Digitalization has made English language learning easily accessible and affordable.

During 2015, self-paced e-learning segment of English accountedenglish language global digital revenues for more than 64% of the total market share.[i] The digital market for English learning is expected to grow further in the near future due to the following reasons:

  • Increased use of mobile services for learning
  • Greater flexibility in learning
  • Affordability, and
  • Easy availability

English as the global language of commerce and communication is the preferred language to learn. It is dominating the language market, presenting itself as the largest concentrated revenue opportunity in the international language learning market.[ii] English language learning products (both online and offline) have generated staggering revenue of US $35.9 billion in 2011, which makes up for 61.7% of the total language learning market.[ii] Below you will find details of the world’s biggest buying countries of digital English language learning.

Top Digital English Learning Countries


Even with a modest growth rate of 2.8%, China remains the largest digital English language learning buying country in the world, followed by the U.S., South Korea and Japan.[iii] In 2015, China was the top buying country in the Asia Pacific region, followed by South Korea, Japan, India, and Taiwan.[iv] English language learning is in high demand in China. According to Education First, the number of English online learners in China will grow from 67.2 million in 2013 to 120 million in 2017.[iii]

TutorGroup, that claims to be China’s largest private online English language learning provider, reported a 300% growth in sales in 2013 as compared to the previous year.[iii] That seems more remarkable when we consider that they offer only three digital English language learning products. Another English language giant, New Oriental Education, reported that their revenue for online children’s English classes are rising by 35% a year.[iii] In the adult segment only, TutorGroup forecasts, the growth in English language learning to be 25% annually. They expect triple-digit annual growth rate in the future.[iii]

South Korea

Five countries namely South Korea, China, U.S., Japan, and Brazil together account for 65% of the global revenues in digital English language learning products.[iv] South Korea is among the largest buying countries in East Asia.[iv] Koreans on an average spend $15 billion on private English education.[v] With digitalization, the market is growing larger and the shift from classroom teaching to online learning is fast becoming the norm. South Korea’s high-speed Internet access, a passion for English learning, which many dub as “English fever”, and a growing bi-lingual population contribute to it being a high revenue grossing country.


According to Ambient Insight, Japan is the fourth largest buyer of digital English learning products.[vi]  Despite of a slight low in the private language school industry, the English language learning industry in the country stands firmly at $1.2 billion.[vi] Judging from the fact that more than 13 million Japanese study English in a year, and 5.4 million take a standard English proficiency exam each year, the English language learning market seems determined to grow.[vi]

The largest online English language learning school in Japan is RareJob. It had 70,000 student in 2012, which grew to 200,000 in 2013, a three times increase.[vi] They have more than 3,200 online English instructors.[vi] High demand, strong purchasing power, and digitalization make Japan a lucrative market for digital English teaching.


Brazil is a large market for English learning and a top buying country. It is predicted to overtake Japan to become the fourth largest digital English language learning buying country in 2018.[vii] The five-year compound annual growth rate for digital English language learning products in Brazil is 13.8%. By 2018, the revenues are estimated to reach a whooping $260.9 million.[vii]

Being a large market, it offers opportunities for English learning providers. In 2013, over 2.8 million people in Brazil were taking English lessons.[vi] According to the Brazilian Franchsing Association, private English language learning is a $3.1 billion industry.[vi] Evaluating the market, Macmillan launched their online language school in Brazil known as EnglishUp.

Digitalization of education is being done in Brazil on a large scale. By 2017, the country is looking to convert all their books and instructional content in high schools to the digital format. Increase in digital platforms and the already existing demand is expected to contribute to higher revenue and opportunities for digital English learning in the near future.


A top buying country in the Middle East along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UAE, Turkey has shown an impressive growth rate of 17%.[viii] The Middle East is not far behind with a growth rate of 13.2% in the digital English language learning products market.[viii] The revenue is predicted to rise from $116.1 million in 2013 to $215.7 million by 2018.[viii]

Turkey will continue to be a top buyer because of its investment in digital English learning products. Others, including Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE have also revealed promising growth rates for digital learning products.

Revenue Forecast

Ambient Insight predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.1% for global market for digital English language learning products over the next five years. The revenue is expected to reach US $3.1 billion by 2018.[vi]

In the Asia Pacific region, Indonesia will be the fourth-largest buying country of English language learning products after China, South Korea, and Japan by 2020.[iv] In Asia, the market will reach a staggering $1.6 billion by 2018.[ix]

It is predicted that by 2018, Brazil will overtake Japan to become the fourth-largest buying country of English language learning products. Also, the Russian Federal will overtake India to become the sixth-largest buying country of English language learning products in the world.[iv] Indonesia, Poland and Malaysia will emerge as additional top buying countries in 2018.[x]

As online language learning is fast becoming more popular, digital platforms for English learning will become the major medium of learning around the world. With more and more countries adopting and expanding their digital base for communication and education, the future of online English language learning is sure to soar.