#Free Range English is an English speaking school that operates on the streets using a proven social learning method and Pay What You Want pricing
Based upon English Out There social learning content it integrates handheld technology, social networking, cloud computing and all of the unique knowledge we have acquired by teaching real English on the streets very successfully since 2001.
As you all know we have been 'messing around' on the streets of London with English teachers and learners since 2001. In that time a lot has happened. Here is a brief chronology (not done this before):
- June 1992 -Jason co-founded Leicester Square School of English (LSSE) in Wardour Street
- 1994 - Achieved British Council accreditation for LSSE.
- 2000 - Left LSSE
- March/April 2001 - Jason had the idea for English Out There
- June 2001 - opened English Out There (EOT) at 10 Coptic Street, Bloomsbury and began teaching social learning, real speaking English courses on the streets of London.
- 2003/4 - Maria S. took over from Georgina M. as DOS
- 2004 - got shortlisted for a British Council ELToN (innovation award) and simultaneously failed a British Council accreditation inspection because the inspectors just didn't 'get it' and ignored all of the evidence of learning, 700+ hand-written feedback forms and 90 mins with hand-picked learners who all provided real impressive evidence of learning (innovation trauma no.1)
- 2005 - Our start-up investor (Linguaphone) got into financial trouble and couldn't support us any more (we were almost breaking even) - had to put the company, English Out There Ltd, into administration and 'do a Phoenix' coming back with a new investor as Languages Out There Ltd (LOT) (innovation trauma no.2)
- 2006 - posted first 'before and after' Youtube videos of real learners on 30 hour face-to-face courses, signed deal with Guardian Professional to develop and publish our teaching and learning content digitally
- 2007/8 - got attacked by the UK ELT trade press and industry for using a Skype-like system to help learners to practise EOT online (being an innovator can be very painful, trauma no 3). Accused of "dumbing down ELT" by industry grandee in public. Things didn't work out commercially with the Guardian. We left with our content. Almost went bust, stopped year round teaching in London, kept summer school going in London, went digital. (innovation trauma no.4)
- 2009 - Steve J. contracted to run London summer school, put content online for download by teachers and learners from website built by me!
- 2010 - shortlisted as one of the top ten uses of social media for language learning by the European Commission, posted 'before and after' online case studies of Jane and Waldek, approached by OUP about working together
- 2012 - ripped off by OUP (innovation trauma no.5 that is on-going)
- 2013/14 - stopped using classrooms for summer school lessons and integrated use of handheld devices and social media to improve the learning experience. Over 30,000 downloads from the EOT.com website, over 500,000 downloads from all distribution channels
- 2015 - launch of new project Free Range English using a Pay What You Want (PWYW) business model and everything we have learnt over the years, our knowledge of the UK and global ELT industries and the integration of technology to enhance learning.
You might have gathered by now that it has not been easy but through all of the above our anonymous post course feedback has been amazing (about 90% would recommend the course) and we are probably the only English course in the world (true) that promotes itself using 'before and after' audio and video clips of real learners.
We have always been pushing the boundaries but EOT (both the lessons and running of it) has always been about people and Free Range English will be even more about people because the teachers will be largely self-organising and earn most of the money.
We are trying to get a new tool set up for us in a Free Range English app (no budget and a struggle but it should be ready) and once available (aiming for June) we can push out some information, advertise and take our first trial bookings (we think they call it Beta these days so no one complains too much).
We want to aim to make this like a freelancers collective so the teachers do all the work (as usual) and collect all of the money (highly unusual) as independent contractors. LOT's role is to run the back end systems e.g. booking engine, content, website, cloud storage, app etc. and do the marketing. For doing that the free walking tour companies charge £3 per person or 15% commission and ask the guide to take a snap of the group at the start or have someone count them at the start or count the money at the end. With Free Range English from the start it will be free/PWYW for the teachers too and we’d like it to stay PWYW (in the spirit of the whole thing). We strongly believe that if we get enough classes running we will create a sustainable ELT model that does what ESL/EFL set out to do (help people to speak) and rewards good teachers fairly. If we do that, on any scale, we will have succeeded.
So, who is up for this human experiment in ELT? Feel free to respond to this with any comments and share with everyone you think might be interested (learners and teachers).
Now have a look at the website https://www.FreeRangeEnglish.com