Do you know what countries your students come from? Better yet, can you articulate what percentage of your students is from which countries? Although most program coordinators or managers could tell you where the majority of their students come from, you might be surprised how many do not know basic statistical information about their own programs and students. Depending on what privacy laws apply to business and schools in your area, you may be able to ask your participants’ age, occupation, gender, marital status, number of children and so on. The more information you can collect, the clearer picture you can build of your typical student. Before you go ahead and design a questionnaire though, I would recommend that you familiarize yourself with any privacy laws that may apply in your country with regards to the collection of personal information.
Most programs keep statistical information in some form, either on registration forms or in a database. Few actually use the data for any real purpose. If you have statistical information, it really is worth the time and effort to compile it into useful reports that can help you assess who has been registering in your program over the past little while.
I suggest that you go back at least 3-5 years to compile your data. You want to know:
- where your students are from
- what is their first language
- how old they are (age range and average age)
- ratio of males to females
- information on education or occupation
The idea is to build yourself a “big picture” of who is registering in your program.
After you have that picture, you can assess whether or not the demographics you have fit the demographics you want. For example, if you have mainly female students and you think some gender balance would benefit your program, you could tweak your marketing materials to attract more males (for example, appealing to all-male schools or men’s sports teams).
An analysis of your student population costs you little money, just an investment of your time. It’s an investment that could help your program grow in phenomenal ways.
This post is adapted from “Idea # 9: Assess your current program demographics” in 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.