Learn a Language for Good
Untours Catalog, Fall 2009
Clay Cooper had always struggled to learn Spanish. It wasn’t until he studied in Guatemala at age 31 that he finally succeeded.
During that trip he also learned that hard work and education did not always pay off. With limited opportunities in Guatemala, even his university-educated tutor lived in poverty. That experience inspired (www.SpeakShop.com), an online fair trade language tutoring business Clay founded with his wife, Cindy Cooper.
Speak Shop gives language tutors the training and technology to become micro-entrepreneurs, reaching customers worldwide and teaching via webcam. While tutors improve their livelihoods, by setting their own rates and hours, people who hunger to learn a language log onto their website to take one-on-one lessons. These are only two of the many reasons Speak Shop was a finalist for the 2007 Project Enterprise Contest on PBS, which highlighted social entrepreneurs.
Currently, Speak Shop’s tutors come from Guatemala, Nicaragua and Brazil. Cindy & Clay hope their business will grow to include many countries and generate a variety of cross-cultural connections. In addition, the software they have created will be usable by other businesses that address poverty.
“For me, the true benefit of an immersion program was developing a friendship with my tutor,” said Clay. “I now care deeply about what happens in Guatemala. I hope that through Speak Shop we can share this experience at a global level and increase cultural awareness and concern.”
Check out the website at www.speakshop.com, and try a free lesson!