Learned By Me Blog

This blog contains musings and announcements from the Learned By Me Team. Thanks for reading!

April 15, 2014 at 5:58am
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About Us!

We are running some promotions over the next few months with some awesome new partners and they asked that we put up a page telling a bit more of the Learned By Me story. We were happy to oblige!

       

What do you do?

At Learned By Me, we connect top native-speaking language professors from the developing world with students for one-on-one tutoring sessions over Skype from $15 (£9) per 45 minutes. All our teachers also work at a top university or immersion school and every lesson is customized to students goals and interests. We launched in 2013 with Spanish lessons with professors from South America and have seen rapid growth.

Recently, we have launched Mandarin lessons in beta with top professors from China as well.

Why did you launch this service?

Our founding team members learned to speak French and Spanish fluently studying with local professors in the developing world. We knew that using modern technology and the internet, we could bring this highly effective, culturally immersive learning experience to people all over the world. We also saw that in-person tutoring in the U.S. and Europe is extremely expensive ($50+ / hr in most cities on average) so we knew we could deliver a potentially higher quality service at a much lower price


What are tutoring sessions like?

Lessons are completely customized to each students goals and interests and we use everything the internet has to offer so all lessons have a major face to face speaking component (over skype) and they can also include worksheets, flashcards, and youtube videos among other resources. Here are some photos of a lesson:

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What levels of speakers do you work with?
We work with all levels of speakers from beginners who have never spoken a word of the language before to advanced speakers trying to stay sharp. The ages of our customers also ranges from about 4-70.

We also work with many students who are currently taking Spanish in school to help them get the best mark possible. In these situations, often the student will email the resources they are working on to our teachers so we are totally in line with what they are studying.

Many of our teachers have specializations such as the ability to teach medical Spanish or business Spanish so we also help a number of advanced speaking students trying to brush up in a specific area. In general, we have an incredible network of highly skilled teachers so if you have a specific learning need or interest, send us an email because we probably have a teacher who is a good fit.

Why do I need to put in my credit card information if I already have a promocode or credit?
We require each learner to put in a credit card when he or she sign ups for his or her first lesson even if the learner has a promo code or credit as a way for us to avoid potential fraudulent behavior. Don’t worry - if you put your credit card information in and you have a promo code or credit that covers the full cost of the lesson(s) you sign up for, then you won’t be charged!

Now, that you’re done reading, feel free to head over to our website, www.learnedbyme.com !

More questions: You can email us at support at learnedbyme dot come or call our team anytime at (626) 532-7678  (U.S.) or +44 (0)7707858484 (U.K.)

April 2, 2014 at 12:23pm
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The 4 Best Summer Trips in South America for Families

Have the polar vortex and interminable winters in the northern hemisphere got you down? Start dreaming of your summer plans! Although much of South America will be experiencing winter weather during US and European summer vacation time, South America can still be a great summer destination for adventurous, intrepid families. If family members are learning and practicing Spanish, a trip to South America is a great way to get past the “I can understand lots of Spanish, but it’s hard for me to speak it” phase. The South American-based Learned By Me team was bit by the travel bug a long time ago- here are some of our favorite locations for family travels.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

The capital of Argentina is a bustling, cosmopolitan city with lots for families to see and enjoy, including museums, impressive architecture, street art, and of course tango performances. History and Broadway musical lovers might have a hard time not breaking out into song, namely “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” from the musical Evita. Finally, the Italian influence in Argentine food means that picky eaters should have plenty of options, and parents can indulge in reasonably-priced, high-quality wines.

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Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Whether the family stays on one of the islands to arrange day trips or books a multiple day boat trip, the Galápagos will be sure to enchant family members of all ages with its pristine beaches, numerous animals, and relaxed “island time”. Children will be enthralled with the visible sea lions, tortoises, iguanas, penguins (!), and numerous birds, and adults will enjoy the islands’ scientific and historical significance. 

