The world is shrinking. Time and space has been compressed by technology to the point where planet Earth seems like a village rather than a vast world. You can fly anywhere within 24 hours and speak to anyone in the world instantly.

And yet, there are barriers between the people of the world that technology has done less to overcome. We are still separated by our culture and language. While you can contact any business in the world, getting equipped to do business with people in Africa or China is not as simple as making a Skype call or getting on a plane.

That’s why access to language learning services is so important to take advantage of our globalized world.

MOOC mania

In the last few years we’ve seen a massive boom in free, high-quality learning opportunities known as “MOOCs” or Massive Open Online Courses”. MOOCs have been somewhat disruptive to traditional learning institutions and allow anyone, anywhere to learn new job skills or gain valuable knowledge that you’d only get at university in the past.

Despite the wide range of topics, you can engage with in a MOOC, they still fall pretty short in one important area: language learning. Given the need and demand for cultural and linguistic expansion, why aren’t MOOCs filling this niche?

The simple answer is that language learning works best when you have another person, preferably native, to speak to for real. Not just simulated examples and recordings.

The gig economy is here

Thankfully, if it’s warm bodies you need, the rising “Gig” economy has them. Widespread broadband access and cheap computers mean that anyone can now find work online and earn a living remotely. Efficient platforms such as Up Work and Fiverr match up freelancers and clients quickly, easily and cheaply.

This creates a hot opportunity to provide live language learning services for a market that’s desperate to get a global edge. Technology companies looking for a good investment can make a killing building the next revolutionary language learning platform.

It’s also an amazing chance for individuals to earn supplementary income or even do the work full time. In principle there’s no limit to how successful you can be in this field.

Striking while the iron’s hot

The conditions that enable wide scale live distance learning for foreign languages have not been around for a long time, so there is still a chance to grab a good portion of the market. However, other companies are not resting on their laurels!

Preply is a good example of this. If you check out a Japanese tutor for example, you’ll see they’ve made the whole process pretty simple and attractive. So the competition is already heating up quickly.

An idea whose time has come

Live distance language learning is such an obviously good idea that it’s a real surprise it didn’t happen sooner. There has never been a time in history that everyone in the world has had such a valuable opportunity to upskill themselves and expand their horizons.

The future of this industry looks very bright indeed. It’s one of those rare opportunities where there are massive profits to be made and you’re doing something that can genuinely make the world a better place. Not to mention it’s a way to provide employment opportunities to millions of potential language teachers across the world.

If you’re still skeptical about the potential market for a distance language learning startup, check out our post on why every business needs access to language services.