English language schools have been closing the gap caused by language barriers over the years. To open your own English language school, you need to:
- Prove your qualifications first.
- Decide what type of school you would want (traditional or online).
- Create a business plan.
- Hire teaching and administrative staff.
- Do some marketing to introduce your school to the world and advertise your school and recruit your students.
Are you qualified to open your own English language school?
It helps if you are an experienced ESL teacher with a background on entrepreneurship. Basically, you need to be capable to understand the aspects of starting your own English language school not just on the methodology aspect but also in the business aspect of school management.
- Business qualifications – it will be beneficial to learn even just the basics of running a business. You can read up articles and watch vlogs on how to run a business for beginners. If you really want to take it to the next level and you want to grow seriously as an entrepreneur, you can prepare for this by taking business management courses to be fully prepared for the challenges of running your own school. This will not only help you manage your school but also will help you determine the right business approach.
- ESL qualifications – you should hold a TEFL certification that proves you are qualified to teach English as a second language. It also helps if you have a relevant Master’s degree – this will add to the credibility of your English language school. Going through training to get certified will also help you understand what your students and teachers need. This will also help you as the school owner when you hire your teaching staff because you will be able to determine good teaching skills.
What type of English language school do you want to run?
The traditional setting is the one that we are used to where there is a physical school building to report to and lessons are held inside classrooms.
- Funding will be your major concern when it comes to opening a traditional English language school. Among the types of English language school that you can open, the traditional setting may be the heaviest financially. You have to understand the bills and maintenance that you have to pay for monthly for the building and classrooms that you will use. Do you have enough funds for the premises, furnishings, and supplies? Do you have enough funds to cover the salaries of your teachers and staff? It is best to consult first your accountant so that they can assess if you have enough assets and financial freedom to get into this type of business.
- When you go with this type of setting, you need to assess if you are capable of managing an entire school in terms of teaching background and school administration knowledge.
- Another thing that you should consider is the paperwork needed. You will have to register your business, meet health and safety guidelines, and make contracts for your teachers, administrative staff, and students.
- You should also know the laws involved in establishing a business or school in your location. This way, nothing can block your progress.
- The location of your school is also important. You have to check if there are already English language schools in the area. If so, do you think you are capable of competing with them? Is there a huge demand for ESL in your area?
Online English language schools are the trend right now. In fact, there are more online English language schools than traditional English language schools. In this setting, the teacher and student hold their sessions through video calls.
- Some schools require their teachers to have ESL certification – especially if they mostly cater to adults. For those who hold ESL classes for children, some schools are able to hire tutors that do not have certification but have gone through a rigorous test and training to test their English skills.
- This is a cheaper alternative compared to the traditional school setting because everything is done online. Today, there are a lot of online tools and management software that can make it easier for you to keep track of all your ESL teachers and their sessions.
- You can hire staff remotely as long as they can be online during their scheduled work hours.
- For this type of setting, it is an advantage if you know some marketing techniques because you will need to do a lot of online marketing tactics to ensure that your online English language school remains on top. You can take marketing courses or hire the services of a marketing consultant if you seriously want to take this to the next level.
Home service (tutorial)
In this type of school setting, you hire teachers that go to the homes of their students or in a public place like a coffee shop or park to give them one-on-one ESL classes. Basically, it works like your students having their own private tutor.
- This type of English language school is most effective if there is a huge demand for ESL teachers in your area. Perhaps you are in a foreign country or you are in a western country where there is a high rate of immigrants.
- You do not have to worry about the comfort of the student because sessions are done in their own home or in a public place they choose.
- For this type of school, you need to hire a couple of teachers who have a flexible schedule and who do not mind going from one place to the next for their sessions. ESL students usually have their classes scheduled in the late afternoons or at night because they have to go to school or work during the day.
This type of setting is an emerging trend in Europe where teachers do face-to-face instruction just like in a traditional setting only that the classes are hosted by different venues for every session. Venues range from coffee shops, restaurants, gym, community centers, parks, etc.
- In this setting, the teacher receives payment, you get payment as owner of the English language schools, and sometimes, the owner of the venue gets a percentage for hosting the class.
- Teaching method for this type of school setting is conversational so the classes are informal. This could compromise the quality of your lessons so you should meet up with your teachers to come up with solid lesson plans that can still assure a high-quality education despite an informal setting and method.
- You have to consider if there are any risks or laws involved in implementing this type of business setting in your local area.
Making your business plan
Now that you know what type of school you want to run, it is time to set up your business plan. Your English language school business plan will be the blueprint of how the school should operate for the first 5 years and should entail how daily operations should flow and how to secure resources that you will need for the school’s success.
A business plan is often required when you get a bank loan so you better work on this if you plan to borrow money to help you set up your English language school. Having a business plan ready is also a must if you plan to meet with individual donors or corporate and educational foundations for financial assistance.
