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Chilean language website eyes Brazil expansion

At a time when open-access learning, technology and social networks are combining to shape international education, the online language service Poliglota has caught the eye of governments and investors.

Within two years of launching the site has attracted 33,200 users worldwide

The Chile-based website, which uses Facebook to connect language learners and teachers worldwide, has attracted 33,200 users within two years of launching. It has also received funding from the trade commission of Chile, ProChile, and start-up finance from Telefonica’s Wayra. Now it wants to expand into Brazil.

“This is the first in-person social network that hopes people will make eye contact, set aside their mobiles for a while and engage in conversation to get to know other realities, ” co-founder Carlos Aravena told AFP of the concept.

Users can learn Arabic, English, French and Mandarin among other languages for free

The allure of Poliglota is that it offers an alternative to costly language courses worldwide. Users connect and meet in bars to learn Arabic, English, French and Mandarin among other languages, and classes are taught by volunteer teachers free of charge. The service has attracted users not just in South America but also Japan, India, Italy, Spain and Norway.

Aravena and co-founder José Manuel Sánchez now hope to take advantage of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Expecting an influx of tourists, they plan to use social networks across the country to spread English and Spanish learning.

They have also set up a parallel accommodation network to connect Poliglota users visiting for events and Brazilian homestay hosts.

Aravena and Sánchez say they have presented their idea to Brazil’s Minister of Science and Technology who is interested in offering support.

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