Tom Bianca interviews Mariano Descalzi President of LCI Language Centers.
Problem, English is supposed to be the universal language, however....
One in Ten People Living in the United States Can't Speak Fluent English. That is equivalent to over 20 million people living within the United States according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, Out of the world's approximately 7.5 billion inhabitants, only 1.5 billion speak English — that's 20% of the Earth's population. However, most of those people aren't native English speakers. About 360 million people speak English as their first language.
Solution, LCI Language Center, A school who teaches English at 3 locations in the U.S.....
Most of your students come from around the world to learn English. So why do students come to your school and why is it so important for them to learn the English language?
Yes. For them it's almost a necessity, because if they want to get a good job and want to work for a multinational company or a big company in their home country, most companies will require speaking English, not completely bilingual but they should have a pretty advanced level of English. So some of these students come here for their professional advancements and then other students also come here to learn English so they can go to an American university.
And how much competition is out there?
There are hundreds of schools across the U.S. and we're not just competing with local competitors here in Denver, but we are competing with other states and also with other countries. So Canada, the UK, Australia, all these countries are competing for international students to come and learn English.
How do you attract your students to come here?
So at LCI we have different venues. We have a website and do a lot of Google marketing, paperclip marketing and SEO, called Search Engine Optimization, we work education agents around the world that work with Korea, China, Brazil Colombia, many countries. Also, our university partners that send us students because they know that we're accredited school. We also have agreements with embassies, like Saudi Arabian embassy and United Arab Emirates and different countries that offer scholarships to their students. So it took us a long time to be able to get our foot in the door with these embassies that only approve reputable and accredited schools. Our great reputation also helps and so that's how we are able to recruit students.
Your students come from all around the world to learn English so it is for all walks of life.
Exactly, that is probably one of the most unique learning experiences here, in the classroom you have a student from Brazil will be with a student Vietnam, from Colombia, from China, from Saudi Arabia, so in just one classroom when you have 10 people from different countries, it's an amazing experience because in many cases these students in their country have never met somebody from another country and spending hours and hours a day with someone completely different in culture is a great learning experience for them.
Not only can they learn English while here but since the students know another language they can that language as well
Well sometimes that happens. That's why if they were all from one country they were speaking their native language. But because you have somebody who speaks Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese and Spanish they are forced to communicate in one language, in this case, with English and that's how they challenge themselves and be able to break language barriers through the international language of English.
English is not terribly hard to learn as opposed to learn Chinese.
There are some areas that are more challenging. English has its particular challenges, but English has become the dominant language for business and for education. So even in countries, like France and Germany and Italy they accepted that their executives and their employees learn English.
You came from another country and migrated to the U.S. Did you know English before you came here and why did you migrate to Colorado from where you came from?
I was very lucky because my parents my dad was a diplomat and so I learned English in high school in Canada. So I speak English or Spanish. When I was in Argentina I wanted to come back to the United States because I went to University of Houston, finished my economics degree and then I worked for the multi-national company in plastics. After I started at the company they started to transfer me to different places to Mexico and Costa Rica. and Chili, but I ended up in Argentina. When I was there I thought I wanted to be back in my country but there was a lot of political and economic turmoil and so my dream was to come back to United State. I went to different headhunters to find a job and the fact that I knew English put me as a good candidate to be hired by an Argentina language company. When things got little bit complicated in the country I got transferred to Denver by another language company and I ended up working there for another seven years. So a total of nine years and then it was time for me to go on my own and I just started looking forward to see if I could buy my own business. I noticed LCI and it was a tiny school, it had one class room, one teacher and maybe five students. So I was able to buy it in 2008 and then from there we started opening branches in different places and bought my buildings with a lot of support from a small business administration. With the help from loans and I was able to buy buildings here in Denver, Houston and was able to expand to other states
How many locations do you have?
So I had a total of five locations including Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania. But now we're down to three here in Colorado, Texas and Virginia.
How many students can enroll in each location?
In all the centers we can we can accommodate over 200 students. So we were going through a very difficult stage because there were some issues when oil prices fell Saudi Arabia just completely dropped their scholarship program. So we had hundreds of Saudi Arabia students that went from two hundred students to maybe 10. So we took a big hit, but we were able to restructure and now we are more diverse, so we have students from Vietnam, China, Brazil, Colombia and all these different countries that are very diverse. So here in Denver we've actually started to hire again.
What kind of classes do you offer, how long are they and what are the prices?
So we have different programs, we have an academic English program, a general English program and an executive English program. So for the Academic English program are for students who want to go to university so they need to focus more on grammar, reading and writing and that program is one of the most expensive in terms of group classes, it's three $3,450.00 per 10 weeks. Next is our General English, it is every four weeks and cost is $980.00. The classes focus on language skills of speaking, listening and reading. The writing skills are integrated into the conversation and reading classes. All language programs at LCI also include a cultural component to help them practice English, experience the local culture and adapt to life in the USA. Finally, we have the Executive English Program which is normally our high level executives that come here. In most cases they're financed by their companies. So they take the most expensive courses, very intensive, it's mostly private classes, seven hours a day. Those programs cost around $7,800.00 per four weeks. It is the ideal solution for adult professionals who want to learn English quickly and thoroughly. All of our Executive English courses include private classes, where you will receive personalized attention and instruction. They can also choose to include group classes, which allow them to interact with other students from all over the world.
Obviously English has helped you out in your career.
Yes English was the key, it really helped me to be successful here in the U.S. for sure.
And how many students have graduated from your school since you've been open?
Thousands of students have graduated and moved onto their PHD's in different universities and then other students like executives go back and get promotions because of their advancement in English.
And so basically what separates your school out from the others?
We hear this all the time for from our from our students, one of the first things is we respond very quickly to inquiries and they tell us all the time you were the ones that responded the fastest and it's not just the first response it is the continuance response. They have tons of questions, some of them never came to you United States so they want to know what the weather to prepare for, about how to dress, about safety, where to find a place to live things like that. So we have to give them really good service before they come here. Then we also test them, we interview them when they're overseas just to make sure that we understand what their needs are, what are their goals and things like that. Then we've taken it to an even higher level, we have a consultant to really understand what was important for the teachers and the staff members, why we're were in this field. why did they want to spend their careers with students from around the world and we came up with a vision statement, which is "We are empowering our students to be global citizens and community leaders". So we emphasize on the need to open their minds, to be more accepting, to listen and to be more empathetic about people from different religions, cultures and political systems.
People don't realize the power of bilingual, when you go out to the real world you can use that bilingual tremendously to benefit not only yourself, but the companies that work for in strategic locations around the world.
Exactly, after I graduated from University of Houston I was able to get a work visa with a multinational company and make more money because I was bilingual, So speaking two or three languages gives you an advantage. That's what I'm trying to do with my kids, give them an advantage where you can.
So how can find out details of all the programs and your address?
Our web site is the best way at englishlci.edu, you can look at the testimonials and at YouTube and Facebook. We have hundreds of videos of testimonials and thousands of likes and our Facebook page. Also it has contact information about pricing and a great team that responds within 24 hours with in questions. Our address is 2160 South Clermont street Denver, CO. 80222, the phone numbers 303-756-0760.