Yena Member, Sam Mansfield (from the UK, but living through Covid-19 in Australia) has found success by launching his English translation business on TikTok.

Having completed his TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) course last year, Sam had ambitions to travel and teach in South America. However, when the scale of the Covid-19 pandemic put those plans on hold, Sam found that he needed to find a different avenue to pursue his teaching.

This all coincided with a new social media rabbit hole that he fell into: TikTok. Sam explains:

“During the early part of 2020, my friends starting sharing videos from a new app, TikTok. They were funny, but it just seemed like a platform for teenagers. However, the videos continued to be shared so, in early April, I decided to see what the fuss was all about. I, like many people across the world, bored in self-isolation, then found myself endlessly scrolling through the app and I was hooked. Comedic sketches, inch-perfect challenges and well-executed dances were what I was mainly seeing. I tried creating a few myself, but let’s just say that they didn’t make it past a hundred views despite the hard work I put in.”

Just about ready to call time on his TikTok career, Sam had a brainwave.

“During one afternoon TikTok scroll I got the idea to create a new account where I’d teach snippets of English. It initially started as ‘taughtbysam’ and I started recording with my phone on the garden table of the family friend that I am staying with. Different ways of thanking people, saying goodbye and asking for approval were a few of the early videos. As a native speaker, they are phrases you don’t even think about too much. Listening back to the recordings they sounded super basic, but I figured that the platform could be a great way to access non-English speaking people who wanted to learn.”

After the first week Sam had hit 700 followers and was already pretty satisfied. However, one evening, not to long after the account was set-up, his phone didn’t stop buzzing. A 15-second video which talked about the difference between “I’m in a…(car, taxi)” and “I’m on a (bus, boat, train)” had been pushed out to thousands of accounts and his follower count suddenly took off. Since that night, that video has been watched over a million times.

“I continued to make videos and listened to feedback from followers (who I like to refer to as students). As of the 17th May, the account is at 140,000 followers having been started on the 17th April.”

Using the analytics you can see via the app, Sam has found that the majority of his followers are from India.

“I am getting some amazing feedback from students who are very appreciative of the time I am taking to put together the content. The response is overwhelming, but I am now determined to make this a big success. I am working on a strategy to monetise the account, but, more importantly, help as many people in the world learn English.”

You can find 15 Second English here and find out more about becoming a Yena Member here.