3 Business Models for Online Language Learning Course Creators

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If you know more than one language, you can teach it to others online. In this LMScast Chris Badgett will show you 3 business models for online language learning course creators to help you get started.

Language learning is in great demand for the global community. For jobs, travel, and social interaction, knowing multiple languages is a greater advantage than ever before. We’re going to show you 3 business models you can build on if you know more than one language well enough to teach it.

The first step is to find a niche. Think about who you want to teach and build your course for them, such as tourists, business executives, or trekkers. Get specific, like business English, English for Japanese travelers, or Nepali for mountain climbers. You could offer a traveler’s survival guide, like Thai for digital nomads, or English for people in the hospitality industry.

The first course model is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). It’s massive, because it’s open to anyone who wants to register, pay, and take the course, so you may have thousands of students at a time. And it’s online, so it’s available worldwide.

The blended model combines online coursework with in-person teaching and support. This is a good model for instructors who already traveled to other countries to teach, do classroom instruction, or conduct private lessons, but who want to expand their reach and depth. Online content provides most of the core learning with face-to-face sessions for support.

Finally, the flipped classroom puts students in control of their learning process and progress. The instructor provides content, materials, and support in an online classroom environment. Then at scheduled intervals they can meet in a virtual hangout like Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts for more personalized support.

If you’re a great teacher and these 3 business models for online language learning course creators resonates with you but you don’t have technological skills, our Boost service is here to build your course and get you started quickly. For more information on language learning courses, go to our LifterLMS language learning courses page.

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Episode Transcript

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode we’re going to be talking about 3 business models for people who make online courses in the language learning niche. Language learning is a massive industry. I don’t know the statistics, but there is a lot of language learning happening all over the world. People learning their own language, people learning other languages, and for a variety of different reasons. Today I wanted to talk about the online course opportunity if you are a language learning professional, or you’re bilingual, trilingual, or you’re looking to build some kind of product or course in the language learning niche.

I wanted to go over three possible business models you could use to create a potentially hugely successful online course in the language learning niche. The first one I’m going to talk about is what’s known as a niche MOOC. What am I talking about here? What is a MOOC? MOOC is M-O-O-C, and it stands for Massive Open Online Course, that’s what a MOOC is. Essentially what that means is if you have a MOOC, you create a course, it’s available, there’s no limit. It’s available around the world. It could have 5 students in it, it could have 500,000 students in it. That’s the massive part, and it’s open. Anybody who finds it, signs up for it, pays for it, can take the course.

I recommend doing a niche MOOC, so what I’m talking about here is developing some kind of unique online course in a language learning niche that’s very niche. An example would be a business English course. You could create a course designed to help people who are learning English, it’s not their first language, become capable and adapt in business. It’s very different from just learning English, and learning how to talk to people on the street, and order food in a restaurant.

A Business English course would be more focused on the types of terminology, and the words that come up in business settings, and meetings, and business transactions, and banking, counting, all those kinds of things. Of course, you could have very beginner basic Business English, and you could have highly advanced Business English.

You could also have Business Japanese, where people who, let’s say executives from the U.S. are going over to Japan, and they want to put on a good impression, and try really hard to communicate in the native language where they are in Japanese, in my example. It’s not just all about learning English, it could be about learning anything.

Another example of a niche MOOC that you could be a traveler’s survival guide. Let’s say you want to go after the younger, work from anywhere, digital nomad, location independent traveler, that are going to Thailand in droves. You want to give them a Thai language crash course, tourists, travelers, location independent digital nomad survival guide course. That’s a very specific niche that you could do. You could also do that for people traveling to Spain, or Brazil, or any country, Russia.

You can create these niche online courses that are designed to teach people exactly what they need. Like our business example, which type of traveler are you catering to? I would not recommend a general language learning guide to Nepal in Nepali. I would not necessarily recommend that, I would go after people who are going to Nepal to climb mountains, so they’re mountaineering people, or trekkers. They’re going to be in the back country, they’re going to be with Sherpas, or passing through the villages, and stuff. They’re going to need to know certain words about mountains, and trails, and paths, and routes, and rocks, and weather. These are the kind of words that are important.

