ByteDance begins trials of another English learning app in ever-growing appetite for education

It’s the company’s eighth education-focused app.

Photo: Tuchong

ByteDance, the app factory behind short video platforms Douyin and TikTok as well as the popular news feed aggregator Jinri Toutiao, is aggressively making headway in extra-curricular education. It is conducting trials for its third English learning app, called Tangyuan English (“tangyuan” is a Chinese dessert), 36Kr reported on Monday.

Tangyuan utilizes artificial intelligence to evaluate a user’s English pronunciation skills, while a real-life teacher guides the user’s progression based on his or her scores. The app will also integrate short videos on English learning that are hosted on Douyin.

ByteDance now has more than one billion monthly active users across its portfolio of apps. When Tangyuan goes live, the company may be able to leverage its massive user base to absorb the market share of competitors like Liulishuo, an AI-powered English instruction app produced by a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Liulishuo had 123.4 million registered users at the end of March, and generated RMB 253.3 million (USD 37.7 million) in net revenue in the first quarter of this year, up 161.7% year-on-year. Still, the company racked up a net loss of RMB 67.3 million in that period.

Last year, business media outlet Pintu Group‘s research arm estimated the value of China’s online English instruction market in 2018 as RMB 57.1 billion (USD 8.3 billion), adding that the market will expand at a compound annual growth rate of more than 20%, eventually hitting RMB 100 billion in the next few years.

ByteDance’s range of 8 education-focused apps are meant to service K–12 students and adults also . One of its apps, Kaiyan English, helps its users practice speaking, while Dubai Beidanci develops familiarity with vocabulary.

In addition, the company has been developing a smartphone that comes pre-installed with its apps—a move seen more as an attempt to make inroads into the educational sector, rather than to become a full fledged player in the smartphone hardware sector.

ByteDance’s foray into the educational sector, which began in 2018, has roots in its analysis of advertisers. Chen Duye, who was then general manager of Jinri Toutiao’s marketing department, revealed in December 2017 at an education summit that the number of advertising clients from the educational sector on its app increased by 263% that year, according to 36Kr.

A spokesperson for ByteDance, which is reportedly planning an initial public offering, declined to comment on Tangyuan English’s trials on Tuesday.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.