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
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:
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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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.