New article: Perceptions of ESL Program Management in Canadian Higher Education: A Qualitative Case Study

October 10, 2017

I’m pleased to share my latest article, which has been published in the International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research.

Abstract

ESL programs at post-secondary institutions must often generate revenue in addition to teaching students English. Institutions often impose explicit expectations on these programs to generate profit, creating unique challenges for those who administer them. This qualitative case study investigated challenges faced by ESL program directors at one university in Canada. Semistructured interviews were used to collect data from program directors (N = 3) on topics relating to administration, marketing, the mandate to generate revenue, and the complexities of ESL program legitimacy and marginalization in higher education contexts. Five key themes emerged from the data: (a) the necessity for directors to be highly qualified and multilingual, as well as have international experience; (b) a general lack of training, support, and resources for program directors; (c) institutional barriers such as working with marketers and recruiters with little knowledge of ESL contexts; (d) program fragmentation and marginalization on campus; and (e) reluctance to share information and program protectionism. Findings point to the need for increased training and support for ESL program directors, along with the need for institutions to elevate the profile of these programs so they are not viewed as having less value than other academic programs on campus.

Keywords: TESOL; TESL, ESL, EFL, language program management; administration; leadership; profit; revenue; marketing

Check out the full article here: https://www.ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter/article/view/980

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

 

 

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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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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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


How to Market Your Language School: Basic Market Research – Check out the Competition

March 8, 2011

It is worthwhile to check out the web sites and marketing materials of other language programs. That way you can find out what it is about their sites that you like and why. Then, see how you can incorporate similar aspects or qualities into your own materials (without copying, of course!)

For example, if you find yourself spending more time on a particular web site because you find it easy to navigate, assess the organization of the site and incorporate elements of its organization into your own site.

If you like the photos in another school’s brochure or on their website, ask yourself what it is about them you like. Do they have more close-ups? Excellent gender balance? More group shots? Compare those photos with photos of your own program and see what improvements you can make.

Examining the marketing materials of other schools will also give you an idea how much they charge and what they offer. You will be able to see if your prices are in line with other programs that are similar to yours. This can help you price your program powerfully. (See Idea # 7 Price your program powerfully.)

Sometimes we think that just because we know that our competitors exist, we therefore know all about their prices and their marketing. Pricing and marketing tactics can change. Take the time to examine and assess your competitors’ marketing materials and price structure.  I recommend reviewing your competition’s marketing materials annually. Schools grow and change focus on a regular basis. If you are aware of what is going on around you, you will be better prepared to market your own program successfully.

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This post is adapted from “Idea # 15: Check out the competition ” in 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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


Free Spreadsheets to Help You Manage Your Language Program

February 14, 2011

Spreadsheets are an easy way to keep track of information. For smaller language schools and literacy programs that do not have access to the sophisticated information management systems or learning management systems (LMS), spreadsheets are a useful way to organize, update and archive all kinds of data, such as administrative, financial, class and student information.

Here’s a free, downloadable resource that I developed to help language school administrators develop their own spreadsheets. It’s a set of sample spreadsheets, that you can use as a template to develop your own spreadsheets.

There are four spreadsheets in this series:

  • Class and administrative information
  • Student progress spreadsheet
  • Class schedule
  • Cost breakdown and course costs

Language school spreadsheets

I prepared these spreadsheets on a Mac and so I’ve saved them in .pdf format so that anyone can have a look at them. If you’re a Mac user and you’d like the original Numbers file, send me an e-mail at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com and I’ll forward the file. If you work in Excel or with Google Docs, you can create your own spreadsheets using these criteria or others that make sense for your program.

Related posts:

Free Webinar – How to Use Google Forms

Language School Application and Photo Release

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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


Sample Forms: Language School Application and Photo Release

February 9, 2011

I’m often asked by clients how to build a registration form for a new school or program. The two most requested forms are:

  • A sample registration form for a language school.
  • A photo release form for marketing materials.

I’ve developed sample forms that you can download for free.

I’ve designed them to give you an idea of what you’ll want to include on your own forms. Feel free to modify or customize them for your own language school or literacy program.

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Related posts:

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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


Free Resources Every Language Program Administrator Needs to Know About

January 30, 2011

Language program administration and management is not new in terms of the work we do, but it is starting to emerge as a “profession”. Training programs have popped up here and there that focus specifically on how to train language program directors to do their job better

Here are some free resources you’ll want to know about if you manage or direct a language program. Don’t worry if they are language-specific. There’s some good stuff in these manuals and papers that every LPA (language program administrator) can benefit from.

If you know of more free resources, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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


Why we should stop worrying about putting “bums in seats”

August 3, 2010

Remember that moment when you were so enthralled with what you were learning it seemed like time stopped? Your worries melted away and you were in that space somewhere in between reality and potential. It’s a little like being in a dream state isn’t it? You feel your untapped potential surging forward, about to launch you into a new space, where you had abilities you’d only previously dreamed about.

I remember a time like that when I was learning Spanish. It was the moment when I was so into a conversation that drudgery of memorizing verbs and vocabulary melted away. It was the moment – ever so fleeting that first time – when I was so into the moment that my lack of confidence vanished and I just spoke. It was the moment when my heart filled with joy because I realized that moment had been a dream for me – and it was coming true.

Having the ability not only to speak – but actually to engage with someone else in a meaningful conversation – was something I hadn’t been capable of in Spanish up to that point. Once I’d passed the threshold, I knew I could do it again. Knowing that spurred me on to keep learning.

Ever had a moment like that? Sure you have.

If you didn’t, you wouldn’t believe in the power of knowing other languages.

Your students have those moments, too. Or at least, they crave them. Learners crave breakthroughs; breakthroughs make a challenge worth the effort.

What are you offering your students to help them achieve those “ah ha!” moments? How are you challenging them to reach within themselves to tap into their potential? How are you making their dreams of fluency and sincere connections with others, enabled by their language learning experiences, come true?

When it comes to marketing your ESL, second language, literacy and other educational programs, keep your goals worthy and your sights firmly set on why we do what we do.

Stop worrying about how to put bums in seats.

Always worry about how to empower your students.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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


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