A new kind of Loyalist: “Public” ESL education takes on a whole new twist in Canada

February 18, 2014

For more than a decade I have been fascinated by the links between English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and business. Public school boards, private schools and post-secondary institutions use ESL programs to generate revenue for their organizations. This topic fascinated me so much, I wrote my Ph.D. research on it.

In education, we don’t call the money generated by fee-paying ESL students “profit”. That word is pretty much a profanity in the social sectors. But essentially, that’s what it is. The revenue generated from ESL programs comes in to institutions mostly as unrestricted money. That means that the organization can direct the funds wherever they see fit. They can’t dole it out to shareholders, because there are none… but they can use it for salaries, renovations, perks or whatever they want.

I’ve never thought that was a particularly bad thing — providing that students get a quality educational experience and institutions don’t make promises they can’t keep.

Private ESL schools have often been regarded as shady or disreputable, precisely because they generate profit. They can use that profit however they want.

In Canada, it’s really getting interesting. A company called Loyalist Group Ltd. has created a public company that buys up ESL and college prep schools. They own schools in Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria. Unlike other, private schools, this business is public. That means that they trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). The average joe can buy stocks in the company — and share in the profits.

A few days ago, Loyalist Group Ltd. was named to the TSX Venture 50. That’s a list of some of Canada’s strongest and most promising public companies. It’s a major coup for an educational company to be named to this list. And Loyalist has done it for the second year in a row. 

What we call “public education” is paid for through our tax dollars. We trust the government to administer those dollars in a wise and honest way.

Interestingly, one of the findings of my Ph.D. research was that when it comes to ESL programs in public education and universities — at least in Canada — there’s often a reporting loophole. Public educational institutions never have to explicitly disclose how much revenue they generate specifically from their ESL programs, what their enrolments (essentially their “sales”) are, or how well they do from one year to the next. That information is kept tightly under wraps and never disclosed publicly. I tried in vain to get revenue reporting results from numerous ESL programs during my Ph.D. research. Doors quietly closed and conversations ended. Ultimately, I had to re-design my entire study so I considered factors other than revenue. Getting my hands on financial data was impossible. Why? Because ESL programs at public institutions are under no obligation to report their financial information to anyone.  ESL programs fall through the reporting cracks, while generating millions (or even tens of millions) for public institutions…

Public education companies, on the other hand, could never get away with that. They’ll report their earnings and spread their success among their shareholders. If they’re not successful, they’ll fail. Success in education is based on outcomes and results. 

But there’s a new form of “public” education on the block and it is not to be ignored. Educational companies that are publicly traded on the stock market are drastically different from private companies. Public companies are obliged to share financial information with shareholders and investors. The accountability to the people who choose to put their dollars into the company is significant. Shareholders can ask questions — and demand answers. If their students are not happy or successful, they’ll leave. Sales will drop and they’ll close their doors. Their very existence depends on their students’ success.

Private educational companies never have to disclose details of their operations or finances. That should make us skeptical.

But public companies put it all out there for anyone to look at, scrutinize and ultimately judge. That’s a good thing. When it comes to ESL, it’s more transparent than what we see in public institutions. The very nature of accountability and reporting in education in Canada is changing… It’s strange, but true that when it comes to ESL, publicly traded companies like Loyalist Group Ltd may turn out to be more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to questioning from outsiders than some “public” institutions.

If you’re an ethical investor who values education, keep your eye on Loyalist Group Ltd. They may be the first of their kind in Canada, but they probably won’t be the only one… at least not for long.

Disclosure: Do I own shares in Loyalist Group Ltd.? Just a few. And I’ll be buying more soon.

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Job Posting: Marketing and Recruiting Manager for Prestigious English Language Program

October 29, 2013

When I wrote the first edition of 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program in 2002 one of the language program directors I interviewed for the book expressed disgust at the very idea of the book, saying that the idea of integrating marketing into educational administration was “blasphemous”.

That was at a time when language program managers had no training, no resources and no budgets for marketing. Many of them still don’t.

Since then I have kept my focus on marketing of language programs of all kinds as part of my career. From heritage language programs to TESL to modern world languages, they all have a place in our classrooms, our communities and yes, even the business world. I created www.marketyourlanguageprogram.com where I offer almost all the resources that I have created over the years for free.

