditional approach of having to attend a school. But in a shift to offer more flexibility, its Founder/CEO, Andrés Moreno unveiled a new phase for the business: in-person classes.
In Bogotá, Open English launched a pilot program in one part of the city about a year ago. But this week, it also announced plans to expand into other areas of the metropolis with classrooms becoming available by the end of April.
What’s more, it hopes to expand into Mexico City, Santiago (Chile), and Lima sometime this year.
Related article: Here are 9 EdTech startups from Bogotá embracing self-improvement
Wasn’t it a digital platform?
Rather than admit it’s going back on its mantra of learning online, Open English wants to offer additional options for its users.
So now in Bogotá, it will be offering in-person classes. But with a slight twist. Instead of signing up and being tied to a learning center for a specified amount of time, say three to four months, classes are held and available for users to attend every half hour. Teachers may be in the classroom, or virtually.
The startup also emphasizes that its professors in these learning hubs are all speakers from the United States. So at least in that regard, it’s sticking to its mantra.
And e-learners don’t fret, the online option is of course still available.
Or, if you want to mix things up, there’s a “hybrid” option. Through it, users can attend a class online, and if they happen to swing by one of these physical classrooms, they can continue their lessons there.
Open English is open to possibilities
So why the change of heart in this new phase?
Following an expansion phase throughout its 10-year existence, Open English reports having over 750.000 students undertake its programs, as well as those from Next U, an e-learning platform that Open English acquired in 2015.
As a result, the startup’s CEO is enabling learning centers that follow Open English’s methodology but within classrooms. And this is because in spite of all this growth, the entrepreneur acknowledges that there are learners who prefer classrooms.
Reasons for this can vary. They like to socialize and practice the language with classmates. They’re uncomfortable speaking to a camera through online means. Or, they admit lacking the self-discipline to learn from home and need to force themselves to attend a class.
Full disclosure: huge fan of Open English’s commercials with Wachu. If you’ve never seen them, you’ve missed out!
Here’s one for your viewing/amusement:
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