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Old 08.01.2011, 01:53
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Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Hi all.

In June, my wife and I will be moving to Geneva for five years and I, like most people, am worried about making a living (my wife already has a job).

I have spent more than twenty years working in ESL/EFL; teaching on three continents; managing ESL schools in the States; building an ESL school for the Chinese; setting up my own Business English school in Chile, which I still run after 15 years; and, naturally, I would like to do what I know and do best--in Geneva.

So:

1) Is there a market for good freelance English teachers in Geneva?

2) Is it competitive? It seems to me, after reading the forums, that there is no shortage of English speakers but few qualified English teachers (I mean, who would go to Switzerland to teach English?)

3) Do professionals in Geneva prefer to study with a reputable school or with a private teacher? Could I get work in companies or international organizations as a freelance teacher?

4) Most importantly, is it possible to use my school website in Chile as a base for business in Geneva? Of course, I could use it as an advertising outlet, but hereīs what I am most interested in: In Chile, we offer elearning courses (both elearning and blended). We buy the licenses from Longman and when we sell the course we provide the student with a password and they do the course online through Longmanīs platform. Couldnīt I do the same in Geneva? That is, I could have my partner in Chile send me the password when I sell a course in Geneva, through different advertising channels, and when I am paid I provide the student with the password and he either does elearning or, if he wants to practice speaking, takes private classes on top of elearning. But how about my tax status? Could I do it without setting up a company? Couldnīt the student just pay my partner in Chile via wire deposit and my partner then deposits the money in my account in Chile? I really donīt know how it would work.

Of course, I could work for a school in Geneva, but it seems to me there are few ELT management opportunities. Does anyone know?

Would appreciate any insight on the matter.
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Old 08.01.2011, 03:47
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

dont do it,

there are enough offers and school with English Language. I used to work for them. there is VEry little demand

If you want a job be a tutor and even then.......
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Old 08.01.2011, 08:30
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Hmmmm.....I think it's an interesting idea. I am not sure how successful you can be, but what do you have to lose, right? It does not sound like you have some major investments to start with, I would go for it.

CH is pretty conservative in terms of new ways to learn, mind you. E-learning is starting to show up, but in no way close to CDLs, I worked in a uni US one. Hopping. Here it is more about university resources and organized uni e-learning. Longman probably has enough biz here as it is but why would they turn away more profit, I don't think they would. MacMillan, Cambridge and Longman push hard here.

Most people probably prefer face to face mode, I can imagine. I have done tutoring and teaching ESL past 15 years and know people come to a teacher for other reasons than just language. Social contact, direct communication, lip reading, body language that gives you cues and facial expressions that might be a bit hard if through inet, it's a lot more hands on approach and human, I have enjoyed it immensely. People are still pretty hooked on formality here and being slightly ceremonial, the teacher's image and perceived authority is somewhat archaic, but why not working on changing this...

People do not pay that much for regular, small group classes here in Migros or UniPops so the price cut some opt for while taking language course online might not be so interesting. I would not use your old Chile account nor links. You want Swiss sounding business, not too much in people's face. If you need an overqualified tutor, let me know And, most of all, good luck.
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Old 08.01.2011, 08:31
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

I'm quite surprised that an ESL professional would advocate online courses. Any qualification without classroom training and a practical element is pretty useless.
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Old 08.01.2011, 08:42
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

I disagree...I supervised CDLs and it can be very efficient for some people who prefer to work on their own terms. Some students have great difficulty concentrating in a classroom packed with other people. CDL work can be a lot harder than your usual class where you figure out your answers and just wait for your turn. Online learning can be at least as intense as direct, if you get a good teacher and technology is not working against you. Most online language courses I know of use cameras and sound. Some people are too busy to fit into a schedule, some too shy, some have kids that need to fall asleep first or don't have their own office for the tutor, I can see the use of it, sure.
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Old 08.01.2011, 08:51
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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I disagree...I supervised CDLs and it can be very efficient for some people who prefer to work on their own terms. Some students have great difficulty concentrating in a classroom packed with other people. CDL work can be a lot harder than your usual class where you figure out your answers and just wait for your turn. Online learning can be at least as intense as direct, if you get a good teacher and technology is not working against you. Most online language courses I know of use cameras and sound. Some people are too busy to fit into a schedule, some too shy, some have kids that need to fall asleep first or don't have their own office for the tutor, I can see the use of it, sure.
Ah, right. I misread the op. It's online English courses, not online ESL skills courses .
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Old 08.01.2011, 13:16
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Hi all,

To the naysayers of the English Forum World: Do you know how much I pay wholesale for a complete, 80-120 online English course license from Pearson in Chile? You tell me what you think, and tell me also what an 80-hour English course costs for a professional in Geneva, and I will tell you what I pay.