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San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Sure, Chile’s beautiful southern Patagonia might be a bit cold during July and August, but the northern part of the country boasts a beautiful desert- one of the driest in the world- with salt flats and breathtaking views. Families can alternate between hiking in dunes, riding bikes, looking out for wildlife, and exploring national parks. Bring warmer clothes- because of the altitude, it can get cold in July and August!

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Florianapolis, Brazil

While Rio and Sao Paulo might not be the most family friendly of destinations, Florianapolis has been named many times as one of the best places to live in Brazil. There are plenty of family-friendly activities to do on the island- surfing, hiking, sand boarding, and just beach lounging, including eating sea food. Spanish isn’t as useful in Brazil, but if you don’t speak any Portuguese, it’s better than nothing!

8:21am
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Some New Friends

At Learned By Me, we are always looking for outstanding companies and individuals to partner with. We’re excited to announce that we’ve started a new affiliate program, and we have a number of great new partners already! Here are just two of our new affiliates.

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In Quito, Ecuador, we’re working with Mike Bruner of Middle of the World. Mike is an expat from the US who works to help others get to know Ecuador. He helps tourists arrange trips of various lengths throughout the country to see all of Ecuador’s natural beauty, and also advises foreigners who are considering relocating in Ecuador. We enjoy working with Mike because he talks honestly about life in Ecuador, speaking candidly about the ups and downs of daily life, and because he recognizes that knowing and speaking some Spanish can really help foreigners to feel comfortable and settle into their new country.

In the US, we’ve partnered with Gena Mayo of the blog I Choose Joy! Gena is the mom of eight children, and she writes about her experiences homeschooling her children. Children can especially pick up new languages quickly, and at Learned By Me we’ve seen many younger students progress quickly in their studies! We like Gena’s straightforward discussions about teaching and homeschooling her children, and we’re excited to be partnering with her. 

If you’re interested in partnering with Learned By Me, let us know! We always enjoy getting to know and working with those in related fields. Shoot us an email.

March 6, 2014 at 6:00am
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How to Discuss Ellen’s Jokes at the 2014 Oscars…in Spanish

1) Early on, Ellen called Liza Minnelli a man. Or in Spanish, Ellen le llama a Liza Minnelli un hombre. But Liza didn’t seem too happy about the joke: Liza no parecía muy feliz después del chiste.

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2) Ellen also made fun of Jennifer Lawrence for falling at the Oscars…again. Ellen también se burlaba de Jennifer Lawrence, por haberse caído en los Oscar…otra vez. 

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3) In addition, Ellen claimed that the nominees in the audience had “been in 1400 films and a total of six years of college.Además, Ellen afirmó que los nominados para el premio “habían actuado en 1400 películas y asistido a seis años de la universidad en total.” 

She joked about Amy Adams’ lack of a college degree in particular. Bromeaba específicamente acerca de Amy Adams y su falta de un título universitario. 

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4) Later in the ceremony, Ellen joked about ordering a few pizzas….and then she actually did!

Más tarde durante la ceremonia, Ellen bromeaba acerca de la idea de pedir unas pizzas…¡y en realidad las pidió!

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Overall, Ellen cancelled out her insults by ordering pizza for people and by making people laugh: what more can we ask of an Oscars host?

Por lo general, Ellen neutralizó los efectos de sus insultos cuando pidió unas pizzas y cuando hizo que muchos se reían: ¿que más le podemos pedir a una presentadora de los Oscar?

March 3, 2014 at 7:03am
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How to Survive the Hunger Games Speaking Only Spanish

First, let everyone know you mean business: 

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(No tengo miedo.)

Then, put your opponents off guard by wishing them luck.

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(Que las probabilidades estén siempre a tu favor.)

Once the fighting starts, climbing a tree might be your best bet. Just ask someone to point you toward the nearest forest by asking,¿Dónde está el bosque más cercano?  That is, if you can stop someone long enough to ask…

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But maybe you’re in a more tropical arena. 

