Ellyn Levine is President and Founder of English Language Center. This American language school has three centres located in Los Angeles, Boston and Santa Barbara. ELC specializes in high quality English courses for adults, juniors and executives.
Q. When did you join IALC and why?
We joined IALC in 1985 after Cesar Rennert, who I had never met or been in contact with, called me and said that there was a new association of language schools and that he was in charge of finding members in the US. He said that if ELC would pay his fare to Los Angeles, he would visit our school and possibly recommend us for IALC membership. I took the risk and invited him to Los Angeles. He had a positive view of the school and then said that I could pay to fly to Malaga for the IALC meeting in the fall and present ELC for consideration for membership. Again, I took the risk and went. I made the presentation and then waited outside on the patio at Malaca Instituto while the membership voted on ELC. We were voted in! It has been the single best decision I've made regarding membership in any organization in the last 37 years.
Q. How is 2014 going for the English Language Center, and how does it compare to last year?
This year we are having to work harder to get students. We are increasing our marketing efforts in all areas (staff, travel, promotions, publications, website) and we are seeing results. I think that it will be a challenging year with the dollar being strong against other currencies and so many new competitors in our market. However, I'm confident that our marketing efforts will be a success because I know that we are offering a high quality product at a good price and that we have a reputation of being a quality school that is owned and operated by its founder. And we have the added benefit of being a member of IALC!
Q. What developments do you expect in the USA in 2014? How will they impact the language travel industry?
See above. The strong dollar and increased competition are a challenge. But it has motivated us to enhance and expand our marketing efforts in order to compete and we are seeing results already from these expanded efforts in all areas. It seems that many chains (the majority being non-US based) want to enter the US market and they want to stick with the tried and true destinations.
Q. Anything new this year?
We have added IELTS Preparation to our curriculum as a response to many students now opting to take IELTS versus TOEFL. We have enhanced our Academic Semester and Academic Year programs. We have added course dates to our Business English Program and completely revised and updated our Business English curriculum. We have made these changes in response to an increasing demand for academic and Business English programs.
Q. Where do the majority of your students come from?
We do not have any one nationality that predominates and that is something we are very proud of. Our top nationalities are Swiss, Saudi, Korean, Japanese, Brazilian, and Venezuelan.
Q. What are your most popular student activities?
In Boston our most popular activities are soccer (we have our own team), the Harvard Tour, the Freedom Trail and our holiday celebrations (Halloween, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas)
Q. 3 things that make your school special for your students?
1. The quality of instruction: small classes, excellent teachers, relevant curriculum
2. The friendly and welcoming staff
3. The overall experience of classes plus accommodation (usually homestay) plus activities
* * * * *
"Like many IALC schools, we consider ourselves to be a boutique school that offers the highest level of service and flexibility in all areas."
* * * * *
Q. How did get started in the industry? How did you reach your current role?
I received my Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and was running the Intensive English Program at UCLA Extension until I was let go. I rented a small office near UCLA and opened a one-room school. It has continued to grow and expand over the years.
Q. Languages you speak or would like to speak?
I speak Spanish and a bit of Portuguese, French and Italian. I would like to speak the last three languages better.
Q. Favourite travel destination?
I love Spanish-speaking countries. My early travels were in Mexico but I also love Spain, especially Northern Spain. I just returned from my first trip to Colombia and can't wait to go back again in the fall.
Q. Favourite pastime?
Tennis, biking, reading, and planning my next trip!
Q. Favourite meal?
Tacos de carnitas and almost anything middle-Eastern.
Q. Dream dinner guest(s)?
Bill Clinton, Carlos Vives..
Ellyn Levine, President and Founder of ELC