Entrepreneur David Cameron in Dunedin last week displays
the LearnKo website that provides people in China with
face-to-face lessons with teachers in New Zealand. Photo by
A former Dunedin teacher had created an online classroom
connecting students in China to English language teachers in
Former Otago Boys' High School teacher David Cameron (26)
said he left teaching to start an online start-up which had
been recently relaunched as LearnKo offering English language
lessons to people living in China.
The lessons focused on a specific Chinese academic English
''The exam is based around listening and speaking and it's
the verbal part they can't master by themselves.''
Many Chinese students were great with ''book-work'' but had
no opportunity to practise talking.
''Most of them have never talked to a native [English]
There was a ''huge shortage'' of English language speakers in
China, he said.
''It's a big problem and the software brings in the student,
the teacher, and the curriculum.''
The exam determined if students were accepted to a foreign
university and were employed by foreign companies, he said.
Half the exam marks were awarded for talking and listening to
a native English speaker.
New Zealand teachers could cater for most of the learning
demand because the similar time-zone allowed the company to
match tutors to learners in the daytime.
But LearnKo was considering employing teachers in England so
tutors were available for people in China wanting lessons
after midnight, he said.
The software on the website was similar to Skype but
curriculum could be uploaded and online tools installed.
LearnKo employed 30 tutors, who taught about 100 people but
the numbers involved would ''ramp up'' soon, he said.
The company planned to employ 50 teachers to cater for 200
people in China.
By the end of the year, he expected 1000 people in China to
be using LearnKo.
The growth potential for the company was huge and the
three-year goal was to have 10,000 people in China using
''It's quite exciting.''
The potential for global expansion by reproducing the website
in other countries with other curriculums was exciting, he
Besides the teachers, LearnKo had eight full-time staff in
offices in Wellington and Shanghai.
Mr Cameron was based in Wellington but was in Dunedin for the
weekend visiting his girlfriend, who was studying here, he