Direct English – Helping the world to speak English

Derek Price

Direct English is a leading language training provider that’s helped thousands of adults worldwide learn English. We asked Derek Price, the CEO of Linguaphone Group (owners of Direct English franchise) the usual interview questions and below are his answers. Happy reading!

1. How did you enter the franchise business?

Direct English was founded in 1997 and is part of the Linguaphone Group, London. Linguaphone Group has been an education publisher releasing premium language solutions for 120+ years. (Visit their website)

Traditionally, Linguaphone Group’s international market expansion was through corporate offices with 100% company employees. However, the Group soon realised that there was a gap in the market for premium English education and decided to offer the opportunity to franchise formula to ambitious entrepreneurs worldwide, for both their brands, Direct English and Pingu’s English.

Now Direct English has a presence in 21 countries.

2. Where and how did the idea of your concept come from?

The concept of Direct English was born out of a piece of research by Linguaphone Group into the English language teaching market conducted in 1995.

A gap in the market for an early form of blended learning has been identified back in 1996. At that time, most English courses were designed for traveling and holidays or for academic purposes with no blended formula of self-study and in-school learning.

We identified the opportunity to deliver a premium English education with a hybrid learning focus, that is aimed at increasing Confidence when speaking and enhancing the international career of students while focusing on the four skills of Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking.

Our curriculum has been then designed by the award-winning author Louis Alexander, member of the Council of Europe, who created the Common European Framework Reference, now used worldwide to assess the level of languages’ skills.

We now offer a hybrid model that combines in-school, online live lessons from our native-level English speaking fully qualified teachers and self-study through Netflix-style series and interactive exercises and progress tests.

3. What inspired the brand name?

The core of the pedagogy of Direct English is the Direct method, a method designed to target language learning in a natural way,with a strong emphasis on practice and oral training until the learner perceives the new language as natural and embedded in their own vocabulary.

4. What is the story behind the brand’s logo?

Direct English Logo

Direct English Logo

The iconic arrow-upwards Direct English logo serves as a reference to higher heights in education. Wanting to communicate a sense of ambition and achievement to students through a structured and solid foundation provided by Direct English, aiming upwards in education and career.

5. What makes your brand different from your competitors?

Even though our curriculum covers fully the four skills of Speaking, Reading, Listening and Writing. However, Direct English, unlike other English training providers, is strong is giving students the confidence in speaking English to be able to work in multinational environments.

On top of the extensive resources provided in our curriculum, we are among the only providers to offer 90 minutes of live lessons with fully qualified teachers every week. This allow students to build and reinforce their vocabulary while improving their pronunciation for a longer period of time. Direct English aims at stimilate learners’confidence for a stronger outcome.

In fact, we’re proud of our partners’ re-enrollment and retainment rate, as this shows the strenghth of our curriculum and support to students throughout their course.

6. What are the essential qualities that you look for in a franchisee?

We’re looking for strategic partners, interested in franchise business opportunities, with the necessary experience, resources and vision to represent us across a number of markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

We’re looking for franchisees who are ambitious, energetic, motivated, a natural leaders. They do not need any previous experience of teaching languages to enjoy the potential rewards of franchising. They may have different backgrounds as:

-Language school or IT/HR training provider, with an established network of centres or a strong network of contacts within the corporate training sector in your market
-Early years provider with an established network of kindergartens, crèches, cram schools or day-care nurseries
-Entrepreneur or private investor group looking for a new and rewarding opportunity
-Established nationwide distributor of English language training materials
-Established nationwide distributor of education or home-study materials through direct to market channels – via retail, door to door, sales, telesales
-MBA entrepreneurs
-Online and e-commerce business entrepreneurs
-Ambitious Entrepreneurs from Retail and Hospitality sectors looking to diversify their investment

7. How long does it take, on average, for your franchisee to realize their investment?

The average Master Licensee would be expected to achieve cumulative break-even in the second year of trading.

8. What was the major challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

As for any global franchisor, Covid-19 outbreak was challenging for us because many schools had to close as per governments’ guidance.

However, thanks to our recently launched online learning platform, our partners could benefit from a cutting-edge interactive resource for their students. We responded quickly to this challenge by also creating a new online learning teaching operations.

This allowed our Master franchisees to continue training at a time when the brick and mortar had been compelled to close.

8.1 What is your best achievement?

For us, it was not only a way to support our franchisees, but to offer premium online learning through our fully qualified teacher to all partners all over the world. This new product proposition was a game changer for many franchisees, as some of them were able to reach their target audience nationwide with excellent results.

For example, one of our partners has been able to scale by 5 times in 6 months.

10. What was your best moment throughout your franchise career?

Opening the Saudi Arabian market which went on to teach 35,000 STUDENTS per annum and still trading to them, since 2000.

11. Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?

The brand is going to be growing rapidly with more online learning propositions. I see the Direct English brand going to LATAM for the first time and reaching out to different segments, for example teenagers – to both franchisor and franchisee’ benefits.

12. Any tips you want to impart to our readers who want to be in the franchise industry?

  1.  Find a format you love, a product you are passionate about to believe for the years to come.
  2.  Find a format that is doing something completely different and that is addressing a need in a way nobody else does.
  3. Find a franchisor that has a brand and product more powerful than what you would be able to create yourself.

To get to know who are the industry key players, visit our Interview of the Week page.

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To learn more, visit our Franchising Tips section.

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