While teaching English and learning Japanese in Tokyo, Japan, English, baby! co-founder and CEO, John Hayden, found that though English as a Second Language (ESL) programs instructed students in proper grammar and usage, students had a hunger for the cultural knowledge and slang needed to communicate with native speakers. In 1999, English, baby! was launched from Japan. The site drew on the proliferation of American movies and music to help ESL students learn what their textbooks weren't teaching them and practice the skills they learned in school. The company was formally established in Portland, Oregon, in 2000 and achieved profitability in 2003. In order to balance englishbaby.com with software products English, baby! developed and manages for university clients, Versation, Inc. was established as a parent company in 2005.
When englishbaby.com was given Web 2.0 features in 2006, membership rapidly increased. In 2007, a premium membership was added. For $5 a month, Super Members get daily podcast lessons, an ad-free version of the site, live teachers to answer their questions, customizable vocabulary lists and quizzes, increased visibility on the site and more. In the fall of 2009, the website was redesigned to help Super Members get the most out of it and new Super Features are unrolled regularly. Free features such as daily lessons with easy to understand grammar points, a teacher's area of the site, and “blurts” (a way to share vocab terms with your friends) continue to draw in newcomers.
Today, English, baby! boasts more than a million members. Lessons aren't just about music and movies, they actually feature exclusive audio and video interviews with gold-selling artists, NBA stars and more. A cast of actors perform stunts to demonstrate slang idioms, engage learners with drama in a soap opera with more than 100 episodes, and even travel to places like Istanbul and Beijing to bring back video for the site. English, baby! has arrived as a uniquely international and educational global media outlet.