In 2009 I wrote my doctoral thesis on marketing of ESL programs at post-secondary institutions. My supervisor liked that I had an innovative topic in an area that had yet to be researched by anyone (anywhere), but warned me that it might not get me a job. (As it turned out, things have worked out just fine.)

Recently, Georgetown University posted a job for

Manager, Marketing for Recruitment.

You can check out the job description here. The position involves recruiting qualified American English teaching professionals for the English Language Fellow and Specialist Programs. The programs, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, send American teachers around the world to teach English. The jobs are affiliated with and supported by local embassies. What a cool program.

It’s not super clear, but just so it’s forever captured as a graphic, here’s a screen shot of the job posting:

Marketing Manager job posting

Marketing Manager job posting

Slowly, enlightened organizations are beginning to see that marketing our language programs is neither blasphemous nor futile, but rather necessary if we want to endorse, promote and share the importance of learning languages on a global scale. Marketing is serious business. It is unlike any other facet of educational administration or language program management. If we want to get serious about not only saving our language programs, but elevating their importance, we’ve got to go beyond putting up posters in the hallways of our schools to advertise the newest language class, and instead take a professional and strategic approach to recruitment, complete with market research, using metrics to track results and understanding how to demonstrate the concrete impact of language learning to funders, stakeholders and others in our communities.

When prestigious institutions like Georgetown University start creating positions called “Manager, Marketing and Recruitment”  for their language programs (and it’s supported by the U.S. Department of State) other schools are sure to follow.

Does your institution have a marketing manager for its language programs?

If not, what are you waiting for?

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Job Posting: Marketing and Recruiting Manager for Prestigious English Language Program http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Fu

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Blogging workshop for ESL Teachers

January 7, 2013

iStock-woman at laptopI am super excited about an upcoming workshop I am doing. I get to combine two of my favorite passions: working with language teachers and blogging. Here’s our tentative agenda:

Introduction

  • What is a blog?
  • Why do we blog?

Getting Ready to Blog

  • Tips for creating excellent blog posts
  • Using multimedia in your blog
  • Blogging for and with students

Write on! Hands-on blogging

  • Setting up your blog
  • Writing your first blog post
  • Adding categories, tags and excerpts
  • Creating visual interest with photos

What do you think? Have I missed anything? What words of wisdom would you have for teachers who are learning how to blog for the first time? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Blogging workshop for ESL Teachers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1yl

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


The Administration of English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs: Striking the Balance Between Generating Revenue and Serving Students

December 30, 2012

Critical Perspectives on International Education Sarah EatonI am squealing with joy to share this news with you. Four years ago, Dr. Yvonne Hébert, a professor of Education at the University of Calgary invited me to submit a chapter for a book she was co-editing with her colleague, Dr. Ali Abdi.

I submitted a chapter that focused on the difficulties managers of ESL / EFL programs face when it comes to the pressures they face to generate revenue for their institutions and focussing on students’ learning.

You would think that an administrator’s first priority should be to serve students. Morally and ethically that may be true. In terms of practicalities, the reality can be quite different. Many program administrators face great pressure to “put bums in seats”. This chapter addresses some of those difficulties.

“The Administration of English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs in Higher Education: Striking the Balance Between Generating Revenue and Serving Students” (pages 149-162) is my contribution to the new book called Critical Perspectives on International Education that has just been published by Sense publishers in Rotterdam.

The book is now available in paperback and hardcover:

ISBN Paperback: 9789460919046 ($ 49.00)
ISBN Hardcover: 9789460919053 ($ 99.00)

It may also become available as an e-book in 2013.

There has been so little published about the difficulties that English language program leaders face in terms of the moral, ethical and business decisions they must make every day in their administrative roles. More conversations and dialogue need to happen to help managers and directors make wise decisions.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: The Administration of English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs: Striking the Balance Between Generating Revenue and Serving Students http://wp.me/pNAh3-1xR

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Marketing your language or literacy program: 10 webinars recorded

May 31, 2012

This week we wrapped up our 10-week webinar series on how to market your literacy or language program. Nine of the ten programs featured ideas from  101 Ways to Market Your Language Program. The 10th and final webinar focused on social media, including:

  • Brief overview of social media marketing for non-profit and educational programs
  • Building your social media capacity to market your programs more effectively.
  • Do’s and dont’s of social media marketing.

