02 October 2008

Chinesepod's Milestone

Today marks a milestone for the innovative language-learning site Chinesepod: it has published its 1000th Mandarin lesson. Those not familiar with the Chinesepod phenomenon will be surprised to learn that the lesson, like the other 999, is freely available: for Mr. Chinesepod, the Shanghai-based Dubliner Ken Carroll, is a connoisseur of the Web 2.0 world. He understands that in the digital age, the secret to making money is to give away the entry-level stuff to attract interest and build a vibrant community, and then to make money by offering premium content to people who are already know the value of your free resources.

Chinesepod's methods have been widely copied, something that Carroll, to his credit, is remarkably relaxed about. In any case, the Chinesepod family has already grown to include a Frenchpod, Spanishpod and Italianpod, with Russian, Arabic and German versions in the works.

Carroll obviously understands that its not the basic idea - of using downloadable lessons, interactive resources and message boards - that counts, but the execution. Speaking as one of the many tens of thousands of poddies who eagerly await their daily ration of digital Chinese, French, Spanish and Italian, I can attest to the fact that Carroll and his superb team certainly deliver.

Indeed, looking back over the last 1000 lessons, I'd go so far as to say that it's not so much that Chinesepod has *passed* a milestone, but that it *is* a milestone in language learning. Here's to the next 1000, Ken.

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