By the way, I totally agree with everybody: thereīs not much work, online learning by itself is not effective, Swiss have different study habits, etc.; but I wasnīt advocating purely online learning--in fact, my background is in Business English skills: negotations, presentations, phone skills, meeting, socializing, as well as academic writing, TOEFL preparation, and speaking courses. And all task-based.

Thatīs the thing: it sounds like the Swiss market is behind the online language learning curve, so to speak; maybe I am wrong (honestly, I donīt know much about the Swiss market, and thatīs why Iīm participating in this forum, but from the responses Iīve had so far, there seems to be a lack of knowledge and interest in learning a language online; in Latin American and the States, for example, it is all the rage; and one of the reasons, besides accomodating the business life of professionals (this will be my target client), is the price: and the price might definitely be a difference maker in the Swiss market, if the person behind the price is well-qualified, professional, resourceful and trustworthy.

Maybe I am way off base here (please tell me if I am), but with the many international organizations in Geneva, there must be a market for ESP courses--Business English, report-writing, etc., let alone inexpensive online course. I donīt know. Maybe everybody already speaks English there. I lived in France, in Paris, where it differently wasnīt the case.

Please get back to me on the cost of an online course (with face-to-face classes one or two times per week) and I will tell you what I pay for a license.

Kenneth
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Old 08.01.2011, 17:00
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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Maybe everybody already speaks English there.
Yes, this.
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Old 08.01.2011, 17:18
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Plenty of English teachers, schools, etc. Not so many teachers for CAE and Proficiency courses though.

If you can offer a blended learning class, there just might be some interest.
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Old 08.01.2011, 17:24
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Hi Kenneth,

I'm the Teacher Development Chair for ETAS Switzerland (English Teachers Association) I'm also the DOS responsible for 2 large language schools in Zurich and Basel, DELTA qualified and a qualified CELTA trainer. I teach a few hours at our International School too. I have around 20 years experience in EFL and general English teaching at every level.

There is a chain of language schools here in Switzerland called "Cambridge Institute" they have nothing to do with Cambridge, they just use the name as a selling point. I know that they do offer blended learning packages, similar to the ones you outline. I don't know their costs though - but you could call and find out.


Blended learning has been bouncing around the Swiss market for some years now - generally speaking it isn't popular and I'm not really sure of why.

In general the EFL market is extremely tough in Switzerland. There are many schools who employ teachers without CELTA's and many teachers who are willing to work for a very low hourly rate. You'll find that winning contracts is quite tricky, mainly due to the main EFL providers slashing their prices in response to a general tightening of belts by the companies here. There are a lot of English teachers out there working on a freelance basis and lots looking for work.

When teachers are employed by good language schools - it is generally difficult for them to get enough hours, so most teachers spread themselves between several schools. Hourly pay can range from 28chf an hour, to 80Chf an hour. An average hourly rate here in the German speaking part is 60chf an hour.

In Geneva you'll find the 2 main schools are IH Geneva and Bells school. Both have very different atmospheres from what I've heard.

Another big difference in the market here in Switzerland is the fact that many large companies give preference to people with Masters Degrees. There are a HUGE number of EFL teachers here with Masters Degrees and these are often the "passport" into posts in, for example, the United Nations etc.

I've worked in Australia, Japan, Denmark and the UK (all within the efl and International school sector) I've been in CH 10 years. It is a tough tough market here - other posters are quite correct when they say, an over-supply of English teachers.

By all means give it a go - but it's good to be clear what you're up against!

Best Wishes
Steph Wimmer

http://www.e-tas.ch/
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Old 08.01.2011, 17:33
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

I just wanted to add. A friend of mine is responsible for all English Language courses at MigrosKlubschule in Switzerland. I had dinner with this friend last night in Zurich.

