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Current Article
July/August 2007
Reach Out and Teach Someone
By Blake Hounshell

Clever language schools from Beijing to Cairo have discovered a powerful tool: Internet telephony. Voice-over-Internet services allow language schools in even the most remote corners of the globe to exploit their comparative advantage¡ªnative speakers and rock-bottom prices. In cities such as London or New York, an hour of private, one-to-one language instruction can cost more than $30. But at Web sites like eChineseLearning.com, private classes with a native Mandarin speaker cost as little as $5 per hour using online voice and video services such as Skype or Yahoo! Messenger. Sanaa Ghanem of ArabAcademy.com, an online Arabic-language school based in Cairo, says her business is booming thanks to the ¡°better quality¡± of the technology, not to mention the fact that ¡°everyone in America knows about it.¡± Whether discount prices are enough to overcome Americans¡¯ infamous aversion to learning foreign languages remains to be seen.

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