english teacher

The English Teacher



hate admire wizard
found transform enterprise
giant based background
score agency translation
fail career accounting
infancy amaze hometown
launch embark venture
retail platform transaction
expand initial initial public offering
private public (2) smooth sailing
fake allege commerce
benefit scandal controversy
support innovate trendsetter
hint suggest step down (2)


The Internet Giant

Some hate him. Others admire him as a technology wizard and an industrialist. 49-year-old Ma Yun (also known as Jack Ma) founded Alibaba and transformed it from an apartment-based enterprise into an internet giant.


But unlike Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, Ma does not have a background in computer sciences or business. “I’m not good at math, I have never studied management and I still cannot read accounting reports,” said Ma.

Growing up, Ma never even hear the word “computer”. He scored only 1% in a math exam, thus failing to gain entrance to university.

Ma’s Early Career

So he studied English at a college in his hometown…and then began his career as — an English teacher!

But three years later, he set up his first business, a translation agency.

The Business Trip

Then in 1994, Ma went on a business trip to the United States as an interpreter. While there, Ma’s friends in California introduced him to the internet, still in it’s infancy. “I was amazed!” Ma recalls.

Online Businesses

Upon returning home, he launched “China Page”, the first online telephone directory in the country. It became a success.

However after a series of failures, Ma embarked on a new venture, which he named Alibaba.

At first it was a B2B (“business-to-business”) transaction platform. Alibaba has since expanded to become the largest online retailer in China.

And in 2014 it became an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange.


But it have not always been smooth sailing for Ma. In 2011 Alibaba was allegedly found to be selling fake products.

Some have also suggested that Ma had “secret ties” with China’s ruling Communist Party, and that politically well-connected investors are benefiting the most from Alibaba going on Wall Street.

Despite scandals and controversies, Ma’s supporters still see him as an innovator and trendsetter.

Next Phase

Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s Chief Executive Officer in 2013.

He has hinted that he would like to work on an online data service that he calls “DT” (data technology). “The world is moving from IT to DT,” he recently said in speech at a university.

Many believe that he will do to DT what he has done with online commerce.


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1. Who is Jack Ma? What did he do?

2. Jack Ma has a PhD in electronics engineering. True or false? As a student, was he good in math and science?

3. What was his first full-time job? Did he go into business?

4. The turning point in Jack’s life was when he took a trip to the United States. Yes or no? Why was it the turning point? What happened afterwards?

5. Have there been scandals and controversies involving Jack Ma and Alibaba?

6. Jack is still directing and managing Alibaba. Is this correct or wrong?

7. What are Jack’s goals?
A. Is online retailing popular among your friends and colleagues?

B. I know people who didn’t study computer science or information technology, but who work with computers. True or false?

C. Do you know anyone who has made major changes in their careers?

D. Do you know anyone who became rich in the education industry?

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