$60B D2C language learning market to double by 2025, led by digital delivering 3X growth.

The Global Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Language Learning market will nearly double by 2025, reaching $115B and led by digital, delivering 3X growth in just five years.

Education Intelligence Unit

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May 11, 2021

Digital Language Learning is accelerating rapidly, increasing access, reducing cost and leveraging technology to drive higher levels of language proficiency at scale. Beyond tens of millions of new 'mobile first' language learners, digital is serving a much needed on-ramp and enabler for both online and offline tutoring.

Believe it or not, 1 in 4 people on earth are active language learners. That’s more than all the students in the world enrolled from K-12 to Higher Education. Arguably, it’s the world’s largest cohort of learners, and as a cohort, they’re really only just discovering digital.

Approximately 1.8 billion of us are actively striving and studying for work or pleasure to achieve proficiency at an additional language. Over 6,000 languages are spoken around the the world, each and every one of them reminding us of the beauty and diversity of humanity. Language is the foundation of education, collective intelligence, culture, empathy and relationships, and learning an additional language inspires the explorer in us all.

Mandarin, Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and Japanese; for travel, for life, career or family, the list of languages we are learning is long. But the overwhelming majority of language learners are seeking to learn English as a second language – we estimate a little over 1.4 billion.

142 countries include English as a mandatory element of their national education curriculum. This is driving increased demand for language learning in the 1.8 billion people enrolled in formal early childhood, K-12 and tertiary institutions around the world.

There are 142 countries (green) in the world where English is a mandatory element of the national education curriculum according to a recent study. In addition, there are 41 countries (blue) in which English language is a possible elective subject or is offered in many but not all schools (often as the most popular option to fulfil a ‘foreign language’ requirement).

Even in predominately English-speaking (but still highly multilingual) markets such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, English language learning is very strong for international higher education and travel-based learners.

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We estimate the D2C language learning market will almost double in size by 2025 in this 'mid-COVID' upgrade and outlook. Offline will further digitize and follow a U-shaped recovery; Mobile-first and online tutoring will accelerate and triple in size over the next five years.

Forcing ourselves to form a ‘mid-COVID’ point of view, we have fundamentally upgraded our outlook for D2C language learning. This may seem counter-intuitive given the widespread damage to offline and in-person providers COVID has driven, however we are optimistic on the mid to long-term economic recovery and remain convinced of the long-term demand for ‘blended’ in-person, campus-based and generally ‘face to face’ and ‘peer-to-peer’ English language learning. As hard as it is to imagine right now, under a positive recovery scenario, we see demand for offline language learning exceeding 2019 levels by 2024 and regaining ground rapidly, albeit having undergone a digital transformation to protect against another disruption and become more relevant and impactful for learners.

'D2C' Digital English is the primary growth driver, set to achieve a 25% CAGR.

With hundreds of millions of learners, the ‘mobile-first’ cohort are pioneering new techniques in behavioral learning, nudges, games and leveraging artificial intelligence in education. Meanwhile marketplaces and other platforms are replicating and scaling the fragmentation of peer-to-peer language tutoring using synchronous video.

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