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Free Lunch Or Not August 26, 2008

Posted by Edwin in LingQ, Podcasts, Tools.
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Today, I received 3 separate e-mails from ChinesePod, SpanishPod, and FrenchPod, all delivering the same announcement. Currently, everybody can have access to all their lessons. Starting from next month, people with free-membership will have access to newbie lessons only.

This change does not really affect me much, for I have decided to go “natural” a few months ago and quited listening to learner’s materials such as language lessons. But then I would expect in the next few days, the Praxis servers will be bombarded by people trying to get their last “free lunches”.

When I look at the language learning market, it always amazes me how people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for language books, tools, and classes, but they expect everything free from the Internet. One thing I have found from the online language learning communities in the past year-or-so is that, free stuff has no good quality. Contents or services that are of good quality that are free are either being paid for by someone else already, or they are going out of business very soon.

A particular “free lunch” mentality spreading across the online language learning communities is the concept of “free tutoring” services. All free online language exchange communities are for you to practice what you have learned, not to be tutored. You may fire up conversations with many native speakers, but don’t expect them to be committed in tutoring you all along your language learning journey.

I recently came into contact with eduFire, an online paid service which hooks up language learners with native-speaking tutors. The tutors would decide the tuition fees, the learners would choose his/her tutors, and eduFire would take a small portion of the fees for its service. While I cannot guarantee the success of this business, I believe it has a healthy business model to last.

I have been impressed by the quality of the Praxis production since the early days of ChinesePod. Her later sister “Pods” only continue to raise the bar even higher. I think they have all the right to start charging users. After all, it starts from $5 US a month!

Incidentally, I read from the LingQ forum another day, that someone complained about the inconvenience with his a free-membership limitations. Come on, the basic membership only costs $10 US per month! He complained that he could not afford it. Well then, I had nothing to say.

There is no need to grumble when the free lunch is gone. In the end, I think it all comes down to a single question: Does the service actually worth it?

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Comments»

1. frances - August 27, 2008

I have been using the service edufire for almost 4months and I’m impressed at how much the site evolves each week. The team seems to be actively making upgrades to make the site better for me the student and the tutors. good site. I will look at the others you mentioned. thanks

2. Edufire Spams Everyone - August 27, 2008

I’m so sick and tired of seeing the Edufire faking being customers and spamming people all the time. They spammed my blog too. Jeez!

Look at the comment above – a REAL customer would say something like “I find it convenient” not “I’m impressed at how much the site evolves each week” – what a load of B.S.

3. Ryan - August 27, 2008

It’s hard to learn a language without paying at least a little bit of money. Praxis and Linq have every right to charge what they do for their services.

4. Phillip - August 30, 2008

I did find another one, apart from the ones in the comments: http://www.studentteacherexchange.com/ which is completely free and uses chat/video/voice and whiteboards as well. They are new but my guess is they will be booming soon since they charge nothing.

5. Edwin - August 30, 2008

Thanks, Philip, for the link. Let’s wait and see if this site will last.

6. No More Skypecast « Tower of Confusion - September 4, 2008

[...] Skype Prime looks like a good tool to hook up language tutors and students. As mentioned in my previous post, I support the business model in which tutors would charge their students and let the middle men [...]

7. Jon Bischke - September 5, 2008

Thanks for mentioning us. We’re working hard to improve our service.

And my sincere apologies for any spam coming from eduFire folks. We have a lot of people eager to spread the word and haven’t communicated to them as well as we should have what is an appropriate way to tell others about the site.

8. Edwin - September 5, 2008

Hi Jon, thanks for dropping by.

Actually, I wonder if your website provide the option of having the 1st lesson free. I think this would attract more people to try it out.


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