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Starting Your Own School

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Starting Your Own School

Postby bismarck » 23 Mar 2012, 14:43

I recently posted this on Facebook.

I suddenly realised I've reached my Rubicon. I do something I love, but I'm basically unhappy. Why? Because I spend the lion's share of the work week in a place where hard workers go unrewarded; honours get given to people who are either shite, attention whores, incompetent or baffle brains with bullshit (or a combination of those 4); I disagree with their methods, philosophy, treatment of students and basic shystery of clients. The time has come to plan an exit strategy, and to give people something honest that actually works. Even this industry deserves a better set of ethics imo.

I really feel this way. I don't think the customer (parents) or the students are getting what they deserve. You can hardly blame them, because how many of them have any experience in the field of language learning or linguistics? I feel it's all very wrong, and I no longer want to be a part of it.
I'm planning on moving to Kaohsiung towards the end of the year for personal reasons, and I think what I have in mind would also work much better down there (more people and opportunities).

What is the best way to get started and get going with your own school. I was thinking to start off small with small group classes (5-10 students), and I want to specialize in students 8-10 years old and older. I don't mind starting off in a neutral venue, or out of one room in my house, but eventually I'd like to have a proper place up and running. I don't want to buy into a franchise, because I want to do my own thing using CI/TPRS.
What are the pitfalls, things to watch out for, things to do and don't, what am I maybe not thinking about?

I'm especially keen on hearing from people who have experience in these matters, but all views and opinions are welcome.
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby bigduke6 » 23 Mar 2012, 15:37

I was thinking exactly the same. Will be watching this thread with interest.
Maybe we can have a chat when you arrive in Kaohsiung.
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 23 Mar 2012, 15:41

My only experience in this regard has been some group classes I used to do when I lived in Taoyuan, and one I currently do. I would say that you need to start as you mean to finish, as my grandfather used to say. Have a particular standard that you want, and don't make exceptions -- this is true regarding payments, discipline, the schedule, etc. -- because once you make an exception in order to get a new student or retain a current student, all bets are off thereafter and you will have absolutely no control over the direction of your enterprise. As a result, you will end up right where you are now with exactly the same issues and frustrations. If, in sticking to your standards, you lose a (potential) student, so be it. The thing that will ultimately distinguish your school from any other is not that you're a native speaker. Those are easy to find, including as bosses. It won't be because you are doing this new-fangled TPRS thing. The thing that will distinguish your school from any other is that you will have standards. The right kind of people will stick around because of this, and will appreciate you even more for letting the idiots go. In the long run, you'll be better off.
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby Okami » 23 Mar 2012, 15:54

Obvious troll is obvious:
Were you not abused enough as a youth? Do you have an overwhelming desire to lose money hand over fist? Is sleep really that inconsequential to you? Is there something about kissing the ass of someone with no clue dictating to you how to do your job which they are incapable of?

Frank advice:
-You're going to need a plan
-Small classes expertly planned that show results. I'd suggest GEPT for junior and senior high school students.
-Advertising, you're going to need dudes passing out flyers near schools and MRT stations.
-Sales ability, the ability to guiltlessly sell anything to anybody.
-The ability to manage people.

Small classes of 1-4 students also allows you to skirt the rules of setting up a proper buxiban. I'd say advertising and sales ability are the things that will make or break you. The GEPT is an easy sell and test prep for it is usually taught so badly and advertised so poorly that it's an obvious niche. Parents seem to be less and less enthused about English classes unless they translate into higher scores on the exams given twice a semester(thrice in Zhanghua). If you do get them as young as 8-10, make passing the GEPT the end game for them.
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby BigJohn » 23 Mar 2012, 18:45

Okami wrote:Frank advice:
-You're going to need a plan
-Small classes expertly planned that show results. I'd suggest GEPT for junior and senior high school students.
-Advertising, you're going to need dudes passing out flyers near schools and MRT stations.
-Sales ability, the ability to guiltlessly sell anything to anybody.
-The ability to manage people.
Small classes of 1-4 students also allows you to skirt the rules of setting up a proper buxiban. I'd say advertising and sales ability are the things that will make or break you.


You don't need to limit yourself to GEPT. There's also a market for TOEFL and TOEIC. In fact, if you get a teacher with "Taipei experience" it could be a big sell for those. Small classes mean less money. (D'uh!) Why not get a real place within the rules? I'd say you could make some money at that. If you break the rules somebody will break you once you get popular. :2cents:
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby jdsmith » 23 Mar 2012, 19:01

What's your 3 year curriculum?

If you don't know, don't open a school. :bow:
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby SillyWilly » 23 Mar 2012, 19:12

Assuming you have a local Taiwanese to assist you. If not, don't even bother. Communication with parents and children is crucial. A Taiwanese PR/Admin person is a definite must have in my view. :2cents:
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby tomthorne » 23 Mar 2012, 19:17

bismarck wrote: I don't want to buy into a franchise, because I want to do my own thing using CI/TPRS.


Do some market research. I believe that you can speak decent Chinese, yes? First, practice selling the idea of CI/TPRS to a selection of potential Taiwanese punters before renting out a place to teach in. No school will survive if it doesn't give what the customers want. You can then try to sneak in what they need post sale, although managing parental expectations will be tough.

Having tried it myself, my view is that unless you're going to be able to expand quickly then you'll just end up being teacher, administrator, customer services advisor, guy who fixes the toilets... The money is really good, but you never get a break. Good luck, though. With a better sales patter than I've been blessed with, a completely new teaching technique might just fly.
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby bismarck » 23 Mar 2012, 20:31

bigduke6 wrote:I was thinking exactly the same. Will be watching this thread with interest.
Maybe we can have a chat when you arrive in Kaohsiung.

Let's do that. :thumbsup:

SillyWilly wrote:Assuming you have a local Taiwanese to assist you. If not, don't even bother. Communication with parents and children is crucial. A Taiwanese PR/Admin person is a definite must have in my view. :2cents:

Check.

jdsmith wrote:What's your 3 year curriculum?

If you don't know, don't open a school. :bow:

Check. Even longer one for younger students.

Okami wrote:I'd say advertising and sales ability are the things that will make or break you.

Check.

Thanks for all the advice so far, folks. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Re: Starting Your Own School

Postby jdsmith » 23 Mar 2012, 21:21

bismarck wrote:
bigduke6 wrote:I was thinking exactly the same. Will be watching this thread with interest.
Maybe we can have a chat when you arrive in Kaohsiung.

Let's do that. :thumbsup:

Partnering up is not a bad idea. A couple of guys in Ying Ge do it and their school is doing well.
SillyWilly wrote:Assuming you have a local Taiwanese to assist you. If not, don't even bother. Communication with parents and children is crucial. A Taiwanese PR/Admin person is a definite must have in my view. :2cents:

Check.

I'd second this. If you're the teacher with all the ideas then you belong in the classroom. You need someone to sell YOU and YOUR PROGRAM.

jdsmith wrote:What's your 3 year curriculum?

If you don't know, don't open a school. :bow:

Check. Even longer one for younger students.

You have to have a core program that afternoon programs (3-4 hours/ 2-3 times/week) can quickly improve with, and an evening program that uses the basic fundamentals of the afternoon program (but will make slower progress, 1.5 hours, 2x week)
Okami wrote:I'd say advertising and sales ability are the things that will make or break you.

Check.

Word of mouth will keep it small and strong at first. You want friends of friends and family of friends to set your core students, then you can set your sights on their brothers and sisters later on. Adverts and DMs suck, and when you're teaching a lot of hours the last f8cking thing you want to do is a free demo in the park. :raspberry:
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