I don't know too much about it - but from what my friend said, MIgrosKlubschule offer on-line learning packages and tests too. Migrosklubshule are part of the Migros group. (One of the main supermarkets here in Switzerland) - the Klubschule and cultural activities are, as far as I understand, heavily subsidized - which is why they are also able to offer extremely competitive packages. (Although from what I can see, they are more focussed on general and exam English than ESP)
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Old 08.01.2011, 18:38
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Good practical info there, I agree as far as I know. There is more to it, connections, contracts based on book lines and publishers, etc etc. Which could, in fact, be OP's chance since he seems to have a lot of experiences with that.

I am not sure why the whole over saturation, one fact I do love about it, it pushes teachers for high qualification and perform in more than standard way, which is a lot better for students, school reputation, etc etc..

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Another big difference in the market here in Switzerland is the fact that many large companies give preference to people with Masters Degrees.
That's not just in CH. It's the standard all over, which is good. Not that I don't know fantastic teachers without Masters, but getting qualified hasn't killed anyone.

I do think OP has a shot there.I does depend how much cash one throws into publicity, etc., too.
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Old 08.01.2011, 18:55
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

Thanks for all of the great replies. Very informative. I do have one thing to add, however: Because my school has a contract with Pearson in Chile, I can buy 80-hour online courses for 50 chf, with video, etc. I canīt believe--after having read this forum over the few months as my family and I prepare our move--that there is any school in Switzerland that could come even close to undercutting my prices. I mean--cheap, and I have little or no overhead. I know, I know: the schools have a name, brand recognition, contacts, advertisting channels, market know-how, etc., etc., but, please, there must be a market, however small. Christ, Iīve seen people online charging 80 chf for an hour of private instruction.

Maybe all I need is someone who knows the market...,especially if we offer b-learning courses.
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Old 08.01.2011, 18:58
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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Good practical info there, I agree as far as I know. There is more to it, connections, contracts based on book lines and publishers, etc etc. Which could, in fact, be OP's chance since he seems to have a lot of experiences with that.

I am not sure why the whole over saturation, one fact I do love about it, it pushes teachers for high qualification and perform in more than standard way, which is a lot better for students, school reputation, etc etc..



That's not just in CH. It's the standard all over, which is good. Not that I don't know fantastic teachers without Masters, but getting qualified hasn't killed anyone.

I do think OP has a shot there.I does depend how much cash one throws into publicity, etc., too.




I totally agree with - getting qualified is important. I personally prefer the DELTA over the Masters though - simply because most Masters are 100% theoretical and have no live assessed teaching component. Whereas a DELTA has the MA level theory - but with very rigorous live assessed teaching practice. So it's possible for someone to have a Masters (with good theoretical knowledge) but be a terrible classroom teacher. Whereas it's impossible to pass DELTA without being a good classroom teacher.
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Old 08.01.2011, 19:01
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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Thanks for all of the great replies. Very informative. I do have one thing to add, however: Because my school has a contract with Pearson in Chile, I can buy 80-hour online courses for 50 chf, with video, etc. I canīt believe--after having read this forum over the few months as my family and I prepare our move--that there is any school in Switzerland that could come even close to undercutting my prices. I mean--cheap, and I have little or no overhead. I know, I know: the schools have a name, brand recognition, contacts, advertisting channels, market know-how, etc., etc., but, please, there must be a market, however small. Christ, Iīve seen people online charging 80 chf for an hour of private instruction.

Maybe all I need is someone who knows the market...,especially if we offer b-learning courses.
It's an expensive country. SFr. 80 is the standard asking price for private instruction by reputable English teachers in my area.
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Old 08.01.2011, 19:32
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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Thanks for all of the great replies. Very informative. I do have one thing to add, however: Because my school has a contract with Pearson in Chile, I can buy 80-hour online courses for 50 chf, with video, etc. I canīt believe--after having read this forum over the few months as my family and I prepare our move--that there is any school in Switzerland that could come even close to undercutting my prices. I mean--cheap, and I have little or no overhead. I know, I know: the schools have a name, brand recognition, contacts, advertisting channels, market know-how, etc., etc., but, please, there must be a market, however small. Christ, Iīve seen people online charging 80 chf for an hour of private instruction.

Maybe all I need is someone who knows the market...,especially if we offer b-learning courses.
-------------------------------------------------
I appreciate your way of thinking and planning. Don't think that we all are expert on your area and everyone know your field as you know. Its a different idea but interesting and important thing is: You have a market.

