Creating English Language Courses that Add Value Onsite
This is a linked follow up to a previous post on my latest work assignment at AUA Korat.
One of the problems associated with working as an administrator or manager for an ESL institute or language center is institutionalization can blind. If you except the new and start up centers, most language institutes and language centers have a core course or small group of courses that do a job and are relatively successful. Without these obviously no language center would last for long. That these are a successful model though can often mean that everything is seen in terms of the model or a one size fits all approach. Now in medium to large size language institutes this may not be a problem in terms of a financial model. Getting back to our small language center though it can actually be a hindrance and a limit both in terms of the financial side and in what the students and even more importantly potential students actually want. The latter point is also true of larger schools.
Now of course it would be silly to suggest that a successful or even relatively successful model should be abandoned. It is though also silly to suggest that all other classes should be automatically built to use the same model of hours, classes and teacher use. Adding choice for students and hence creating a small language school that can both better match what its students want and remain better financially stable must be premised on flexibility and creativity.
There are roughly two areas in which this is usually seen:
- special or specialized courses .
- courses or things that add value to those taking the core courses.
However, the two are not really separate entities at all, Adding value to those studying the core is often maybe almost always about special courses or special areas of language study. Students on core courses may want extra writing, conversation or pronunciation for example. Those interested in learning but who are not taking the school regular courses are also likely to be interested in similar courses. The trick is creating course or sub-course offerings that match the needs of both groups. This is essential in our small school model.
The designed courses will neither compete with already successful courses nor run on the same model. The new courses will be designed to run around what already exists and take advantage of down time of teaching resources and rooms or involve minimal face to face contact where appropriate. In the latter case project based learning and writing courses are obvious examples.
One final area not mentioned so far is the one of making the most of the experience and background of teachers. This will be one aspect examined as these posts progress.
This then is the theoretical or philosophical underpinning of our successful small language center. Over the next few posts development of such courses taught at the school will be looked at. In later posts external courses and online/electronic courses will also be covered.