Brazil’s Cabbies Get Free English Lessons Before The World Cup

Brazil’s Cabbies Get Free English Lessons Before The World Cup

Voxy's targeted language learning offered to a fleet of 40,000 taxi drivers.

Ross Brooks
  • 19 may 2014

The 2014 FIFA World Cup finals will be held in Brazil in less than a month, which is why the country’s taxi drivers have started to brush up on their English skills. A partnership between 99Taxis and the language-learning platform Voxy has the two companies offered a more relevant type of English class. So far, 2,000 of the nation’s 40,000 cab drivers have signed up, which entitles them to three months of free lessons.

“What makes us different, is that we’re a needs-based language learning program. We don’t start with ‘basics’ and build up,” Voxy’s chief education officer Katie Nielson told Quartz.“That’s not the best way to teach a language, especially not to adults.The bottom line is that people learn when what they’re learning is relevant to their needs.” What that means is that Voxy integrates news stories, audio, and video to teach its users based on what they like to talk about, and what they really need to learn.


In the case of Brazil’s taxi drivers, that meant Voxy went in search of phrases that are targeted specifically at ferrying passengers around the city. Being able to decipher Google directions, identify certain parts of the vehicle and how to tell a customer to put something in the trunk, for example, are the kind of things that made it into Voxy’s lesson plan.

“We’re very interested in developing a program that teaches English to software developers,” Nielson says.Voxy is working on a program for the overseas employees of English-speaking countries.“Those engineers need to know how to communicate effectively with colleagues, and that education should be personalized.”

For the time being, it’s good to know that the company is targeting language learning that really counts, instead of just trying to take a one-size-fits-all approach that often leaves people frustrated and unable to communicate in even the most basic day-to-day situations.

Voxy / 99Taxis


[h/t] Quartz

Images via Flickr, Voxy, 99Taxis


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