What is the size of today’s global online language learning market?
What are the world’s self-described (English-speaking) experts guesstimating?
According to one of today’s most popular online search engines, there are three guesstimates worth noting: think tanks from as far east as south Asia and as far west as north America are saying that we can expect anywhere from 21.2 to 25.73 Billion $US in profits over the next 4 to 7 years.
Also worth noting was an insider actual valuation, from a western European Venture Capital firm, totalling 56 B $US for 2021.
Mush those altogether, which we most assuredly would not be wise to do, that’s a total of as much as 81.73 Billion $US in prize money waiting for the winners in 2027/28.
To put that in context, according to one of today’s most respected business magazines (January 2021), Elon Musk is worth $182.9 B.
I hope you’re laughing.
They will each, of course, have all used their own sets of parameters, numbers and methodologies — just like we are going to use ours –but, before we call any of these estimates modest or demented, let us first meditate on the following mission critical question:
What is more notorious than the rate at which we invest in the promise of Language Learning Tools, only to toss said assets into the rubbish, still monolingual ten years later, just to get rid of the memories of epic fail they keep slapping us with?
When language learning super-star Gabriel Wyner recalls how much time, effort and heartfelt devotion went into studying Hebrew in Grade School and Russian in College – only to emerge with not much more than two new alphabets and a few choice words like хорошо and говно – how many of us can say, “oh yeh, been there, done that.”
In fact, not a small number of us will surely be congratulating ourselves that we very cleverly avoided putting so much effort into the ordeal, given that Mr. Wyner showed up at the finish line as empty-handed as we did.
That being said, I personally got a lot out of studying Latin for three years in a fairly foo foo North American High School.
It would not be fair to say, however, that being able to read and write good Roman or Roman Catholic Latin was one of them.
But a good top ten takeaway was certainly a good sense of what it’s like to try and learn a foreign language “the adult way”.
Mind you, by then I had already learned French “the child’s way” — as a kid — in French Equatorial Africa.
Did that help me when I decided to take on learning Italian in College?
It did not.
To this day I remain affectionately haunted by the realization that the Ancient Roman word for “war”, before morphing into modern Italian, changed sex and as is now used to mostly mean “beauty”.
So that’s something.
“Are you going to show us the money?”
For all our friendly neighborhood wanna-be-but-not-quite-yet-fluent English speakers out there, a curveball is a kind of a Baseball pitch, thrown with a strong downward spin, causing the ball to drop suddenly and veer to the side as it approaches home plate.