Go and tell the learners that there are other ways of better learning at economical price.
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Old 09.01.2011, 07:13
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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Thanks for all of the great replies. Very informative. I do have one thing to add, however: Because my school has a contract with Pearson in Chile, I can buy 80-hour online courses for 50 chf, with video, etc. I canīt believe--after having read this forum over the few months as my family and I prepare our move--that there is any school in Switzerland that could come even close to undercutting my prices. I mean--cheap, and I have little or no overhead. I know, I know: the schools have a name, brand recognition, contacts, advertisting channels, market know-how, etc., etc., but, please, there must be a market, however small. Christ, Iīve seen people online charging 80 chf for an hour of private instruction.
Maybe all I need is someone who knows the market...,especially if we offer b-learning courses.
I don't even think you need that, with that price. Go for it, by all means. I would focus on specific spectrum of customers, maybe wouldn't go for this price even though you can. People tend to be suspicious of cheap anything here since they have been drilled that high price usually means quality. People are not naysayers, you asked for info, so we went ahead. I think you have a great chance. If you offer quality for cheap, it is just a matter of time to have people used to the idea.

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I totally agree with - getting qualified is important. I personally prefer the DELTA over the Masters though - simply because most Masters are 100% theoretical and have no live assessed teaching component. Whereas a DELTA has the MA level theory - but with very rigorous live assessed teaching practice. So it's possible for someone to have a Masters (with good theoretical knowledge) but be a terrible classroom teacher. Whereas it's impossible to pass DELTA without being a good classroom teacher.
Sure. But I wouldn't say most Masters are theoretical, it depends on were and what Master program one takes. After all theory, we spent about a year directly teaching in classrooms, and then months processing it, it was a very long degree... Most of my classmates were already on part time teaching contracts on top of that, anyways, so was I. It's a good way, I am still doing the same while pushing through my PhD. Mentoring works great, too, I found a mentor here to guide me through the public teaching here. Every culture teaches with different objectives in mind, mentoring is super efficient with that and makes teaching in a public school a very worthwhile experience, showing me what matters here, it is a two way learning process. It's not paid nor part of any program, just purely out of interest. While I don't put down DELTA, not at all, in fact I think it should be advertised a lot more in pedagogical fields here (to push edu degrees to better standards), Masters is very nicely transferable, and not for the lack of substance, expertise or practical part of it within the program, that's a completely different thing. If I wanted or had to move my career to another direction, it is handy.

Back to online learning and having guts to do something new here...I wish OP ton of luck, I am sure he won't need so much of it
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Old 09.01.2011, 12:53
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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I don't even think you need that, with that price. Go for it, by all means. I would focus on specific spectrum of customers, maybe wouldn't go for this price even though you can. People tend to be suspicious of cheap anything here since they have been drilled that high price usually means quality. People are not naysayers, you asked for info, so we went ahead. I think you have a great chance. If you offer quality for cheap, it is just a matter of time to have people used to the idea.



Sure. But I wouldn't say most Masters are theoretical, it depends on were and what Master program one takes. After all theory, we spent about a year directly teaching in classrooms, and then months processing it, it was a very long degree... Most of my classmates were already on part time teaching contracts on top of that, anyways, so was I. It's a good way, I am still doing the same while pushing through my PhD. Mentoring works great, too, I found a mentor here to guide me through the public teaching here. Every culture teaches with different objectives in mind, mentoring is super efficient with that and makes teaching in a public school a very worthwhile experience, showing me what matters here, it is a two way learning process. It's not paid nor part of any program, just purely out of interest. While I don't put down DELTA, not at all, in fact I think it should be advertised a lot more in pedagogical fields here (to push edu degrees to better standards), Masters is very nicely transferable, and not for the lack of substance, expertise or practical part of it within the program, that's a completely different thing. If I wanted or had to move my career to another direction, it is handy.

