As a response to Covid19, Wall Street English extended its product offer to allow learners to study 100% online. After the crisis the company will continue to offer this option, giving its students greater accessibility and flexibility to choose between the brick-and-mortar centers, online platforms and a mix of both.
How Wall Street English Responded to Covid19
The pandemic had a great impact on the education industry, and like other providers, Wall Street English had to progressively shut down its 420 centers across 29 territories for the safety of its students, staff and local communities. An online option was quickly deployed to allow its learners to continue with their studies.
The online classroom technology had already been launched by the company in China and Italy through 2019, mostly aimed at the corporate learning market. So the availability of this platform enabled a smooth and speedy transition to an online solution across the globe. All 160,000 students worldwide were switched within just a few weeks, with online sales capabilities added to also enable new learners to sign up.
As centers now begin to reopen, the company has taken a strategic decision to continue providing its students access to online classes, giving them even more flexibility in their learning. At the same time, this move opens up potential new revenue channels – learners who require greater levels of flexibility due to busy agendas or travel commitments, as well as learners who are outside of the reach of a brick-and-mortar center.
A Learning Method that Delivers Results
Based on a flipped classroom concept, the Wall Street English blended learning method combines multimedia self-study with small group classes led by certified teachers. In this way the courses offer learners self-paced study, flexible class schedules, a high degree of personalized support and a unique progress guarantee through teacher assessment during the classes. This learning method presents a clear differentiator to many other players in the market and offers features which very much satisfy the needs of modern consumers.
To investigate how effective this learning method is, a research study was carried out with the support of an independent education research specialist, Dr. William Lorié. Results proved that Wall Street English students progressed in close alignment to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), delivering the learning outcomes that the method promises.
With the onset of the pandemic and the closure of physical centers, learners were given access to the digital classroom in order to continue their English courses online. This platform was developed to closely emulate the face-to-face classroom experience in the Wall Street English centers. In the small-group classes, teachers assess and evaluate whether the students are ready to move on to the next unit, thus helping them every step of the way to make true progress.
Elizabeth Lynch, Service Manager at Wall Street English Italy gives her experience of the online classrooms: “The materials are incredibly similar to the ones we use in-center, and they are very user-friendly for teachers. All of the tools add a degree of flexibility to the online teaching experience which keeps classes exciting and engaging.”
Through the online classes, Wall Street English method continues to deliver measurable and effective learning outcomes.
Online versus Face-to-Face Classes
In a research study conducted in September 2018 on English learning in online classes, it was observed that on the one hand, students generally valued the support and learning experience in Wall Street English centers for providing more opportunities to use English in more spontaneous communication. On the other hand, some students recognized the benefits of online classes in terms of communicating with a wider range of speakers, practicing speaking in an online environment, and seeing advantages to the convenience which digital classes offer.
Bindi Clements, Instructional Design and Efficacy Manager at Wall Street English International, comments on this: “The mix of online and face-to-face strengthens our method enormously, as online classes provide flexibility and in-center learning offers more opportunity for an immersive experience and to build confidence”.
According to the Global English Language Report (YouGov, 2018), the adult English training market was valued at US$28bn in 2018, with just over 20% (US$5.7bn) delivered online. In a survey of learner preferences conducted across several countries on different continents, people are almost twice as likely to choose in-center classes over online. While the social classroom environment is preferred when learning English, many people do recognize the added benefits that online classes provide.
A study carried out by BusinessWire in 2019 confirms this market trend as it predicts that the online channel will grow to revenues of over US$17bn by 2027. In general, the demand for English is expected to increase in the coming years by 80% (Global English Language Report, YouGov, 2018).
How the Wall Street English Business Model is Evolving
Fabrice Aubin, franchisee in Wall Street English France, clearly sees a market opportunity and states: “[Our offer] has evolved due to the situation and will enable us to reach more clients further away, either for them to avoid public transport, for parking reasons (…)“. He also estimates that a third of his students will learn English with the 100% online classroom.
As the franchise network reopens progressively, Wall Street English has adapted its business model, empowering its value proposition to suit the ‘new normal’:
- Increased level of accessibility and flexibility: learners can now choose between 100% online, in-center and full access (mix of in-center and online classes), providing them with a wider range of solutions to suit their specific needs.
- Greater commercial reach: new audiences will now be able to access the Wall Street English learning method and experience, such as learners who need the flexibility of online access to suit their busy lifestyles, those who live in areas not covered by the physical centers, and the corporate market looking for easy access.
- “New normal” center designs: providing safe social interaction, respecting distancing guidelines, while continuing to provide the premium social experience and community that learners desire. Wall Street English has re-worked its layouts and design concept to suit the adapted business model.
Global Business Opportunities
Ken Davis, Head of Product at Wall Street English International states: “Enabled by technology, our digital classroom platform enhances the power of our method, as it meets the needs of evolving educational and consumer trends and delivers a greater level of accessibility.”
With the enhancements to the methodology, online access options, and an optimized center concept, Wall Street English believes it has laid the foundations to continue expanding its global footprint.
Wall Street English focuses on franchising as the path to growth, providing a channel for investors to join the network and benefit from an established brand and business model. The company is committed to investing in further product and model development as the industry changes and grows, looking to maintain its market leadership into the foreseeable future.