Contxto – With 58 percent quarter-over-quarter growth in Mexico and Colombia, language startup Slang recently announced that it’s expanding to Brazil.

You got that right. Now, the U.S.-Colombian startup teaching jargon to English learners will soon be available for Portuguese speakers. Currently, it’s wrapping up its beta testing but will officially launch November 1 of this year. That’s two months earlier than the company expected.

Once the platform premiers in Brazil, Slang will then start hiring members of its sales team in São Paulo. This is set to begin by January 1, 2020, according to a recent Medium post from the company. 

These are all good signs that the educational catalog of professional English courses is growing at an incredible rate. After all, corporations and universities alike invest in the Slang platform to assist employees or students master business-related English.

Business English courses

With educational origins, Slang began as a solution for complex work-specific terminology that’s all too prevalent in English.

Similar to how the founders of Talenty identified inadequate English levels among tech profiles, the Slang founders noticed a learning curve in terms of business-specific terminology among English learners. 

Keeping this in mind, the gears started rolling when co-founders Diego Villegas and Kamran Khan met on the MIT campus.

Skilled in design and full-stack software development, Khan had just won a software development contest sponsored by Apple. Meanwhile, Villegas left his company in Colombia after a successful exit, only to gone on to study at MIT. 

Together, they created Slang to teach non-native English speakers the business jargon they need to succeed. 

Based on Villegas’ professional experience as a serial entrepreneur and his education in the United States, he knew the challenges that non-English speakers face in terms of learning the necessary field-specific terminology to work in the English-speaking world. 

We’re not talking about teacher simple ways to greet a stranger in English. Rather, the complex vocabulary needed in specific fields, whether they be finance, marketing, graphic design, computer programming, etc. 

AI-powered English courses

New language abilities can be tapped into with Slang’s platform. In terms of business model, it’s a B2B arrangement where companies and universities purchase the program to enhance knowledge while increasing productivity. 

 “The platform has become an aspirational thing, where more and more of our employees want to study with it,” said Hernán Luna, the Head of Training at GNP Seguros in Mexico, one of Slang’s clients. “In our offices across the country, we’ve seen more than 10,000 hours of study on the platform in just four months.”

Part of the solution lays in the AI technology that optimizes the learning process for students where nobody ever repeats familiar content. At the same time, the company has managed to design new courses in as little as three weeks due to its tech capacity. Traditional models may take 40 weeks to develop, let’s say, a Financing English course. 

Today, Slang offers 70 courses and still counting. Over time, Slang wants to offer up to 1,000 professional courses to HR departments. Equipped with the platform, companies can truly start investing in their employees’ professional training.  

Partnerships and investments

With his eyes honed in on Latin America, Villegas collaborated with Fernando Lelo de Larrea and Federico Antoni from ALLVP towards the end of 2018 to gain support for these endeavors. Part of the deal involved a promise to expand to the Brazilian market within one year, and lo and behold, it’s now happening. 

Additional support has also come from Social Capital and InQlab.