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In that case, you’re better off heading for those mountains in the distance. So say, Me voy para las montañas- sería demasiado peligroso quedarme aquí. (I’m going to the mountains—it would be too dangerous for me to stay here.)

Other things to keep in mind:

- If someone runs at you with a knife, don’t say things like, Por favor, no me mates. (Please, don’t kill me.) Instead, run in the opposite direction.

image- Keep an eye out for the handy silver parachutes that deliver food, tools, and medicine. To give someone else the same advice, say, Los paracaídas de color plata son muy útiles. Nos traen comida, herramientas, y medicinas. (The silver parachutes are very useful. They bring us food, tools, and medicine.)

- And finally, you might want to start practicing your archery before the games begin, so you can compete with contestant like Katniss.

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In other words, Debes practicar con tu arco y flechas antes de que empiecen los juegos.

3:50am
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Montgomery High School PTO Fundraiser

Since we started, our goal at Learned By Me has always been to make education better. School support organizations such as Parent-Teacher Organizations provide an important role ensuring that improvements happen for students within the school and that gaps are addressed or at least discussed. With that in mind, we are thrilled to be partnering with some of these organizations to help them fundraise.

Starting this week and running all month, when you purchase a Learned By Me Spanish tutoring pack or session at our Montgomery High School PTO Fundraising page, we’ll donate all our profits (1/3 of the cost of the lesson) from that purchase to the Montgomery High School PTO.

As a company that is focused more on growing and spreading awareness than profit, donating our profits to such a worthy cause makes a lot of sense for us. So head over to the page to purchase lessons this month and if you’re from another school or PTO, email us because we would love to find a way to help support your organization as well.

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February 24, 2014 at 9:54am
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The Greatest March Madness Moments of All-time…in Spanish

The NCAA college basketball and March Madness is just around the corner. Here are the most exciting moments ever and what they would have sounded like in Spanish.

1. UCLA vs. Tulsa (1994)

El último intento para los bruins de UCLA si quieren entrar en los “sweet 16.” El año pasado, fueron eliminados en la primera ronda por Tulsa. No quieren perder este partido. Edney va la distancia y…¡eso!

One last try for the bruins of UCLA to get into the sweet 16. knocked out last year in the first round by Tulsa. They don’t want to lose this one. Edney going the distance…Yes! 

2. Duke vs. Kentucky (1992)

El pase a Laetner. Lo pone arriba. ¡Así!

There’s the pass to laetner. Puts  it up. Yess! 

3. Valpraiso vs. Ole Miss (1998)

De Jenkins a Drew para ganar. ¡Bueno! ¡Lo hizo! Ooohh. Bryce Drew lo hizo. ¡Valpo ha ganado el partido! Un milagro. 

It’s to Jenkins to Drew for the win. Good! He did it! Ooooh. Bryce drew did it. Valpo has won the game! A miracle.

4. NC States vs. Houston

Solo quedan siete segundos. Puedes ver el tiempo. Whittenburg…oh, ¡que distancia!…¡y entra! ¡Lo han ganado! Lo ganaron.

It’s down to seven seconds. You can see the time. Whittenburg…oh, that’s a long ways…it’s in. They’ve won it! They won it.

5. Syracuse vs. Indiana

Smart toma el tiro y los Hoosiers toman la delantera con tres segundos más. Nadie paró el reloj, ¡nadie paró el reloj!

Smart takes the shot and the hoosiers with three seconds go ahead. Nobody stopped the clock, nobody stopped the clock.

February 13, 2014 at 1:33pm
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The Hogwarts Student’s Guide to Insulting People…in Spanish

If this is you,

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…then say:  "Me siento tan enojado, ¡todo el tiempo!"

Now you’re ready to direct your anger at someone or something.

 1) When your friend jumps on a broomstick after expressly being instructed not to, you can say:
 
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     Or, "¡Qué idiota!"

2) To avoid a conversation while you’re busy studying, be blunt:

image"No te quiero ofender, pero en realidad no me importa lo que dices."