Back to online learning and having guts to do something new here...I wish OP ton of luck, I am sure he won't need so much of it
encouragement. I do find it strange, however, that online language learning in Switzerland is considered "new." Must be a socio-cultural element here. (Just like in Latin American the classroom is still deleteriously teacher-centered.) Iīd be interested in hearing an explanation. But it isnīt snake oil, and, I repeat, I am not advocating solely online courses. It wouldnīt work, especially if you want to focus on speaking. This may come as a surpise to some, but at my school in Chile I am currently training all of my teachers in Task-based teaching, making the students (mainly professionals in multinationals) use the language skill-set to achieve a certain, functional, work-related objective. I would go so far as to say the PPP methodology of CELTA is on its death bed. Personally, I think they have it ass-backwards. But, once again, I donīt want to slip into dogma. There are many ways to teach, no one "silver bullet." I like how one reseacher put it, when asked which methodology he prefers. He said he doesnīt believe in any one methodology; he said he uses whatever works; and called his teaching philosophy, aptly, "enlightened electricism." Online language learning should not be eschewed; itīs a great way to practice when youīre not practicing. But it should not be abused either.

Open to any ideas/suggestions on how to enter the Swiss market.
encouragement. I do find it strange, however, that online language learning in Switzerland is considered "new." Must be a socio-cultural element here. (Just like in Latin American the classroom is still deleteriously teacher-centered.) Iīd be interested in hearing an explanation. But it isnīt snake oil, and, I repeat, I am not advocating solely online courses. It wouldnīt work, especially if you want to focus on speaking. This may come as a surpise to some, but at my school in Chile I am currently training all of my teachers in Task-based teaching, making the students (mainly professionals in multinationals) use the language skill-set to achieve a certain, functional, work-related objective. I would go so far as to say the PPP methodology of CELTA is on its death bed. Personally, I think they have it ass-backwards. But, once again, I donīt want to slip into dogma. There are many ways to teach, no one "silver bullet." I like how one reseacher put it, when asked which methodology he prefers. He said he doesnīt believe in any one methodology; he said he uses whatever works; and called his teaching philosophy, aptly, "enlightened electricism." Online language learning should not be eschewed; itīs a great way to practice when youīre not practicing. But it should not be abused either.

Open to any ideas/suggestions on how to enter the Swiss market.
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Old 09.01.2011, 13:13
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

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encouragement. I do find it strange, however, that online language learning in Switzerland is considered "new." Must be a socio-cultural element here. (Just like in Latin American the classroom is still deleteriously teacher-centered.) Iīd be interested in hearing an explanation. But it isnīt snake oil, and, I repeat, I am not advocating solely online courses. It wouldnīt work, especially if you want to focus on speaking. This may come as a surpise to some, but at my school in Chile I am currently training all of my teachers in Task-based teaching, making the students (mainly professionals in multinationals) use the language skill-set to achieve a certain, functional, work-related objective. I would go so far as to say the PPP methodology of CELTA is on its death bed. Personally, I think they have it ass-backwards. But, once again, I donīt want to slip into dogma. There are many ways to teach, no one "silver bullet." I like how one reseacher put it, when asked which methodology he prefers. He said he doesnīt believe in any one methodology; he said he uses whatever works; and called his teaching philosophy, aptly, "enlightened electricism." Online language learning should not be eschewed; itīs a great way to practice when youīre not practicing. But it should not be abused either.

Open to any ideas/suggestions on how to enter the Swiss market.
1st of all, don't double post. Are you making a copy for some kind of biz archive? Ok, that was a joke.

How did you enter Chilian market? And US? It is not going to be that different. I think if you need a biz advice, you should search for schools and see how they already advertise here and address them if you can cooperate with them, use their facilities, classrooms, lib resources and copiers, while offering them online tutoring for their students (and have other clients on your own). See unies, languages agencies in Ge, etc. There is a lot of info on schools on angloinfo if I remember well. I can see your biz being really handy for students, for example. The only thing is, students here already know a lot, the motivated ones who would look for further tutoring. Biz professionals have the cash for having their private tutor come to the office. They might like the idea of flexible hours, though. Trading companies, who work at night, etc. You will be fine.

I agree with you on what you wrote earlier. There is no one method how to teach a language, as much as there is no one method how to "produce" ultimately efficient teachers. People learn in multiple ways, a good teachers mixes things up to tailor to client's needs.
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Last edited by MusicChick; 09.01.2011 at 13:28.
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Old 09.01.2011, 14:19
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Re: Setting up online ESL school in Geneva

I find it slightly curious that someone who has a background in this field, with business experience, is asking for opinions on a random internet forum.

If you have the outlay, know your market, and feel it could work then go for it and all the best to you.
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