New Oriental bilingual livestreaming goes viral, an example for tutoring industry transformation
New Oriental Education hits Douyin showrooms to make a business comeback
Published: Jun 14, 2022 08:16 PM
An anchor from New Oriental Education introduces goods through an online livestreaming platform. Photo: Courtesy of New Oriental Education

An anchor from New Oriental Education introduces goods through an online livestreaming platform. Photo: Courtesy of New Oriental Education

At a livestreaming hall on Chinese social media giant platform Douyin, an anchor was seen introducing to the audience some frozen prawns. While describing the size of prawns, the anchor wrote a slew of English words from "big, huge, giant, to enormous, tremendous" on a white board, hoping to teach the audience how to describe sizes in selected English words.

For many Chinese consumers, they have never expected they can learn English while doing online shopping course. However this has become true thanks to the bilingual online sales, provided by China's private tutoring company New Oriental Education.

Recently, the bilingual online sale course provided by livestreaming room Oriental Selection, owned by New Oriental Education, have accumulated more than 4 million followers as of Tuesday, making bilingual livestreaming a trendy topic among Chinese consumers and a new way for private tutoring agencies to survive, which was put under policy scrutiny for causing inequality in public education last year.

Bilingual livestreaming 

The bilingual livestreaming bonanza began on Friday, when Dong Yuhui, one of the teachers at New Oriental Education, who claims to have taught 500,000 students in 8 years, became an internet hit for his online bilingual sale courses.

For example, when Dong sells beefs, he introduces English words related to beef, such as how to say "original cutting" in English. In another example, when he sells corn, he would also explain to audience that in some places in the UK, people would call corn as "maize". While selling a set of encyclopedias, Dong explained relevant English usages such as "enrich my knowledge" and "expand my horizon".

Since New Oriental Education launched bilingual online sales in June, there have been many English tutors turned anchors like Dong who would chat about life, poetry and philosophy, and even recite some lines of Shakespeare's sonnets while introducing the goods.

Their wide knowledge reserve has gained a growing number of followers with many calling them the "top ceiling" of live-streamers.

A Beijing resident surnamed Zhao who bought a book of ancient poems from Oriental Selection has found such bilingual livestreaming truly enlightening and educational.

"I think the anchors are knowledgeable. Some of them can even recite some ancient poems and explain the stories behind. This makes them stand out from ordinary anchors who just promote their goods," Zhao told the Global Times on Tuesday.

On Saturday, the number of viewers at Oriental Selection reached 12 million, and the GMV on that day was 21 million yuan, making it the 6th most cash-earning broadcast room on Douyin.
Graphic: Tang Tengfei/GT


As of Tuesday, Oriental Selection already had 4.68 million followers, while the number of fans at the beginning of this month was less than one million.

New way of survival 

The popularity of the bilingual live-broadcast course was also reflected by the stellar performance on the capital market.

After the bilingual livestreaming went viral, New Oriental Education's Hong Kong listed stock Koolearn Technology Holding shot up 100 percent in prices during trading on Monday to erase all losses since July 2021 due to stricter regulation of private tutoring companies.

As a leader in the educational tutoring industry, New Oriental's new approach to combine online selling with spreading the knowledge of English learning and foreign culture could provide a direction for the transformation of the education industry, industry insiders said.

Liu Dingding, a veteran analyst of internet industry, told the Global Times that mass popularity of New Oriental Education is backed by its years of accumulation which it has adapted to the field of broadcast.

"It is revolutionary for the current livestreaming industry. The growth potential could be expected," Liu said.

New Oriental Education began to explore livestreaming business last December when the company launched livestreaming room Oriental Selection on Douyin, mainly to sell agricultural products.

Is the transformation a real success, or is it a flash in the pan? Experts believe whether its popularity can be maintained and whether sales can continue to grow remains to be seen.

Liu noted that it should be cautious whether such bilingual livestreaming may again risk violating the government policy, to be considered as an alternative of English tutoring.

Last year Chinese regulators tightened scrutiny on private tutoring to clamp down on tutoring services for students under grade nine.

New Oriental's total revenue from education services reached $510 million in the third quarter, down 54.1 percent year-on-year, according to the New Oriental Education and Technology's financial report for the third quarter ending February 28. 

In addition to New Oriental, other education companies have also embarked on the road of transformation in exploring a variety of new business opportunities.

In February, Puxin Education announced that the company is evaluating the feasibility of running a Chinese fast food chain restaurant business after selling its off-campus training business last year. On June 10, Rise Education announced that the company completed the merger transaction with Dada Auto to explore electric vehicle charging service.