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


How to market your language or literacy program: Build trust over time

October 30, 2011

If you send prospective students a brochure or answer an e-mail, they are not very likely to register in your program. Here’s why…

Marketers tell us that we need to see an advertisement or hear a message at least seven times before we are likely to buy a product. Sales professionals say that it can take anywhere between five and 27 “touches” or contact with a prospective buyer before they are convinced to make a purchase from you.

What does that mean for language programs and literacy organizations? It means that we can not simply send out a brochure to a student and reasonable expect that suddenly he or she will want to register in our program.

The “drip theory” recommends regular, repeated contact – at least six or seven times – with a prospect to ensure that your name sticks in her mind. This does not mean sending out six or seven copies of the same brochure! There is a difference between “dripping” and “bombarding” or worse yet, “stalking”.

Each “touch” needs to be different — and still relevant. For example, connecting via e-mail, followed by sending a brochure, followed a week later by an invitation to register, followed by a couple of monthly newsletters.

The timing of each contact is also important. Bombarding someone in seven different ways in a very short period of time is more likely to turn them off than to convince them that they want to join your program. There is no one perfect formula for how often you should connect with your prospects… Once a week or a few times a week seems to be an accepted norm in the educational and non-profit sectors. There seems to be a lower tolerance for repeated contact in a short period of time with prospects in the social sectors than there is in the business sectors.

In my PhD research, I found that it can take anywhere from two to five years to get a new language program off the ground. That is the “sales cycle” for English as an Additional Language (ESL / EFL / EAL / ESOL) programs. It can also take up to two years to convert a prospective student into a current student.

In Guerrilla Marketing for NonProfits, authors Jay Conrad Levinson, Frank Adkins and Chris Forbes talk about how non-profit organizations often give up too soon. They expect to see results NOW. If they do not get an immediate response (which is highly unlikely) they give up. In fact, they say that most non-profits give up on new programs just before they hit the point of success.

If you get an e-mail address for the prospect and you can send monthly updates about what is going on in your program, you will be using yet another medium to show your prospects that you have not forgotten about them.

Ideally, you want to combine different types of contact: social media, mail, e-mail, phone calls and personal contact. This is not always easy in an international marketplace, but do try for repeated contact in a variety of ways.

If you don’t get any response after several tries, then you can change the prospect from active to inactive in your database. In any case, you are more likely to get more registrants by using the drip effect than by sending an initial brochure and nothing else.

Here are seven ways to help you market your language or literacy program consistently

1) List all of the methods you use to connect with your prospective learners (phone, e-mail, drop-in, brochures, etc.).

2) Set up a spreadsheet with each method of contact across the top.

3) Every time a prospect contacts you, ask for his or her contact information.

4) Note the date that you made contact under the appropriate column.

5) Make an effort to stay in touch with the prospective learner, at least once a week, using a different method each time.

6) If a prospective student shows a preference for a particular type of communication, use that one more often. For example, if a prospective student does not respond to e-mails, but calls or Skypes, then make a note of it. At least once, take the initiative to connect with the prospect in the way that they prefer. It’s about them, after all.

7) Track how many prospective students actually end up enrolling in your program and how long it takes. You may be surprised to find that it take  longer than you think it will, or longer than you would like it to. This does not mean that should try to accelerate that cycle. That can often backfire and turn prospects off. It is useful, however, to show you how long prospective learners may take to make a decision.

It’s not about trying to force them to make a decision faster. It is about cultivating trust and building a relationship with them so that when they are ready to make a decision, they choose your program because they feel that they know you and that you care about them. When the time comes for them to make their decision, trust will often be the factor that sways people one way or another. If you haven’t built the trust with them over time, they may never register. That takes time. In the long run, it is worth it.


This post is adapted from “Idea #17: Be a Drip ” in 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program


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Update – November, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.7 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.

Marketing Language and Literacy Programs: Focus on the benefits

February 21, 2011

Marketing materials are meant to draw in customers. You want to show them how they’re going to benefit from your program. This does not mean making false promises, but it does mean showing them what they will learn, how they will grow and what they will experience. Consider the difference between these two statements:

Option 1: “Our program is 13 weeks long and we offer classes at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.”

Option 2: “Whether your level is beginner, intermediate or advanced, we have a 13-week comprehensive program to fit your needs.”

The first statement is a description focused on the program. The second is a persuasive statement focused on how the student benefits from having a comprehensive program at the right level for him or her. It also uses the word “you” more.

Too many educational marketing materials focus on describing programs, rather than highlighting the benefits to the students. Sometimes lots of information is given with no indication to the student that he will actually benefit from any of the services provided.

What do your own materials say? Do they highlight the benefits of your program? If not, now is the time to re-work them.

This post is adapted from “Idea # 13: Focus on the benefits ” in 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program


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Update – November, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.7 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.

Factors international students consider when choosing where to study

October 1, 2010

A recent article posted by Inside HigherEd, originally written by John Morgan for Times Higher Ed. talks about what motivates international students. The article reveals the results of The British Council’s Student Decision Making Survey, which includes information gathered from around 115,000 students, from 200 countries. There are three major priorities identified by international students which affect their decision of where to study abroad. The article reports that “higher quality is cited by 54.2 percent, followed by career improvement (53.8 percent) and the chance to live overseas (51.5 per cent).”

Quality outranked price as being a factor in the decision-making process of international students. Prospective students are more interested in getting value for their educational dollar (or Euro, won, yen, real, peso, etc.) than they are in finding a bargain, it seems.

