Niche Markets

I’m just thinking out loud here. Others thoughts are welcome.

There’s a lot of talk about how the changing demographics of Taiwan are going to kill the buxiban industry, at least for those chasing the fewer and fewer kids. In any case it does seem as if the smaller places are losing out to the big chains, so what’s the alternative?

I’ve always taught older students and adults anyway, and in the current climate it seems that a lot of professional people are keen to improve their English for career reasons. The question facing us all is what can we offer them to make ourselves more marketable than the next guy?

IELTS: I get the impression this is currently the most fashionable test to take. I have students coming to Taipei from Xinzhu because they can’t find a decent school locally for this. Part of the appeal is that with IELTS you can go do your masters program in the UK or down under, and only take a year off work for it.

I wonder how big the market actually is though? And there’s also the problem of students having unreasonable expectations. I was talking to a guy yesterday who wanted to cram 9 hrs a day on Saturdays to take the test in late March. The conversation continued thus: Q.“When do you plan to study abroad?” A.“I have two choose. Oxfor’ or Cambri’ge” :unamused:

What about some form of industry-specific ‘masters foundation course’ designed to prepare you for study in your chosen field, with a strong IELTS component. Some components - living overseas, basic writing, for instance - would be common to all courses, plus there would be specialised modules for students of IT, business, design, etc. Anyone have any experience of this sort of thing, or ideas?

Another one is BULATS. With the slide in the $, and the emergence of Europe as a huge single market, smart managers(!) should be less fixated on ‘North American English’ than before. As BULATS is supposed to be the common European standard for Business English there has to be some mileage here. But where to start? Any recommendations on course material?

Again, perhaps some specialised courses for the business community? The emphasis is probably going to be on sales, presentations, and travel. Opportunities there for basic classes in other languages too.

Another group that might like some specialised training are all those local English teachers who are worried about the proposal to put big-noses into high schools. Some of them have to be receptive to learning more about how we do it? I’ve met plenty who do actually speak the language pretty well, and are motivated to do their jobs as well as they can. In fact, I’ve had several in in my classes before. Has anyone ever tried offering teacher’s courses?

Just a few off the top of my head on this bright and beautiful morning. Fuck, it’s a lovely day.

Off the top of my head you could try to go after government contracts such as the FAP and Ministry of Consular Affairs. Wouldn’t make you so popular with local foreigners. Also police officers and such.

What about the GEPT test? Has this helped to drum up more students for cram schools? I see classes for this test all time around the local high school cram schools. What’s the difference between TOEFL and IELTS?


Here are some of the common tests.

TOEFL The Test of English as a Foreign Language tests speakers’ ability to use and understand academic English. It’s for students wanting to study in North American. There is no speaking component.

GEPT (General English Proficiency Test)The GEPT is divided into five levels. Each level incorporates listening, reading, writing and speaking components. The GEPT is used by government departments to gauge employee’s English levels and also by schools for graduation testing and by businesses for determining employees’ ability.
This test was developed in Taiwan and is only used here.

TOEICstands for the Test of English for International Communication. The diffrence between TOEIC and TOEFL is that TOEFL tests academic English, while the TOEIC tests everyday English used in business. The TOEFL measures intermediate- to fluent-English language ability, while the TOEIC measures a wider range, from beginner to advanced-English ability. The TOEIC only has two components; listening and reading.

Students wanting to study at a university in Britain, Australia, or New Zealand need to take this test. Unlike the TOEFL it has a speaking component, uses British English, and the English is less academic.

You could start your own testing system. :laughing:
I think it would be worthwhile getting figures for the number of Taiwanese who study abroad (in countries that require IELTS). My guess would be a good demand for IELTS classes in Taipei.
How about foreign companies in Taiwan? Which test do they prefer employees and job applicants to take?