Imran Rautan: Learning English with Litvill Lessons in India

Imran Rautan
Imran Rautan

We cannot deny that fiction is a fantabulous version of reality. Although sometimes, fiction pales in comparison with an enchantingly fantastic real saga. Imran Rautan’s story is like that; sounds a bit like a fairy tale, calling for a movie adaptation. The story is of how starting from zero, Imran has become a hero by launching Litvill Lessons AssociationA non-profit organisation to help children learn English.

The epic starts with a poor, stone-polishing Indian boy who has recently launched his non-profit company to help disadvantaged kids like him around India fulfill their utmost potential.

Imran grew up in a kind of slum. Only a few lucky children go to school from his community; instead, most of them go straight to work at a very young age. Though Imran had to do stone polishing after classes from the tender age of eight, he still managed the accomplishment of finishing secondary school.

Nonetheless, after his schooling, he went to work at a small hotel. There were few options for him. His family was too poor to pay university fees, though his dream was to do further studies. Undeterred by his upbringing, he always wanted a better life; cars, fancy sunglasses and a long coat. In the hotel, he realized that most rich people with cars, sunglasses, and long coats speak English. He thought if he spoke English, he could be just like them. So he started to learn English by himself, firstly by using English newspapers left behind by the guests he aspired to be like. All the hotel guests were his tutors. He used to ask them many questions about words and phrases he picked up in his inspired studies.

One day a foreign lady (Dolores) arrived at the hotel, and as usual, he asked her to explain some English phrases on his plate for the day. Dolores was impressed by Imran’s genuine learning method.

Astute Method and Inquisitive Enthusiasm

Imran asked her if she could help him to learn English. This proved most fortuitous, as she was an expert in learning theories, and so, out of curiosity, she agreed.

Imran did 80% of the learning by himself, and 20% of the time, she guided him on his path online. The results were promising; he could easily communicate with his hotel guests in less than six months. Impressed by his dedication, hard work and progress, Dolores offered him financial support to attend his once-wishful university. First, he was hesitant. As a sole breadwinner of a family of five, he could not afford to quit his full-time job. However, the opportunity was a great temptation as it was perhaps his last opportunity to study further and pursue his dream. He accepted her offer, though she was unsure if he could do it alongside a full-time job. Regardless, she was committed and willing to risk her money for a ‘social experiment’, as she favourably referred to it.

Imran attended the university from morning to afternoon, then did his full-time job until midnight. This routine went on for three years, including Saturdays and Sundays. It was assertively challenging, but encouragingly, he was one of the best students at the University of Jaipur. His appetite for learning grew stronger, and he continued to finish his master’s degree. This year, he even earnt a scholarship from a foreign university to pursue PhD studies.

The Meaning of Real Happiness

By this time, Imran realized that big cars, sunglasses and long coats are meaningless. What makes you truly happy deep within is to do something good for others. There might be millions upon millions of Indian kids just like him who have no opportunity to study but have tremendous untapped potential. With this aim, Imran and Dolores started to work on an online English platform. Together, they founded Litvill Lessons to help predominantly school-going kids in India improve their English language and thinking skills. Imran, who is now the Founder and CEO strongly believes that if he could make it so far, others can also make it with the help of Litvill Lessons.

Imran reveals that the inspiration behind venturing into the business arena comes from his own small achievements. “I realized that if I can make it so far, other kids can also make it if the same model can be provided to them, where they get international exposure, English speaking environment, master self-learning skills, and financial help. We looked around but we didn’t find this model, and then we started Litvill Lessons which is based on the same model to replicate my own story.”

Highlighting the initial challenges that he had to surmount to ensure Litvill’s success rate reached greater heights, Imran says one of the challenges was accommodating the students to a new way of learning English. Most Indian students are used to learning anything through spoon-feeding. Their opinion doesn’t matter; they are supposed to regurgitate what they are taught. However, when the students enroll at Litivill Lessons, they find…

A Completely New Way of Learning

…partly because of the self-learning method, partly because the teachers (mentors) want to know their opinion about everything. Litvill Lessons is focused 60% on self-learning and 40% of learning happens in online classes.

“We chose this method not only because it is cheap and effective, but this is the future. We want our learners to use their brains, and become independent learners who can make their own decisions. In the beginning, most students find self-learning difficult because they are not used to it. Our method might deter new students and we have to make extra efforts to convince them that the method works, but this is our mission to change the way our kids learn in India,” he explains.

Another challenge is reaching out to a wider audience. As they are a non-profit organization, they have a modest budget for marketing. “In this crowded market where you have many for-profit competitors with deep funding, it becomes challenging for non-profit companies like us to be heard in the market,” says Imran. On the other hand, they do not want to spend money on marketing; “We rather spend that money on providing quality teachers for our learners,” he says. Nevertheless, he and his team are trying to find alternative ways to spread their message. They are open to collaborating with other companies and educational institutes in any possible way.

A Distinctive Formula

Telling more about their distinctive offerings, Imran says what makes them unique and different is their 60-30-10 formula, which is rare to find. This formula offers:

  • Cutting Edge E-modules for self-learning.
  • European English Teachers.
  • English Speaking Environment (Litvill’s senior students teach junior students).
  • Financial Help to Every Student.

And the benefits their students get through their 60-30-10 formula are:

  • Students master the self-learning skills that most students lack.
  • Students get international exposure through European English Teachers.
  • Students get an English-speaking environment through the model where senior students teach junior students. That gives them the opportunity to use in real life what they learnt.
  • Students receive financial support, through their tutoring system. In which their senior students teach junior students they pay their senior students to practice with their junior students.

Self-Learning and Global Exposure

Revealing their professional values and qualities, Imran says, “Our clients value the way we teach English because through our 60-30-10 formula they get to learn how to become good at self-learning which most parents find interesting as it forces the students to use their brains. Another thing our clients’ value is that they get international exposure which is very rare for Indian kids, and it is an excellent experience if kids have international exposure at an early age. Furthermore, our senior students can teach junior students which provides them with an English-speaking environment and this is the biggest problem with most English learners.”

As an emerging leader in the dynamic business arena, Imran’s advice to budding aspirants willing to enter the business world is straightforward. He says, “I would advise future educational companies to focus on the products that help the students to master self-learning.”

On envisioning Litvill’s operations with the emerging technologies and automated tools that are revolutionizing the business world by enabling innovations, Imran concludes, “The more automated system would make our operations easier, as our e-modules for, however, our 60-30-10 formula has a more human touch to keep the students motivated.”

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