Trying to Market ESL Or EFL Programs to Internationals? Multilingual Marketing Gives You an Edge

Schools offering English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL or ESL) programs benefit from marketing their programs in a variety of languages.

Put yourself in the position of a parent who wants to send their son or daughter to a faraway land to learn English. Chances are, it will be one of their child’s first experiences living away from home and away from the family. The decision to send a child – even a teenager or young adult – is one that many parents take seriously.

Imagine this: Your daughter wants to go away and study a foreign language… maybe Chinese or French or some other language that you don’t speak. She tells you that she has found two possible schools and wants you to have a look at their web sites. She sends the links to you at the office. During your coffee break, you check out the first school’s site. All the information is written in English. You find out about the school, the teachers who work there, the homestay accommodations available and the program she will be taking.

You move on to the second site. All the same information is there (you think?) but it is written only in the language your daughter wants to learn. You surf around, look at the pictures and try to get back to the home page again. But you don’t speak the language the website is in, so the best you can do is get a general idea from the photos and site design.

After you’ve looked at both sites, where do you want to send your daughter?

The fact of the matter is that both schools may have excellent programs, but if students (and their parents) can read about it in their own language, you will build an unspoken relationship of trust with them. It’s both perception and perspective. You trust what you know.

For English as a Second or Foreign Language programs that recruit international students, translating your web site (or at least major points of it) into the languages of your major markets gives you an advantage over your monolingual counterparts.

This article is adapted from a chapter in the author’s book, 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program: A Practical Guide for Language Schools.

Want to cite this article in your own research? Here’s the citation information:

Eaton, Sarah Elaine. (2010). “Trying to Market ESL Or EFL Programs to Internationals? Multilingual Marketing Gives You an Edge”. Retrieved from


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