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On A Mission For The Masses

Hujiang’s Yue Yingchun tells Terry Philips how an e-learning philosophy is connecting teachers around the world to millions of Chinese students

Hujiang seems to be one of those secret Chinese giants like Alibaba and WeiBo – huge in its home market, less well known abroad.  How big is the company and what exactly does it do?

It is a very interesting phenomenon. Given China’s population and growing need for online commercial services, the volume of business has an obvious advantage of becoming a giant if the products and services are of excellent quality and reasonably priced. However, Hujiang wasn’t born to become a business. It was born to accomplish a mission: to make education easier, fairer and more enjoyable through the internet. Hujiang is an online education company with more than 110 million users, over 20,000 courses and in cooperation with over 500 schools and organisations. It has evolved into a leading professional e-learning platform in China.

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Hujiang’s Yue Yingchun

Your background is as an ELT professional, I believe. How did you end up working for an online company?

The reason I joined Hujiang has a lot to do with my background, my original dream and Hujiang’s mission. I am from the countryside and experienced its limitation and lack of educational resources. I took English as my major in university. Luckily for me, English is like a magical key, opening a door to another amazing world.

I opened my own ELT school before graduating from university and ran it for over a year in the hope that I could influence more people and open doors for them too. I encountered loads of challenges at the time in acquiring excellent teachers and educational resources. I then had the blessing to work for the world’s largest English education company for over six years as a national manager in teacher recruitment and development.

Still, I saw limitations in making good education convenient and affordable to the masses who need it and have the potential to better themselves. Online education truly breaks the barriers of geography, time, languages, resources and so on. It seems like the ultimate solution to make it easier. Hujiang is helping me to realising my dream and that of many others.

What are the main challenges of teaching English online?

Although there are tons of advantages of teaching English online, there are challenges for teachers – including technology management, internet stability and classroom management.

You are currently director of Global Teaching Centres. What does your job entail?

My mission is to bring the world’s top learning resources onto Hujiang’s platform and to introduce teachers with different languages, cultures, education and experience to China’s e-learners. We have courses in eleven languages, including English, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, German, Korean, French and Thai, with ELT being the most popular. We welcome independent teachers, public school teachers and teacher agencies to teach for Hujiang – or with Hujiang by providing their own courses, even.

Hujiang is recruiting online teachers. Many teachers have been burned teaching online, expected to be online eight hours a day, seven days a week, twelve months a year, or else being paid like an Uber driver. Why should teachers trust Hujiang, and what opportunities does Hujiang offer teachers that other online providers do not?

Well, at the very least Hujiang wouldn’t want our teachers to get burned! Flexibility, freedom and convenience are the features of Hujiang’s online teaching. Teachers can open their schedule or time slots to their own preference. Furthermore, what makes Hujiang stand out is the variety – Hujiang has over 110 million users with all kinds of learning needs, which is rarely shouldered by any educational company; the technology – our constantly upgrading teaching tool CC Talk supports one-to-one highly interactive classes as well as lectures that can accommodates over 20,000 students in the same classroom; and the ecosystem – Hujiang doesn’t walk alone. It builds a strong ecosystem of online-to-offline education. We are partners with the world’s top educational organisations such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, McGraw-Hill, Coursera and so on. Our Hu+ project has connected to more than 500 public schools for free courses.

How do you envisage the ideal Hujiang teacher? Native speaker? Fully qualified? Experienced with Chinese students? And what should they expect to do (e.g. one to one, groups etc.)?

Given the variety of learning needs of our users, Hujiang is open to all types of teachers. Native speakers are highly welcomed but non-native teachers with the same level of language proficiency, teaching experience or certificates such as Delta, Celta, Tesol, Tefl or TKT are also highly appreciated. Teachers can be enabled to teach one to one, one to many or one to massive live classes for different language courses, from K12 to university students and adults.

Where do you see Huajiang teaching centres in five years’ time?

My vision for Hujiang global teaching centres in five years’ time would be an eco-educational global society online and offline. All levels of educational professionals can offer their expertise which will be equally valued by net leaners and customers.