Here is a list of things that you should act on in order to execute your business plan smoothly:
- Conduct a feasibility study.
- Generate the start-up capital.
- Check the availability of your school’s name.
- Open corporate bank accounts.
- Open online payment platforms.
- Application for tax payer’s ID, business license, and business permit.
- Purchase business insurance.
- Draft employee’s contracts and employee’s handbook.
- Design a logo.
- Create a website.
- Recruit teachers and administrative staff.
- Create awareness of your school through marketing.
Remember that the more realistic and detailed your business plan is, you have better chances to get funding to get your own English language school off the ground.
Hiring your teachers and staff
A school can not be run by just one person. You will have to hire more teachers and staff to accommodate more students. Here is a general list of people you need to hire (depends on what type of school you are running)
- School administrator
- Teachers for different levels
- Front desk staff or secretary
- Cleaning and security staff
When hiring your staff, take the time to pay attention to the teachers that you hire since they are the ones who face your students and will represent your school to your clients. It is best to hire teachers who bear certifications to increase the credibility of your school. If you have well-qualified teachers, this means your students get high-quality education from you and the reputation of your school will improve.
Launch your school through a marketing campaign
After you have settled everything, it is time to let the world know that your school exists. In business terms, they call this “brand awareness.” The only way to do this is to launch an effective marketing campaign that should target your desired audience (in your case, potential students who want to learn English).
- Your website will play a huge role in the success of your marketing campaign so make sure to take the time to spruce it up, make it look professional, make sure that it loads quickly, and that users can navigate through it easily.
- Set up your own pages or accounts in social media platforms. This is a great way to establish your online presence and make your school known to potential students. Always link your website in your Bio or About me sections.
- Think about how and where you should advertise. Your choice of publicity space should depend on where you can usually find your target audience. For instance, you can hang a poster in an Asian grocery store in your area or you can join forums frequented by foreigners. Or if you are in a foreign country, have posters in schools and companies. A lot of students have to pass an English proficiency exam these days and a lot of workers would have a guaranteed career growth when they learn how to communicate with English.
- Your advertisements should be able to stand out. Try using bright and colorful colors to catch attention. You should also think of translating your advertisements in foreign languages since your targeting people who are not able to communicate in English well.
School management tips
Managing your own school is not a walk in the park so here are some tips that can help you make it an easier experience:
Set your priorities
School management is a multi-tasking job and it is easy to get carried away by issues that are fairly minor while neglecting other issues that weighs heavier and needs more attention. To avoid this mistake, you need to have a clear set of priorities by listing your goals with monthly and yearly achievements. This will help you become more efficient as a leader and as a manager.
Running your own English language school is a huge responsibility. To be successful in school administration, you need to be organized – not only in your schedule and commitments but also in maintaining all your documents and files. Think of an effective system to manage all your files and documents. Work on your schedule by downloading a digital calendar that will remind you of the things you need to do. For online English language schools, there are a lot of software that can help you stay organized – there is a software for tracking your employees, for scheduling, and for organizing your files. It really is not that hard or time-consuming as you think.
A lot of companies are going paperless and going digital. You should follow suit as well. Paperwork just adds more clutter and it even helps the environment to go digital. If you choose a traditional setting, this will be advantageous as well because you get to save a lot of money by no longer needing printers, toners, copy machine, ink, etc.
It is the digital age and the world has gone high-tech. Your school should not be left behind to the point that your students are more tech-savvy than you are. Keeping up with the latest technologies will help bring your school ratings up. Learn to apply technology as much as possible to the way you conduct your English language school. For instance, make your own app where teachers and students can leave notes to each other for easier communication, where students can get school announcements, and you can even add an English game to your app just for fun.
Pay attention to feedback
Without feedback, you will never know what your strongest and weakest points as a school are. Getting feedback should be your priority as a school administrator. You need to know how your students and teachers are doing all the time. If there are any inquiries, make it a point to respond right away. For younger students, parents will be highly involved in their education with your so make sure to take the time to entertain them as well.
Provide consistent training
Teachers love to learn as much as they want to impart what they have learned. It would help to provide them training that will add to their list of certifications. Professional teachers will not see this as an added burden since they know that training is an advantage for them. Giving them an avenue to get more training just shows that you also care for the growth of their career.
Never stop learning
If your teachers should have consistent training, you as a school administrator should also never stop learning. Take management courses and communication courses. You may be one of the best teachers in ESL but that will not make you a great school administrator. You need to know the ins and outs of running a business and how to do things effectively.
Countries with High Demand for ESL
English language schools have long been closing the gap caused by language barriers. Here is a list of countries where there is high demand for ESL teachers and English teachers in general. You should consider having your English language school here or aim to recruit students from these areas:
- Saudi Arabia