Language learning apps take off during the pandemic

As reported in Cassandra's Life Interrupted: The Media & Entertainment Perspective, more than 4 in 10 young people say their entertainment habits and routines have changed during Covid-19. Throw in boredom as a factor—especially as many are more housebound than they’ve ever been—and the numbers spike to about half of young people who say they don’t have enough to keep busy. Their resulting efforts to fill their time have ranged from binging on entertainment to learning new skills. Enter the following language learning apps, which count millions of users (along with thousands of teachers ready to hop on a live tutoring call). Some have seen a surge in growth amidst these uncertain times, underscoring consumer need for a productive use of personal time during the ongoing pandemic.


At the start of this year, language-learning platform and Duolingo competitor Busuu acquired Verbling, a live video tutoring company, cementing Busuu’s commitment to language lessons that center human interaction. With this acquisition, Busuu plans to use Verbling’s platform to launch Busuu Live, which will offer Busuu’s 100 million users across 190 countries (and its 250+ corporate clients) live lessons on-demand.


Amidst the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, online language tutoring marketplace Preply announced a $10 million Series A funding round, which it will primarily use to grow the business and direct more attention to the U.S. market. Preply has actually reported an increase in tutor registration alongside a “doubling of hours students are booking on the platforms” in some of its major markets, underscoring the viability of online businesses and the general interest around this kind of self-bettering hobby during this time.


italki bills itself as a global language learning community that connects students and teachers for 1-on-1 online language lessons. The platform enables its user base of 5 million students to link up with more than 10,000 teachers (versed in over 130 languages) and gives them the ability to browse teachers based on hourly rates, introductory videos, bios that reveal their teaching style, availability, and reviews from other students. All lessons are conducted via video chat, and the reasonable hourly rates allow students to pay based on their individual budget and availability.