What was the company’s background before becoming the Direct English Master Licensee for Saudi Arabia?
We owned the New Horizons IT Training Franchise, which delivers corporate training. I was lucky enough to join Direct English as an English Teacher in 2001 and now work as Direct English Franchise and Support Manager. I have never looked back!
How long has Direct English been running in Saudi Arabia?
We took on the Direct English Master License in 1999, so 16 years! We started off with few centres and now have 39 centres across Saudi Arabia. It has been an incredible journey.
Why did New Horizons decide to invest in English Language Training?
There was a gap in the market. As we already specialised in IT Training this was a logical step for us. We were able to market the Direct English course to our existing client base as well as new clients. We were looking for an English language programme for our existing clients, to complement their IT training. In today’s world, IT and English go hand in hand.
What are the unique benefits of being a Direct English Licensee?
Direct English is a first-class learning system that allows students to focus on speaking and listening. They can practice improving their speaking skills rather than simply being passive listeners. Our students also find the multimedia class extremely helpful. It allows them to listen to native speakers of English with different accents in their own time.
What kind of support have you received as a Master Licensee from the Linguaphone Group?
The team are very communicative and we regularly correspond with them via email and have conference calls. It is great to know you can pick up the phone and have someone to listen. They have provided us with new and effective Marketing campaigns, which our dedicated Marketing unit has been keen to use. They are also very quick to respond to any issues that arise. We also find the partner extranet very helpful.
What do you feel has been a key factor in your success?
The key is understanding the Direct English learning system. Once you have accomplished this, it makes it much easier to sell.
What advice would you give to someone considering investing in a Direct English Master License?
Firstly, ensure you have fully understood the Direct English system. Once have grasped this, everything falls into place and you start to understand how you can reap the benefits. Secondly, I would say: be patient. Everything takes time. Thirdly, understand how to market the product and how it is different to other systems.
What are the key benefits to the customers of Direct English?
It is an excellent system where the lessons are clearly presented and it allows students to develop all the key skills to learn a language. I always say “English is for life” and our students have been able to get a new job, be promoted at work and also use the internet more effectively with their English skills!
If you could do anything differently what would you do again?
In addition to the traditional computer adaptive placement test, we now also do need a speaking and listening test. This allows us to establish a learner’s level more accurately.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
At times it is hard to find good teachers. There are a lot of qualified teachers in Saudi Arabia but I have found that teachers with a great deal of teaching experience often do not like change. We also try to have native speaking teachers in our schools but we often find that even though they are native speakers they are not necessarily good teachers! It is crucial to find the right balance.
I also find that certain students think they know how to learn English because that is what they have been taught at schools. It takes time to get them to understand that they will not learn English by simply learning all the grammar rules off by heart. In the end, the majority recognise the advantages of Direct English and quickly see improvements in their language skills.