ELSA: Leading Language App Company Secures $23 Million

By Dan Anderson • Sep 16, 2023

ELSA – a premier company utilizing machine learning and speech recognition technology company that teaches English – recently announced it has raised a $23 million Series C funding along with the launch of ELSA AI Tutor.

ELSA AI Tutor is considered the only application that is supported by years of speech recognition experience and data, and it is the first teaching application to reproduce natural conversation through Generative Voice AI, offering an immersive English learning experience. Plus, ELSA AI replaces the need for an in-person tutor and makes English language accuracy and fluency more accessible than before.

This funding round was led by UOB Venture Management, joined by UniPresident, and Asia Growth Investment Fund, which is a joint business of Aozora Bank and Development Bank of Japan (DBJ). Previous investors Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI-focused venture fund); Monk’s Hill Ventures; Globant Ventures; and Vietnam Investments Group (VIG) also participated. The funding round will help fuel the launch and expansion of ELSA AI into international markets like Taiwan and Korea as well as the Middle East and accelerate partnerships with corporations and schools in countries like Japan where English learners are looking to improve their language skill for accessing global job opportunities.

ELSA already been at the forefront of the AI revolution with its platform for English learning and is the leading platform in phonetic fluency and pronunciation. And since 2016, millions of users have improved their skills using the app, and now the company’s conversational voice-based tutor will speed up the progress and make learning even more accessible, affordable and personal. And the platform not only offers roleplay scenarios for learners to listen and reply, but due to the platform’s speech recognition technology, ELSA is able to provide in-depth and accurate English fluency analysis and feedback to ensure progress. Utilizing voice, not just text-based learning, ELSA AI helps learners master English language fluency, building their confidence to speak in actual work, school and social settings.

Previously, the only way to truly learn through live conversations was speaking with a human tutor. But human tutors are expensive – not widely available and inconsistent across the globe. And ELSA AI Tutor features an advanced role-play capability to practice real scenarios, from simple interactions like asking for directions, to nuanced and significant conversations like negotiating a raise at work, preparing for interviews, leading meetings and presentations, and more. Plus, ELSA pupils can customize their own role-playing scenarios to further tailor their lesson plan to their personal needs and sooner become global citizens.

Following each role-play conversation, users receive tailored feedback on their English speaking proficiency, notes on the student’s pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, intonation, rhythm and more. Plus, feedback is stored in the ELSA user’s profile, so the AI tutor can reference past mistakes and tailor future lessons. Starting now, ELSA is offering a free option where users can try a limited number of scenarios, or they can upgrade to the Premium plan for unlimited scenarios and feedback.

The ELSA AI Tutor is powered by a rich history of AI-powered, proprietary speech recognition technology and English audio data from 34 million learners around the world. With more than 50 million downloads, ELSA is the only language learning platform with 200 million hours of anonymous English audio data collected over the course of seven years. This global data has enabled ELSA to efficiently scale the platform and develop hyper-personalized lesson plans best catered to each learner’s profile.


“We believe artificial intelligence will pave a new way forward for the education industry. ELSA’s affordable and personalized AI-enabled English speaking solution will allow users to improve their skills, thereby opening up more job opportunities, especially in developing countries. We are excited to support ELSA’s growth into more markets, especially in Southeast Asia.”

– Clarissa Loh, Executive Director, UOB Venture Management

“I have discovered through my own journey that my purpose is to help others become more effective and confident communicators in English. ELSA AI Tutor is the most sophisticated and comprehensive app that offers a clear alternative to expensive, and often inaccessible, high quality human tutors. We believe we have the right team, technology and incredible international investors to propel ELSA AI Tutor to become the global standard for learning to speak English.”

– Co-founder and CEO Vu Van

“Speaking English is rated the most valued skill on the job market. Listening and speaking out loud is essential to fluency and pronunciation; with ELSA AI Tutor, ELSA becomes the most powerful and accessible language learning tool and companion to help people teach and practice natural conversational English, available right at their fingertips through a mobile device.”

– Dr. Xavier Anguera, co-founder of ELSA and respected speech technologist