April 14th, 2022
Although starting your own language school can be highly rewarding, it’s not without its challenges.
From financing and legal considerations to hiring staff and attracting students—there are several factors to consider before you can begin teaching.
If you aim to build a successful teaching business, there's no place for cutting corners.
Many first-time school owners do it without a clear strategy because they don’t know where to begin. The good news is, you don’t have to be concerned about that.
We’ve put this article together to give you all the information you need to start your own language school.
The 12 tips we’ve provided will ensure that:
✅ Important details don’t slip through the cracks.
One of the first decisions you will need to make before starting your language school is whether it will operate online or in person.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that schools don’t need to be traditional brick and mortar buildings to run effectively.
Instead, with the right resources and student management software, schools can deliver value to their students while operating from anywhere in the world.
If you decide that your language school will have a physical location, there will be many factors that you need to consider. Some of these include:
✅ Do you have the funds available to buy or rent a property?
✅ How will you finance the furnishings and teaching supplies that your school needs?
✅ Are you confident that your school will be able to manage the health and safety requirements of a physical premise?
This is why opening an online teaching business is often more affordable.
With the right software and processes in place, you’ll be able to manage all of your students, classes, and administrative tasks remotely.
However, you will need to consider the technology that your students, staff, and teachers will require in order to succeed.
If you decide to start a language school that operates in person, the next step is to think about where you want to be based.
There are a few factors you need to keep in mind when trying to decide on a location:
✅ Decide whether you want to operate in the same area as a competitor or if you want to be located somewhere where similar services aren’t available.
✅ Take the availability of public transportation in the area into account.
✅ Know the laws of the area you are planning to operate in. If there are special rules for institutions or public buildings, make sure you know them to avoid any nasty obstacles.
Compile a list of all the potential locations for your language school and see if they align with the points we’ve mentioned above.
This is an easy way to shortlist the ideas you will need to include in your business plan.
The next step is to do some market analysis and research. This will help you determine what type of students your language school will serve.
On a basic level, you will need to decide whether your language school’s target market is adult learners or children.
If your language school’s target market is children, it’s important to note that there will be specific security, as well as health and safety regulations that you will need to follow.
It’s also a good idea to consider which age group of children you are hoping to teach so that you can identify the right learning resources for their needs.
With adult language learners, you could refine your target market to people who want to learn a new language.
Alternatively, you could offer your services to working professionals who need to complete a language course for industry certifications.
For example, some foreign nurses and doctors have to complete specialized language courses in order to practice medicine in English-speaking countries.
Knowing your language school’s target audience will help you better identify your students’ curricular needs and create better programs.
One of the most important steps for any new venture is to compile a formal business plan. As a blueprint for your language school, a business plan will outline:
How you will manage the teaching business.
What kind of financing you will need to get your language school up and running.
The pricing structure of the lessons your language school will offer.
A list of people you will need to hire.
How you will market your language school.
These factors will give you a better understanding of whether the language school is a viable business idea and where you may need to adjust your plans.
If you realize that you will need financing from a bank or investor, they will want to see your business plan before approving a loan.
This is because a business plan shows investors that you have considered how your company will run and generate a profit, as well as indicate how likely it is that you will be able to repay the financing.
When you are drawing up your business plan, it’s important you carefully consider your language school’s income and expenses.
A good place to start is by working out all of your costs. This includes teacher salaries as well as rent and electricity, just to name a few.
Once you’ve calculated your expenses, you should decide what your enrollment and course fees are, as well as estimate how many students will take your classes.
This will give you a better idea of your language school’s total weekly or monthly income to cover the expenses we’ve mentioned above.
In your business plan, you should also estimate how much money you will need to allocate to marketing and advertising.
Knowing the laws of the area or state you are planning to open your language school in can go a long way in preventing future obstacles.
This is why it’s a good idea to research and familiarize yourself with the relevant educational regulations in the country or region you will be operating in.
Following these regulations will eliminate any possibility of legal trouble and in turn, ensure that your language school is able to run smoothly.
Here are some of the regulations that you will need to consider when you set up your language school:
📋 Curriculum: Does the curriculum you want to implement adhere to the country or state’s academic standards? How will you regulate the academic standards of your school and students?
📋 Teaching staff: Will educators need to be certified for their positions? What employee benefits (for example, maternity leave or equal pay) will your language school offer? How will you draw up and manage employment contracts?
📋 Sources of Income: What types of funding will you apply for? How regularly will students have to pay tuition? How much will you charge them?
If you are uncertain about any of these legal considerations, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure that your language school is set up for success from the start.
The next big decision you will need to make is how you will spread the word about your new language school and attract student enrollment.
One of the most tried and tested ways to do this is to research your competitors and see where there is a gap in the market for your language school to fill.
Compile a list of what courses your competitors offer, as well as how much they charge for their classes.
If you can beat them on quality or affordability, this is one way to ensure your language school is attractive to prospective students.
Once you have decided what your language school’s unique selling point is, you can start looking at ways to reach your target audience.
You can either do this the old-fashioned way and create posters to advertise your language school at churches, supermarkets, and other public places.
Or, you can look into digital marketing strategies like creating social media accounts for your language school and using these platforms to advertise your services.
Another great way to set your language school up for success is to create a website.
Not only will this make your language school appear more credible, but you can also use a website to reach a larger online audience.
There is also no need to spend money on hiring a developer. There are plenty of affordable website builders that will help you create a professional-looking site for a fraction of the cost.
Here are a few tips when building your website:
🖥️ Make sure your website aligns with the culture you are aiming for in the school. If this is the first time people interact with your business, you’ll want to leave a favorable lasting impression.
🖥️ Make an effort to update and maintain your website to improve its site speed for search engines.