Here is the tenth webinar recording for you. There are links to the other nine programs below.

If you like these webinars and find them helpful, please share them with others, leave a comment or “like” the video on YouTube.  Thanks to everyone who joined us.

Related post and recordings of past programs:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1j6

#1 Webinar recording: Marketing strategy and planning

#2 Webinar recording: Setting marketing goals and budgets

#3 Webinar recording: Writing effective marketing copy

#4 Webinar recording: Developing written marketing materials

#5 Webinar recording: Identifying what makes you unique

#6 Webinar recording: Speciality tips for programs at large institutions

#7 Webinar recording: The power of your connections

#8 Webinar recording: Relationship marketing

#9 Webinar recording: Effective marketing follow-up

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Share or Tweet this post:  Marketing your language or literacy program: 10 webinars recorded http://wp.me/pNAh3-1qC

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Tomorrow: Free webinar on using social media to market literacy and language programs

May 29, 2012

Tomorrow we wrap up our series of ten free webinars on how to market literacy programs and language schools.

Each webinar has highlighted different ideas from 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program. Tomorrow is a little different in that the ideas and strategies provided are brand new information, not published in the book. The program will be  30 to 60 minutes in length. Bring a pen and paper. I’m going to give you lots of ideas you can implement right away.

Webinar #10 of 10 – What to expect

Today’s webinar will focus on:

  • Brief overview of social media marketing for non-profit and educational programs
  • Building your social media capacity to market your programs more effectively.
  • Do’s and dont’s of social media marketing.

Webinar time

Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There are some time zone changes coming up around the world, so double-check these times against your local area:

Point of origin – 14:00 (2:00 p.m.) Mountain Time, May 16, 2012 Calgary / Edmonton

16:00 (4:00 p.m.) – Eastern Time – Toronto / New York

20:00 (8:00 p.m.) – Greenwich Time – London, England

22:00 (10:00 p.m.) – Eastern European Time – Athens / Istanbul

05:00 (5:00 a.m.) – following day – Japan Standard Time – Tokyo

How to log in

There is no need to register. These webinars are free and open to everyone. Seating is limited though, so sign on early.

To join the webinar, simply click here: http://meet11548754.adobeconnect.com/saraheaton/

Will it be recorded?

You bet. I’ll record the program and post it within 24 hours or so. No charges or fees to watch these recorded programs.

Related post and recordings of past programs:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1j6

#1 Webinar recording: Marketing strategy and planning

#2 Webinar recording: Setting marketing goals and budgets

#3 Webinar recording: Writing effective marketing copy

#4 Webinar recording: Developing written marketing materials

#5 Webinar recording: Identifying what makes you unique

#6 Webinar recording: Speciality tips for programs at large institutions

#7 Webinar recording: The power of your connections

#8 Webinar recording: Relationship marketing

#9 Webinar recording: Effective marketing follow-up

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Share or Tweet this post:  Tomorrow: Free webinar on using social media to market literacy and language programs http://wp.me/pNAh3-1ql

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program (#9)

May 23, 2012

In the eighth of ten webinars today on how to market your language or literacy program we focussed on the power of connections. We talked about

  • Building a system for effective follow-up.
  • What is the best way to follow up with someone – phone, e-mail or some other way?
  • How to use the “drip effect” without torturing the other person.

Here’s the recording of Webinar #9:

Please “like” the YouTube video if you find these recordings helpful!

Join us next week for Class #10. It will social media for marketing and building community. Get more details here.

Related posts:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) – Program overview and login instructions

#1 Webinar recording

#2 Webinar recording

#3 Webinar recording

#4 Webinar recording

#5 Webinar recording

#6 Webinar recording

#7 Webinar recording

#8 Webinar recording

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Share or Tweet this post: Webinar recording is up! Tips for Marketing Your Language and Literacy Program (#9) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1pB

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


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