Given that international students come to the UK from just about every country around the world, I have often wondered how they go about choosing the right school for themselves. Those students that are already in full-time education will probably have everything organised for them, but even teachers and agents need a helping hand to find and choose the right school.
Imagine you are an English language student, teacher or Agent who lives in, for example, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Venezuela, Italy or Nigeria. You decide that you want to go to a country where English is the native language. For the purposes of this exercise let us assume that a school in the UK is the preferred option. The student or teacher now has to research schools and locations. Where to begin?
Many students may decide that they want to make their own decisions. They may ask friends, teachers and fellow students about their own experiences. Word-of-mouth marketing is generally recognised as the most successful form of marketing. How many of us keep in touch with past students? How many of us engage with our alumni with a view to continuing their learning and interest in their English language development? How many of us actively use our social media accounts to constantly reach out to our students and engage with them on a regular basis and, by providing them with an excellent and personal on-going experience, generate word-of-mouth contacts?
Not only is active use of social media critical, but also the use of the internet. Students don’t necessarily want to have to look at every individual English language school website to find what they want. There are websites that promote some member schools but, as far as I can see, no website that promotes all schools. Many ‘member sites’ are often very busy and difficult to read and in many cases they are very costly. Not all schools can afford to be members and indeed some may feel that the benefits may not be exactly what they want or need.
So, might there be a better way in which we can work together to help students find the wide and wonderful range of UK based (not just London) English language schools? I believe the answer is affirmative and needs to build on the combined use of the internet and social media. The solution needs to offer something that is ‘in addition to’ existing options and not ‘instead of’ existing options. After all, everything that draws students to the UK is in our collective interest.
However, if it is going to be in addition to existing options, it needs to have as many of the UK schools on it as possible, be inexpensive, constantly used and highly coordinated with social media.
That is the objective of www.englishlanguageportal.com (known as ELP). The concept is based on that well known business saying of ‘stack it high, sell it low’. The more schools that use it, the more students will find it. Schools can put us much information on it as they want, but certainly enough to persuade the student to contact them directly. Students have free access and usage while schools pay a one-off small, annual fee. Already there is information about over 200 schools on the site and it is growing.
Why not join us?