Over time, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you optimize your website for search engines and mobile devices.
There are plenty of affordable search engine optimization (SEO) tools available online to help you get started.
Your staff will be the backbone of your language school and the primary influence on students’ experiences at your school.
That’s why it is important to hire the right people with the necessary skills to help propel your teaching business forward and ensure it runs smoothly.
Some examples of the hires you will need to make for your language school include:
📚 School administrator.
📚 Teachers for various subjects.
📚 Accountant or financial manager.
Here are some points to consider when it comes to attracting and recruiting dedicated employees for your language school:
✅ If you want to attract and retain first-class educators, make sure you have a recruitment strategy in place.
✅ Double-check the experience and qualifications of the teachers you hire. This will ensure that your students will receive a high-quality education and help build the reputation of your school.
✅ Consider how you will offer competitive salaries to your staff. This is a great way to ensure that you attract and retain the right talent for your language school.
If you really want to find ways to deliver value to your teaching staff over time, it’s important that you continually invest in their development.
Studies show that 87% of millennials consider career growth and professional development opportunities to be very important.
After all, you're also increasing retention rates by investing in your employees. Here is Breezy's advice on how to nail it:
✅ Offer teachers paid opportunities to improve their teaching techniques and methods.
✅ Provide greater access to professional learning communities and teaching associations.
✅ Encourage participation in lesson study or study groups with other teachers.
Competition among language schools is high, so you need to stand out from the crowd.
If you want to maximize your chances for success when opening a new language school, the first rule is to create an inviting space that reflects your culture.
While there are some practical things that you need to include—desks and chairs for example—there are a variety of different design aspects to consider when decorating your space.
One of the most important aspects is creating a welcoming environment built on a positive student experience.
Here are a few design principles to help you get started:
🏫 Make sure that your classrooms have lots of presentation space.
🏫 Build quiet, individual working spaces.
🏫 Ensure that your classrooms have good acoustics, especially in bigger spaces.
🏫 Find ways to include inviting, natural light.
🏫 Make sure that there are enough electrical outlets.
🏫 Ensure that your language school has a stable internet connection to facilitate learning.
The design and layout of your language school should recognize and reflect the culture of the organization while allowing for change over time.
With all of the factors you need to consider when starting a language school, it’s easy to overlook the importance of your staff and student culture in its early stages.
However, it's vital to pay attention to culture from the beginning, because people want to identify with their environment and feel like they have a purpose.
The following questions will help you get started on working out what your language school’s culture is:
💭 Why does your language school exist?
💭 How will students benefit from enrolling in this language school?
💭 What kind of teaching will you focus on?
💭 What do you consider success?
💭 Will you focus on one or multiple languages?
Make sure that you listen to students and staff to nurture your language school’s human element.
When you encourage students and parents to participate in co-creating the school's vision, you'll set your teaching business up for long-term success.
Keeping your enrolled students connected and engaged with your school is one of the most effective ways to ensure its success.
Your language school is there to enrich your students and teach them valuable skills, so make sure you are actively focusing on how to do that.
One way to do this is to invest in each of your student’s experiences from their first day.
Make sure that your teaching staff prepare and organize their classrooms to welcome students and make them feel comfortable.
You should also encourage teachers to dedicate time to planning a lesson outline for the year.
This ensures that they are ready to hit the ground running when the school year starts and that students get the most out of the curriculum.
When students have a good experience with your school, they are more likely to spread the word about your services.
Think about a board as a crucial part of your language school, just like the curriculum and its educators.
Here's a great piece of advice from Carrie Irvin, the founder of Charter Board Partners:
“One of the most foundational, and often overlooked, aspects of starting a new school is the board—they can be the difference between a good school and an extraordinary school.”
Carrie has a bunch of tips for school owners who want to hit the nail on the head:
✅ Focus from the very beginning on building a governing board, not a 'friends and family' board (a.k.a. employ experienced people who can give you expert advice).
✅ Offer your board valuable resources and training opportunities.
✅ Invest in building formal good governance processes and structures, and follow them.
✅ Don't limit the board's role to fundraising and facilities. You need your board by your side and having your back—especially during those tough early years.
✅ Boards must be aware of particularly sensitive issues involved with the running of a school, and be informed and prepared to handle these.
Technology is a big deal in modern schools. Thanks to it, we can redesign schools and create personalized language programs that will better serve students.
Since the early bird catches the worm, make sure that you stay on top of new trends and technologies that can help your staff and students leap forward and blaze new trails.
EDTech is booming, and it's only moving one way.
Web technology has been advancing steadily for a number of years and can make the process of managing your language school much simpler.
Implementing innovative school management solutions during the early days is something that will make you forever thankful to yourself.
The areas for change become more challenging to implement as you scale, and setting up the correct foundations will help you succeed.
If there's one thing you need in place before opening your first language school, it's a reliable administration system.
When we designed Teach' n Go, we focused on what language schools and training businesses need without the clutter and complexity.
Teach’ n Go is a user-friendly platform that keeps you in the loop with what's happening in your training business.
Our software allows you to:
🎉 Schedule and track lessons.
🎉 Track attendance history.
🎉 Assign teachers and other staff to tasks.
🎉 Display individual course pricing.
🎉 Send bills directly to your clients (and they can pay you instantly!)
🎉 Keep track of payments and much more.
We also created a dedicated portal and automated email and SMS notifications to keep parents updated and help you strengthen your relationships with students.
It takes a lot of time and effort to get a new language school up and running.
From mapping out your language program to learning the lay of the land you set up in, it's a long road full of twists and turns.
Hopefully, with these tips, you'll feel more confident that you've got what it takes to start a language school and know how to deliver value to your students.