Teaching A Million People English — The Journey

English is the language the world works in. It’s that key connector between countries, a vestige of the British Empire that has helped facilitate more interactions than any other language before (or probably, after) it.

Yet, there are so many people who are still learning English (an astounding 1.5 billion people worldwide). Yet there are another 2 billion who want to learn English but have no access to it. When we set up Kings Learning, we knew that we wanted to help transform the way these people learned English. We wanted to change their perception of what it means to learn English — to remove the images of a classroom, of teachers, of textbooks from their heads. We wanted people to learn English wherever they could without disrupting their daily lives and to have an experience tailored to their unique needs.

Knowledge of English holds far more importance than many people realize. Apart from it being an aspirational language that people pride themselves in knowing, it has powerful socio-economic ramifications. Take India: knowing English increases, on average, your salary by 37%. It is critical to know if you are planning a career in management in any large company.

Globally, the trends are the same. People want to learn English not only for the intrinsic value of knowing English, but also to get a better job, a better life — open up new opportunities for themselves and their families.

Our vision was to help these people achieve their dreams by launching our app, enguru. By teaching English to a person in their native language, and doing so in a gamified and adaptive manner, we have managed to not only replicate the classroom experience, but also enhance a person’s learning.

No longer do they have to waste time commuting to a classroom — with such an app, they can learn anywhere, anytime. The adaptive nature of the app, something never really done at this scale before, means that no two people have the same experience. The app teaches you English according to your needs rather than a generic course made for the masses. This is where technology really supplements traditional learning techniques.

The response surprised even the most optimistic in our team. We’ve crossed 1.5 million downloads in 17 months and have 40,000 people learning on the app at any given time in over 120 countries.

It wasn’t an easy journey, and we are far from the end, but its been an exhilarating one filled with lots of mistakes, lessons and an endless supply of challenges.