I encourage you to think in terms of niches. Don’t necessarily make an online course about learning Nepali, make it about here’s a crash course for mountain climbers traveling to Nepal, who want to speak Nepali when they go there.

To give you a third example, you can think in terms of economics if you’re trying to find a niche. What I mean by that is let’s say in developing parts of the world people can get better paying, or better condition jobs, if they speak English well in the hospitality niche. Maybe you want to develop a niche course designed to help people get better employment by learning English as it pertains to hospitality. You can see that’s a very specific niche, a very certain type of language learning that could be used in any country. You could focus on the country, or you could focus on the type of resort job seekers. You could focus on a niche like the area of conversation, whether it’s business, tourism, or hospitality.

The other thing you can do with online language learning courses is what I call a blended model. This is where people who are already, let’s say they have an degree in ESL, or teaching English as a second language. They go to places like Korea, they teach English to Koreans, but they’re trying to figure out how to make more money, make things more profitable.

What you can do is you can blend that in-person learning with online training, so that let’s say you need less in-person time, because a lot of your online, your video courses, are really where the content’s happening. You don’t necessarily have to be in that private tutoring session, or in that classroom to deliver the educational content. Though you do get together in-person, and you review the material, you talk about it, you reinforce it, you figure out where people are stuck, and you continue there.

The third model I want to tell you about today is what’s called the Flipped Classroom. I’m going to do an all virtual flipped classroom example for you. There’s no physical tutoring session one-on-one, or classroom where people go and sit inside the same room. Most of the learning is going to be passive, so the online course, whether it be videos, worksheets, exercises, and so on, audios, a lot of that happens in the online course.

Then, let’s say once a week, or once a month, or a small portion of the day, you get together with the teacher, either in a group or one-on-one scenario via technology like Skype, or Zoom, virtually. You have a Google hangout, you have a get together, like I said one-on-one, or as a group. In that case the teacher acts more as a resource to support the students where they’re stuck. The onus of learning is more on the learner, and not necessarily on the teacher to deliver.

It’s a very empowering thing, this concept of Flipped Classroom, where you give the student the control, and it’s up to them and their determination, and they get to set the pace, especially if it’s an asynchronous online course. Then you have that virtual hangout to clarify things, to help remove roadblocks, and that sort of thing. It’s taking the power away from the teachers, and giving it more to the students, and let them be the leader of their own learning journey.

In summary, we talked about three business models that are ways to approach creating online courses around language learning. We talked about the niche MOOC. We gave you an example of Business English, a traveler’s survival guide in a new language, and then a course or platform of courses, for people who are trying to get better, or desirable jobs in the hospitality industry serving English speakers.

The second model we looked at was a blended approach. Where you take your in-person class, or tutoring time, and you add in an online component, which frees up more of your time, or allows you to serve more people at once.

Then we also talked about the Flipped Classroom approach in a virtual setting where a lot of the learning happens in a passive online course. Then on some kind of schedule, or as part of the curriculum, or whatever, the group, or one-on-one meetings happen to reinforce the learning, or provide an opportunity for feedback, and that sort of thing.

If you are wanting to find out more about what this is all about, and explore the language learning opportunity with online courses, and you may be a good teacher, but maybe you’re not a technologist, or website builder, or learning management system person, or online course person. I want to encourage you to check out a service we offer where we help people like you who are interested in language learning, we deliver the technology piece to create that online platform for you.

I’d encourage you to go to LifterLMS.com/language-learning-courses. I’ve got more information, and discussion around this sort of thing. There’s a way to contact me if you’re interested in discussing that. Again, go to LifterLMS.com/language-learning-courses, and I can show you more about that technology piece. Tell you about if you are interested in having someone else do the technology piece, so that you have the platform that you can step into, go check that out. Thank you for listening to this episode of LMScast, and we’ll catch you in the next one.

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