The article also talked about changes in the market. Specifically, countries who traditionally have not offered courses in English are starting to do so. Nordic countries were cited as the example. If more countries start to offer formal education in English, students may be less tempted to study abroad. There will have to be something else in it for them other than learning the language. Cultural immersion, a chance to experience the world, adventure, the opportunity to travel and perhaps explore job opportunities, may become more important factors than the language alone.


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Update – November, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.7 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.

Research: ESL programs boost Calgary’s economy by $26M+ per year

September 2, 2010

How much money do ESL students bring into our city every year? That’s a question I asked myself a few years ago. I undertook an informal study to answer the question. I presented the results at an educational research forum at the University of Calgary. Then I dove right back into my PhD studies and examination preparations, leaving the study to gather dust.

I found the paper a little while ago and wanted to share it with you. I’ll be honest and say that the study was very informal, conducted out of a burning desire to have the research question answered, nothing more. I’d love to develop the work more fully at some point. If you know of others researching the economic impact of second and foreign language programs – particularly English as a Second Language, please leave a comment!

You can download the full paper from ERIC here:

Business with words: Language programs that generate revenue and impact communities


Sarah Elaine Eaton, Ph.D. candidate
Presentation given at the Educational Research Forum
Faculty of Education, University of Calgary
July 18, 2006

This paper examines the examines the  “business” of language programs. In particular, it focuses on the economic impact of English as a Second language programs physically located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada which draw and serve foreign students.  The impact such programs have on the wider community will also be explored. The results show that foreign students who study ESL in Calgary contribute a grand total of $26,250,000 to the city’s economy each year.

Read the whole paper (9 pages) on Scribd:

Business With Words

View this document on Scribd

Related posts:


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Update – November, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.7 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.

Is your language program under the threat of closure? Strategies to rebuild program health

September 1, 2010

Are enrollments in your language program dropping? Is your program under the threat of closure due to low registrations? Here are some strategies that may help.

Saving a language program from closure takes a dedication and strategic planning. The best thing you can do for any educational program that gets a failing grade when it comes to its own sustainability is create positive buzz about it. Get people excited about the impact that learning a language can have! Or at the very least, catch their attention. Here are a few ideas:

1. Every semester plan second or foreign language events.

Events are important. Think about it. School sports tournaments generate interest in physical activity. Science fairs generate interest in science and math. Performances and recitals highlight the importance of dance and music. Events generate buzz and may even get media coverage.

Events can include:

Native Speakers’ Day – Bring in native speakers who are successful and could be considered role models to come into the school to give presentations on their work, their life, their travels, their culture or whatever inspires them. Get bios for each speaker and have students prepare questions to ask them.

Second Language Speech Competition – Bring in “celebrity” judges from your local community who speak the target language (politicians eat this stuff up and we’ve had good success getting both local,  provincial support and even embassy support for speech competitions).

Cultural celebration day – Have students showcase their work through videos, poster presentations and demonstrations. They can prepare food, perform a dance (or better yet, give a short dance class) or have a sing-along. Make the students who are currently enrolled in the program the focus of the entire day. Invite parents and community stake-holders to observe, drop by and share in the celebration. Having a local “celebrity” native speaker to offer opening and closing remarks or emcee the day is a huge boost.

The idea behind all of these is to get involvement from people in the community. This not only generates interest, when we get outsiders involved, it also builds credibility and legitimacy. These events take a huge amount of organization and they are absolutely worth it.

2. Communicate the importance of languages with passion. For all of the above, work with your school secretary, principles and district communications office to send out press releases. I guarantee you that if your events get media coverage, you will generate interest. There is an art to writing press releases, and often school districts have strict protocols around communications, so working with your admin team and district is not only helpful, it is essential.

3. Have a contest – any kind of contest – with the students enrolled in your program. My favorite is a video contest on centered around a key question. My favorite is “How does learning a language change your world?” You can get more details on this particular activity in my downloadable ebook – “Want to Change the World? Learn Another Language: Leadership Inspired by Language Learning ebook” at

If your school allows it, students can post their videos on YouTube. Their friends see it… they get talking, and interest in your program goes up.

Come up with your own ideas for contests. Start small and let the idea take hold and then grow over time.

There is no short-term solution to the issue of dropping enrollments in any educational program. Events that engage the community are critical in generating interest, creating buzz and boosting program morale. The trick is to invite people from a broad audience who have an interest in what you’re doing. Go beyond the idea of  “round up the usual suspects”. Even if you invite new people and they don’t come, they’ll at least have you on their radar, which is a good thing.

Doing events consistently, such as once a semester, builds credibility over time. You can’t do one event and expect that to save a failing program. Think of it as re-building your program’s health. Go for long-term health and vibrancy, not just a band-aid solution. Nourish your program’s health on a regular basis, so it can grow strong and shine.

Consistently celebrating students work, adding in the element of community, getting a local celebrity native speaker or two to champion your program and getting some positive media coverage will all contribute significantly to bolstering the program’s image and generating interest. Do that for several months and you’ll see some positive buzz about your program start to generate more interest. More interest means more investment. Sometimes, emotional, pedagogical and community investment in programs is the best thing to rebuild your program’s health.

If you found this article useful, check out my other site full of free, downloadable resources:


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Update – November, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.7 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.

A comprehensive list of marketing resources for language and literacy programs

August 26, 2010

I’ve put together a Diigo list of online resources to help you market your language programs better. Many of them are articles I’ve written over the years, and there are resources from a few other people in there, too. These resources are mostly free, online resources.

This list is specifically targeted for language schools and literacy programs. You won’t find links here to general marketing sites. I’ve used laser-like precision to build a list just for language school administrators, language program marketers, literacy program directors, language teachers and literacy advocates.

If you know of a great resource, please send a comment and if it fits in with the list, I’ll be happy to add it!


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Update – November, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.7 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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