3) The Marauders’ Map once requested that Professor Snape “keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.” image
    To request the same thing of someone else, say, "¡No te metas tu enorme nariz en los asuntos ajenos!"

4) And if someone does something really awful—like get excited about the planned execution of your friend’s hippogriff—then it’s not uncalled for to say (in Hermione’s words):image¡Cucaracha vil, odiosa, y detestable!”

 [“You foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!”]

But maybe don’t punch that person in the face!

February 6, 2014 at 11:10am
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How to teach a language to a young child (a reddit story)

We are big believers in the positive effects of learning a language and try to do our part to help even if we are not always the one doing the teaching.

We saw this post on Reddit a few days ago entitled: “Teaching a language to a child?" where the poster explained that he’d really like to teach Spanish to his 7 year old sister but didn’t know where to start:
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These are exactly the type of challenges our teachers take on every lesson. They customize the process of learning to the format that will most engage our learners and thus be most effective. So, we asked our teacher, Irma for her take.

Her reply (posted on the Reddit thread) is below:

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Big thanks to Irma for suggesting her ideas! We are committed to helping people learn more effectively so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions about the best way to learn, whether you are taking lessons with us or not.

February 4, 2014 at 11:01am
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Why We Underprice

Our company, Learned By Me, connects native-speaking Spanish professors and immersion school teachers from South America with students primarily in the U.S. and U.K. for one-on-one Skype lessons for only $15 for a 45 minute lesson.  We are able to keep our prices so low because our teachers are from parts of the world with lower wage expectations, but we still frequently get the question of why we choose to price our product so low. After all, one-on-on language tutoring in most cities costs, on average, over $50/hour, and the teachers giving those lessons are generally less qualified than our teachers. 

The argument against such low pricing is this: we are leaving money on the table, while also doing a disservice to ourselves, by giving people the impression that we are lower quality as a result of our low price tag. And beyond that, if we charged higher prices, then we could put more money towards marketing and customer education.

We actually think there is something to the idea that our low price may be creating some negative signaling, in the sense that there are people who don’t see it as an option initially because they assume our low price is an indication that we either have low quality, or that there is some catch. We often get emails from customer saying ‘what’s the catch’ or ‘I’ve learned my lesson about purchasing “great deals” on the internet.’

But then we think about what we are trying to build and how good consumer companies grow.  When we started we wrote on our blog: Learned By Me has one goal: to make learning better. By better, we mean more fun, more effective, more engaging, and less expensive.” Having our lessons priced lower at our current price of $15, vs. say $30 or $50 per class, likely makes them a better experience, or at least a much better value experience, for the end user.

From a business perspective, we think there is something to this strategy as well. First of all, by keeping our prices low, we are able to appeal to a much wider swatch of the population than if we were charging two or three times that per hour.

Secondly, when we look at the e-commerce or marketplace companies that have grown successfully, it is frequently because their users loved them and organically spread the word about the product or service. If we charged more money, maybe we could spend more money on customer acquisition (assuming that customers’ average number of lessons was going to be the same), but relying on paid customer acquisition for long-term growth is a very difficult strategy because paying for users doesn’t scale linearly. Often the cost of acquiring users goes up while the value of those users goes down. **

However, word of mouth growth, which is reserved mostly for those products people love, or those that have some type of particularly viral mechanic, is free (or low cost if you have a referral program). Companies that have been able to grow this way (e.g. Dropbox) seem to have done a much better job of maintaining margins at scale compared to those primarily involved in the paid acquisition game (see daily deals). o that’s our thought process: we are betting that by keeping prices low (delivering more value to customers), we are creating a larger group of happier advocates that will result in longer-term growth.

* In-person tutoring prices and qualifications are based on searching Wyzant for Spanish tutors in San Francisco, CA

** Venture capitalist Bill Gurley explains this phenomena well here: http://abovethecrowd.com/2012/09/04/the-dangerous-seduction-of-the-lifetime-value-ltv-formula/